Random Beer Thoughts: August 2017

Probably my favorite article of the month comes from Jeff Alworth of Beervana, an acclaimed beer blog based in Portland, Oregon. Jeff recently visited Massachusetts and joined the list of us that were perturbed by the fact that the 35 top rated beers in Massachusetts on Beer Advocate are all from TreeHouse and Trillium. Nothing against these breweries, both are stellar and make amazing beers. A number of other breweries do too, so it’s crazy how much these two breweries dominate crowd-sourced rankings. Jeff suggests that we ignore ratings and rankings, visit breweries and make opinions for ourselves, and I wholeheartedly agree. Your next favorite beer might be sitting on draft at a local brewery, available without waiting in line or paying an exorbitant price.

National and local beer writers seem obsessed with the New England IPA sub-style, in a predictable backlash against their popularity. CraftBeer.com gives an overview and calls NE-IPA the “anti-IPA”. Dave Patterson laments the number of poor versions of the style that have flooded the market. I understand that NEIPA isn’t for everyone, some people like their IPA bitter and clear. There is also the issue of shelf life, these beers degrade quickly on a shelf and it is no coincidence that the most popular versions of the style are sold in ultra-fresh small batches right at the breweries. All of that being said, I love my jooce-bombs, and when done correctly they can be some of the best beers in the world. I think more critics will come around, like Old Nation in Michigan who saw their popularity explode when they brewed a NEIPA.

Aeronaut Robot Crush

Aeronaut Brewing has found a new way to release a limited edition beer, you buy the beer ahead of time using an Eventbrite reservation and then pick it up at your leisure. I love this idea. I hate waiting in lines for beer, especially when there is no guarantee that you’ll even get the beer. There are some breweries that I enjoy but never go to because of the crazy crowds and can limits. This could be a revolutionary way for popular breweries to sell limited releases.

Speaking on Aeronaut, the Boston rock band The Lights Out has released their new album on cans of a special beer from the brewery. Each can comes with a code that you can redeem to download the album.

Norm Miller covers a 10 must-try beers in the Metrowest. As a resident of the Metrowest I agree with many of these choices, and love how many great breweries we have in the area. Norm also has a 6-pack of Oktoberfest/Marzen beers to try. He is an expert on this style, so you should take these recommendations as gospel.

Wormtown Bottle Rocket

Wormtown Brewery has undergone an ownership shuffle and will open a second brewery in New Hampshire.

The Mass Brew Bros ask “how many breweries are their in Massachusetts?” It is interesting to see the methodology that gets to that number. They also have an introduction to the new Cheeky Monkey Brewery in Boston. Cheeky Monkey is using a SmartBrew system, which uses pre-made malt extract and pre-programed hop additions and fermentation. This is a different approach, I gravitate towards the personal touches and experimentation that makes craft beer so interesting, I’m not sure how much room this system allows for this type of innovation. It seems like an easy way to make fresh beer without a lot of the work. What are your opinions on this type of system?

I previously shared that Marlborough was looking for a brewery to move into downtown as part of their revitalization project, and it looks like they’ve found one.

medusa-black-ale-project

One of the best examples of a brewery helping rebuild a downtown is Medusa Brewing in Hudson, and now they are adding a major canning facility.

Gary Dzen has contributed a couple interesting posts to Boston.com this month. One covers his distaste for session IPAs. I agree with some of the criticisms, but I’ve found a number of very well made local versions of the style (including Notch Left of the Dial, which he cites as an exception to the rule). Gary also picks 6 Massachusetts beers to drink right now, featuring a number of exciting new local brews.

Bog Iron Middle Child

Bog Iron Brewing has decided to phase out growlers, selling their beer exclusively in 500 mL bottles. They were active in the discussions about Massachusetts growler laws, arguing about the importance of branding in beer to-go, and offered a popular growler trade-in program, so it was interesting that they took this step. I personally hate growlers and would rather buy bottles or cans.

Allagash has a detailed article on the origins of their flagship White ale.

Eat, Drink, Travel takes a beer tour through the state of Massachusetts.

Paste Magazine continues their blind tasting series with a blind tasting of 143 sours. I wish they has done smaller tasting of individual sour styles, a fruited Berliner is so much different than a gose, it’s hard to rate them without style preference coming through.

Ebenezer’s is closing their Brunswick brewpub. I had always intended to swing in on a trip to Maine, and never made it.

Just in time for Labor Day PartSelect has an article pairing beer styles with various BBQ and grilled dishes.

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