Random Beer Thoughts: June 2020

At the beginning of the month I wrote an article about how it’s tough to get fired up to write about beer with everything going on in the country/world right now. This is still a struggle for me, but it was cathartic to put some of my feeling about all of these topics down in writing. I am planning to keep plugging away with Hoppy Boston as much as I can, but my focus will still be elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Needless to say, the issue of race weighed heavily on most people’s mind this month, and it is definitely relevant to a craft beer industry that skews heavily towards white males. There are many voices that want to push the industry to be more inclusive and welcoming to everyone. One of the best is Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham, who has started Craft Beer for All, with the hope to help drive some change in the industry. Many breweries have made statements in support of Black Lives Matter and the push towards equality and reform in the country, and Weathered Souls Brewing has started the Black is Beautiful collaboration to raise money for organizations that promote equality and reform. This is a start, but it is clear that the country still has a long way to go, but I am hopeful that the craft beer industry can be a small part of some positive changes.

In a related article, Gary Dzen discusses the industry and their experiences with some of the Black brewery owners in Massachusetts.

In local COVID lockdown news, breweries are now open! Here are some things you should know before you go back to your local brewery. I’ll be honest, I am not ready to go have a pint at a taproom yet, still curbside only for me, it might be overly cautious but that is where I am. For those who are ready, please be safe, responsible and considerate of the other guests and especially the servers/bartenders.

Jim Vorel at Paste has an interesting article on why he is done with trying new NEIPAs. Some of his points are good, especially the lack of balance/drinkability in too many NEIPAs. The issue I have is the idea in the beer geek community that the majority of newly released NEIPAs are poor quality. There are always going to be bad beers, especially from breweries that don’t know what they are doing, but that is true for any style, it just gets amplified when it’s a popular (and usually expensive) style. I’ve actually found that more and more New England breweries are making stellar NEIPAs, there is no reason to wait in line for beers when any quality bottle shop and many less hyped local breweries have delicious, fresh and well-crafted versions of the style.

Is Massachusetts the best state in the country for craft beer? That question is kind of ridiculous and impossible for anyone to answer, but the Mass Brew Bros have an argument in favor of MA. I don’t know if we are the best, but I am excited about how much awesome and inventive beers are readily available nearby.

The Mass Brew Bros also have a rundown of the biggest and the fastest growing breweries in the state in 2019. It will be very interesting to see how these lists change in 2020.

The Eco-Friendly Beer Drinker has a list of 3 things we can all try to do to be more Eco-friendly in our enjoyment of craft beer.

It was recently announced that Night Shift will be opening a new taproom in the Natick Mall. This is an interesting choice, but as a resident of the Metro-West I am 100% in support of more awesome beer in this area.

New Brewery Alert: Rockport Brewing is launching as a contract brand, brewing at RiverWalk, with hopes of opening a taproom in Rockport, MA next year.

Magic Hat, one of the first breweries to launch in Vermont, has decided to close their South Burlington brewery, shifting all production to the Rochester, Ny facility owned by their parent company. This is huge news to those of us who cut their craft beer teeth on #9 and other Magic Hat beers. A piece of related good news, Zero Gravity is taking over the space, allowing for a significant increase in capacity.

Firestone Walker has decided to stop distributing their beer in New England. While I imagine the lack of draft sales due to COVID played a role in this, I would bet that struggling to compete with local breweries is a bigger issue. I bet we will see more of this with regional and national craft breweries, where they focus on making a bigger impact in fewer markets to avoid spreading themselves too thin.

Exhibit A is expanding into Maine. For Maine-based Hoppy Boston readers, I highly recommend giving their beer a shot, especially Goody Two Shoes if you like the Kolsch style.

Springdale has launched Battle of the Brewers, a mixed 4-pk with 4 different summer-appropriate styles, where customers can buy the pack and then vote for their favorite beer. This is a brilliant idea, it lets customers try 4 different beers and then gives the brewery feedback on how the beers are received. I could see many places try to make similar mix packs.

Smug Brewing in Rhode Island has released a new beer that jokingly trolls the choice by a couple of Patriots legends to move to Tampa Bay this offseason.

That is it for June, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and enjoying some delicious beers. Thanks again for reading Hoppy Boston, and following/sharing/liking/commenting on social media, it is a nice distraction during these stressful times!

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