Happy Massachusetts Beer Week! If I had my stuff together I would have had a whole series of articles lined up about the great beers in the state that you need to try, but I was in Maine with friends last weekend and I fell behind on getting my links article out, so all I have is a lonely review. I also won’t be attending any events this week, it’s my son’s second birthday on Saturday and we have a bunch of family in town, so the weekend will revolve around that. I do have some more amazing Massachusetts beers in my fridge, so I will be celebrating in spirit. Fortunately I do have one local beer in my review queue, Danko, the double dry-hopped rye ale from Exhibit A in Framingham. I really like the way Exhibit A has started, they test-run new beers through their Demo Tape series and then tweak the recipes until they turn into a regular release. Exhibit A Danko is brewed with local rye from Valley Malt and a copious amount of Simcoe hops. It is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.
Exhibit A Danko pours a murky light orange with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity new world hops. There is also plenty of hop flavor, notes of orange, grapefruit and cut grass along with a little bitter bite. This is balanced by substantial malt character, spicy rye and bread crust. Some hoppy rye beers skimp on the grain to the point that you can barely tell that the rye is there, this is not one of those beers. The hops and the rye complement each other pretty well. Danko is medium bodied, drinks easy and isn’t overly boozy at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop and rye flavor. This is another very tasty beer from a brewery that has come out of the gate hitting on all cylinders. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Exhibit A Reviews:
Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow and Demo Tape 5
It is somewhat surreal walking into Exhibit A Brewing Company in Framingham for the first time, if you’ve been a patron of local breweries you’ll probably get a sense of deja vu. That is due to the fact that the Exhibit A space used to be Jack’s Abby, before they moved into their bigger brewery. Outside of some new paint, logos and décor the tasting room looks essentially the same, but there is a new crew pouring a very different lineup of beers. On a recent visit the guys at the bar even told me that they’ve made some new customers who hadn’t undated their GPS and tried to go to Jack’s Abby, but decided to stick around and check out the new brewery in Framingham. Exhibit A launched recently with a series of “demo tape” beers, essentially full scale test runs of a number of beers that allow them to tweak recipes before they become a regular part of the rotation. You can buy full pours or samples at the brewery or get growler fills and 16 oz. cans to go. They haven’t started distributing yet, so the only place to get the beer is at the brewery. On a recent trip I grabbed The Cat’s Meow, their flagship IPA, and Demo Tape 5, a brown porter.
Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow pours a hazy light orange with a small white head. The scent is a solid hit of hops, mostly citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of guava, grapefruit and mango along with a soft bitterness. There is just enough malt for balance, touches of crackers and honey. The Cat’s Meow is very easy to drink, that is one of the first things you notice as you try it, but at 6.5% ABV it packs a little punch. The finish is crisp and clean with a little lingering hop flavor. The flagship IPA is one of the most important beers for a new brewery, it will probably be the way that they introduce themselves to their customers, and this is a very nice start for Exhibit A. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Exhibit A Demo Tape Five pours pitch black with a minimal tan head. The scent features some rich roasted malt. The flavor is malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, coffee and toffee. This is balanced by some mild hop flavor, earthy with a touch of bitterness. Demo Tape Five is full bodied but drinks easy and isn’t too boozy at 6.1% ABV. The finish is clean with a little lingering malt flavor. I am a huge fan or well made porters, especially when they focus on a solid recipe without the need of adjunct ingredients or huge ABVs. This is a very good beer and I’ve heard a rumor that it will soon become a regular part of the Exhibit A rotation (once they come up with a good name)! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.