It is somewhat surreal walking into Exhibit A Brewing Company in Framingham for the first time, if you’ve been a patron of local breweries you’ll probably get a sense of deja vu. That is due to the fact that the Exhibit A space used to be Jack’s Abby, before they moved into their bigger brewery. Outside of some new paint, logos and décor the tasting room looks essentially the same, but there is a new crew pouring a very different lineup of beers. On a recent visit the guys at the bar even told me that they’ve made some new customers who hadn’t undated their GPS and tried to go to Jack’s Abby, but decided to stick around and check out the new brewery in Framingham. Exhibit A launched recently with a series of “demo tape” beers, essentially full scale test runs of a number of beers that allow them to tweak recipes before they become a regular part of the rotation. You can buy full pours or samples at the brewery or get growler fills and 16 oz. cans to go. They haven’t started distributing yet, so the only place to get the beer is at the brewery. On a recent trip I grabbed The Cat’s Meow, their flagship IPA, and Demo Tape 5, a brown porter.
Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow pours a hazy light orange with a small white head. The scent is a solid hit of hops, mostly citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of guava, grapefruit and mango along with a soft bitterness. There is just enough malt for balance, touches of crackers and honey. The Cat’s Meow is very easy to drink, that is one of the first things you notice as you try it, but at 6.5% ABV it packs a little punch. The finish is crisp and clean with a little lingering hop flavor. The flagship IPA is one of the most important beers for a new brewery, it will probably be the way that they introduce themselves to their customers, and this is a very nice start for Exhibit A. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Exhibit A Demo Tape Five pours pitch black with a minimal tan head. The scent features some rich roasted malt. The flavor is malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, coffee and toffee. This is balanced by some mild hop flavor, earthy with a touch of bitterness. Demo Tape Five is full bodied but drinks easy and isn’t too boozy at 6.1% ABV. The finish is clean with a little lingering malt flavor. I am a huge fan or well made porters, especially when they focus on a solid recipe without the need of adjunct ingredients or huge ABVs. This is a very good beer and I’ve heard a rumor that it will soon become a regular part of the Exhibit A rotation (once they come up with a good name)! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.