Once upon a time, I used to hug the bar at Boston Beer Works and down anywhere from six to eight pints of its watermelon ale in a sitting. I’d get up to piss a few times, but otherwise I’d sit there and chug candy brew for hours upon hours without interruption. It was something of a personal tradition when I moved here nearly 20 years ago, and on certain occasions in the time since, when I’ve seen watermelon on tap through a Beer Works window, I’ve picked up where I left off.
If that time stamp makes me feel a little dated, then so does my appreciation of seriously sweet suds. Sure, it’s currently as en vogue as it ever was to put a mango spin on savory selections, but following the bitter ’90s, when virtually every beer that hardcore heads got thrilled about came from the hills of Europe and made your top lip curl up into your nose, it seemed inevitable that most subsequent commercial microbrews would head straight in the opposite direction, namely toward sweeter pastures.
As things wound up playing out, while tastes on the darker side of things have been sufficiently syrupy for some time—just consider the outstanding staying power of Newcastle Brown Ale, or the countless chocolate stouts and porters that surface around this time of year—those of us who have made the transition from light ales to IPAs have been rather deprived of legitimate but measured sweetness. There are subtle fruity hints and notes and plenty of confectionery puns no matter where you turn, not to mention gems like Harpoon’s New England IPA Juicer (where it’s available). But look for something on the sweet-not-sour side that falls between a clear beer and a meal, and suddenly you’re facing awfully slim pickings.
Enter the holy Mighty Squirrel and its perfectly mellow Peach Smoovy IPA. Somehow even better than the Waltham brewery’s signature Cloud Candy, it’s the most delicious piece of pie I’ve sipped in quite a while, with enough bite to excite my palate but none of the trendy baggage that can make a fruity can taste like a Jamba Juice. I doubt that I could drain a dozen of these like I used to with the Beer Works watermelon, but then again, I did knock back six in an evening, so maybe I could.
Despite the lively orange body and fulfilling meaty peach smell, the Smoovy goes down smoother than fuzz on a fresh-picked peach. Not too lazy, not too hazy, it absolutely rocks its sister, Strawberry Smoovy, which to me feels like two separate side-by-side attractions—the fruit fondling half of my taste buds, hops dancing on the rest across the room all by themselves like shy teens at a junior high school dance.
Bottom line: Unlike its berry good but lesser counterpart, Peach Smoovy is a limited edition. If you come across it, buy every goddamn can. Request that store managers order more if possible, and perhaps even call the folks at Mighty Squirrel to ask if they will brew some more.