In the increasingly crowded craft beer market it is important for a brewery to do things that are unique and innovative to distinguish itself from the competition. Element Brewing Company of Miller’s Falls, MA has found a few ways to stand out to consumers. One way is their packaging. All of their beers are distributed in 750 mL bottles gift wrapped in full length paper labels. Around the neck is a tag with details about the beer and a bottle number. The beers tend to be made in small batches, so don’t expect a high number, my recent purchase was bottle number 66. The beer itself is another way that Element is unique. While most breweries will start their business with easily recognizable styles like IPA and stout, all of Element Brewing Company’s beers defy traditional style constraints. This is true for Element’s summer seasonal Interval, a Summer Pilsner Fusion beer. Interval is intended to be a mixture of a German pilsner and an oatmeal stout, using the light colored malts and crisp hops of a traditional pilsner with the thick and smooth mouthfeel of an oatmeal stout. Definitely a cool concept for a beer, but I have to admit I was a little skeptical of how well it would work. My skepticism was mixed with intrigue, so I bought a bottle and gave it a try.
Element Interval Ale pours a deep copper (pretty dark for a pilsner) with a large but quickly dissipating off-white head. The smell has some floral and earthy hops, noticeable but not strong. The taste starts with some mild hoppiness, touches of orange, grass and flowers. This is nicely offset by some pilsner malts, notes of cracker and grain. All of these taste elements are reminiscent of a classic German pilsner, but the mouthfeel is all oatmeal stout, thick, full bodied and a little creamy. Despite the full body, Element Interval Ale is easy to drink. I was shocked to find out that it was 9% ABV. The finish is pretty clean with just a little hoppy bite. Overall this is a very solid beer with an interesting and unexpected twist, definitely worth a try. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5