My life has been a little chaotic recently, one of the March storms threw a wrench into lots of plans and knocked power out at my house for a few days, and then during the most recent storm my wife and I went into Boston for the birth of our second child. Now I am back into caring for a newborn mode, which means too little sleep, tons of family commitments and living in a general haze. I am hoping to keep up with Hoppy Boston as much as possible, posts might be a little more infrequent, typos will definitely be more glaring and my social media presence will be less regular, but I should settle into a new schedule and find some time to write about (and drink) beers. As winter weather lingers into late March I am still drinking a number of porters and stouts, I’ll need to grab a few more if we get hit with this storm on Wednesday. One new-to-me beer that I finally sampled is Spring Heel Jack, a London Porter from Down the Road Brewing in Everett. Down the Road has been expanding their lineup recently, with a variety of different styles out in distribution and served in their taproom in Everett. Spring Heel Jack is one of their winter releases, brewed with roasted malts balanced by Fuggle hops. It is available during the winter months on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.
Down the Road Spring Heel Jack porter pours pitch black with a solid light brown head. The aroma is rich with roasted malts. The flavor is also malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, cappuccino, caramel and black licorice along with a hint of sweetness. This is balanced by some herbal and grassy hops that help crisp up the finish. Spring Heel Jack is medium bodied and drinks smooth, not overly boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish is full with some lingering roasted malt flavor. This is a nice porter, plenty of flavor and goes down easy, a good beer for the lingering cold weather as winter heads into spring. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Down The Road Reviews:
Down the Road Seventh Star IPA, Down the Road Hooligan Nut Brown Ale, Down The Road Rasenmaher Kolsch, Down The Road Pukwudgie Pale Ale
If someone told you five years ago that Everett, MA would become a hotspot for local beer you probably would have told the bartender to cut the person off. It’s easy to forget how quickly that has changed, just a few years ago there was nothing related to beer in Everett. First Night Shift opened up their brewery in town, which has undergone multiple expansions and become a destination for beer fans. A year ago they were joined by Bone Up Brewing Company. Soon there will be a third brewery in town, when Down the Road finally opens up a brewery and taproom in Everett later this year. For the last few years Down the Road has been churning out a variety of tasty beers as a contract brewer, and it will be exciting to see what they develop once they have their own space. One Down the Road beer I enjoyed recently is Seventh Star, their flagship IPA. Down the Road Seventh Star is brewed with Azaca and Idaho #7 hops and is available year round on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Down the Road Seventh Star pours a clear bright orange with a massive white head. The scent is full of hops, citrus and floral aromas. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of grapefruit, pine, grass and melon along with a solid bitter bite. This is balanced by a solid malt backbone, touches of bread dough and honey. Seventh Star is medium bodied and smooth, not too boozy at 6.5% ABV. It has a crisp and clean finish with lingering hop flavor and bite. Down the Road Seventh Star is a solid West Coast style IPA, plenty of flavor and easy to drink. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Down The Road Reviews:
Down the Road Hooligan Nut Brown Ale, Down The Road Rasenmaher Kolsch, Down The Road Pukwudgie Pale Ale
Between getting older, drinking less and lack of sleep (the final two directly related to the birth of my son) I have become kind of a lightweight with respect to my alcohol tolerance. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and really doesn’t effect me very often, I just have to be more careful monitoring my intake, especially when I crack a beer earlier in the day. I try to keep a selection of lower alcohol beer around for situations like this Saturday, when the Pats played in the afternoon and I opened my first beer before kickoff. This is no problem in the summer, with the huge selection of low ABV pilsners, pale ales and session IPAs, but it can be a challenge in the fall and winter months when I prefer darker and maltier offerings. One style that I’ve come around on recently are brown ales, especially the British style “mild ales” that are lower in alcohol than many bolder (and boozier) American varieties. The mild brown ale seems to be making a little bit of a comeback, it was nearly non-existent in the US but I’ve seen a few recent local examples. One is Hooligan Nut Brown, the sessionable brown ale from Down The Road Brewery. Hooligan is named in honor of Hedley Kow, featured on the bottle art, a mischievous spirit known for shape-shifting and playing tricks on people. Down The Road Hooligan Nut Brown is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Down The Road Hooligan Nut Brown pours clear brown with a small off-white head. The scent features the sweet maltiness you expect from the style. There is plenty of malt flavor, with notes of caramel, biscuits, brown sugar and honey, but the beer isn’t overly sweet. Some subtle hops add just enough earthy flavor and balance while staying true to the style. The beer is medium bodied and drinks very smooth, sessionable at 4.5% ABV. The finish is clean with just a touch of lingering malt flavor. Hooligan Nut Brown is a really nice mild-style brown ale, plenty of flavor but easy to drink and lower alcohol. I would like to see a few more beers of this type on the market and will make this a mainstay during the colder months. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Down The Road Reviews:
Down The Road Rasenmaher Kolsch, Down The Road Pukwudgie Pale Ale
Down The Road Brewery in Newton is gradually rolling out their introductory lineup of beers. They recently released Rasenmaher Kolsch on draft and in 12 oz. bottles. If you grab a bottle you’ll probably notice something interesting in their artwork. The label depicts Down The Road character Hans Mowermann pushing a lawnmower in his lederhosen. In his free hand, where you might expect to see a frosty mug of beer, there is a small “censored” label instead. The original art included the mug of beer, but the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (who approves all labels for alcoholic beverages), nixed the art. The full story can be found on Down The Road’s blog HERE. Apparently the TTB consider a lawnmower to be heavy machinery, and every beer contains the warning to not operate heavy machinery if you consume alcohol. I’m glad Down The Road chose to use the censored label instead of re-doing their artwork, it adds a little intrigue and immediately draws the consumer’s eye. While Rasenmaher Kolsch is a perfect Summertime lawnmower beer, it is going to be one of Down The Road’s flagship beers and thus available year-round.
Down The Road Rasenmaher Kolsch pours a clear pale orange with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of noble hops with just a touch of German-style yeast. The taste starts with the pale malts, notes of crackers and grain. This is perfectly complemented by the noble hops, which add moderate earthy and grassy flavors. The German yeast is less expressive than Belgian styles, but adds some subtle hints of banana and clove. The beer is very light and easy to drink with some spritzy carbonation and sessionable at 4.5% ABV. Rasenmaher Kolsch is a great summer beer, full flavored but crushable, I’ll knock back a few of these on the porch and add this to my BBQ rotation. I’m glad only the label was censored and not the beer! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Down The Road Reviews:
Down The Road Pukwudgie Pale Ale
Few things are more exciting to a craft beer enthusiast than having a new brewery open right in your neighborhood. Down The Road Brewery officially launched this week, and although they don’t have a tap room yet they are headquartered in Newton, very close to where I currently reside. The first product released by Down The Road is their flagship pale ale named Pukwudgie. In the IPA centric craft beer market it is nice to see a new brewery lead off with an APA, it feels like the style is falling out of favor. Pukwudgie is an interesting name! They named the beer after a mythical Wampanoag woodland creature. I don’t think they’ll have to worry about infringing on the copyrights of any other breweries with this one. Pukwudgie is an American pale ale brewed with Chinook and Mosaic hops. It is available locally on draft and in 12 oz. bottles. I bought a bottle on Friday (March 27th) that was bottled on March 26th – can’t beat that for freshness.
Down The Road Pukwudgie pours orange-tinted yellow with a solid white head. The smell is a solid hit of hops with aromas of citrus fruit and resin. The taste is also very malt forward, notes of pine, lemon and orange. This beer also packs some bite, with bitterness that approaches IPA-level. They could have easily called this a “session IPA”, once again solidifying my assertion that session IPAs are usually just American pale ales with a newer marketing campaign. The body is pretty light, you get just a little maltiness to add some balance along with a touch of cracked grain and caramel. The beer is super-easy to drink, and very sessionable at 4.5% ABV. The finish is very clean, leaving a little bite of hops on the tongue. This is a really good start for the new brewery. I look forward to crushing a few of these on the porch this spring and to trying what Down The Road releases next! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.