For a while I was convinced that the next “big thing” in craft beer would be hoppy saisons. American drinkers love their hops, and anything with a big dose of popular new varieties will probably sell well. This has led to a proliferation of sub-styles on the IPA, where wheat IPA, red IPA and black IPA are hopped up versions of American wheat ale, amber ale and porter. There have been a number of Belgian IPAs, but I haven’t seen examples that carry the buzz of a high end IPA (the one exception might be Brett IPAs, but I consider this a different sub-style). I’ve never understood this, the fruity and spicy flavors of Belgian style yeast can provide a perfect complement to the citrus and tropical fruit flavors of many hop varieties. My favorite examples are usually saisons with significant late/dry hop additions, when I get a chance to homebrew that is typically my focus. I was excited to see Idle Hands beers becoming regularly available, and intrigued when they launched Proeme, a dry hopped saison. Idle Hands Proeme is available year-round on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Idle Hands Proeme pours hazy light yellow with a massive white head. The aroma is a mixture of floral hops with fruity and spicy yeast. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of apple, peppercorn and bubblegum. This is complemented by the hops, hints of lemon, grass and orange. The malts round out the flavor with touches of cereal and bread crust. Proeme is light and very easy to drink, sessionable at 5.0% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with some lingering hop and yeast flavor. I really enjoyed Proeme, the flavors work well together. It’s nice to have Idle Hands beers back into the regular rotation! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Idle Hands Reviews:
Idle Hands Thing 1, Idle Hands Heide, Idle Hands Riding Shotgun, Idle Hands Adelais, Idle Hands D’aison, Idle Hands Triplication
My son and I both got crushed by a nasty virus this weekend, so I did the responsible adult thing and abstained from beer (or any other form of alcoholic beverage). I actually missed a blind tasting event that I was really looking forward to, being sick sucks. Fortunately the little man and I are both on the mend, we should be fully recovered and rested for the big weekend ahead. It’s also a good thing that I always try to stay a week or two ahead on tasting notes so I can still write some Hoppy Boston posts if things like this come up. One beer I tried recently is Thing 1, a mixed fermentation farmhouse ale from Idle Hands Brewing. Idle Hands has been re-opened for a little while now, and it is good to see their beers making it back onto store shelves on a more regular basis. I visited their new taproom right after it opened, and I really need to make another trip. Idle Hands Thing 1 is available for a limited time in 750 mL bottles.
Idle Hands Thing 1 pours hazy straw yellow with a minimal white head. The scent is all from the fermentation, fruity, funky and acidic. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of green apple, barnyard, apricot, lemon and pineapple. There is a little sourness, but it isn’t overwhelming. This is complemented by a mild malt backbone, hints of bread dough and crackers. Nothing in the flavor screams hops, but some of the fruity flavors from the fermentation could be from hops too. Thing 1 is very light and refreshing, and not too boozy at 5.1% ABV. The finish is complex with a little tartness and yeasty esters. I really enjoyed Thing 1, it’s very different from any of the Idle Hands beers I’ve had in the past but very high quality. It’s good to have them back brewing interesting and delicious beers. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Idle Hands Reviews:
Idle Hands Heide, Idle Hands Riding Shotgun, Idle Hands Adelais, Idle Hands D’aison, Idle Hands Triplication
In shocking news last week Idle Hands and Enlightenment Ales, who had merged into a single operation a couple of years ago, announced that they were closing their brewery in Everett. The company isn’t going out of business! The space they use was sold to the development group building the casino in Everett and the facility is going to be torn down to help build a new access road. While Idle Hands had been considering an eventual move to help grow the business and expand capacity, the timing wasn’t great and the notice they were given was pretty short, which will lead to a lull in production. They are in the process of securing a new facility, and in the meantime the generous team at Night Shift is letting them contract out some space and equipment to continue production of part of their lineup. You can find out more information HERE. I have always thought that Idle Hands and Enlightenment Ales was amongst the most underrated local breweries as they make a wide range of delicious and innovative beers. I urge everyone to support them as they go through this transition, head to the brewery at the end of the week and stock up on some of their beers, or pick them up at a local bottle shop. Idle Hands has expanded their lineup considerably over the last year. At their inception they focused primarily on Belgian style ales including Triplication, their outstanding abbey-style tripel. Recently they have added a bevy of German inspired lagers to their lineup, including their house lager Heide. Idle Hands Heide is a Munich Helles lager, a pale colored and easy drinking table beer that is sold on draft and in 500 mL bottles.
Idle Hands Heide pours a clear straw yellow with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of earthy hops and some pale malts. The beer is a classic lager, smooth, clean and very light bodied. There are some grassy and floral hops that also add a pleasantly crisp bitterness. This is complemented by the light malts, touches of cracker, freshly baked bread and a hint of honey. At 4.6% ABV Idle Hands Heide is very sessionable. The “house lager” designation is perfect for this beer, it’s both full flavored and easy to drink, the kind of beer that does the job for all sorts of occasions. Pick this up and continue to support a great local brewery as they go through a difficult transition! Hoppy Boston score 4.25/5.
Previous Idle Hands Reviews:
Idle Hands Riding Shotgun, Idle Hands Adelais, Idle Hands D’aison, Idle Hands Triplication
Idle Hands brewery in Everett, MA isn’t the easiest place to find. Located in an industial park down a side street with minimal signage, you need to look around a little to find it (and trust your GPS, we thought we went to the wrong place at first). While they have great brewing space, there is no official tasting room, just a small bar where they pour free small samples and sell bottles and growler fills (no full pours). While the location isn’t the most welcoming, the staff is great. They are happy to chat about the beers and make recommendations. There are also tons of beers to try. With the merger of Idle Hands and Enlightenment Ales last year the brewery now produces an impressive selection of year round and seasonal brews. I’ve long felt that these are two of the most under-rated breweries in MA, both make a wide range of delicious and drinkable beers. After tasting a number of selections, I grabbed a bottle of Riding Shotgun, their hoppy hefeweizen. I’m not usually a huge hefeweizen fan, but the liberal hop additions made this an intriguing beer worth a full try. I also grabbed a bottle of Enlightenment Brut, the only Bier de Champagne brewed in the US. It’s sitting in the fridge waiting for the right occasion to crack it open. Stay tuned for a full write up of that soon.
Idle Hands Riding Shotgun pours a deep copper, slightly hazy with a substantial white head. The smell features some floral and woodsy hops intermingled with mild scents of wheat malt. The hops lead off in the flavor, notes of pine, grass and earth. The wheat comes through strongly too, like well toasted whole wheat bread. I like the use of the more woodsy/earthy hops with the wheat, I think it is a better complement than the strong tropical fruit flavors some American hops add. Riding Shotgun is clean and easy to drink at 5.7% ABV. This is a very solid late summer to early fall beer, lots of flavor and complexity without being too heavy. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Idle Hands reviews:
Idle Hands Adelais, Idle Hands D’aison, Idle Hands Triplication
In the US, pilsner gets kind of a bad name (thank you Miller, Coors and Bud). Most craft beer drinkers in the US prefer big and bold flavors, and the name pilsner recalls the tasteless lagers that get chugged at campus-wide keggers. This is unfortunate, because when they are made correctly a pilsner can be a subtle and flavorful beer. The pilsners you find in central Europe are very different than bland American macro-brews, with noticeable crisp hops and substantial malt flavors. Many US craft breweries have come to the realization that there is a good market for flavorful, well-made pilsners. They are great beers to go with warm Summer weather. Idle Hands brewery in Everett, MA began by making mostly Belgian style ales, but their recent releases have branched out into other types of beer. These new styles include a series of lagers, and the third beer in that series is Adelais, an unfiltered German style pilsner. Adelais is made with three types of pilsner malts and then hopped with Hallertau, Hersbrucker and Saphir hops. It is sold for a limited time in 500 mL bottles and on draft.
Idle Hands Adelais pours a hazy golden yellow with a solid white head. The smell is pretty mild, some grainy malts with a touch of earthy hops. The taste starts with the malt, some crackers, fresh baked bread and a little buttery flavor. The hops are present as well, some pine forest, with a little herbal spice. The beer is clean and drinkable with a subtle but noticeable bitterness. The finish is crisp with very little aftertaste. At 5.2% ABV it is not quite a session beer, but I could easily knock back a couple while grilling on a Summer afternoon. Adelais is a solid addition to the Idle Hands lineup. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Idle Hands reviews:
Idle Hands D’aison, Idle Hands Triplication
One of the reasons I decided to review a series of saisons this spring is the diversity of flavor profiles that fall under the saison umbrella. Since the saison style originated in farmhouses in Belgium and France there was never any attempt to conform to a particular recipe or list of ingredients. In a couple of weeks I have already covered beers with very different hop, malt and yeast flavors, in addition to various adjunct ingredients. Idle Hands Brewing of Everett, MA has a very unique saison as their Spring seasonal. They have combined a Belgian saison yeast with a dark malt profile typical in a stout or porter, resulting in a “dark saison” named D’aison. Idle Hands D’aison was originally a one-off release, but it won a fan vote to become their new Srping seasonal release. D’aison is available on draft and in 750 mL bottles.
Idle Hands D’aison pours a pitch black with a mild off-white head. The smell is pretty mild, some fruity esters from the yeast and some dark fruit scents from the malts. The taste starts with the dark malts, touches of dark chocolate, raisins and plums. The Belgian yeast is present but not strong, some notes of pear, pepper and spice. The beer doesn’t have much hop character, there is a little bitterness in the backbone for balance. Idle Hands D’aison is medium bodied and a nice sipper at 6.7% ABV. The finish is quite clean, with a bit of malt and spice in the aftertaste. Overall this is a very unique take on the saison style, with a compatible interplay between the dark malt and yeast. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Idle Hands Reviews:
Idle Hands Triplication
Idle Hands brewery in Everett, MA makes a variety of Belgian-style craft ales. The co-founders, husband and wife team Christopher and Grace Tkazh, decided to focus on Belgian style beer due to its diverse flavor profile and the interplay between these ales with an array of different foods. Idle Hands beers often feature a classic Belgian style with a twist, typically the inclusion of non-traditional adjuncts, or the addition of American hop varieties. These updates lead a series of handcrafted year-round and seasonal ales, available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles. One of Idle Hands signature year-round brews is Triplication, their take on the Abbey tripel style. The tripel is a lightly colored ale that is typically high in alcohol due to the addition of Belgian candi sugar to the mash. The flavors of a tripel can range from slightly fruity to coyingly sweet to dry. This style has become increasingly popular among American craft brewers because the esters from the yeast along with the malt and sugar backbone can complement American hops to form a highly nuanced and fun to sip beer.
Idle Hands Triplication pours a hazy gold with a sustained white head. The first smell is the Belgian yeast, contributing fruity esters, earthy tones and must. The yeast is present, but not as strong as you might find in other Belgian style beers. The hops are also evident on the nose, with citrus notes that interplay with the fruit from the yeast. The taste is balanced. The yeast contributes fruit flavors; apple, pear and peach, along with some clove. The hops are also evident, bringing in pine resin and lemon notes. The solid hop bite complements a mild malt backbone, just a touch of sweetness to balance the bitterness from the hops. The beer is crisp and very easy to drink, with a light and fully carbonated mouthfeel. This drinkability is a little dangerous, as Triplication weighs in at a whopping 9.0% ABV. Be very careful with this beer, delicious, easy to drink and high alcohol can be an inviting, potentially problematic combination. I like tripels as a style, but find that many leave an overly sweet aftertaste that necessitates slow sipping, but the perfect balance of yeast, sugars and hops in Triplication makes it a stellar Americanized version of this Belgian Abbey staple. This beer deserves a place amongst the cannon of the great beers in Massachusetts. Hoppy Boston score: 5.0/5.