Every three months I do a summary of the best beers I reviewed over the last quarter. The last few “best beer” articles have been very IPA-heavy so I was determined to focus my winter reviews on some more diverse and malt-forward styles. Mission accomplished, my favorite beers of winter are all bold and boozy, and only one is an IPA. As always, all of these beers take up permanent residence on my Favorite Beers list and the links provided below lead to the full reviews. If you have any suggestions for beers I might have missed feel free to pass them along. Cheers!
Foundation Forge: A stellar imperial stout. Robust roasted malt flavor, smooth and almost no boozy burn despite the big ABV. Foundation is known for their IPAs but this is a top-notch dark ale.
Ommegang Three Philosophers: A classic beer for a reason. Huge flavors from the malts and the expressive Abbey-style yeast strain, big and boozy but still smooth and drinkable. One of my favorite quads.
Allagash Interlude: While they make stellar beers up and down the lineup, Allagash Brewing’s barrel aged and wild ales show a true mastery of the craft. Interlude is a mixture of a traditional saison, Brettanomyces fermented ale and an ale aged in red wine barrels. Complex and delicious.
Night Shift The 87: Night Shift decided to rework the recipe of their flagship DIPA and the results are phenomenal. Huge hop flavor and aroma and incredibly easy to drink for a bigger beer. Everything you want in a New England Style DIPA.
As I entered the fall I was a little burned out on hoppy beers and excited to mix in a bunch of malt-forward options. I was somewhat successful in the beers I drank, but local breweries decided to release a string of amazing IPAs this fall, and they ended up dominating my reviews. As a result, four of my five beers favorites of the fall are IPAs. I am going to change course this winter, I am planning on stocking up on porters, stouts, quads and other bold malty beers. If my favorite beers of the winter look anything like this list please feel free to call me out on it. As always, every beer listed has been added to my personal beer-review Hall of Fame, the Hoppy Boston My Favorite Beers list. Thank you for reading and feel free to pass along any suggestions!
Aeronaut Double Hop Hop: Instead of asking their customers to wait in line for the limited release of their new DIPA Aeronaut sold tickets online, buy a ticket and you can come and grab the beer at your convenience. This strategy is especially helpful because Double Hop Hop is a beer worth waiting in line for. This beer has the easy drinkability of a NEIPA and a fruit-forward flavor and aroma balanced by an array of other hop flavors.
Bog Iron Fancy French Name: Bog Iron has slowly ramped up their barrel aging program and this beer is a standout. A saison aged in French Oak barrels with Brettanomyces, Fancy French Name has a complex mixture of flavors that all work together, resulting in a delicious beer. If they make another batch of this it is worth the trip to Norton to check it out.
Lone Pine Brightside: I firmly believe that Lone Pine is a rising star in the New England beer scene, destined to become a brewery that people seek out. I tried a number of their beers this summer and enjoyed them all. My personal favorite was Brightside, a well crafted hop-bomb IPA that can hold it’s own with the biggest names on the market.
Mystic Voltage: After years focused almost exclusively on saisons and other Belgian styles Mystic branched out into hop-forward beers and the results have been exceptional. Voltage is a crisp and clean New England style IPA with big hop flavors and aromas. I hope they can find a good balance between these impressive hoppy beers and the stellar Belgian beers that are stapes at the brewery.
Idle Hands Six Seam: After years developing a stable of top-notch Belgian style ales and German lagers, Idle Hands added a number of stellar American styles to the lineup. The standout is Six Seam, an incredibly flavorful and smooth New England style DIPA. This is a limited rotational release, I highly recommend checking it out when they brew it again.
My summer best beers list is another short one, just three entries. Some of this is fewer beer reviews, some is that I’ve gotten more picky over the years. Another big factor is that I’ve run out of beers that I knew would make the list before I opened the bottle (due to previously enjoying the beer). The vast majority of my favorite beers already populate the My Favorite Beers page on Hoppy Boston, so the new additions tend to be new-to-me beers. It should also come as no surprise that the list is all Maine beers, I made three trips up north this spring/summer and all of these beers were purchased in Vacationland. As we move into fall I hope to mix in some more beers from other states, and some more malty options. Thanks for reading and feel free to pass on any suggestions!
Allagash Coolship Red: A wild fermented ale where the wort is cooled in an open fermenter and then aged in barrels with raspberries. Tart, fruity, funky, complex and delicious.
Mast Landing Double Dry Hopped Tell Tale: An unrepentant hop-bomb, huge hop flavors and aromas in a easy to drink beer. I love a well crafted, lower alcohol hoppy APA and this was a great one.
Foundation Cosmic Bloom: A delicious hop bomb pale ale from one of the emerging powers in the Maine beer scene. In contrast to the citrus forward juice-bombs you get a lot of strawberry and melon from the hops in this beer.
It has been an interesting spring. This is always one of my favorite parts of the year, the weather gets warmer, coats and boots go into storage, and the porters and stouts in the fridge get exchanged for pilsners and saisons. I’ve had a great spring, plenty of good beers, some brewery visits, a trip to Maine. Through the last three months I’ve reviewed a number of tasty beers, and four have been good enough to take their place amongst my all time favorites. As always all of these beers have been added to the My Favorite Beers page. Feel free to pass along anything you’ve tried that you think I’ve missed. Cheers!
Aeronaut Robot Crush: The gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival did not disappoint. Crisp and clear but full of flavor, beers like this are the reason that small batch pilsner is gaining popularity so quickly.
Lost Nation Mosaic IPA: I am a sucker for Mosaic hops, they are one of my favorite varieties. This is an awesome NE style IPA with fruity hop flavor and aroma along with a mild bitterness and great drinkability.
Springdale Good N’ You: I finally made a trip out to Springdale and I am ready for a quick return. I enjoyed all of the beers I tried but this was my favorite, a hop bomb that mixes the fruity flavors and aromas of the New England style with just a little more bitterness than some of the fruit-juice beers.
Cambridge Brewing Co. Working Class Hero: Halfway through this beer my wife decided that it was going to be her go-to beer for the summer. A complex and flavorful saison that is still sessionable, this is a perfect beer to pair with grilling season.
One of my New Years resolutions for Hoppy Boston was to make an active effort to buy, drink and showcase more non-IPAs. This was partially motivated by the hype machine that is so IPA-centric, but it was also influenced by how hop-heavy the My Favorite Beers page on HoppyBoston has become. While it has been my goal from day one to discover and share underrated and readily available local beers, I am going to extend that goal to try and highlight some beer styles that don’t get enough attention. The going might be slow, I’ve had to cut back to two posts a week, but I am also focusing my posts on beers that I enjoy now. There have been a number of beers that I’ve intended to review and found them mediocre, so I declined. The beers on this list are far from mediocre, all are amazing and have been added to the growing list of my favorites. As always, if there is a beer missing from that list that you feel deserves consideration please pass it along in the comments, or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!
Alchemist Focal Banger: I’m not one to chase down whalez, but my friend brought a stockpile of Alchemist beers to a recent guys weekend, and let us all take some home. Bold hop flavor and easy drinkability, I actually prefer this beer over Heady Topper.
Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016: Allagash makes the best special occasion beers, incredibly complex Belgian style ales where every ingredient has a purpose and the flavors all meld together perfectly. Hibernal Fluxus is no exception, an exceptional dark Belgian Ale brewed with figs.
SoMe Whoopie Pie Stout: Sometimes when a brewery tries to make a beer that tastes like a particular item of food it comes across as gimmicky (or terrible). This beer is the opposite, a flavorful stout where the adjunct ingredients add complexity but still let the natural chocolate flavors from the roasted malts shine through.
After an incredibly crazy summer life has settled down a bit this fall. I am back into somewhat of a routine with the new house, new job, new commute, etc. I’ve even found some time to visit a handful of breweries this fall. As part of the compromises that came with these changes I am writing a little less on Hoppy Boston, although I am still getting two posts up most weeks. Honestly, the three posts a week run I was on was probably unsustainable regardless of any life changes. Fewer posts means that I’ll probably have fewer new entries into my “Favorite Beers” list, but I am still committed to finding all of the great beers in New England, especially the ones that don’t require waiting in line to acquire. As always, the best beers I’ve reviewed this fall have been added to the My Favorite Beers page, and the links lead to the full review. Please feel free to recommend any beers that you think belong on this list and I haven’t had a chance to review yet. Cheers!
Medusa Black Ale Project: The first in a series of beers (from different breweries) that will benefit charities that help veterans, and Medusa knocked it out of the park. A full flavored milk stout that is still easy to drink and not too boozy, I really hope this beer makes a comeback.
Berkshire Brewing Oktoberfest: A classic marzen, tons of malt flavor without being cloying, packs some punch but still super drinkable. Everyone should celebrate the fall with a few mugs of this beer.
Notch Infinite Jest: The newest addition to Notch’s flagship lineup has quickly become a mainstay in my beer fridge. Big hop flavor, balance, drinkability, and of course it’s a session beer, making it perfect for all occasions.
Oxbow Barrel Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale: I am really glad to see Oxbow beers make their way down to Massachusetts. This saison aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces has a complex mixture of flavors but everything comes together and makes a delicious beer.
This summer was a little crazy for me personally, bought a house, lost my job, moved, started a new job, plus all of the day to day stuff that keeps me busy even in a “quiet” stretch. Due to the extra demands on my time Hoppy Boston actually went on hiatus for a month in June/July, so it should come as no surprise that the quarterly round-up of my favorite beers is a little light. It’s unfortunate, I had plans to review some of favorite summer classics and ran out of time, I guess it will have to wait until next summer. As always, these beers have been added to the My Favorite Beers page, feel free to pass on suggestions for beers that you think belong on that list (and I haven’t had a chance to review yet). Cheers!
Ipswich Riverbend Pils: I bought this beer at CBC Newton after one of the guys there gave a strong recommendation and it didn’t disappoint. Crisp, clean and easy to drink but still tons of flavor, this is what a pilsner should be.
Cambridge Brewing Company Pearls of Wisdom: When Cambridge Brewing Company and Mystic collaborated to open a facility that focuses on barrel aged and wild ales this is the kind of beer I was excited for them to develop. Wild fermented, aged with Brett and then dry-hopped before bottling this beer is incredibly complex but everything works in harmony.
Trillium Melcher Street IPA: I think Melcher Street is my favorite Trillium IPA. This beer highlights the Mosaic hop, really bringing out the tropical and citrus fruit flavors that have made these hops so popular.