I spent the last week in New Jersey for a work-related conference/training. I got a few recommendations of local New Jersey beers I should look for but didn’t have much luck tracking them down. The main reason was scheduling, I was booked all day and into the evening every day. A group of people from the conference went out at night and I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the beer selection at the two bars we visited, no local beers featured at all. It is still amazing to me that a bar could feature 15 taps and another 25 bottles/cans and not have a single beer brewed in state. Fortunately the trip wasn’t a total loss beer-wise. I made a pit-stop on my way home at Craft Beer Cellar in West Hartford and picked up a bunch of Connecticut beers that aren’t distributed into Massachusetts yet. I considered hitting one of the local breweries, but I don’t have much experience with these beers and thought it would be a more efficient use of time to grab a selection from the bottle shop and get a better handle on what the craft beer scene in CT has to offer. Craft Beer Cellar in West Hartford was also incredibly convenient, it’s an easy stop off on I-84 and I knew they would have the quality and selection I’ve come to expect from the Craft Beer Cellar franchise.
While this blog is devoted to beers from throughout New England, I haven’t reviewed many beers from Connecticut thus far. Some people argue that Connecticut isn’t really New England (they have more Yankees fans than Red Sox fans, which is pretty damning), but it still counts in my book. The main reason for the lack of CT beer reviews is availability in Massachusetts, only a couple of CT breweries distribute into the Boston area. I lived in Connecticut for a couple of years and the local brewing scene was virtually non-existent at the time, but it has exploded in size over the last few years and a number of these small breweries are building strong reputations for quality and innovation. Over the next few weeks I will occasionally break my “rule” of only reviewing beers available in the Boston area as I mix in write-ups of beers from some of the CT breweries shown above. I didn’t grab all of the local beers at CBC, beer is best when it’s fresh and I didn’t want to judge a new brewery based on a beer that sat in my fridge for a month or more. Not to worry, now I have an excuse to make another trip to West Hartford, grab some more beer and maybe even visit a few of the breweries!
Frequent readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of the Craft Beer Cellar franchise of bottle shops, they have amazing selection, great service and owners/employees who have a passion for beer. My local store is the Newton location, I am pretty sure that the majority of beers reviewed on this blog were purchased at their store in Newton Centre. I was a little distressed when that location closed in January, but was super excited that they decided to open their new location on 14 Austin St. in Newtonville (which is even closer to where I live). The new store had a soft opening yesterday, and of course I was among the first customers. The new store is up and running, it looks like they are still ironing out a few of the details, but it is still the same crew of dedicated Beer Geeks and there is a ton of beer worth picking up. While the new space is considerably smaller (the old space wasn’t financially viable due to the rent per square foot in Newton), they did a great job organizing it and maximizing the selection.
As you can see, I did a pretty solid stock up run. I am especially excited to try the first release from Down The Road Brewery, the new Newton establishment that is officially launching this week (but CBC Newton had some in stock already). Any guesses which brewery will be featured in my next Brewery Overview article? Expect upcoming reviews of many of the beers pictured above, and if you want to weigh in with your own opinions I recommend making the trip to Newtonville, checking out the new store and grabbing some of these beers to try!
Everyone has been wondering why Trillium has been closed for the last couple weeks. JC from Trillium just posted this on a message board on Beer Advocate (HERE). I copied and pasted his message if you don’t feel like scrolling through the thread:
We’d hoped to have resolution before making a statement, but feel like we need to shed some light.
Our 2014 license renewal application was never processed. Nobody was aware of this fact until recently, the timing of which was unfortunate given the holiday. We’ve provided all documentation and complied with every request. We had a hearing today to approve or disapprove our 2014 license. We haven’t received a decision yet.
The reason we haven’t responded to rumors until now is because we honestly didn’t have all the information up front, and didn’t want to fuel any fires. While the issue is pretty simple, it’s also quite serious. Everything is when dealing with the government. We didn’t feel that the situation could benefit from social media and, to be honest, it’s painful enough to live through not to mention continue talking about it every day we’re closed.
While we’re incredibly appreciative of your desire to help, please don’t contact the ABCC or the City of Boston. We are hopeful and confident that the ABCC will respond fairly and we’ll have a positive outcome as soon as possible. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate the support, and we’ll desperately need it WHEN we reopen, but right now we don’t want anything to jeopardize our business, our lives, and the future of Trillium for us and our 10 employees who’ve been out of work for 2 weeks.
We both hope to see you and thank you for your support as soon as we’re able to open our doors. You’ll know the second we do! (Oh, and our website went down because of a massive flow of traffic! Thanks for all of you concerned enough to check in.)
Cheers, Esther & JC
I hope everyone complies with their wishes, let the situation get resolved and then buy all of the beer they can make as soon as they re-open!
I swung by Craft Beer Cellar in Newton for a little stock-up run last night, as always the selection was almost overwhelming. I picked up a bunch of good stuff, I figure this is about the end of my run of saisons this Spring, but I found a bunch of new ones to try. Look for reviews of all of the beers above over the next couple weeks!
I was running some Saturday errands in Newton Centre this morning, and of course that meant a stop into Craft Beer Cellar. My lovely wife reminded me that we still have a lot of beer in the fridge and I said I just needed to grab the new Trillium bottles…and maybe one or two other things. I did a good job with restraint this time, usually I fill my basket to the point that I need both hands to hold it and my muscles start to cramp up. As always, the guys at CBC were extremely helpful. One thing I asked about were some recommendations for introductory sour beers. I don’t have much experience with sours, and I am looking to expand my palate a little. I grabbed a couple to try, I’ll definitely post some thoughts once I sample them. If any readers have other suggestions, let me know through the comments or on twitter @HoppyBoston.
We actually have some nicer weather today, and I felt like drinking a few spring beers. Look for the reviews of porters and stouts to wind down in favor of pale ales, witbiers and saisons. There will be lots of saisons! I think they are the perfect beer for spring. Needless to say, there will still be IPAs, because that’s a beer for any season.
To get the spring beer season started I hit up CBC Newton today (see the picture below for a run down of what I purchased). I’ll clean up a few outstanding posts over the next week and then will review all of the beers pictured during the spring season. As always, the guys at CBC Newton were extremely helpful with plenty of suggestions (always appreciated considering their daunting selection).
Last month my brother and I brewed a batch of beer at Hopster’s Brew and Boards, the new brew-on-premises and bar in Newton Corner (for my earlier write-up see: http://wp.me/p3TEvn-3M). We brewed a Belgian style IPA, which I have finally been able to taste, so I thought I would share the recipe and review the beer. Before we get into the review, a few things have changed at Hopster’s since my last visit. First, they finally got a liquor license, and built a bar. The selection is great, all New England craft beers. The selection rotates pretty frequently, but on our bottling day they had Pretty Things, Jack’s Abby, Idle Hands, Mystic, Wormtown, Atlantic Brewing Co., Maine Brewing Co., Notch, Slumbrew, Allagash and some others I’m forgetting. Basically a who’s-who of local craft beer. The open bar has led to a larger crowd at Hopster’s, so the kitchen is now open daily, serving locally sourced cheese, charcuterie, and flat breads. We had a plowman’s board and everything was well made and delicious. So, if you want to check Hopster’s out and have a beer before you commit to brewing a batch of your own, they are ready and open for business. So, onto the recipe: Hoppy Boston/Hopster’s Belgian IPA: 7.5 Gallon batch (One kettle) 12 lbs. Pilsen light liquid malt extract 1 lb. CaraPils 1 lb. Aromatic malt 1 lb. Vienna malt 0.5 lbs. Crystal 15L 2 lbs. Belgian light candi sugar 1 oz. Nugget hops (pellet)-60 min 1.5 oz. Amarillo hops (leaf)-30 min 2.0 oz. Chinook hops (leaf)-20 min 3.0 oz. Simcoe hops (leaf)-10 min Dry hop with Citra hops Yeast: Wyeast Belgian Abbey 2 The idea with this beer was to make a Belgian tripel that is hopped like an American IPA, with a target of ~7% ABV. The light specialty malts add character and body. The copious late addition of American hops supply the citrus hop flavors that should complement the fruity esters from the Belgian yeast. Hoppy Boston/Hopster’s Belgian IPA pours a slightly cloudy amber with a small white head. The first smell is all American hops, like a burst of fresh citrus in your nose. This is followed by the Belgian yeast, providing notes of bubblegum and light fruity esters. The first taste is very hop-forward, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine and pine. The yeast forms a nice complement, adding green apple, bubblegum and a touch of must. There is some light malt flavors in the backbone, but the beer is all about the hops and yeast. The bitterness is present but not overbearing, and you get a nice tart aftertaste. The beer goes down very easy, the alcohol isn’t really present in the flavor. This Belgian IPA is a good beer for all seasons, it is full flavored enough to keep you warm in the winter, but light enough in body to sip on a warm summer day. I highly recommend heading down to Hopster’s and brewing your own batch!