Tag Archives: IPA

Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream

Sam Adams releases a number of variety packs over the course of the year, usually changing them with each season. This month they also released a special new pack, called the Brewing The American Dream Collaboration Pack. This 12-pack features two bottles of Boston Lager along with two bottles each of five new collaboration beers. Each collaboration is with a brewery that helped get their start by participating in the Sam Adams Brewing for the American Dream program, which provides training and loans that helped make these brewers dreams a reality. Profits from this 12 pack will be funneled back into the program to help the next generation of American brewers get started. I was very excited to try the beers in this pack (disclosure: they were provided by Sam Adams). Here are my thoughts on each shown in order of how much I liked them, starting with my personal favorite.

Sam Adams Tea Party SaisonBoston Tea Party Saison: Collaboration with Woods Beer Company in San Francisco, CA. Boston Tea Party is a saison brewed with yerba mate tea, coriander and grains of paradise and fermented with the yeast strain used in Sam Adams Kosmic Mother Funk. My favorite beer in the pack, funky yeast on the nose and tons of flavor from the fermentation, apple, pear, a little acidity along with the distinct flavor imparted by the Brettanomyces. The spices add complexity without overwhelming the beer, and the finish is dry and just a touch tart. A complex but still easy to drink saison.

Sam Adams Oats McGoatsOats McGoats Stout: Collaboration with Brewery Rickoli in Wheat Ridge, CO. Oats McGoats is a gluten-reduced oatmeal stout. A little roasted barley on the nose, and full dark malt flavors, milk chocolate, toffee, espresso. A little bit of herbal hops round out this full bodied but still easy drinking beer. You would have no idea the beer is gluten-reduced, it’s a tasty and flavorful stout.

Sam Adams ThreeNinety BockThreeNinety Bock: Collaboration with Roc Brewing in Rochester, NY. ThreeNinety is a Helles Bock brewed with Mosaic and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops and named after the distance between Boston and Rochester. This is a super drinkable maibock, crisp and clean. The crackers and bread from the malts meld well with grassy and herbal hops. I enjoyed the beer, but I would have liked to see the fruity Mosaic hops shine through a little more, it would have made it a little more unique.

Sam Adams Time Hop PorterTime Hop Porter: Collaboration with ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Ramona, CA. Time Hop is a hopped up porter brewed with Zeus, Chinook, Cascade and Goldings hops. Dark chocolate and black coffee notes from the malt combine with grass, pine and lemon from the hops. Smooth, drinkable and not too boozy at 5.3% ABV. I have mixed opinions on this beer, it was a interesting take on a porter with the extra hops, but not what I usually love about the style. Hop-heads might love this beer, for me it was just OK.

Sam Adams Desert KaleidoscopeDesert Kaleidoscope IPA: Collaboration with Bosque Brewing in Albuquerque, NM. A West Coast IPA brewed with Zeus, Cascade, Mosaic and Ekuanot hops. This IPA features solid hop flavor, notes of pine, lemon and grass along with substantial malt, with touches of honey and caramel. I would have liked some more hop aroma, for me that pungent aroma is make or break in an IPA and I didn’t get enough of it here.

Previous Sam Adams Reviews:

Sam Adams 26.2, Sam Adams Hopscape and Fresh As HellesSam Adams Rebel RawSam Adams Rebel RouserSam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest


Boothbay Brewing Thirsty Botanist

I’ve never done any formal beer trading. I like to focus on local beers, and I really don’t like the chase whalez to trade for other whalez game that seems to dominate the beer trading sites online. That being said, I have a couple of friends who are fellow beer nuts and when we get together we tend to share some of the good local beers we’ve found. My buddy Russell lives in Maine and has introduced me to some hidden gems of the Maine beer scene over the last few years, and I’ve tried to return the favor with some Massachusetts standouts. On my recent trip to Maine Russell brought a couple new-to-me Maine beers including Thirsty Botanist, a New England style IPA from Boothbay Brewing Company. Boothbay Brewing Thirsty Botanist is available locally on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Boothbay Thirsty BotanistBoothbay Brewing Thirsty Botanist pours hazy light orange with a solid white head. There is a big burst of fruity hops on the nose, you immediately know that this is a NE-style IPA. The hops lead the flavor too, notes of grapefruit, peach, guava and tangerine with minimal bitterness. This is balanced by some malt flavor, hints of bread crust and honey along with some sweetness. Thirsty Botanist is medium bodied and goes down easy, but at 7.0% ABV it packs a little punch. The finish features some hop flavor and a little lingering sugar. Overall this is a really solid beer from a brewery that was new to me. I’ll be up in Boothbay in September for a wedding, I might need to stop by! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Maine Beer Company Woods and Waters

There are so many amazing breweries in Maine and I’ve made an effort to expand my horizons and make different stops on my trips North, but there is one place that I always seem to visit, Maine Beer Company in Freeport. Some of that is ease of access, it is right off the highway and very much on my way, but I also go because their beer is delicious. On my most recent stop it was clear that they are in the midst of a major expansion, hopefully that means more of their stellar IPAs make the trip down to Massachusetts. It’s interesting how MBC has stuck to their guns and not chased trends. While most breweries switched to cans they have stuck to 500 mL bottles and while many have embraced turbid double-dry hopped IPAs theirs are still clear and precise. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Lunch and Mo in cans I love the beers that MBC makes and wouldn’t want them to change a thing in that department. One new beer I grabbed on my recent trip north was Woods and Waters, an IPA brewed with Maine grown barley and wheat to celebrate the Katahdin National Monument. It is available now on draft and in 500 mL bottles.

MBC Woods and WatersMaine Beer Company Woods and Waters pours clear light yellow with a solid white head. The aroma is very hoppy, citrus fruit and floral scents. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of lemon, pine and orange along with a mild but present bitterness. This is balanced by a light malt backbone, hints of crackers and cereal. Woods and Waters is very light bodied, easy to drink and not overly boozy at 6.2% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop flavor. The flavor was supposed to remind you for the woods, and I think it really pulls that off. Maine Beer Company Woods and Waters fits perfectly into their stable of hop-forward but precise beers. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Maine Beer Co. Reviews:

Maine Beer Co. Beer V, Maine Beer Co. Thank YouMaine Beer Co. MoMaine Beer Co. Mean Old TomMaine Beer Co. A Tiny Beautiful Something, Maine Beer Co. Beer II, BREWERY OVERVIEW: Maine Beer Co., Maine Beer Co. King TitusMaine Beer Co. Lunch, Maine Beer Co. Another One, Maine Beer Co./Allagash/In’finiti 2013 Ale, Maine Beer Co. Peeper



Brewmaster Jack Crushendo

Unlike some of the outspoken beer critics/bloggers/talking heads on twitter I am an unabashed fan of the New England style IPAs. As a point of clarification, New England style IPAs are beers with large doses of fruity hop aroma and flavor, substantial haze and low bitterness. Many IPAs brewed in New England don’t fall into that category, and now many beers of this style are being brewed throughout the US, but the name comes from pioneering breweries like The Alchemist, Trillium and Treehouse. I really don’t understand the vocal criticism of the style. If you don’t like the beers then don’t drink them, it leaves more for me and the other fans of hazy juice-bombs. Are there examples that aren’t good? Of course there are, just like any other style of beer. While I’ve enjoyed many New England style IPAs I have one small quibble, most of them are on the boozy side. I guess I’m getting old, but it would be nice to have a few more examples that had the big hop flavors without pushing past 7% ABV. A good example that falls into this category is Crushendo, a session IPA brewed with pineapple juice from Brewmaster Jack. Crushendo is available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Brewmaster Jack CrushendoBrewmaster Jack Crushendo pours a hazy light yellow with a solid white head. The scent is mostly fruity hops along with a little pineapple. The hops lead the flavor too, notes of grapefruit, tangerine and papaya with very mild bitterness. The pineapple melds well with the hop profile, I wouldn’t have known that fruit juice was added if it wasn’t printed on the can. A light malt backbone fills out the flavor profile with hints of crackers and cereal. Crushendo lives up to it’s name, it’s light and crushable at 5.0% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with some lingering juicy hops. This is another quality offering from Brewmaster Jack, using fruit to accentuate the flavors of popular hop varieties. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Brewmaster Jack Reviews:

Brewmaster Jack Art and Industry, Brewmaster Jack Tennessee Prinse, Brewmaster Jack Jan, Brewmaster Jack AmbrewsiaBrewmaster Jack Huell MelonBrewmaster Jack Motueka, Brewmaster Jack Aquila


Wachusett Wally

Probably the biggest challenge facing “veteran” craft brewers is balancing the continued production of the beers that built their brand with innovating to compete and meet the changing preferences of the market. Some brewers stubbornly refuse to change, even if they need to lower production due to decreased demand. Some have completely changed their brand, new beers and new artwork to meet the changing culture. While I can understand this approach, I like it when I brewery balances their classic beers with new releases. Even with this approach it can be tough to attract the interest of the fickle beer drinkers that are constantly chasing the next big thing. For that reason it has to be exciting when a veteran brewery makes a new beer that starts to generate some buzz. A good example is Wally, the New England style IPA from Wachusett Brewing Company. This juicy hop bomb has earned the praise of a number of local beer drinkers, and it held it’s own in the Mass Brew Bros blind New England style IPA tasting. Wachusett Wally is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

Wachusett WallyWachusett Wally pours a hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent is a big hit of fruity hops, citrus and tropical fruit. This is very much a New England style IPA. Tons of hop flavor, notes of grapefruit, papaya and tangerine along with a very soft bitterness. The malts round out the flavor with hints of bread dough and honey. Wally is medium bodied, smooth and drinks easy for 7% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. Wachusett Wally is a delicious beer, if you like the New England style of IPAs you’ll definitely enjoy this. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Wachusett Reviews:

Wachusett Milk StoutWachusett Larry DIPAWachusett Green Monsta IPA

Riverwalk Rangelight

Riverwalk Brewing has been going through a series of exciting transformations this year. They have expanded distribution, you can now find their beers all over the state of Massachusetts. It might just be me, but I’ve also noticed increased availability and selection of their beers in metro-Boston and metrowest. Riverwalk also announced that they are building an enormous new brewery in Newburyport, around the corner from their current space. The new brewery will be 3000 sq. feet, offer full pours and flights, and include an outdoor biergarden. While the new brewery won’t open until later this summer, we can enjoy a wide range of Riverwalk beers on draft and in cans. One I grabbed recently was Rangelight, a double dry-hopped IPA featuring the popular Mosaic hop variety.

Riverwalk RangelightRiverwalk Rangelight pours clear orange-yellow with a large white head. The aroma is solidly hoppy, citrus fruit and resin. This strikes a balance between the New England and West Coast IPAs. There is a ton of hop flavor, grapefruit, orange, mango and pine along with a little bitter kick. This is balanced by a little malt, touches of bread dough and honey. Rangelight is light bodied and easy to drink, not too boozy at 5.8% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This is another very strong beer from Riverwalk, it can hold it’s own in the very competitive stable of local IPAs. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Riverwalk Reviews:

Riverwalk Blackberry Porter, Riverwalk Winter Porter, Riverwalk Farm to Kettle 2015, Riverwalk Screen Door


Lamplighter Watchman

There are a number of major milestones that a brewery goes through as it starts up and begins to establish it’s place in the market. Opening the doors and starting to sell beer is obviously the first huge event, along with seeing your beer on draft at local bars. Starting to can or bottle beer is another big step forward, they allow customers to purchase more beer at a time and attract customers who don’t like growlers. The new packaging also allows the brewery to start distribution to local bottle shops, even if they are just transporting a few cases at a time on their own. This is an underrated step in the growth of a brewery, having your beer in a bottle shop will introduce it to a larger range of potential customers. I was excited to see Lamplighter beers available in cans on a recent visit to Craft Beer Cellar in Framingham. I’ve enjoyed a number of Lamplighter beers and while I have no issue visiting the brewery (it’s very close to my office), I hope the distribution helps introduce their beers to more local drinkers. One of the beers I picked up was Watchman, a wheat IPA brewed with Hallertau Blanc and Hull Melon hops. It is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. cans.

Lamplighter WatchmanLamplighter Watchman pours murky dark yellow with a solid white head. The aroma is a big hit of fruity hops. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of cantaloupe, white grape and lime but minimal bitterness. this is balanced by a mild malt backbone, hints of wheat bread and crackers. Watchman has a light body, smooth drinkability and is sessionable at 4.8% ABV. It has a crisp finish with lingering hop flavor. The hops in Watchman caught me off guard at first, they impart a pretty different flavor profile compared to many popular IPAs, but I really enjoyed the beer. Different and definitely worth trying! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Lamplighter Reviews:

Lamplighter Blitzen, Lamplighter Lucid Nonsense and Easy Tiger