I try to focus my reviews on beers that my Boston area readers can find without going incredibly out of their way. I have never been the kind of person to wait in line for hours for a beer release, I’d rather find awesome beer that is readily available. That being said, occasionally I come across a limited release beer and if I enjoy it I feel compelled to share, especially if it is something unique. Bog Iron Brewing had their first bottle release in late December, a braggot aged in Mezcal barrels named Devil’s Footprint. I was able to acquire a bottle, they were limited and sold out very fast, but given the positive feedback on the beer I imagine they will be brewing it again. Braggot is an interesting style, an ale brewed with heavy doses of honey that is kind of a mix between beer and mead. Bog Iron uses honey in a number of their brews, so it makes sense that they would experiment with this style. The base braggot is available at the brewery on a rotating basis, and the batch that became Devil’s Footprint was aged in Mexican Mezcal barrels and then bottled. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this is the only Mezcal barrel aged braggot on the market. Bog Iron Devil’s Footprint was sold in 16 oz. bottles at the release, hopefully they have another batch ready sometime in 2016!
Bog Iron Devil’s Footprint pours deep orange with a minimal white head. The scent is a mixture of Mezcal and a little honey. The Mezcal is evident in the flavor, touches of oak, smoke and just a little boozy sweetness, fully represented but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. There is also substantial flavors from the fermentables, fresh bread and crackers from the malt along with wildflowers and orange from the honey. The yeast did their work, even with all that sugar added there is minimal residual sweetness, the beer is pretty dry. It also drinks very easy for a barrel aged beer with 10.5% ABV. The finish is clean with a little lingering booze and Mezcal flavors. Devil’s Footprint is a really interesting beer, not like anything I’ve ever tried, but I enjoyed it very much. I hope this becomes a yearly tradition, and I look forward to seeing what else comes out of Bog Iron’s barrel program! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5
Previous Bog Iron Reviews:
Bog Iron Jump Back, Bog Iron Ryezing Son, Bog Iron Middle Child, Bog Iron Stinger IPA, Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter
Being a parent is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it cuts into your free time a bit (and by that I mean that my free time is almost non-existent). This just means that I need to be creative if I want to do things like visit breweries. A good example was this Saturday, my wife was taking the baby out for a few hours and I had a bit of a to-do list, but I knocked it out in record time in order to make a quick trip to Bog Iron Brewing in Norton. I wasn’t able to hang out and drink some beers, but I had plenty of time to fill a couple growlers, including a liter of Jump Back, the newest permanent addition to their stable of IPAs. One of Bog Iron’s staples has been the use of honey in brewing, especially in their flagship series of IPAs, Stinger, Middle Child and Stung. Jump Back is their first IPA brewed without added honey, although they are also working on a complementary honey-free DIPA (I enjoyed a sample while my growlers were being filled). Jump Back is available on a rotating basis in the Bog Iron tap room, on draft and for growler fills.
Bog Iron Jump Back IPA pours a hazy gold with a solid white head. The nose is great, a huge burst of hops led by citrus and tropical fruit. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of grapefruit, mango, orange and pine with a soft bitterness. There is just a little malt in the backbone, touches of crackers and toast. Jump Back is very easy to drink, you might mistake it for an APA and be caught off guard by the 7.1% ABV. The finish is very clean with just a hint of hops on the tongue. For my personal taste I wouldn’t mind a little more hop finish/bitterness, but it is a minor quibble, this is a very good beer that fits well in the Bog Iron lineup. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Bog Iron Reviews:
Bog Iron Ryezing Son, Bog Iron Middle Child, Bog Iron Stinger IPA, Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter
I have mentioned multiple times that saisons are my favorite spring beer style (and one of my favorite styles overall), so it should come as no surprise that I have been drinking a bunch of them recently. I am also on a bit of a rye beer kick, the addition of rye malt adds spice and complexity that can complement a number of different beer styles. While many breweries focus on Rye IPAs (which can be great), I love the combination of rye and Belgian yeast. Many Belgian style yeast strains add notes of pepper, coriander and other spices to the finished beer that can mesh well with the flavor imparted by the rye malt. I am planning on home-brewing a saison in the coming weeks and rye will definitely be part of the recipe. Bog Iron Brewing seems to agree with my opinions on rye in Belgian style beers. One beer in their regular rotation is Ryezing Son, a saison brewed with Pacific Jade and Citra hops along with a hearty dose of rye malt. Since Bog Iron doesn’t bottle or can their beer (yet) the only way to find this beer is on draft or by driving to Norton (which isn’t a bad ride from Boston).
Bog Iron Ryezing Son pours a cloudy bright yellow with a mild white head. The scent is a complex mixture of spicy rye, estery yeast and a little hit of citrusy hops. The yeast leads the flavor with notes of coriander, banana and apple. The malts also come through led by the peppery spice of the rye. The hops round out the flavor with hints of lemon, orange and cut grass. The flavor here is complex, but everything works together in harmony. The beer is light bodied, easy to drink and not overly strong at 6% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering spice from the rye and yeast. Overall this is a really good example of an Americanized saison with the rye malts and new world hops complementing the expressive Belgian style yeast. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Bog Iron Reviews:
Bog Iron Middle Child, Bog Iron Stinger IPA, Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter
A couple weeks ago I was participating in a casual Twitter conversation about local beer with some other enthusiasts and someone mentioned drinking a few of Bog Iron Brewing’s selections at a Boston area bar (The Independent in Somerville). I replied that I was excited to see their beer in metro Boston, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve sampled but don’t find myself in Norton very often. I was later chided by the Bog Iron Twitter account (which I believe is run by Brian, one of the co-founder/brewers) that Norton isn’t THAT far from the city. He was right of course. From my apartment in Watertown I can make the door-to-door trek in about 45 minutes on a Saturday, not a bad ride to pick up some high quality beers. Having been put in my place, I made the pilgrimage to Norton last weekend, tasted some of their wares and left with a few growlers. I guess the lesson here is that it pays to call your local beer blogger out for being lazy :). The growler I was more excited to crack into (and did as soon as I got home) was Middle Child Double IPA. Bog Iron currently brews a progression of IPAs, Stinger weighs in at 7.4% ABV, while boozy Stung is 10.5%, and Middle Child falls in between (thus the name) at 9.5%. Middle Child was sold out for growler fills on a previous visit so I was very excited that the keg hadn’t kicked when I arrived.
Bog Iron Middle Child pours a deep orange, slightly cloudy, with a solid off-white head. The scent is a huge burst of hops with the predominant citrus and tropical fruit aromas that you expect from many new world hop varieties. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of guava, grapefruit, lemon, mango and a little pine. This is accompanied by a hit of bitterness, enough to know you’re drinking an IPA but not so much that it numbs the tongue. The hops are balanced by a solid malt backbone, touches of grainy bread and toffee that help fill out the flavor. The beer is medium bodied and goes down very easy for 9.5% ABV. The finish is clean with some fruity hops and crisp bitterness. I have enjoyed a number of the selections at Bog Iron but I am pretty sure that Middle Child is my favorite, everything you want in a double IPA and worth the (not far) drive to Norton on its own. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Bog Iron Reviews:
Bog Iron Stinger IPA, Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter
I mentioned last week that my visit to Bog Iron Brewery included an extended tasting and the purchase of a couple growlers. I reviewed their One Down Porter as part of my first post, this second will focus on my other purchase, Stinger IPA. The IPA style is so popular it is almost a requirement for a new brewery to make at least one IPA. It is also important to make a quality version of the style, fair or not, many customers will base their initial impressions of the brewery on the quality of their hop-forward beers. Bog Iron makes three IPAs, their single IPA Stinger, a big double IPA called Stung, and one in between appropriately named Middle Child. I tried all three during my tasting and enjoyed the clear difference in flavor profile that went beyond the changes in ABV. If I had to pick, I think Middle Child would be my favorite, unfortunately the keg was kicked and I couldn’t get a full growler. So I decided on to bring home a bottle of Stinger. Stinger IPA gets it’s name from the substantial amount of locally sourced honey that is added to the mash. The addition of honey adds alcohol, a small amount of flavor and gives the beer a dry finish, resulting in an IPA that showcases the hop flavors. Bog Iron Stinger is hopped continuously during the boil and then dry hopped multiple times with Cascade, Columbus, Magnum and Summit varieties.
Bog Iron Stinger IPA pours a clear red-tinted yellow with a minimal white head. The smell is a big burst of hoppy goodness, floral, citrus and tropical fruit scents. The goal of showcasing the hop flavors in this beer is also well realized, with notes of grapefruit, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pine and grass. The bitterness is present but not overkill, it’s there without killing your palate. There is some malt to add some balance, touches of whole grain bread and biscuits. The honey adds some subtle flavor, but this beer is clearly brewed to showcase the hops. Stinger is pretty substantial for a “single” IPA at 7.4% ABV, but the beer is very easy to drink and you get none of the booze in the flavor. The finish is clean with just a bit of bite on the tongue. I really liked this beer! If you are a fan of the hop-forward brews this is one to add to your “must-try” list. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Bog Iron Reviews:
Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter
Last week I wrote a post about finding the best brewery in Massachusetts (HERE), mostly as a response to Gary Dzen’s #HotBeerTake declaring that Trillium Brewing was the best brewery in the state. I hoped that my post would be a conversation starter and I would get a number of responses supporting the various breweries I mentioned or some that I missed. The responses were a little limited in scope, I’ll post something in the near future with my thoughts on that. However, the post did lead to one interesting conversation with the brewers at Bog Iron Brewing. The main point (which we both agreed on) was that it is preposterous to name a BEST brewery in a state, especially if you haven’t tried beer from every single brewery yet. You can say a particular brewery is your FAVORITE, but that is much different than calling one the best. It was a solid back in forth, and more importantly it reminded me that I needed to make the trip down to Bog Iron in Norton, MA and sample some beers.
On Saturday I made the trip down south, Norton is a quick 45 minute drive from where I live in Watertown, very accessible from the city. The brewery is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The beer is also available on select draft accounts, but this is all the 3-barrel setup can supply at this point. They currently sell tasting flights, growler-fills (500 and 1000 mL) and pints out of a small tap room on West Main Street in Norton. The bar was manned by Brian and Matt, two of the three founders, who made easy conversation with local regulars and first-time visitors alike. I took a quick tour of the brewery with Brian. They are currently limited in their production due to fermentation space and brewing equipment, but they are planning to expand in the new year. Brian told me that they want to grow organically, reinvesting their profits into the business instead of taking out loans. Bog Iron brews about 12 beers that rotate in and out at the brewery and they typically have 4-6 on draft at a time. While most are American takes on British and German styles, they are also working on their first sour beers, they have 4 wine barrels in the back with two types of beer conditioning. I had a tasting flight and then took home a growler of One Down Robust Porter and Stinger IPA. I’ll give a review of One Down today and you can expect a review of Stinger IPA in the next week or so.
Bog Iron One Down Robust Porter pours a deep cola brown with a mild tan head that leaves substantial lacing on the glass as you drink. The smell is dominated by rich dark malts, lots of coffee and roasted barley. The taste is also malt forward with solid notes of cappuccino and dark chocolate along with a little plum and raisin. They use some cherrywood smoked malt in the brewing process, the smoky flavor is subtle but evident. I love the complexity that smoky flavors add to a porter, especially when it doesn’t overwhelm the other dark malts. There are some mild earthy hops that add some balance, but this beer is clearly a tribute to the malty flavors of the darker forms of barley. The beer is smooth and very drinkable, with the thick mouthfeel you expect from a big dark beer. One Down weighs in at 7.75% ABV, but you don’t taste the alcohol at all, the beer goes down very easy. This beer is great, I love porter and this is one of the best local versions I’ve tried. I highly recommend the trip to Norton to try this and Bog Iron’s other varieties. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.