New Holland Night Tripper: Scary Good

Usually a beer label will turn me off if it’s too cutesy or if the beer has a pun for a name (looking at you HE’BREW).  For some reason, I feel if they’re trying so hard to grab your attention with kitsch, the beer inside must not be that special.  It’s a stupid way to look at it (I just saved you the trouble of saying that in the comments, Don), but it does influence what I reach for on the shelf.

In the case of New Holland’s Night Tripper, the label just plain scared me.  Let’s face it, a jester is just an old-school clown, and clowns are scary as hell.  Especially ones with bulging eyes.  Anyway, I bought this beer despite the label, and I’m glad I did. 

It was an easy decision to make actually, because it was sitting next to its cousin on the shelf, New Holland’s excellent Dragon’s Milk, the beer that started me down the road to my current obsession with all things aged in barrels.

Night Tripper is not the world’s most complex beer, rather it’s a great example of what an imperial stout should be; dark, big, bold and chocolaty.

The pour was (wait for it) very dark, with a delightfully fluffy tan head.

The aroma was a straight forward blend of dark toasted cocoa and sweet malt.

The taste followed with bitter chocolate and lots of malt and not a lot else except maybe a hint of alcohol to support this beer’s imperial moniker.

This is simply a really solid Imperial Stout, and at $8.00 a bottle, another great value from New Holland.  It’s the perfect thing if you’re in the mood for a classic.  Just make sure to let it warm up a bit so you can enjoy the fullness of its character.

All that said, there were no real surprises to be had in the flavor, so why the devilish jester on the label?  Well in the end, this 22oz imperial imp did have a trick up its sleeve, as I thoughtlessly followed it up with a couple other 12oz imperials and woke up the next morning feeling a bit woozy.  I failed to notice that this beer has an ABV approaching 11%, as the alcohol was so cleverly hidden. Stupid clowns.

Next time I’ll know to proceed with caution when I see a scary jester on the label of a beer bottle.  You simply can’t trust a clown.  Words to live by, kids, words to live by.

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16 Comments on “New Holland Night Tripper: Scary Good”

  1. Kevin M
    March 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Jim, those guys at New Holland sure make good beer. It’s funny that Bells and Founders steal the show from Michigan, but more and more people will be drinking New Holland when they see just how solid their whole line up is!

    By the way, keep your eyes peeled for something from Founders that could be rolling in tomorrow… and no, it’s not KBS…

  2. March 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I’ll take four! wait, what is it exactly? No, don’t tell me – it’s from Founders, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth trying. I’m in.

    • Kevin M
      March 16, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

      I think if you get four of this next one, you’ll be VERY lucky… we’re talking about a 1 bottle limit with this one…

      • Don
        March 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

        Get one for me Too…Kevin O’wise and benevolent Dark Lord of the Stout, please be kind to my brotha…and let him pick one up for me too…Whatever it is.

      • March 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

        Yes. We’ll take two of Founder’s (whatever it is)! Can you set one (or two) aside, or do I need to time it perfectly?

      • March 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

        BTW, is this some kind of arch rival we’re talking about here?

        • Don
          March 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

          Perhaps a Nemesis of some kind?

        • Kevin M
          March 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

          Don, I do not know what this “Nemesis” is that you speak of… yet… maybe tomorrow I’ll know something about it. But only a little bit, 24 bottles worth…

  3. Kevin M
    March 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Technically, Don, Jim would have to leave the store after purchasing one… and then come back… or he could bring a friend that hates beer to buy it for you… or, if he’s a good a brother, he could just give you his…

    OR!!! I could trade you one of mine for something tasty from Deschutes….

    • Don
      March 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

      Name it its yours!

  4. Kevin M
    March 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    Don, I do not know what this “Nemesis” is that you speak of… yet… maybe tomorrow I’ll know something about it. But only a little bit, 24 bottles worth…

  5. March 17, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Sounds like I need to make a trip out to Boonton! Kevin here I come… next week.

  6. March 17, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Hey guys. Zak from Shmaltz (you knew I’d pop in). Beer marketing’s tough man.

    If you have ridiculous labels and marketing, people assume that the product must be all marketing and that the actual beer must suck.

    If you have crappy labels and marketing, people assume that the product must be as crappy as the marketing.

    I guess we all need to strive for ‘meh’ labels and marketing…

    As the shelves get fuller and fuller of craft beer it’s getting more important to have your bottles stick out.


    • Don
      March 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

      Well Zak, you need to understand that my brother’s an idiot. He actually said his thoughts on beer labeling were stupid, and he is correct. But his point is a valid one. If you have no information about a beer a label might be the only thing you have to go off of. It was actually interesting in my review of Avery’s Mephistopheles Stout to hear in the comments how many people were turned off because of the label, and perhaps the name on that one. But you are correct beer label design is a loose loose proposition. I think I’ll drink my Lenny’s RIPA tonight and ponder the imponderables…

    • March 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      I actually wasn’t expecting you Zak, but I’m glad you popped in. I’m not advocating for “meh” labels and marketing, I’m just saying HE’BREW is trying way too hard for my sensibilities. There’s a big difference.

      I happen to be pun adverse when choosing products I’m serious about. Beer falls into this category. The fact that you have layered puns in your company/product/brew names turns me off. It’s difficult for me to take your products seriously with all the zaniness. It make me (and maybe only me) feel that you are overcompensating or perhaps pandering to people who don’t know a lot about beer. If you’re going to go to such lengths to “stick out” on the shelves, then understand it can backfire with people like me.

      As I said in the post (and as Don so gleefully reiterated here), I’m an idiot and it’s stupid to judge a book by its cover. That’s why the best tastings are blind tastings. There are breweries I adore that have “meh” labels (sorry Weyerbacher, it’s true) and breweries that make average beer with fancy labels (Flying Dog fits this bill IMO), and places like Victory who do just about everything right. They even cook well from what I’ve heard.

      To be honest, I haven’t been able to overcome this with your products yet. The same goes for Bear Republic. I guess it’s time to try one and see for myself. I’ll just peel off the label before I pour it. The question is where to start? Any suggestions for a guy who likes dark imperial stuff?


  1. Brewery Love: Avery Brewing « Beer Reviews, Whiskey Reviews and Brotherly Bashing with the Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - November 23, 2010

    […] I should stop talking about if I ever hope to find any on the shelves), their other stuff like Night Tripper is more than serviceable, and their Charkoota Rye was dreadful.  Flying Dog is another brewery […]

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