Steel & Oak Brewing and Boombox Brewing have come together on an interesting and innovative collaboration. They have teamed up to make A-Side and B-Side, two New England IPAs with distinct differences. A-Side is a beer using all Northern Hemisphere ingredients and B-Side is all Southern Hemisphere. B.C. Beer Reviews is here to crack them open and see just how different they are.
B.C. Beer Reviews: Steel & Oak Brewing – A-Side/B-Side
A-Side (A): This beer pours a semi-opaque yellowish orange colour from the can. In the glass, it has a beautiful colour that resembles orange juice. It looks opaque, but you can see through it a bit when held to the light.
B-Side (B): This beer poured an opaque yellow-orange from the can. In the glass, the colour is much the same and it is completely opaque, even when held to the light.
A: There is a massive tropical fruit aroma to this beer. Extreme notes of mango. These are accompanied by a sweet orange aromatic and a touch of grapefruit. It smells fantastic.
There is a sweet character to the aroma, but it is hard to say it is from the malt used. This is very much a hop-forward beer (not surprising).
B: There is a very noticeable dank character to the nose of this beer. It is not quite enough to be categorized as catty, but it is trending in that direction. It is certainly very pungent in its aroma.
Aside from the dank aroma, there is a massive amount of tropical fruit notes. There is a definite note of mango in there that is accompanied by overripe orange. This is a delicious bouquet of fruit aromatics.
A: The mango aromatic follows through into the taste, as does the orange and grapefruit. The mango is immediately noticeable, but not the strongest note. The orange note really takes over here and there is a light lingering bitterness that is reminiscent of grapefruit and orange pith.
In terms of sweetness and bitterness, this is a much more balanced beer than its counterpart. There is a much lower level of sweetness and the body seems to be lighter as well.
B: As you would expect from the style, there is a noticeable sweetness upfront. This is accompanied by a very powerful hop taste. You get that strong dank, almost catty, aromatic following through into the taste. It is undeniably the strongest hop note at play here.
Despite the dank characteristic being the strongest, you do get other hop notes. Overripe orange is one that follows through here and there is a light touch of sweet mango as well.
The branding from Steel & Oak and Boombox Brewing is simplistic, but sharp. A white label lies behind red and black that invokes the image of an old school cassette, something some of you may not have ever had to use. Clever marketing is at play here.
A: This beer pours a head that is common to the style, but nothing to write home about. The retention is below average.
B: There is initially a very large head to this beer. The retention is above average, as it should be for the style.
A: There is a great deal of lacing on the glass from this one. The glass is practically coated.
B: There is a bit of lacing here and there, but the glass certainly isn’t coated from top to bottom.
A: This beer is much more balanced in its sweetness and bitterness than B-Side. It also has a lighter body and more perceived bitterness. The notes of mango, orange and grapefruit make for a fantastic smelling and tasting beer. If I were to pick one of the two, this one would be my choice.
B: When Boombox is involved there is a safe bet it is going to be a hop-forward and hazy IPA. This beer is no exception to that statement. This opaque IPA has notes of overripe orange, mango and a powerful dank characteristic. There is little bitterness, but the hop tastes linger long after each sip.
What one did you like better? Comment below with your choice.
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Main photo by Nic Hendrickson, Lastword Inc., all rights reserved