I read about Helton opening over a year ago, have been passing the brewery every Tuesday and Thursday for over a year on the way to our rugby practice pitch, and have been reading a lot of buzz around the certified cicerone and head brewer/owner. Though interactions with staff have been a bit shy of hospitable I was still excited.
The flight included all available beers on tap- starting with the Pilsner. I don’t normally like them, but this Pilsner takes the cake in the style. Seriously: it’s rare for me to say “this is the best I’ve ever had”, but this is reminiscent of its lager siblings with much more flavor and body with a little something extra in the finish.
Their Kolsch went down clean and bubbly, but didn’t quite cut the mustard in the flavor department.
The next brew was dry and a little spicy. Helton’s Rye Pale Ale is a flavorful and unique take on pale pub ale. I could get behind putting back more than a few of these.
Probably my second favorite beer of the day; Single hop- Comet. The typical brewer and drinker are not as familiar with single hop varietals as they don’t have as much complexity. What they do have is a pure glimpse of how that hop is supposed to taste. This one in particular has a citrusy, lemon grass profile.
Though the terms East Coast IPA and West Coast IPA are, thankfully, falling to the wayside there are some “traditional” flavors of the two regions and other than a bit more body than the norm this one doesn’t fit the ‘Northeast’ IPA bill of sale I grew up on in NY.
The next IPA was floral and wasn’t bad, but nothing worth sticking its head out above the rest of the pack.
The Scotch style ale had the typical subtle bitterness without the sweet caramel malts that my taste buds were hoping for.
The Milk Stout on nitro was almost sour. Lactose in the milk stout is supposed to add a nice sweetness. Not sure what happened to this one.
Saved the best for last! Helton’s Imperial Stout was well worth the wait and the hype. In my beer journey over the past 10 years it has been increasingly difficult to find non-barrel aged stouts and porters that I truly enjoy. Many of them, though flavorful, fail the mouthfeel test. This stout not only came through with some big flavors, but a dense creamy body as well.
Helton doesn’t really have any tweeners in my opinion- loved some and hated some. Worth noting is that this is the first time I have ever been charged actual money for a sticker (weird) and I absolutely love how they brought the check. Ours was in book by Emerson with an inscription from the Rochester Public Library; what a small world. All in all I give Helton Brewing Company a 7.4 out of 10.