From muted colors and reserved styling to a VW bus, a Bernese mountain dog and funky fonts, any Vermont beer drinker will notice that Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury has been going through a rebranding. The imaginative new beers they’ve been releasing paired with colorful new labeling represent a distinct direction change for Otter Creek.
The brewery’s recent new seasonal beers, like Citra Mantra, Kind Ryed, and Overgrown, seem to have become instant classics. So it only makes sense that Otter Creek would continue to fully embrace the success of the Brewmaster Mike “character,” both in their beers and their brand.
We decided to taste a couple of the brews that will be leaving the year-round line-up side-by-side with the two new year-round Otter Creek beers to get a true sense of the brewery’s new direction. Here’s the what we thought:
Sweet and malt-forward with undertones of caramel. Soft, smooth, and medium-bodied. We can see why this was an old standby for so long.
Described on the bottle as “somewhere between a pale and an IPA,” this one is vaguely earthy with a distinct piney taste. Easy-drinking without losing that hop charictaristic.
My first reaction when Ian poured this out was, “Oooh, looks like champagne!” and Ian’s was “It smells wonderful…holy balls” (yeah, we’re clearly beer tasting experts). This was brewed to be a sessionable (or “chronically crushable”) ale that would pack in the hop flavor without tiring the palate or being too alcoholic. Our opinion is that it certainly achieves what it set out to be.
Juicy and resin-y, this beer finishes hard with a strongly bitter aftertaste. We got notes of orange and grapefruit pith. Bonus: it’s the first year-round IPA in Otter Creek’s history.
Otter Creek’s new look and brews are fun and inviting where their classics were solid and to-the point. While Copper Ale used to seem like the epitome of Otter Creek, it’s good to see one of Vermont’s oldest breweries willing to change and adapt to the market by going after IPAs and session ales. Their new, hoppier direction conveys a sense of adventure.