The biggest local story this month was probably Harpoon buying out Clown Shoes. Here is the press release from Harpoon and from Clown Shoes. I think it is a good move for both breweries. Harpoon gets some added diversity to their lineup from a recognizable brand, Clown Shoes gets a physical brewery (they were contract brewed before) and the capacity/marketing/distribution advantages that go along with lager breweries. Beervana covers the acquisition and some of the issues that the Clown Shoes brand has faced in the past.
Garrett Oliver, the legendary brewmaster from Brooklyn Brewery, caused a stir when he labeled NEIPA as a fad based on Instagram culture. Good Beer Hunting has a thorough retort to this characterization. I really don’t understand the hatred for this sub-style amongst a relatively small but very outspoken circle of brewers, beer geeks and beer writers. Are there crappy NEIPAs? Sure, there are crappy versions of every beer style. Are a few breweries that make this style completely overhyped? Yes, but nobody is forced to stand in line for beer, you can enjoy an array of delicious NEIPAs without standing in a single line. If you don’t like a beer style then don’t drink it, no need to spend time and energy trashing a style that many people clearly love. Cloudwater Brewing has a blog post that does a great job expressing this point.
It looks like 2017 is setting another record for Massachusetts brewery openings, with very few closings to report. I don’t think there is a bubble in the traditional sense of the term, but I think we’ll start to see a slow down in openings and more places closing over the next few years.
Hop Culture has a very cool profile on the Mass Brew Brothers. These guys are doing an amazing job raising awareness about the great beer being brewed in the state, especially at breweries beyond the small handful that get tons of hype.
Night Shift has maxed out their space, so they are contract brewing some of their beers at Smuttynose in New Hampshire. They have really found a nice balance brewing inventive and delicious beers that are still readily available.
Sam Adams has finally opened a taproom in Boston. I haven’t been but I’ve heard good things. I think this is a key step for them to re-connect with some of the drinkers who have lost interest in the Sam Adams brand over the years.
After their incredibly successful summer beer garden in Boston, Trillium is opening a winter beer garden in Roslindale.
I’ve mentioned many times that I hate waiting in line for beers, the actually time sink is one part but a bigger issue is the culture that follows these limited beer releases. I buy beer that I enjoy drinking, not beer that I want to brag about on social media or trade (or sell for a profit) online. Issues with the people waiting in these lines have led Monkish Brewing to issue a set of rules for their beer releases. Just reading these rules makes me want to avoid that brewery at all costs.
Allagash has a blog post on the process behind their Coolship beers. Beers like this, which take a special level of expertise to really pull off, set Allagash apart.
Kate Bernot has an interesting article on Brett lagers, which sounds like a contradiction, but is actually a great way to showcase the expressive flavors from the funky yeast.
Brew Studs has an in depth article on the black ale project, a rotating series of beer releases that support charities involved with veterans issues. This is a great cause and I’ve tasted a number of delicious dark beers brewed as part of the project.
Medium has an interesting idea on ways to make Untappd more social and less about people just plugging beers into the app to win badges. I don’t really use the app, but most of my friends who do just use it as a way to keep track of which beers they enjoyed (or disliked).
Maine has seen an uptick in the number of female brewers. There is still a long way to go, but the addition of more women into important roles in breweries should help fight some issues with sexism that seem to crop up periodically.
Neil Witte has an interesting perspective on the importance of quality control after beer leaves the brewery. It is really important for breweries to work with their distributors to insure that beer on draft and in stores meets the highest standards. There is way too much expired beer on shelves and on draft in bars and restaurants. The point about clean draft lines is also critical, there was a restaurant I used to go to that had horrible issues with their draft lines, their draft beer was nearly undrinkable.
Speaking of quality control, Left Hand is suing White Labs, claiming that contaminated yeast led to a major beer recall. It will be interesting to see if they can prove that the yeast was contaminated when they purchased it (and not during the brewing process), and how much liability falls on White Labs.
As the year winds down there are inevitably a number of “best beers of the year” lists, that I will read because I am a sucker for that kind of thing. Vinepair and Beer and Brewing both have lists out that feature a number of local offerings.
Paste Magazines blind tasting series looks at stouts, and New England beers take four of the top ten spots!
True North Ale Company is open in Ipswich.
The 21st Annual Great International Beer, Cider, Mead and Sake Competition was held this month and a number of local breweries took home serious hardware.
That’s it for November, thank you again for reading and, as always, feel free to pass along any great articles you find over the course of the next month!