Category Archives: Random Beer Thoughts

Random Beer Thoughts: December 2017

Late December is always a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. It has been a crazy year for local beer, and 2018 looks set up to be another one. Fortunately we have the Mass Brew Brothers around to keep track of the rapidly changing landscape of local beer. Here is their summary of the year in Massachusetts beer, and a complete list of every brewery that opened in the state this year. They also have some regional articles focused on the beer scenes in Metro Boston and Northeast MA. We had 39 breweries open and only two close in Massachusetts this year, it’s hard to imagine that numbers like that will be sustainable. I think a huge number of breweries will open in 2018 too (Boston Business Journal says the number could be as high as 50), but a large number will probably start to close, including a few that will catch people completely off guard. I’m not hoping for this, I would never wish for a business to fail, but I can’t imagine that this rate of growth is sustainable.

The Brewers Association also has a year in review piece with a more national perspective.

Idle Hands Six Seam

One of my favorite articles of the month is Bryan Roth’s treatise on New England Style IPAs. One of the best parts of the article is the way Bryan pokes holes in the arguments many cynical brewers and beer writers make when they are trying to convince anyone that will listen that NEIPA is just a flash in the pan fad.

Vine Pair interviewed a number of people in the beer industry to get their predictions on beer trends in 2018. One that I really hope comes true is that people realize their time is important and there is no reason to wait in line for whalez when so many amazing beers are readily available.

The most creative article of the month has to go to Dave Patterson, who reviews the year in Maine beer in the form of a poem.

Sunset_Grill_Color_Logo-jpg

One of the biggest local stories this month was the news that legendary Allston beer bar Sunset Grill and Tap is closed for good. Norm “The Beer Nut” Miller has a well written post mortem. It is hard to overstate how important this bar was to many local beer geeks, for a long time there were so few places in Boston with extensive beer programs, and Sunset led to the discovery of many different beers. The place definitely had issues, it was loud, usually full of college kids trying to drink DIPAs like they were Natty Light, there were issues with the draft lines, and it is really hard to have consistently fresh beer when they stocked so many options. As more local beer-centric bars opened these issues became much more evident. I’ll still remember Sunset fondly as a place that introduced me to many beers that were important parts of my journey into beer geekdom.

As the year ends you always get a bunch of “best of the year” lists. I don’t do one because I summarize the best beers I reviewed every 3 months, you can find these lists HERE. If you are interested in the opinions of others I’ve gathered a few best beer lists, including articles from Hop Culture and Draft Magazine and the best breweries list from Paste (based on results of their blind tastings this year).

Eater Boston also hands out some end of the year awards, including best taproom to a rising star of the metro Boston beer scene.

BBC Coffeehouse Porter

I participated in another blind tasting this month, evaluating 10 local porters with a panel of local beer enthusiasts. There are a ton of great local porters, from classics like Berkshire Coffee House to innovative beers like Bog Iron One Down. The two beers I wish had been included in the tasting were Night Shift Awake and Mayflower Porter, two of my favorites and I would like to see how they stacked up in a blind panel.

Springdale Brewing is going to start distribution in 2018. This is nice to see, I think their IPAs and sours can go toe-to-toe with anything being brewed in the state, and their beers are about to be much more readily available.

Trillium has opened their winter beer garden in Roslindale, and here is a first look from Boston Magazine. These beer gardens are really a brilliant idea, and appear to be a huge success.

Worcester Business Journal has a summary on how Tree House created a cult-like following. Tree House makes some amazing beer, but the craziness that surrounds it also turns many people off.

mbc-beer-v

Good Beer Hunting has an interview with Dan Kleban of Maine Beer Company. The interview touches a number of topics, from independence to sustainability to their charity work and the direction of the industry. It would have been nice to see a question about their packaging, I would love to see them move away from the 500 mL bottles.

Boston Voyager has a profile of Zelus beer, a local brewery marketing their product towards active beer drinkers. SommBeer also has an article on the “science” behind Zelus. There is a lot of talk about brewing salts here but not much of an explanation as to why they are important for an “active lifestyle” beer.

Wachusett has opened their new taproom in Westminster. I need to check this out soon. My wife and I got married in nearby Gardner and had a number of Wachusett beers on tap at our wedding, so I will always have a special connection to that brewery.

Sam Adams is considering another taproom in Downtown Boston. I think this is a brilliant idea, at the very least it would immediately become a hot stop for tourists.

Slumbrew Yankee Swap 2015

The new Slumbrew American Fresh Brewpub is open in Assembly Row. I’ve heard very good things about the space, the food and the beer.

Altruist Brewing is open is Sturbridge, with a tasting room pouring a variety of ales.

I am excited for Amory’s Tomb to open in Maynard, another brewery that will be very close to where I live.

Bissell Brothers is opening a second location, and it’s going to be way up north.

Thrillist ranks every state in the US based on their beer. My god, this article is a brilliantly devious piece of click-bait, and I not only clicked on it I linked to it. What can you do.

That is it for December and for 2017, thank you all for reading and your continued support of Hoppy Boston. I am having a blast writing the blog and communicating with other local beer fans, and I hope you’re all still enjoying the content. Look for some new stuff going forward in 2018!

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Random Beer Thoughts: November 2017

Clown Shoes Mango

The biggest local story this month was probably Harpoon buying out Clown Shoes. Here is the press release from Harpoon and from Clown Shoes. I think it is a good move for both breweries. Harpoon gets some added diversity to their lineup from a recognizable brand, Clown Shoes gets a physical brewery (they were contract brewed before) and the capacity/marketing/distribution advantages that go along with lager breweries. Beervana covers the acquisition and some of the issues that the Clown Shoes brand has faced in the past.

Garrett Oliver, the legendary brewmaster from Brooklyn Brewery, caused a stir when he labeled NEIPA as a fad based on Instagram culture. Good Beer Hunting has a thorough retort to this characterization. I really don’t understand the hatred for this sub-style amongst a relatively small but very outspoken circle of brewers, beer geeks and beer writers. Are there crappy NEIPAs? Sure, there are crappy versions of every beer style. Are a few breweries that make this style completely overhyped? Yes, but nobody is forced to stand in line for beer, you can enjoy an array of delicious NEIPAs without standing in a single line. If you don’t like a beer style then don’t drink it, no need to spend time and energy trashing a style that many people clearly love. Cloudwater Brewing has a blog post that does a great job expressing this point.

It looks like 2017 is setting another record for Massachusetts brewery openings, with very few closings to report. I don’t think there is a bubble in the traditional sense of the term, but I think we’ll start to see a slow down in openings and more places closing over the next few years.

Hop Culture has a very cool profile on the Mass Brew Brothers. These guys are doing an amazing job raising awareness about the great beer being brewed in the state, especially at breweries beyond the small handful that get tons of hype.

night-shift-bennington

Night Shift has maxed out their space, so they are contract brewing some of their beers at Smuttynose in New Hampshire. They have really found a nice balance brewing inventive and delicious beers that are still readily available.

Sam Adams has finally opened a taproom in Boston. I haven’t been but I’ve heard good things. I think this is a key step for them to re-connect with some of the drinkers who have lost interest in the Sam Adams brand over the years.

Trillium Melcher St

After their incredibly successful summer beer garden in Boston, Trillium is opening a winter beer garden in Roslindale.

I’ve mentioned many times that I hate waiting in line for beers, the actually time sink is one part but a bigger issue is the culture that follows these limited beer releases. I buy beer that I enjoy drinking, not beer that I want to brag about on social media or trade (or sell for a profit) online. Issues with the people waiting in these lines have led Monkish Brewing to issue a set of rules for their beer releases. Just reading these rules makes me want to avoid that brewery at all costs.

Allagash Coolship Red

Allagash has a blog post on the process behind their Coolship beers. Beers like this, which take a special level of expertise to really pull off, set Allagash apart.

Kate Bernot has an interesting article on Brett lagers, which sounds like a contradiction, but is actually a great way to showcase the expressive flavors from the funky yeast.

medusa-black-ale-project

Brew Studs has an in depth article on the black ale project, a rotating series of beer releases that support charities involved with veterans issues. This is a great cause and I’ve tasted a number of delicious dark beers brewed as part of the project.

Medium has an interesting idea on ways to make Untappd more social and less about people just plugging beers into the app to win badges. I don’t really use the app, but most of my friends who do just use it as a way to keep track of which beers they enjoyed (or disliked).

Maine has seen an uptick in the number of female brewers. There is still a long way to go, but the addition of more women into important roles in breweries should help fight some issues with sexism that seem to crop up periodically.

Neil Witte has an interesting perspective on the importance of quality control after beer leaves the brewery. It is really important for breweries to work with their distributors to insure that beer on draft and in stores meets the highest standards. There is way too much expired beer on shelves and on draft in bars and restaurants. The point about clean draft lines is also critical, there was a restaurant I used to go to that had horrible issues with their draft lines, their draft beer was nearly undrinkable.

Speaking of quality control, Left Hand is suing White Labs, claiming that contaminated yeast led to a major beer recall. It will be interesting to see if they can prove that the yeast was contaminated when they purchased it (and not during the brewing process), and how much liability falls on White Labs.

As the year winds down there are inevitably a number of “best beers of the year” lists, that I will read because I am a sucker for that kind of thing. Vinepair and Beer and Brewing both have lists out that feature a number of local offerings.

Maine Beer Co Mean Old Tom

Paste Magazines blind tasting series looks at stouts, and New England beers take four of the top ten spots!

True North Ale Company is open in Ipswich.

The 21st Annual Great International Beer, Cider, Mead and Sake Competition was held this month and a number of local breweries took home serious hardware.

That’s it for November, thank you again for reading and, as always, feel free to pass along any great articles you find over the course of the next month!

 

Random Beer Thoughts: October 2017

I recently participated in another blind tasting hosted by the Mass Brew Brothers and Craft Beer Cellar, this time evaluating 11 local pumpkin beers. I’m not usually a fan of pumpkin beers, but I’ll admit there were a few beers here that I really enjoyed. My personal favorites were the Pumpkin Stout from Cape Ann and Pumpkin Crop from Jack’s Abby. I highly recommend blind tastings, it’s fun to get together with friends, chat about beer and pick your favorites without any of the inevitable preconceptions you have about specific breweries or beers.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine

Speaking of blind tastings, I’ve mentioned many times that I’ve really enjoyed the series of blind tastings that Paste Magazine has been doing. One recent addition was double IPAs, which was as notable for some of the whalez that missed the cut as for some of the less buzzy beers that placed very high. Recently Paste also covered the twenty best beers from Vermont that they’ve sampled as part of the blind tasting process. I hope they do some more of these summaries from other states.

One of the biggest stories this month was Take Back Craft, a crowd-sourcing push by the Brewers Association to “purchase AB-InBev” (they do realize this is a completely unrealistic goal). In reality it’s a publicity stunt, and kind of a silly one. I have a bunch of ideas on how the money could be spent in better ways, but Stouts and Stilettos did an amazing job with such a list already.

Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale

I really enjoyed this history of the artwork on Trillium’s beer labels. My favorite tidbit was that Sunshower was named after the Chris Cornell song, he is one of my all time favorite performers and it was tough to hear about his passing earlier this year.

I know that “Brewery X is now canning their beer!” is no longer big news, the vast majority of breweries have moved at least partially into cans. Still, it seems like a big deal that a brewery like Mystic, who had been stubborn about sticking to Belgian styles in cork & cage bottles, is now producing cans of popular IPAs. I really hope that the popularity of these beers leads to some hop-heads giving Mystic’s stellar Belgian-style beers a shot, and I am looking forward to sampling more of their hop-forward offerings.

Mason's Hipster Apocalypse

Mason’s Brewing Company in Maine got a cease and desist letter from 10 Barrel Brewery (one of InBev’s craft purchases) this month, saying their Hipster Apocalypse is an infringement on 10 Barrels trademark of Apocalypse IPA. Apparently this was resolved without further legal action, but this is going to continue to be an issue as we get more breweries making more beers. There is no excuse when your beer has the exact same name as a trademarked beer, this is something that can be easily avoided using Google/untapped searches. There is a big grey area when names are similar or contain some of the same words. This could be especially problematic when the fight is between a big brewery with an in house legal team and a small upstart with no extra cash. We’ll see how these things get resolved moving forward.

The majority of Massachusetts breweries aren’t close to public transportation, which can unfortunately lead to irresponsible drinking and driving. The Massachusetts Brewers Guild has teamed with Lyft to offer discounted rides to and from local breweries. This is a really important program that addresses an issue that can be glossed over when talking about the impact of the craft beer boom.

I reviewed my first beers from Lone Pine Brewing Company this week. They recently announced that they are expanding into the Sebago Brewery in Gorham (when Sebago moves into a bigger facility of their own), and they are starting distribution throughout the state of Maine. Big month for a brewery that is building a lot of interest in the stellar Portland beer scene.

The majority of beers entered for awards at the Great American Beer Festival  in Denver(and thus the majority of the winners) are from breweries in the western part of the US, but I still tend to browse the list to identify local winners. This year  Night Shift and Cambridge Brewing Company won awards. I would love to see a similar large festival with blind tasting based awards that was based on the east coast.

The Full Pint has an overview of the common off-flavors in beer and where they come from. Great reading for science nerds like me or for anyone else who occasionally tastes something strange in their beer and wants to know what caused it.

Down The Road Seventh Star

Down the Road is finally opening their Everett Brewery next week, really looking forward to checking out the new digs and sampling some of their exciting new beers.

The local brewery explosion continues, with three new breweries opening in Central Massachusetts this fall and a few more in progress. As a Sudbury resident it is nice to see another brewery opening in nearby Maynard.

Bryan Roth has an entertaining article on the domination of the IPA in craft beer.

BrewBound has a cool story on the origins of CitraBus, the popular IPA from Newburyport Brewing.

Springdale Desert Solitaire

Springdale is organizing a series of “Neighbor Nights” partnering on special events to raise money for local charities. I love how many local breweries care about giving back to their communities, and some of these nights look like a lot of fun.

Two Roads is opening a new barrel aging and experimental brewing facility. I really need to make a trip down to CT and check out some of the exciting breweries in the state.

Zagat has an article on the 8 hottest beer bars in Boston. Most of them are breweries, and there are some very good choices on the list. The inclusion of Notch was a little bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, Notch is awesome, but it is strange including one bar in Salem on a list with a bunch of others in the city.

That’s it for this month, thanks for reading and feel free to pass along anything that I should share next month!

Random Beer Thoughts: September 2017

Here are my links and thought for September. I spent the last few weeks writing a ~200 page patent at work (and some nights and weekends), so I wasn’t as diligent as I would have liked collecting articles, but I still have a pretty nice selection. As always, feel free to send along anything that you feel should be included in my monthly summary!

The Mass Brew Brothers have teamed up with the Massachusetts Brewers Guild to launch a new Massachusetts Beer Trail App. I downloaded the app and it looks beautiful, is very user friendly, and has a ton of info. Unfortunately the first brewery I visited post-download I forgot to check in, it will take some time to make that a habit.

The biggest local beer story has been the legal battle between breweries and distributors about Massachusetts franchise laws. One of the best summaries I’ve seen was written by a law group, who can clearly explain the issue much better than I can. Needless to say, I side heavily with the breweries on this issue. It is crazy that a brewery can’t end a relationship with a distributor that is doing a poor job or doing unethical things.

Devil's Purse Skywave

Until this resolves (and even afterwards) I imagine many local breweries will sign on with some of the craft-centric distributors that have popped up in the state. Devil’s Purse brewery has signed on with Night Shift distributors, we should see their beers statewide soon.

AB-InBev has stated that they are no longer focusing on acquisitions, they are going to grow the brands they have already acquired. This isn’t surprising, they can only buy so many breweries before they are just competing with themselves for the same subset of customers.

Treehouse Julius

Norm Miller has an article on TreeHouse’s expansion and their continued work to try and meet the crazy demand for their beers. I haven’t been out to TreeHouse in a while, the long drive and long lines for a limited number of cans (and no guarantees there will be any left) has deterred me. I’ve heard the new brewery makes the lines move quickly and there is usually a good amount of beer available, so I might have to make the trip again soon.

Zack from Raising the Barstool recounts his experience at Trillium’s Zwanze Day celebration. I don’t get to many beer events these days, family comes first, but this event is at the top of my short list.

Hop Culture has a profile on Earth Eagle Brewing, the New Hampshire brewery that specializes in gruit, an ancient style that uses herbs and spices instead of hops.

Lord Hobo is continuing to expand at a rapid pace and introduce their product in more markets. This is an interesting strategy, when many regional breweries are feeling the squeeze between the big beer acquisitions and hyper local small breweries. Lord Hobo also seems to be focusing on a few core beers when many other breweries are constantly rotating to meet the demand for novelty. It will be interesting to see how this turns out for them.

Exhibit A Demo Tape 11 Side B

Eater Boston has an article on Exhibit A Brewing Company, a brewery that has quickly built a strong reputation amongst local drinkers.

The new owners of Geary’s are trying to balance the brand’s classic beers with a number of new releases. I think this is a really good idea, I am a fan of a number of the classics but the brand needs some excitement and novelty moving forward.

Boston.com polled some local beer experts on their favorite local fall beers. Tons of good choices here (and a few that I need to try myself).

Food and Wine has a list of the best American Octoberfest beers which includes a couple of local favorites.

The Bangor Daily News details a Maine business that acquires used wine and spirit barrels to re-sell to breweries for barrel aged beers.

Paste Magazine wrote a brief drinker’s guide to Boston. This is a nice starting point if you’ve never been to the city, but it could have easily been expanded.

Percival Brewing opens it’s Norwood taproom today.

Two new breweries opened in Amesbury this month, BareWolf and Brewery Silvaticus. I wonder if they planned their openings to coincide, otherwise that is a pretty crazy coincidence.

I have no idea if this means anything or what methodology was used, but Hoppy Boston was named to ShoutAbout’s top 70 beer blogs. Regardless of how you feel about this type of listicle, it was pretty cool to be on the list with a number of blogs that I read regularly and enjoy.

Random Beer Thoughts: August 2017

Probably my favorite article of the month comes from Jeff Alworth of Beervana, an acclaimed beer blog based in Portland, Oregon. Jeff recently visited Massachusetts and joined the list of us that were perturbed by the fact that the 35 top rated beers in Massachusetts on Beer Advocate are all from TreeHouse and Trillium. Nothing against these breweries, both are stellar and make amazing beers. A number of other breweries do too, so it’s crazy how much these two breweries dominate crowd-sourced rankings. Jeff suggests that we ignore ratings and rankings, visit breweries and make opinions for ourselves, and I wholeheartedly agree. Your next favorite beer might be sitting on draft at a local brewery, available without waiting in line or paying an exorbitant price.

National and local beer writers seem obsessed with the New England IPA sub-style, in a predictable backlash against their popularity. CraftBeer.com gives an overview and calls NE-IPA the “anti-IPA”. Dave Patterson laments the number of poor versions of the style that have flooded the market. I understand that NEIPA isn’t for everyone, some people like their IPA bitter and clear. There is also the issue of shelf life, these beers degrade quickly on a shelf and it is no coincidence that the most popular versions of the style are sold in ultra-fresh small batches right at the breweries. All of that being said, I love my jooce-bombs, and when done correctly they can be some of the best beers in the world. I think more critics will come around, like Old Nation in Michigan who saw their popularity explode when they brewed a NEIPA.

Aeronaut Robot Crush

Aeronaut Brewing has found a new way to release a limited edition beer, you buy the beer ahead of time using an Eventbrite reservation and then pick it up at your leisure. I love this idea. I hate waiting in lines for beer, especially when there is no guarantee that you’ll even get the beer. There are some breweries that I enjoy but never go to because of the crazy crowds and can limits. This could be a revolutionary way for popular breweries to sell limited releases.

Speaking on Aeronaut, the Boston rock band The Lights Out has released their new album on cans of a special beer from the brewery. Each can comes with a code that you can redeem to download the album.

Norm Miller covers a 10 must-try beers in the Metrowest. As a resident of the Metrowest I agree with many of these choices, and love how many great breweries we have in the area. Norm also has a 6-pack of Oktoberfest/Marzen beers to try. He is an expert on this style, so you should take these recommendations as gospel.

Wormtown Bottle Rocket

Wormtown Brewery has undergone an ownership shuffle and will open a second brewery in New Hampshire.

The Mass Brew Bros ask “how many breweries are their in Massachusetts?” It is interesting to see the methodology that gets to that number. They also have an introduction to the new Cheeky Monkey Brewery in Boston. Cheeky Monkey is using a SmartBrew system, which uses pre-made malt extract and pre-programed hop additions and fermentation. This is a different approach, I gravitate towards the personal touches and experimentation that makes craft beer so interesting, I’m not sure how much room this system allows for this type of innovation. It seems like an easy way to make fresh beer without a lot of the work. What are your opinions on this type of system?

I previously shared that Marlborough was looking for a brewery to move into downtown as part of their revitalization project, and it looks like they’ve found one.

medusa-black-ale-project

One of the best examples of a brewery helping rebuild a downtown is Medusa Brewing in Hudson, and now they are adding a major canning facility.

Gary Dzen has contributed a couple interesting posts to Boston.com this month. One covers his distaste for session IPAs. I agree with some of the criticisms, but I’ve found a number of very well made local versions of the style (including Notch Left of the Dial, which he cites as an exception to the rule). Gary also picks 6 Massachusetts beers to drink right now, featuring a number of exciting new local brews.

Bog Iron Middle Child

Bog Iron Brewing has decided to phase out growlers, selling their beer exclusively in 500 mL bottles. They were active in the discussions about Massachusetts growler laws, arguing about the importance of branding in beer to-go, and offered a popular growler trade-in program, so it was interesting that they took this step. I personally hate growlers and would rather buy bottles or cans.

Allagash has a detailed article on the origins of their flagship White ale.

Eat, Drink, Travel takes a beer tour through the state of Massachusetts.

Paste Magazine continues their blind tasting series with a blind tasting of 143 sours. I wish they has done smaller tasting of individual sour styles, a fruited Berliner is so much different than a gose, it’s hard to rate them without style preference coming through.

Ebenezer’s is closing their Brunswick brewpub. I had always intended to swing in on a trip to Maine, and never made it.

Just in time for Labor Day PartSelect has an article pairing beer styles with various BBQ and grilled dishes.

Random Beer Thoughts: July 2017

My favorite article of the month is from Hop Culture reminding everyone to drink what you like and that beer is fun. I try to never criticize the beers that other people choose, and don’t enjoy the game of chasing down rare beers to brag about them online. I’d rather have a couple good beers shared with friends then drink whalez alone. That being said, here are a months worth of beer links, including some articles that take beer too seriously.

Paste Magazine has a thorough review on the reasons why buyouts hurt craft beer, tearing apart arguments in favor of buyouts. It is pretty clear that Inbev wants to use it’s financial and distribution advantages to take back some of the market share they have lost over the last decade. A less in-tuned beer drinker could walk into a bar and see Goose Island, Elysian, Wicked Weed, etc. on draft and think the bar has amazing diversity without realizing that they are all InBev beers.

Cambridge Brewing Working Class HeroEater Boston has a write-up on Kendall Square stalwart Cambridge Brewing Company. I grabbed a beer there with a friend last night, they always have a wide range of interesting and delicious brews available.

Boston Magazine has an article on growlers in Massachusetts that hits on most of the important points from both sides of the debate. I personally hate growlers and would love I if every brewery exclusively bottled/canned their beer, but I understand why growlers are used by cost-conscious start-ups.

Alex Weaver has an post for BostInno on Five Local Beers That You Should Drink Right Now. I really like that he highlighted some local breweries that make awesome beer but get a little less buzz compared to a some of the “biggest names”.

Bissell Brothers SeedGreat Beer Hunting has an extensive and well written profile on Bissell Brothers.

Jason Notte has a feature on why he loves to homebrew. It’s been a while since I brewed a batch of beer, life is busy, but reading this made me want to design a new recipe and fire up the kettle soon.

The Boston Herald got some attention for a click-bait article on the best IPAs in New England. The choice for #1 was clearly a deliberate attempt to rile up the local beer snobs (and it worked, lots of twitter discussion and I am linking the article here).

Treehouse JuliusAnyone who reads this blog has probably heard this news: TreeHouse Brewing Company has opened a massive new brewery in Charlton, MA. If the expanded capacity helps with the crazy lines and strict can limits I might end my hiatus and make a trip out there in the near future.

South Portland Maine recently hosted a pilsner-only beer fest. I could see this type of focused beer festival becoming more popular.

Blue Hills Brewery is working on a new taproom in Canton.

medusa-mesmeristFor Maine readers, Medusa Brewing is doing a tap takeover on Friday at the Thirsty Pig in Portland. They make some delicious beers and this event is worth checking out.

The Boston Cannons Lacrosse team is hosting a Lax and Lagers beer tasting during their game on August 5th.

Random Beer Thoughts: June 2017

Just a quick thought to start my monthly notes/links column: the other day a number of beer writers were alerted on twitter that an upstart website was copying their work and publishing it without citation. I won’t say what site it is, it has a relatively small following and they don’t deserve any further attention. I had a similar thing happen to me in the past, an upstart website was blatantly copying my work without citing where it was from. This is a really crappy thing to do, if you notice it on any beer site (or any other website for that matter) please inform the original authors so they can take action.

Marlborough

One of the most interesting things I read this month is that the town of Marlborough is actively seeking a brewery for their downtown, even taking out an ad in Beer Advocate. The town has noticed the impact that breweries have had in nearby Hudson (Medusa) and Framingham (Jack’s Abby, Springdale, Exhibit A), and feel like a brewery would be a key addition to the continued revitalization of their downtown. I could not support this idea more, I live in Sudbury and I am always happy to have more metro-west brewery options. I also think it’s a good business idea for the town, local breweries attract people who also shop and eat out in the area, and they can become integral parts of the community.

Others are noticing the positive effects that breweries have on neighborhoods. The Mass Brew Bros discuss the positive effects local breweries have on their communities, citing economic factors, community involvement and social engagement. Curbed notes that breweries have helped revitalize many small towns and forgotten neighborhoods in cities. This is definitely true in the Massachusetts, where towns and cities like Monson, Canton and Everett have become destinations for beer fans.

Spencer Trappist Ale

The crew from Craft Beer Cellar recently visited Spencer Trappist Brewery and sampled the beer that would become their next release, a trappist quadruple. I am excited to try this beer, I was hoping that the first American trappist brewery would develop more of the traditional abbey styles, my favorite beers they’ve released so far are Belgian (the Abbey Blonde and their Holiday Ale).

Paste Magazine has been doing a series of blind tastings, each featuring a different style of beer, and the articles are pretty awesome. The most recent covered saisons, with 116 versions tasted. It was nice to see New England breweries Allagash, Two Roads, Night Shift, Ipswich and Hill Farmstead show up in the ranked beers. It would have been nice to see a Mystic saison included in the tasting, I’m sure it would have done well.

The Mass Brew Bros also did a blind saison tasting, featuring only Massachusetts beers. I wasn’t able to attend this tasting due to a family commitment, which sucks because saisons are amongst my favorite beer styles. I agree with their finding though, I love two of the three finalists (and haven’t tried the third yet).

alchemist-focal-banger

Alex Weaver at Hop Culture has a thorough interview with John Kimmich of The Alchemist. It’s nice to see that brewery make a full comeback, producing a variety of beers in addition to Heady Topper.

Beer and Brewing Magazine has a feature where Cambridge Brewing Company brewmaster Will Meyers picks a six pack of his favorite beers. What makes this article great is his descriptions of each beer, not just the flavor profile but the impact each has had on him as a drinker and a brewer.

Allagash has committed to buying one million pounds of Maine grown grain per year by 2021. They are already buying a significant amount of local ingredients, but this is a huge increase. That is how you support your local community.

Bryan Roth has an in-depth breakdown of Zymurgy’s annual best-beers list. Like any list of this sort it is very heavy on IPAs and imperial stouts and completely skips over beers that favor more subtlety.

After Wicked Weed Brewing sold their business to AB-InBev a number of independent breweries backed out of the annual sour/wild beer festival they host in North Carolina every summer. These styles can take months or even years to age, and many of these breweries had special beers they were developing for the festival. Night Shift and Springdale have come up with a solution, inviting the breweries to a new festival in Massachusetts in July. We’re Funk’d will be a weekend long celebration of sour and wild ales.

Speaking on AB-InBev acquisitions, there has been a lot of consternation in the beer community about their investment/ownership stake in a number of beer media outlets, including RateBeer and a number of online beer magazines. I am fine with this as long as their writers clearly state in any article about an AB-InBev product that the beer is an AB-InBev product and they are an owner/investor in the publication. I regularly read The Ringer, and they are careful to include this disclaimer when they have an article about a show from HBO (an investor in the site), it should work the same with beer.

Good Beer Hunting also has a piece on AB-InBev, this time discussing how the company is collecting data to inform them on future strategy and investments.

Summer means grilling season, so here is a great article on the best way to grill a beer can chicken.

That’s it for June, thanks for reading and always feel free to pass along any great articles that you think I should feature. Cheers!