It seems like tap rooms are all of the rage right now and for good reason, including the fact that brewers can sell their product directly to consumers which allows for more control of quality, freshness and margins. It almost seems like a few local breweries have no interest in canning or bottling beer outside of what they are selling in the taprooms. There are advantages to distribution too, especially in reaching new customers who haven’t heard of your brand or don’t have time to travel to taprooms every weekend. There are a number of examples where a brewery gains significant buzz after they start distribution. A good local case is Fort Hill Brewing in Easthampton, MA. Fort Hill has been open since 2014, but over the last year cans of their beers have entered bottle shops on a regular basis and demand has followed. It’s probably no coincidence that their taproom is currently closed while they undergo an expansion. One of Fort Hill’s most popular beers is Jigsaw Jazz, a big DIPA brewed with Citra hops. Fort Hill Jigsaw Jazz is available year-round on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Fort Hill Jigsaw Jazz pours a very hazy light yellow with a massive white head. The scent is a huge hit of hops, citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, melon, tangerine and apricot with a little bitter bite. This is balanced by a light malt backbone, touches of bread crust and honey. Jigsaw Jazz is medium bodied and drinks incredibly easy for 9.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This is a really good DIPA, loads of hops and dangerously drinkable. I understand why Fort Hill is gaining so much buzz. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.