Enlightenment Ales made local headlines in December when they announced a merger with Idle Hands Brewing of Everett, MA. Under the agreement beer would still be brewed under both labels, but the owners of Idle Hands would take over the business end while Enlightenment owner Ben Howe would focus on brewing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar arrangements between some other local microbreweries in the future. Combining operations under a single roof allows both breweries to expand production and distribution while allowing the owners to focus on the parts of the business they excel at individually. Enlightenment was known for brewing very small batches of their specialty brews. One of their most popular is a Biere de Champange, a high alcohol Belgian style golden ale rarely brewed in the US. Enlightenment Ales second beer is Illumination, a Belgian style IPA. Illumination is brewed like a saison, using barley, wheat, rye and a blend of farmhouse style ale yeasts. This is followed by the late addition of large amounts of American hops, adding the citrus and floral notes that interplay with the spicy and fruity flavors produced by the yeast.
Enlightenment Ales Illumination Belgian IPA pours a cloudy orange gold with a mild white head that leaves a solid lacing on the glass as you drink. The smell is a nice mixture of American hops and Belgian yeast. The hops add notes of citrus fruit and pine while the yeast contributes scents of bubblegum, pepper and clove. The taste starts with the juicy citrus flavors you love in American hop varieties, orange, grapefruit and lemon followed by some hints of resin and earth. The yeast complements the hop flavor, some bubblegum touches with some fruity esters and spicy notes. There is a little pale malt flavor in the backbone, but this is a very hop and yeast dominated beer. There is a solid hop bitterness, especially in the aftertaste. The beer is easy to drink, and not overly heavy at 6.8% ABV. I’ll admit that this is my first Enlightenment Ale, and I came away very impressed. I will definitely be sampling more of their offerings in the future. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.