I’m not surprised that many scientists gravitate towards craft beer and homebrewing. In the “real world” I am a chemist, and there are many similarities between my job and my hobby. In both brewing and chemistry a defined set of ingredients are mixed with careful control of temperature to obtain a desired product. While beer can be described as an art as well as a science, precise additions of quality ingredients are important for consistently delicious beer. Many brewers are constantly tinkering with their ingredient profiles, and share the resulting creations as a series of beer releases. Most of these beer series change the malt or hop profiles, allowing the brewer to highlight a particular ingredient or combination of ingredients. Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, MA probably has the most unique series of beers I’ve tasted, their Vinland series.
Each year the brewers at Mystic (who are trained microbiologists), cultivate a naturally occurring yeast strain from a variety of local fruit and use it to brew their beer. The goal is to isolate a strain from a different fruit in a different New England state each year. The first beer in the series used plums from Massachusetts, while Vinland 2 harvested yeast from Maine blueberries. Recently released Vinland 3 uses a yeast strain cultivated from raspberries grown in Vermont, and uses the yeast to brew a Belgian style dubbel. While the fruit itself isn’t used in the brewing or fermentation process, you can often get flavors reminiscent of the fruit that are actually contributed by the yeast. Vinland 3 is available for a limited time in 375 and 750 mL bottles.
Mystic Vinland 3 pours a deep cloudy reddish-brown with a large tan head. The smell is dominated by the local yeast, tons of fruit with a little spice. In contrast, the taste actually starts with the malt, notes of caramel, fresh baked bread and a little plum. The yeast also adds significant character, touches of apple, pear, pepper and must. There is also some raspberry flavor, very subtle but it gets more noticeable as the beer warms. Even with all the mentions of fruit flavors this is very much a traditional dubbel, not a fruit flavored beer. There is a very small hit of old world hops. They don’t add much to the flavor, but the mild bitterness adds some balance. The finish leaves a mix of sweet malt and spicy yeast on the tongue. Vinland 3 is medium bodied and drinkable at 6.0% ABV. As soon as I finished my bottle I wished I bought more (and I’m sure I will very soon). I might have preferred Vinland 2 overall, but it is pretty much a coin toss, both beers are great. This is highly recommended. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
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