When you travel with a group you always need to make compromises when it comes to an itinerary. I recently took a trip to Portland with a group of 10 friends from college, we had guys travel from 5 different states to attend, and a number of us contributed to the plan for the weekend. A few of the other guys are into beer, a few dabble and a couple couldn’t care at all, so it wouldn’t have been fair to make the whole trip beer-centric. Fortunately I was able to steer the group out to Industrial Way to tour Allagash and check out the other breweries in that area. One brewery that has really grown over the last few years is Foundation Brewing. My first visit to Foundation was soon after they opened and I enjoyed their initial offerings and thought they had some serious potential. Since then they have introduced a number of extremely popular beers, including Epiphany, a Double IPA that has been consistently ranked amongst the best in the state. My recent visit was the first time I’d been back since their expansion, the brewery is beautiful, especially on a nice spring day when you can sit outside and sample some delicious beers. I grabbed some to go too, Epiphany (of course) and their “other” DIPA called Venture, which was new to me. I completely forgot to grab a Foundation glass for my glassware collection, I’ll need to do that next time I am in town. Foundation Venture is brewed with five varieties of New World hops and is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Foundation Venture pours a hazy orange with a massive white head. The scent is a big burst of hops, mostly citrus and tropical fruit. Venture drinks like a hybrid of the New England and West Coast IPA styles. There is a ton of hop flavor, notes of grapefruit, orange, mango and pine along with a solid bitter bite. This is balanced by some malt, touches of bread crust and honey. Venture has a medium body and drinks very easy for 8% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bitterness. Venture is another very good Foundation beer, this is quickly becoming a must visit brewery for anyone checking out the Portland area. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Foundation Reviews:
Foundation Afterglow, Foundation Wanderlust, Foundation Epiphany
Cambridge Brewing Company is one of the most under-rated breweries in Massachusetts. I can think of a few reasons that might have contributed to this. One is the styles of beers they brew. I am a huge fan of their barrel aged and wild ales, but beer geek buzz seems to only surround breweries that make 10 different types of IPA. Until recently they also had limited number of beers that made it to distribution, too many of their most creative beers were brewery only. It hasn’t stopped the accolades from flowing in, Cambridge Brewing Company brewmaster Will Meyers recently won the Russell Schehrer award for innovation in craft brewing. While I don’t make it to the brewery nearly as much as I would like, it has been nice to see the variety of CBC cans and bottles that now populate the shelves at bottle shops. Now that we are into spring and summer one of my go-to styles are saisons, so I was excited to try Working Class Hero an American saison brewed with citrus peel and a generous dose of hops. Cambridge Brewing Company Working Class Hero is available on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Cambridge Brewing Co. Working Class Hero pours a hazy bright yellow with a solid white head. The scent is mostly fruity and spicy Belgian yeast along with a touch of citrusy hops. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of pear, clove and apricot. The citrus peel and hop flavors complement this well, adding touches of orange, lemon, and grass along with a crisp bitterness. The malts round out the flavor with touches of wheat bread and cereal. Working Class Hero is light and crushable, a session beer at 4.5% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with some lingering yeast and citrus flavors. This is a delicious saison, after we tried it my wife exclaimed “I think I’ve found my summer beer for the year”! I agree and highly recommend grabbing some. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Cambridge Brewing Co. Reviews:
Cambridge Brewing Co. Arquebus, Cambridge Brewing Co. Pearls of Wisdom, Cambridge Brewing Co. Le Saisonniere, Cambridge Brewing Co. Hay is for Horses, Cambridge Brewing Co. Sgt. Pepper, Cambridge Brewing Company You Enjoy My Stout, Cambridge Brewing Company Remain in Light, Cambridge Brewing Company The Audacity of Hops
Industrial Way in Portland has become one of the most successful brewery incubators in the country. This industrial park houses Allagash, one of the best Belgian style breweries in the US as well as Geary’s, the first post-prohibition brewery in Maine. Across from Allagash is One Industrial Way, a series of small warehouses where many of the best breweries in the state got their start. One Industrial Way was the original home of Maine Beer Company, Bissell Brothers and Rising Tide, three of the most popular breweries in Maine. It now houses Foundation Brewing, Austin Street and a brand new addition, Battery Steele. Battery Steele was founded by Shane Noble and Jake Condon, who came up with the idea while they both worked at Gritty McDuff’s. This is an ideal situation for a startup, the area attracts huge crowds of beer lovers who are always ready to sample something new. When I stopped by Battery Steele had just opened the week before but was already packed with people excited to try their beers. I grabbed a 4-pack of Kineo, and IPA brewed with Mosaic and Citra hops. Battery Steele Kineo is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Battery Steele Kineo IPA pours a hazy yellow with a solid white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, mostly tropical fruit. This is very much a New England IPA. There is plenty of hop flavor with notes of passion fruit, melon and grapefruit and a very mild bitterness. This is balanced by a touch of malt, hints of white bread and cereal. Kineo is light bodied and easy to drink with moderate alcohol at 6.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop flavor. Kineo is a very solid start for Battery Steele, I’m looking forward to visiting again on my next trip up to Industrial Way! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
The original Narragansett beer brand was founded in the state of Rhode Island in 1890 and they brewed beer in the state until the 1980’s. Narragansett even shares it’s name with a town and a bay in the state that are both popular tourist destinations. It’s history and recent rebirth make Narragansett arguably the most recognizable beer from Rhode Island, but the beers you’ve been seeing on the shelves the last few years weren’t brewed in Rhode Island. When new ownership bought the brand and set about revitalizing it they used contract brewers to produce the line of immediately recognizable tallboy cans. That is changing now. Over the last year Narragansett has been building a start-of-the-art brewery and taproom in Rhode Island. The taproom isn’t open yet, but the brewery is getting rolling and they are celebrating with a new IPA called It’s About Time. Narragansett It’s About Time IPA is brewed to combine the classic IPA malt body with a large dose of modern Citra and Cascade hops. The beer is available now on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Narragansett It’s About Time IPA pours a clear deep orange with a solid off-white head. The scent is a solid hit of hops, lots of citrus with some herbs and resin. The flavor is hop forward, notes of grapefruit, pine and grass along with a hit of bitterness. There is noticeable malt balance, hints of bread dough and crackers. It’s About Time IPA is medium bodied and smooth, not too boozy at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bite. This is a solid IPA, I imagine it will quickly become one of Narragansett’s most popular offerings. My one criticism, I would have loved it in the 16 oz. tallboy can, something that Narragansett is so well known for but didn’t use here. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Narragansett Reviews:
Narragansett Allie’s Donuts Double Chocolate Porter, Narragansett/Revival Lovecraft Honey Ale, Narragansett Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout, Narragansett Fest Lager, Narragansett Del’s Shandy
Happy Massachusetts Beer Week! If I had my stuff together I would have had a whole series of articles lined up about the great beers in the state that you need to try, but I was in Maine with friends last weekend and I fell behind on getting my links article out, so all I have is a lonely review. I also won’t be attending any events this week, it’s my son’s second birthday on Saturday and we have a bunch of family in town, so the weekend will revolve around that. I do have some more amazing Massachusetts beers in my fridge, so I will be celebrating in spirit. Fortunately I do have one local beer in my review queue, Danko, the double dry-hopped rye ale from Exhibit A in Framingham. I really like the way Exhibit A has started, they test-run new beers through their Demo Tape series and then tweak the recipes until they turn into a regular release. Exhibit A Danko is brewed with local rye from Valley Malt and a copious amount of Simcoe hops. It is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.
Exhibit A Danko pours a murky light orange with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity new world hops. There is also plenty of hop flavor, notes of orange, grapefruit and cut grass along with a little bitter bite. This is balanced by substantial malt character, spicy rye and bread crust. Some hoppy rye beers skimp on the grain to the point that you can barely tell that the rye is there, this is not one of those beers. The hops and the rye complement each other pretty well. Danko is medium bodied, drinks easy and isn’t overly boozy at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop and rye flavor. This is another very tasty beer from a brewery that has come out of the gate hitting on all cylinders. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Exhibit A Reviews:
Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow and Demo Tape 5
It wasn’t long ago that barrel aged beers were only made by a few breweries that could afford the space for barrels and the patience to leave unsold product for months to properly age it. Now it seems like every brewery is starting a barrel program with a focus on aging beers in liquor/wine barrels or imparting flavors from Brettanomyces or wild microbes. The Mass Brew Brothers recently wrote an article about the history and exciting new developments involving barrel aging at Massachusetts breweries. One of the advantages of so many breweries venturing into barrel aging is more variety in the beers being produced. After the success of Goose Island’s quintessential Bourbon County Brand Stout it seems that most brewers started by aging an imperial stout in bourbon barrels. This is a logical and classic combination, and I love a good bourbon barrel stout, but there are a ton of potential style/barrel combinations that should also be explored. Jack’s Abby has been extremely creative with the various iterations of their Framinghammer Baltic Porter, with versions including bourbon, vanilla, coffee, mole, cocoa-nut and PB&J. One newer version that I was excited to try is Cordon Rouge, Framinghammer aged in brandy barrels with orange peel. Jack’s Abby Cordon Rouge is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 500 mL bottles.
Jack’s Abby Cordon Rouge Framinghammer pours deep brown with a minimal tan head. The scent is mostly roasted malt with a little brandy. The flavor is malt forward, chocolate, toffee and licorice with a subtle sweetness. The barrels add flavor and complexity without overwhelming the base beer, touches of red grape and candied sugar along with warming booze. The orange is very mild, I’m not sure I would have picked out the flavor if I didn’t know it was there. The flavor is rounded out by some earthy hops that add a little balance. Cordon Rouge is a complex sipper and it packs some serious punch at 10% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering malt flavor and alcohol. I really enjoyed this iteration of Framinghammer and I applaud Jack’s Abby for continuing to experiment. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:
Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner, Jack’s Abby House Lager, Jack’s Abby Framinghammer, Jack’s Abby trIPL, Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like Helles, Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, Jack’s Abby Barrel-Aged Framinghammer, Jack’s Abby Bride Maker, Jack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAM, Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, Jack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass Rising, Jack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil Brew, Jack’s Abby Wet Hop Lager, Jack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner
When I attended the Mass Brew Bros. blind tasting of local stouts there was animated conversation amongst the tasters covering all aspects of the local beer scene. One brewery that many talked about in glowing terms was Springdale Brewing, the offshoot of Jack’s Abby that focuses on ales, sours and barrel aged beers. A few of the other beer enthusiasts compared Springdale’s beers favorably to the offerings from some of the most popular breweries in the state. I was a little ashamed to admit that I hadn’t made the trek to Springdale yet, it’s been on my to-do list since the day it opened and I hadn’t found the time. Fortunately I needed something to do for my brother’s birthday, so we grabbed lunch at Jack’s Abby and then a flight of beers at Springdale. I was very impressed by everything I tasted, a nice mix of hoppy, malty, funky and sour offerings. Springdale also cans a number of their IPAs so I grabbed a selection to take home and review. Spoiler alert: these beers were all stellar and I will be making trips to Framingham on a much more regular basis.
Springdale Amirite?! pours hazy yellow with a massive white head. The aroma is a solid burst of hops, mostly tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of guava, honeydew and tangerine along with minimal bitterness, this is definitely a New England style IPA. There is just enough malt for balance, hints of bread crust and honey. Amirite?! is very easy to drink, light and refreshing, but packs some punch at 7.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering fruity hop flavors. This beer is very good, if you like the fruit-forward NE Style IPAs you need to give this a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Springdale Good N’ You pours cloudy straw yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big hit of hops, lots of citrus and some tropical fruit. The hops also lead the flavor, hints of passion fruit, grapefruit, tangerine plus a little pine. Good N’ You would still fall into the New England IPA style but it has a little more bitterness than many beers in the category. The malts round out the flavor with notes of crackers and white bread. Good N’ You is smooth and very drinkable, and a little less boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish features some strong hop flavors and a crisp bitter bite. This is a top notch IPA, my personal favorite amongst the beers I tasted at Springdale. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.