Random Beer Thoughts: October 2017

I recently participated in another blind tasting hosted by the Mass Brew Brothers and Craft Beer Cellar, this time evaluating 11 local pumpkin beers. I’m not usually a fan of pumpkin beers, but I’ll admit there were a few beers here that I really enjoyed. My personal favorites were the Pumpkin Stout from Cape Ann and Pumpkin Crop from Jack’s Abby. I highly recommend blind tastings, it’s fun to get together with friends, chat about beer and pick your favorites without any of the inevitable preconceptions you have about specific breweries or beers.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine

Speaking of blind tastings, I’ve mentioned many times that I’ve really enjoyed the series of blind tastings that Paste Magazine has been doing. One recent addition was double IPAs, which was as notable for some of the whalez that missed the cut as for some of the less buzzy beers that placed very high. Recently Paste also covered the twenty best beers from Vermont that they’ve sampled as part of the blind tasting process. I hope they do some more of these summaries from other states.

One of the biggest stories this month was Take Back Craft, a crowd-sourcing push by the Brewers Association to “purchase AB-InBev” (they do realize this is a completely unrealistic goal). In reality it’s a publicity stunt, and kind of a silly one. I have a bunch of ideas on how the money could be spent in better ways, but Stouts and Stilettos did an amazing job with such a list already.

Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale

I really enjoyed this history of the artwork on Trillium’s beer labels. My favorite tidbit was that Sunshower was named after the Chris Cornell song, he is one of my all time favorite performers and it was tough to hear about his passing earlier this year.

I know that “Brewery X is now canning their beer!” is no longer big news, the vast majority of breweries have moved at least partially into cans. Still, it seems like a big deal that a brewery like Mystic, who had been stubborn about sticking to Belgian styles in cork & cage bottles, is now producing cans of popular IPAs. I really hope that the popularity of these beers leads to some hop-heads giving Mystic’s stellar Belgian-style beers a shot, and I am looking forward to sampling more of their hop-forward offerings.

Mason's Hipster Apocalypse

Mason’s Brewing Company in Maine got a cease and desist letter from 10 Barrel Brewery (one of InBev’s craft purchases) this month, saying their Hipster Apocalypse is an infringement on 10 Barrels trademark of Apocalypse IPA. Apparently this was resolved without further legal action, but this is going to continue to be an issue as we get more breweries making more beers. There is no excuse when your beer has the exact same name as a trademarked beer, this is something that can be easily avoided using Google/untapped searches. There is a big grey area when names are similar or contain some of the same words. This could be especially problematic when the fight is between a big brewery with an in house legal team and a small upstart with no extra cash. We’ll see how these things get resolved moving forward.

The majority of Massachusetts breweries aren’t close to public transportation, which can unfortunately lead to irresponsible drinking and driving. The Massachusetts Brewers Guild has teamed with Lyft to offer discounted rides to and from local breweries. This is a really important program that addresses an issue that can be glossed over when talking about the impact of the craft beer boom.

I reviewed my first beers from Lone Pine Brewing Company this week. They recently announced that they are expanding into the Sebago Brewery in Gorham (when Sebago moves into a bigger facility of their own), and they are starting distribution throughout the state of Maine. Big month for a brewery that is building a lot of interest in the stellar Portland beer scene.

The majority of beers entered for awards at the Great American Beer Festival  in Denver(and thus the majority of the winners) are from breweries in the western part of the US, but I still tend to browse the list to identify local winners. This year  Night Shift and Cambridge Brewing Company won awards. I would love to see a similar large festival with blind tasting based awards that was based on the east coast.

The Full Pint has an overview of the common off-flavors in beer and where they come from. Great reading for science nerds like me or for anyone else who occasionally tastes something strange in their beer and wants to know what caused it.

Down The Road Seventh Star

Down the Road is finally opening their Everett Brewery next week, really looking forward to checking out the new digs and sampling some of their exciting new beers.

The local brewery explosion continues, with three new breweries opening in Central Massachusetts this fall and a few more in progress. As a Sudbury resident it is nice to see another brewery opening in nearby Maynard.

Bryan Roth has an entertaining article on the domination of the IPA in craft beer.

BrewBound has a cool story on the origins of CitraBus, the popular IPA from Newburyport Brewing.

Springdale Desert Solitaire

Springdale is organizing a series of “Neighbor Nights” partnering on special events to raise money for local charities. I love how many local breweries care about giving back to their communities, and some of these nights look like a lot of fun.

Two Roads is opening a new barrel aging and experimental brewing facility. I really need to make a trip down to CT and check out some of the exciting breweries in the state.

Zagat has an article on the 8 hottest beer bars in Boston. Most of them are breweries, and there are some very good choices on the list. The inclusion of Notch was a little bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, Notch is awesome, but it is strange including one bar in Salem on a list with a bunch of others in the city.

That’s it for this month, thanks for reading and feel free to pass along anything that I should share next month!

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