Random Beer Thoughts: February 2021

My beer thoughts and links for February is a little late (obviously), these articles take some time to put together and I am struggling to find time in my schedule for much of anything right now. This article is still a monthly priority though, so I will find a way to keep getting it done, even if it goes live a day or two late. As always, feel free to pass along any articles you come across and think I should share, even if they are a bit of self-promotion!

Ever wonder what happened to Dann and Martha, the owners and operators of Pretty Things Beer and Ale project? Matthew Curtis catches up with the couple at their new brewery, St Mars of the Desert in Sheffield, England. Matthew reached out on Twitter to ask New England beer people for their thoughts on Pretty Things, and apparently his inbox was flooded with responses praising the brewery and describing how much they are missed. I sent one of the responses, Pretty Things was one of the breweries that challenged me to delve deeper into the local beer scene, and I would love some Jack D’Or or Babayaga right now.

The Boston restaurant scene took a massive hit this month with the announcement that Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne are all closed for good. Eastern Standard was always a favorite of mine, nice enough that it worked for a special occasion without being pretentious, great food at prices that wouldn’t break the bank, a quality beer menu before that became a fashionable thing for restaurants. Many modern neighborhood restaurants borrow liberally from what worked there. As a BU graduate student it was a frequent stop, especially when the department or our professors were paying, and it was where I celebrated with my family after I defended my thesis. These places will be missed.

I covered this in more depth in my review of 42 IPA, but Proclamation Brewing in Rhode Island recently suffered the devastating loss of co-founder Dave Witham, and there is a fund started to help his wife and young daughter. To help out many local breweries are making Second Derivative with a portion of proceeds going into the fund to help Dave’s family. I hope to grab some of the beer as soon as I can find it, and encourage you to do the same.

Kate Bernot has an article on some of the issues with Untappd, and it’s outsized influence on many beer drinkers and more than a few breweries. A while back I wrote an article on my issues with Untappd, and I still don’t really use the app, it doesn’t appeal to me. I am fine with anyone who likes to use it to keep track of their favorite (or less than favorite beers), but the scores on the app should not be a factor in the beers you buy.

A couple of very talented beer writers have started Substack newletters recently, and I recommend that you subscribe to both. Will Gordon mixes his irreverent sense of humor with plenty of knowledge in Worth A Shot, plus he is a Boston-area resident so he writes about lots of beers that are locally available. Beth Demmon’s substack is Prohibitchin’, and highlights the diverse community of people working in the beer industry, with the mission of amplifying voices that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

The Alchemist recently received an award for hiring and retaining workers with physical and intellectual disabilities. This is awesome, great work by the brewery and their ownership team. I have a personal connection with multiple people who have physical or intellectual disabilities, and having opportunities to work with a team and contribute in jobs like this is a huge part of their lives.

Treehouse is looking to expand their footprint in the local drinks community, after announcing two new in-progress locations opening soon they have also announced that they are building their own distillery in Charlton. I’m not a huge spirits drinker, but I might give some of their releases a shot when they get the operation online.

Portico Brewing has received a grant from the DEP to implement environmentally-friendly strategies at their new Somerville Brewery, and they are working with Rob Vandenabeele from the EcoFriendly Beer Drinker to make the brewery more sustainable. They have also released their first NEIPA.

Flying Dreams has left their Worcester brewery, instead they are brewing their beer at Tackle Box Brewing in Marlborough while continuing to operate their taproom (also in Marlborough). There seems to be a lot more to this story than either the brewery or their former landlord wants to share on the record, but hopefully the brewery lands on their feet and their former space turns into something else for the Worcester community to enjoy.

Very cool story alert: a group of archeologists have found the oldest known production brewery in a site over 5000 years old in Egypt. Domestication of grains for brewing beer is often sited as a driving force in the rise of civilization, this is certainly some proof of that.

Happy 11th anniversary to Wormtown Brewing! Worcester Magazine has a profile of the brewery and interview with founder Ben Roesch.

Bloomberg has an article on “performance beers”, beers with electrolytes designed for athletes enjoying a brew after working out or running a race. I am dubious that these beers could ever be more than a small niche category (and even more dubious to any claims that there is a scientific basis to their ingredients helping you recover from a workout), but if you’re the type that likes a beer or two post-run it might be worthwhile to check these options out.

I know it’s a little late for these, but they are worth passing on for next year. The Mass Brew Bros have a list of Valentine’s Day beers produced by local breweries. Hop Culture has a list of beers to enjoy during the Super Bowl, although I suppose that would work just as well for March Madness or Opening Day.

That is it for February, hopefully we are looking ahead to some better weather and huge progress in vaccinations. Thanks again for reading, following, sharing, and liking my content, and I hope to have some interesting stuff coming in the next month!

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