12 Beers of Christmas 2023- 10: Baxter Brewing Ice Storm of ’98


Baxter Brewery of Maine suggests its Ice Storm of ’98 IPA pairs best with: “Broken shear pin. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Drying your gear by the fire.” The broken shear pin is a hardware reference that largely eluded me, until I realized it likely refers to the most frequently repaired part of a snowblower.

Snowblowers were largely useless in January of 1998, when what was officially called an “extratropical cyclone ice storm” blew freezing rain through eastern Canada and the U.S. northeast for more than three days, covering the landscape in heavy ice, bending trees, snapping utility wires, toppling transmission towers and causing general havoc for days on end.

Photo from Baxter Brewing

Photo from Baxter Brewing

Scores died and millions lost their power, 700,000 in Maine alone (not Baxter Brewing, since the company didn’t open until 2011). Trucks from utility companies of other states poured into New England to help with the mess, and school kids basically celebrated a week’s extension to their Christmas vacation.

People needed a drink, but this particular beer first appeared on the 23rd anniversary of the storm. (Speaking of anniversaries, Baxter is celebrating its 13th on January 13 at The Pub, adjacent to the brewery in Lewiston.)

Today, there was a trace, a wisp of snow in the afternoon on a day that hit close to 40 degrees, occasionally sunny. We haven’t had a significant snowfall here in southern Vermont yet this year. I’m not really complaining, except in an existential climate change sort of way.

20240103_171614But the beer was here to be had, so we had it, my brother, Kip, and wife, Lynn, again joining in on the tasting. An IPA is not exactly your typical winter warmer, but the brewery suggests it might help you think about sunnier days and is “brewed to get us through any weather.”

They also suggest the beer has a lush malt profile, but none of us were finding it. To me the nose was pure fruity hops. Lynn said hoppy, citrusy. Kip also found it citrusy, but with flavors that quickly fell off. “There’s not a lot of body. It dies on the middle palate,” he said.

“Well, it’s only 5.8%,” I said.

“Maybe that’s what it needs, more alcohol. But it’s an okay beer.”

I was even less keen. I enjoyed the hoppy nose, but what struck me as a typical New England hazy IPA character got to me in the end. It just seemed a pool of murky flavors, as the style often seems to me. Hazy IPAs are where the marketplace may be at these days, but I’m sick of them.

Give me a Baxter Stowaway IPA, a more west coast style, and I’ll be a happier man, snow, ice, or whatever.

Baxter logo

Name: Ice Storm of ’98
Brewer: Baxter Brewing Co., Lewiston, Maine
Style: New England IPA
ABV: 5.8%
Availability: Seasonally,
For More Information: Baxterbrewing.com

[January 3, 2024]

< 12 Beers of Christmas 9: Victory Merry Monkey
12 Beers of Christmas 11: Common Roots Snowy Night >

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