I mentioned in my recent Beer Thoughts/Links column that many new breweries were still pushing forward with plans to open despite the pandemic. It is a testament to the amount of time and work that goes into opening a brewery, plus the amount of red tape that needs to be navigated, so prospective brewery owners aren’t going to let a small thing like a global plague change their plans. In many ways the breweries that are starting as contract brands are in the best shape, they can build a customer base of people stuck drinking at home without worrying about the overhead caused by a physical taproom. A good local example is Rockport Brewing, which launched this summer as a contract brand while they look forward to opening a physical location in Rockport, MA in 2021. The first beer Rockport Breiwng released is Hatchet, a session IPA named for the hatchetgang of women who turned Rockport into a dry town in 1856. I am a big fan of lower alcohol IPAs that have big hop flavors but enough malt balance to keep the beers from tasting watered down, so I was excited to give this beer a shot. Rockport Brewing Hatchet is brewed with a variety of American and Australian hops and is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. cans.
Rockport Brewing Hatchet pours murky light orange with a solid white head. The aroma is hop forward, heavy on the tropical fruit. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit along with minimal bitterness. This is balanced by a mild malt backbone, hints of cereal and bread crust. Hatchet is light and very easy drinking, sessionable at 4.6% ABV. The finish is crisp and pretty clean, just a little residual hop flavor. This is a really nice start for a new brewery, plenty of flavor, a little balance, well-crafted. I look forward to trying more beers from Rockport Brewing in the future! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.