Category Archives: Uncategorized

Exhibit A We’re Going To Need You To Come In On Saturday Scotch Ale

I’ve thought a lot about what my brand would look like if I ever started my own brewery, there is zero chance I ever would take that leap but it’s fun to imagine. Idea number one would involve my day job as a chemist, maybe naming each beer after a different element. The second idea would probably involve naming beers after obscure lyrics from early 90’s rock songs, not sure how I would make it into a brand but it would be fun finding the right lyrics for each beer and seeing how quickly customers caught on to the theme. In that vein, you see many breweries pay tribute to their favorite pieces of popular culture when they name new beers. One great example is the new scotch ale from Exhibit A in Framingham named We’re Going To Need You To Come In On Saturday. The can also features artwork that immediately recalls boss-from-hell Bill Lumbergh, who infamously delivered the line in the classic Mike Judge comedy Office Space. I am a huge fan of that movie, anyone who has spent time working in corporate America can easily relate to the issues the characters deal with, so I needed to try the beer when I saw the can. Exhibit A We’re Going To Need You To Come In On Saturday Scotch Ale is available now on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Exhibit A scotch aleExhibit A We’re Going To Need You To Come In On Saturday Scotch Ale pours deep brown with a solid off-white head. The aroma is mild, just a touch of rich malt. The beer is malt forward, notes of toffee, roasted nuts, raisin and a hint of peat. There is minimal hop character, just a little earthiness and enough bitterness to keep the malt flavors in check. We’re Going To Need You To Come In On Saturday is full bodied but drinks pretty smooth for a beer with 8.4% ABV. The finish is full with some lingering rich malt flavor. This beer doesn’t just have an awesome name and artwork, it’s a delicious beer too. I don’t drink a ton of scotch ales, but I would see this our again. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Exhibit A Reviews:

Exhibit A Demo Tape Eleven Side B, Exhibit A Danko, Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow and Demo Tape 5



Exhibit A Demo Tape Eleven Side B

For a long time I avoided most types of wheat beer. I’ve never been a fan of hefeweizens and only like a few Belgian style witbiers. My experience with American wheat beers was mostly with Sam Adams Summer Ale and similar wheats. I am not a Sam Adams basher, I love a number of their beers, but I detest the Summer Ale, I would honestly rather drink Bud Light. This led me to avoid wheat beers almost entirely. I started to change my attitude on wheat beers when many local breweries (especially Trillium) started featuring NE IPAs brewed with a substantial amount of wheat in their grain bill. The wheat malt helps enhance the flavors of the hops, so the natural follow up to these IPAs were American wheat ales that incorporate large doses of New World hops. A great example of this is Demo Tape Eleven from Exhibit A Brewing Company, the latest release in their series of test-batch Demo Tape beers. The first batch of Demo Tape Eleven sold out extremely quickly and I didn’t get a chance to try it. Fortunately they made Side B, a second batch that was double dry-hopped. Exhibit A Demo Tape Eleven Side B is available for a limited time on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans, unless people really like it and they make it into another regular release beer. So if you try it and like it make sure you let them know!

Exhibit A Demo Tape 11 Side BExhibit A Demo Tape Eleven Side B pours murky light orange with a small white head. The aroma is a nice burst of hops, citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of guava, tangerine, lemon and mango along with minimal bitterness. This is balanced by a mild malt backbone, hints of crackers and wheat bread. Demo Tape Eleven Side B is super light, easy to drink and sessionable at 4.2% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This beer is delicious, tons of hop flavor and aroma but not the one-note forgettable beer that so many hop-forward session beers turn into. I really hope this becomes one of Exhibit A’s regular releases. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Exhibit A Reviews:

Exhibit A Danko, Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow and Demo Tape 5


Gritty McDuff’s Vacationland

I make 2-3 trips a year up to mid-coast Maine to visit family and friends in the area where I was born and raised, the first trip this year was over the holiday weekend. Even with the additional demands of traveling with a child, I am usually able to make some beer-centric stops on the way, so you can expect to see reviews of a number of Maine beers populate Hoppy Boston over the next few weeks. One very frequent stop is Gritty McDuff’s in Freeport. Gritty’s has three pubs in Maine, each serving a full menu of pub fare along with a number of their own brews. Gritty’s also distributes their beer in bottles, but they seem to be focusing more on the restaurant business, as it’s now rare to see their beers in Massachusetts (you see them more in shops in Maine). I’m a big fan of their pubs, well made food, good atmosphere, family friendly during mealtimes, and a good selection of traditional British ales including a few on cask. While I drank a cask IPA with my lunch, I also grabbed some bottles of Vacationland, a blonde ale brewed as Gritty’s summer seasonal. Gritty’s Vacationland is brewed with Cascade and Saaz hops and is available April through August on draft and in 12 and 22 oz. bottles.

Gritty's VacationlandGritty McDuff’s Vacationland pours clear light yellow with a solid white head. The aroma is a mixture of light malts and floral hops. The flavor is balanced. The hops are pronounced for a blonde, notes of lemon, cut grass and herbs along with a crisp bitterness. This is balanced by pale malts, touches of white bread and crackers. Vacationland is light and very easy to drink, sessionable at 4.8% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry, very clean for an ale. Gritty McDuff’s Vacationland is a very nice summer beer, crushable, refreshing and full flavored. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Gritty McDuff’s Reviews:

Gritty McDuff’s Christmas Ale, Gritty McDuff’s Halloween Ale


Deciduous Mosaic Sylph

The decision to focus my reviews on non-IPA styles this year leaves some significant grey areas. Many different beer styles have “hoppy” forms, and some of these have been given the “IPA’ designation (usually for marketing purposes). For example some beers are labeled as hoppy amber ales while others are called red IPAs, even though they are essentially the same style. I think the proliferation of session IPAs, black IPAs, Belgian IPAs, red IPAs and all of the other variants has actually fueled some of the burgeoning anti-IPA backlash. So I will try to avoid anything with IPA on the label as part of this experiment. That being said, I still want to enjoy some bold hop flavors on occasion, especially when they complement other styles of beer. One of my favorite combinations is the citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas of New World hop varieties with aromatic and assertive Belgian style saison yeast strains. It takes careful work to find the correct combination of hops and yeast, but these beers can be amazing when done correctly. One example I enjoyed recently was Mosaic Sylph from Deciduous Brewing Company in New Hampshire. This dry-hopped version of their flagship farmhouse ale is available on a rotating basis on draft and in bottles.

deciduous-mosaic-sylphDeciduous Mosaic Sylph pours a clear bright yellow with a massive white head. The scent is a mixture of tropical hops and expressive Belgian style yeast. A fruity strain of yeast leads the flavor with notes of apple, apricot and pear. This melds well with the Mosaic hops which add hints of pineapple, mango and grapefruit. A mild malt backbone rounds out the flavor with hints of white bread and crackers. Mosaic Sylph is very light bodied and effervescent, but packs a little punch at 6.3% ABV. It has a dry finish with some lingering fruit flavors from the hops and the yeast. I love a thoughtful combination of New World hops with expressive Belgian style yeast, and this is a very good example of the style. I’ve been impressed with the Deciduous beers I’ve tried and this one is definitely worth picking up. Hoppy Boston score; 4.5/5.

Previous Deciduous Reviews:

Deciduous Sepal

Random Beer Thoughts: January 2017

My favorite addition to Hoppy Boston in 2016 was the monthly Random Beer Thoughts and Links articles that I started writing in September. It is a good forum to share ideas and opinions that come to me over the course of the month and deserve a mention without necessitating a full column. I also enjoy sharing the work of the many other talented beer writers that I follow. As always, feel free to send me any articles that you think should be included and I’ll do my best to work them in! This month I didn’t do the best job keeping track of everything, too much time reading about politics and football, but I promise to bounce back in February!

-Night Shift co-founder and Mass Brewers Guild president Rob Burns has some predictions for beer in the Bay State in 2017. Some of my favorites are the disappearance of growlers and lines, two of my least favorite beer-related things.

-Norm “The Beer Nut” Miller had three simple wishes for beer in 2017, and I agree with all three. It is so important that beer lovers be inclusive, educate without insulting and please fight against any sexism you see. He also asks us to try and branch out from IPAs leading to…

-Local Beer Blogger “Man Drinks Beer” has made the bold proclamation that he will go IPA free in 2017. I love the idea, there are so many great beer styles and drinking too many hop bombs keeps you from appreciating the subtle complexity of other styles. I am not going to cut IPAs out completely, but I am going to make a conscious effort to buy, drink and review mostly beers that aren’t as hop forward. I really hope to expand the sections of my best beers page that cover these other styles.

-The Mass Brew Brothers are doing a three part series on the modern history of Massachusetts breweries. The first part covers when each active brewery in the state opened. Part two covers the breweries that have stopped production. It is crazy to see how many breweries have opened in the last few years, and how few have closed (relatively). There is no way that these rates are sustainable, even if craft beer grabs a much larger share of the overall market. I think we are in for a very interesting stretch as the competition between breweries picks up and some inevitably fail.

-The battle between brewers and distributors is going to be an interesting subplot to follow this year, and both sides have proposed new changes to the state regulations. If brewers start to gain freedom to change distributors I think craft-centric distribution like Craft Collective and the Night Shift Distribution company will become very popular destinations.


-2017 will be another busy year, in Massachusetts alone there are 33 breweries intending to open or begin selling beer.

-There will also inevitably be more out of state breweries that start distributing in Mass. Jason Notte writes about the impending turf wars that are already starting to happen as breweries expand.

-The Mass Brew Bros. are keeping a running list of the big beer related events in the state, here is your list for January-March!

-Trillium is staying busy, Canton is up and running, rumors are swirling about a farmhouse brewery in Connecticut, and in the near term they are opening a new space in Fort Point.

-The brewers association has a data driven write-up on the effect of marijuana legalization on the beer industry.


Night Shift Bennington

I am a huge IPA fan, but I am getting a little burned out on all of the hop bombs. Most breweries are making multiple IPAs and adding huge doses of hops to everything, it feels like half of the bottles on the shelves at any good bottle shop are IPAs. I understand why this is the case, IPAs pay the bills, but beer can be amazing without being loaded with hops. So I’ve made a decision, in 2017 I am going to make an active effort to predominantly buy, drink and review non-IPAs. I’m hoping to find amazing local beers that cover a wider range of styles. In the winter that it going to mean a large number of porters and stouts. Night Shift is probably best known for their barrel aged and sour specialty releases along with their hop-forward flagship beers, but they also make some delicious dark and malty ales. This year Night Shift decided to release Bennington, their oatmeal stout brewed with Dutch cocoa and maple syrup, in cans. Night Shift Bennington is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

night-shift-benningtonNight Shift Bennington pours dark brown with a mild tan head. The scent is a mixture of rich roasted malts and cocoa. The beer is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, toffee and mocha. The cocoa and syrup meld well with these flavors, also adding a little sweetness. There are minimal hops, just enough to add a little balance and crispness to the finish. The oatmeal leads to a rich and full body that sips easy, it packs a little punch at 7.4% ABV but is far from an imperial. The finish is clean with a little malt flavor and lingering sugar. I have been asking for more tasty stouts and porters with more moderate ABVs, and this is a very nice version. My only quibble is that it skews slightly sweet for my personal taste, but it is still an interesting and flavorful beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Night Shift Reviews:

Night Shift WhirlpoolNight Shift AwakeNight Shift SantilliNight Shift MaracuyaNight Shift Mainer WeisseNight Shift Thunder Moon, Night Shift Morph IPA, Night Shift Ever Weisse, Night Shift Grove, Night Shift JoJo, Night Shift Taza Stout, Night Shift Simcoenation


HoppyBoston Best Beers-Fall 2016

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-projectMedusa 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.

bbc-oktoberfestBerkshire 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-jestNotch 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-aleOxbow 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.