Industrial Way in Portland has become one of the most successful brewery incubators in the country. This industrial park houses Allagash, one of the best Belgian style breweries in the US as well as Geary’s, the first post-prohibition brewery in Maine. Across from Allagash is One Industrial Way, a series of small warehouses where many of the best breweries in the state got their start. One Industrial Way was the original home of Maine Beer Company, Bissell Brothers and Rising Tide, three of the most popular breweries in Maine. It now houses Foundation Brewing, Austin Street and a brand new addition, Battery Steele. Battery Steele was founded by Shane Noble and Jake Condon, who came up with the idea while they both worked at Gritty McDuff’s. This is an ideal situation for a startup, the area attracts huge crowds of beer lovers who are always ready to sample something new. When I stopped by Battery Steele had just opened the week before but was already packed with people excited to try their beers. I grabbed a 4-pack of Kineo, and IPA brewed with Mosaic and Citra hops. Battery Steele Kineo is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Battery Steele Kineo IPA pours a hazy yellow with a solid white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, mostly tropical fruit. This is very much a New England IPA. There is plenty of hop flavor with notes of passion fruit, melon and grapefruit and a very mild bitterness. This is balanced by a touch of malt, hints of white bread and cereal. Kineo is light bodied and easy to drink with moderate alcohol at 6.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop flavor. Kineo is a very solid start for Battery Steele, I’m looking forward to visiting again on my next trip up to Industrial Way! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
The original Narragansett beer brand was founded in the state of Rhode Island in 1890 and they brewed beer in the state until the 1980’s. Narragansett even shares it’s name with a town and a bay in the state that are both popular tourist destinations. It’s history and recent rebirth make Narragansett arguably the most recognizable beer from Rhode Island, but the beers you’ve been seeing on the shelves the last few years weren’t brewed in Rhode Island. When new ownership bought the brand and set about revitalizing it they used contract brewers to produce the line of immediately recognizable tallboy cans. That is changing now. Over the last year Narragansett has been building a start-of-the-art brewery and taproom in Rhode Island. The taproom isn’t open yet, but the brewery is getting rolling and they are celebrating with a new IPA called It’s About Time. Narragansett It’s About Time IPA is brewed to combine the classic IPA malt body with a large dose of modern Citra and Cascade hops. The beer is available now on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Narragansett It’s About Time IPA pours a clear deep orange with a solid off-white head. The scent is a solid hit of hops, lots of citrus with some herbs and resin. The flavor is hop forward, notes of grapefruit, pine and grass along with a hit of bitterness. There is noticeable malt balance, hints of bread dough and crackers. It’s About Time IPA is medium bodied and smooth, not too boozy at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bite. This is a solid IPA, I imagine it will quickly become one of Narragansett’s most popular offerings. My one criticism, I would have loved it in the 16 oz. tallboy can, something that Narragansett is so well known for but didn’t use here. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Narragansett Reviews:
Narragansett Allie’s Donuts Double Chocolate Porter, Narragansett/Revival Lovecraft Honey Ale, Narragansett Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout, Narragansett Fest Lager, Narragansett Del’s Shandy
When I attended the Mass Brew Bros. blind tasting of local stouts there was animated conversation amongst the tasters covering all aspects of the local beer scene. One brewery that many talked about in glowing terms was Springdale Brewing, the offshoot of Jack’s Abby that focuses on ales, sours and barrel aged beers. A few of the other beer enthusiasts compared Springdale’s beers favorably to the offerings from some of the most popular breweries in the state. I was a little ashamed to admit that I hadn’t made the trek to Springdale yet, it’s been on my to-do list since the day it opened and I hadn’t found the time. Fortunately I needed something to do for my brother’s birthday, so we grabbed lunch at Jack’s Abby and then a flight of beers at Springdale. I was very impressed by everything I tasted, a nice mix of hoppy, malty, funky and sour offerings. Springdale also cans a number of their IPAs so I grabbed a selection to take home and review. Spoiler alert: these beers were all stellar and I will be making trips to Framingham on a much more regular basis.
Springdale Amirite?! pours hazy yellow with a massive white head. The aroma is a solid burst of hops, mostly tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of guava, honeydew and tangerine along with minimal bitterness, this is definitely a New England style IPA. There is just enough malt for balance, hints of bread crust and honey. Amirite?! is very easy to drink, light and refreshing, but packs some punch at 7.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering fruity hop flavors. This beer is very good, if you like the fruit-forward NE Style IPAs you need to give this a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Springdale Good N’ You pours cloudy straw yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big hit of hops, lots of citrus and some tropical fruit. The hops also lead the flavor, hints of passion fruit, grapefruit, tangerine plus a little pine. Good N’ You would still fall into the New England IPA style but it has a little more bitterness than many beers in the category. The malts round out the flavor with notes of crackers and white bread. Good N’ You is smooth and very drinkable, and a little less boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish features some strong hop flavors and a crisp bitter bite. This is a top notch IPA, my personal favorite amongst the beers I tasted at Springdale. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
The Saturday before last we had a couple friends over and after the little man went to bed we all drank a few beers and played some board games. I purchased a selection of beers for the occasion, leaning a little towards hop-heavy selections due to the tastes of the group. My friends brought a complementary selection up from Providence and supplemented with a stop at Trillium in Canton. As we tasted different beers from this collection it was interesting to note the diversity of opinions about which beers we liked most. It really drilled home how much the distinct hop profiles of IPAs effects how they are perceived by different drinkers. For example, I am not a huge fan of Galaxy hops, I get a little raw onion flavor, but others rave about it. On the other hand I love the tropical and citrus fruit flavors and aromas of Mosaic hops, while some find them a little too fruity/out of balance. Since I buy the majority of beer for my household, we get a lot of beers with Mosaic hops. One of my new favorites is the eponymous single hopped Mosaic IPA from Lost Nation Brewing Company. Lost Nation Mosaic IPA is available year round on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Lost Nation Mosaic IPA pours a murky light orange with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of tropical hops, just what you would expect from a beer featuring Mosaic hops. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of mango, melon, pineapple and grapefruit along with the mild bitterness you expect in a New England style IPA. There is a little malt character for balance, touches of crackers and white bread. Mosaic IPA is medium bodied and super drinkable. At 5.5% ABV it is a little lower alcohol than many of it’s contemporaries, but not quite a session beer. The finish is crisp with a lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Lost Nation Mosaic IPA has quickly become a regular beer in my house, I almost always buy it when I see it, and I highly recommend giving it a try if you are a fan of Mosaic hops! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Lost Nation reviews:
Lost Nation The Wind
My wife has to travel locally as part of her job, and we’ve started to do a little research to see if there are any brewery stops that are out of the way normally but on her travel route. This is the place where you can rave about how awesome my wife is, you know it’s love when she goes on a work trip and brings back beer. One of her regular stops is in Amherst, MA and the office she visits is right down the road from The Hangar Pub and Grill which doubles as the home of Amherst Brewing Company. I think the last time I was in Amherst was for a rugby tournament my junior year in college (which was more than a few years ago), so this was my first opportunity to try any of Amherst Brewing Co.’s beers. My wife grabbed a nice selection, and we have sampled most of what they had available at the time. I’ll just review two of the beers here (for now), but I enjoyed a number of the beers I tried. All of Amherst’s beers are available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans to go.
Amherst Two Sisters Stout pours deep brown with a massive tan head. The scent is full of roasted malt aromas. The flavor is also malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, toffee and brown sugar. There is minimal hops, some earthy notes and a hint of late bitterness. Two sisters has a medium-full body, drinks easy and isn’t too boozy at 6.7% ABV. The finish has a touch of sweetness with some lingering roasted malt flavor. I’ve been asking for more non-imperial, non-barrel aged stouts and this is a nice example, plenty of malt flavor and a little sweetness without being cloying. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Amherst Jess pours a hazy orange with a small white head. The scent is a huge burst of New World hops, tons of citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, guava, honeydew and orange. There is also a little bitter kick, it’s still a New England style IPA but not the zero-bitterness hop juice that many breweries are making. There is enough malt to add a little balance, touches of bread dough and honey. Jess is medium bodied and very easy to drink but packs a little punch at 7.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a very good IPA and worth the drive out west to grab! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
After that amazing, unbelievable football game last night I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted (not a complaint at all), but I needed to knock out a #MassBrewMonday review in honor of the greatest dynasty in NFL history. On Saturday I had a very small amount of free time and made my first trip to Cold Harbor Brewing Company in Westborough. They have a cozy taproom with tasting flights and full pours along with growlers to go, but unfortunately I couldn’t hang out and sample beers. I was out running errands and had just enough time to run in and fill a couple growlers. Fortunately I got some recommendations on Twitter (thank you @MassBrewBros!) and grabbed 32 oz growlers of their Indian Summer IPA and Truffle Stout, a dark ale brewed with blackberries and Taza chocolate.
Cold Harbor Indian Summer IPA pours a murky dark yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of tropical fruit from the late hop additions. This is very much a New England style IPA. There is tons of fruity hop flavor with notes of peach, mango, guava and papaya but minimal bitterness. There is a little malt, touches of wheat bread and biscuits. Indian Summer is medium bodied, not too boozy at 6% ABV and finishes with lingering hop flavor but no bitter bite. I am a big fan of many of the New England style IPAs, and this is a good version, but I could use just a little bitterness or non-tropical fruit flavors as an added dimension. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Cold Harbor Truffle Stout pours dark brown with a small off-white head. The scent is full of rich roasted malt and cocoa. The flavor is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, espresso and toffee. I don’t get much blackberry flavor, just a hint for complexity. Some earthy hops add balance and a little late bitterness. Truffle Stout has a full body but drinks easy, with just a touch of malt sweetness in the finish. This is a delicious stout, tons of flavor, complex but approachable, and worth the trip to Westborough to try. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
I was having an interesting discussion recently about beers in Massachusetts. While the IPA style is king in non-macro circles everywhere, there seems to be a very specific IPA that people in this area covet. This beer is a version of the New England IPA with lower bitterness, a citrus/tropical fruit profile, and availability in cans. I realize that the beer I just described is the most popular variety nationwide, but it seems impossible for a beer of any other style to generate buzz in Mass. While I love these IPAs I also love a variety of other beer styles and would like to see more appreciation for breweries that excel in making a diverse array of beers. I also understand that brewing is a business and you need to cater to your customers. This is why I wasn’t surprised when Brewmaster Jack, who makes a wide variety of well crafted beers, released a new NE-style IPA in 16 oz. cans (their first beer packaged this way). This new beer is called Art and Industry, an IPA brewed with Galaxy and Mosaic hops along with pineapple juice. It is available on a rotating basis on draft and in the aforementioned tallboy cans.
Brewmaster Jack Art and Industry pours a hazy copper with a moderate white head. The scent is all hops, citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of orange, lime and mango along with the soft bitterness that has characterized many New England style IPAs. The pineapple flavor is present and melds well with the hops, if I tasted it blind I would have assumed it was a particularly fruit-forward hop blend. Mild malt flavors add some balance, hints of crackers and honey. Art and Industry is medium bodied and very easy to drink, but packs a little punch at 7.0% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with some lingering fruity hop flavors. This is an excellent version of a New England/East Coast IPA, tons of flavor and drinkability. Plus the added bonus where you don’t have to wait in line for an hour to buy it! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Brewmaster Jack Reviews:
Brewmaster Jack Tennessee Prinse, Brewmaster Jack Jan, Brewmaster Jack Ambrewsia, Brewmaster Jack Huell Melon, Brewmaster Jack Motueka, Brewmaster Jack Aquila