Last week I wrote a post about finding the best brewery in Massachusetts (HERE), mostly as a response to Gary Dzen’s #HotBeerTake declaring that Trillium Brewing was the best brewery in the state. I hoped that my post would be a conversation starter and I would get a number of responses supporting the various breweries I mentioned or some that I missed. The responses were a little limited in scope, I’ll post something in the near future with my thoughts on that. However, the post did lead to one interesting conversation with the brewers at Bog Iron Brewing. The main point (which we both agreed on) was that it is preposterous to name a BEST brewery in a state, especially if you haven’t tried beer from every single brewery yet. You can say a particular brewery is your FAVORITE, but that is much different than calling one the best. It was a solid back in forth, and more importantly it reminded me that I needed to make the trip down to Bog Iron in Norton, MA and sample some beers.
On Saturday I made the trip down south, Norton is a quick 45 minute drive from where I live in Watertown, very accessible from the city. The brewery is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The beer is also available on select draft accounts, but this is all the 3-barrel setup can supply at this point. They currently sell tasting flights, growler-fills (500 and 1000 mL) and pints out of a small tap room on West Main Street in Norton. The bar was manned by Brian and Matt, two of the three founders, who made easy conversation with local regulars and first-time visitors alike. I took a quick tour of the brewery with Brian. They are currently limited in their production due to fermentation space and brewing equipment, but they are planning to expand in the new year. Brian told me that they want to grow organically, reinvesting their profits into the business instead of taking out loans. Bog Iron brews about 12 beers that rotate in and out at the brewery and they typically have 4-6 on draft at a time. While most are American takes on British and German styles, they are also working on their first sour beers, they have 4 wine barrels in the back with two types of beer conditioning. I had a tasting flight and then took home a growler of One Down Robust Porter and Stinger IPA. I’ll give a review of One Down today and you can expect a review of Stinger IPA in the next week or so.
Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter pours a deep cola brown with a mild tan head that leaves substantial lacing on the glass as you drink. The smell is dominated by rich dark malts, lots of coffee and roasted barley. The taste is also malt forward with solid notes of cappuccino and dark chocolate along with a little plum and raisin. They use some cherrywood smoked malt in the brewing process, the smoky flavor is subtle but evident. I love the complexity that smoky flavors add to a porter, especially when it doesn’t overwhelm the other dark malts. There are some mild earthy hops that add some balance, but this beer is clearly a tribute to the malty flavors of the darker forms of barley. The beer is smooth and very drinkable, with the thick mouthfeel you expect from a big dark beer. One Down weighs in at 7.75% ABV, but you don’t taste the alcohol at all, the beer goes down very easy. This beer is great, I love porter and this is one of the best local versions I’ve tried. I highly recommend the trip to Norton to try this and Bog Iron’s other varieties. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.