There are a number of beer styles that work well with hot summer weather and one is clearly pilsner, especially the flavorful versions being produced by many talented American brewers. A crisp, drinkable and flavorful pilsner is perfect for grilling, hanging out at the beach or quenching your thirst after some time outside. My new house now has a sweet new grill, and also a large lawn that needs to be mowed, so I need to keep a stable of refreshing beers on hand all times. One pilsner I enjoyed recently is Riverbend Pils, a limited release from Ipswich Brewing Company. Riverbend Pils is a celebration of the brewery’s 25th anniversary, and a portion of the sales benefit the Ipswich River Watershed Association, a non-profit that helps protect this waterway which provides drinking (and brewing) water for many in the area. The beer is brewed with German malts along with a mixture of traditional Saaz hops and not-at-all traditional Lemondrop hops. Ipswich Riverbend Pils is available this summer on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.
Ipswich Riverbend Pils pours crystal clear golden yellow with a small white head. The scent is mild, some light malt and noble hops. The beer is crisp, clean and very refreshing, perfect for the hot weather of mid-summer. This isn’t a hoppy beer by current standards, but there is noticeable hop flavor, notes of grass, herbs, earth and lemon along with a little bitter bite. This is complemented by the malts, touches of crackers and white bread. Riverbend Pils is very light and easy to drink, at 4.6% ABV it is sessionable by many standards. The finish is classic lager, just a hint of hoppy aftertaste that keeps you coming back for more. This is a great version of a pilsner, right now it is listed as a limited release but I hope Ipswich makes it their regular summer beer because it is delicious. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5
Previous Ipswich Reviews:
Ipswich Original Ale, Ipswich Hop Harvest, Ipswich Harvest Ale
My wife and I have spent the last few months house hunting. Now that the baby is pushing a year old and is moving all over the place apartment living isn’t working for us anymore, so we are ready to pack up and move to the suburbs. I guess I am officially old. It looks like we’ve found a place, still need to do an inspection and other follow-up, but we’ll hopefully be moving this summer. I hope to keep churning out regular Hoppy Boston posts throughout this transition, but they might be more haphazard and posted at random times. As always, the best way to keep track of new posts is to follow Hoppy Boston on twitter (@HoppyBoston) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/hoppyboston). Thanks!
As pale ale month on Hoppy Boston continues I am re-visiting a classic local beer, Ipswich Original Ale. The pale ale style originated in Britian and acts as a good reminder that descriptors like “pale” and “dark” are relative terms. British pale ales were/are lighter in color and hoppier than brown ales and porters, but they are still much more malty and darker than most modern America takes on the style. When smaller US breweries opened in the 1980’s and 90’s many adopted traditional British styles, and thus brewed balanced pale ales. One of these classic beers is Ipswich Original Ale an English pale ale brewed with crystal and pilsner malts along with Nugget and Delta hops. Ipswich Original Ale is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Ipswich Original Ale pours a hazy amber with a minimal white head. The scent is a mixture of floral hops along with a little medium-roasted malt. This beer is clearly a British style pale ale, balanced with more malt flavor than many current American takes on the style. The malts add notes of whole grain bread, caramel and biscuits. The hops complement this with hints of cut grass, herbs and pine along with a crisp bitterness. Ipswich Original Ale is medium bodied and easy to drink at 5.4% ABV. The finish is clean with a touch of lingering hop flavor. Ipswich Original Ale is a classic, very different from the hop-bomb beers that dominate the market now but delicious in it’s own right. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Ipswich Reviews:
Ipswich Hop Harvest, Ipswich Harvest Ale
At the end of last week I issued a challenge to my readers, stop taking beer so seriously, take a break from the message boards and rating sites, and just have some fun trying some good beers this weekend (full column HERE). There were four potential challenges listed, I accomplished two of them myself. One was challenge #4, I home-brewed a hoppy amber ale that I am really looking forward to tasting (once it ferments, secondary ferments, gets bottled and carbonates…damn home-brewing takes some patience). I also finished challenge #1, I actually tried a couple of beers that I had no background knowledge of. When I go on a stock up run for the blog I usually have a list of beers that I am looking for, based on recommendations or announcements from the breweries. That list is usually only ~2/3 of what I buy, I like to window shop and buy a few things that just look or sound interesting. The beer that I am reviewing for the challenge is Hop Harvest from Ipswich Brewery. Hop Harvest is Ipswich’s fall seasonal, replacing their Harvest Ale. Hop Harvest is a dry hopped American IPA brewed with a healthy dose of Ella hops, a new world hop that adds citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas. Ipswich Hop Harvest is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles this fall.
Ipswich Hop Harvest pours a clear deep amber with a solid off-white head. The scent is dominated by a big whiff of citrusy hops. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of grapefruit, mango, lemon and passion fruit along with a soft but persistent bitterness. This is balanced by a full malt body, touches of whole grain bread and caramel. Many breweries are moving towards IPAs that are all hop flavor, it is nice to see a little balance here, especially for a fall beer. The beer is medium bodied and easy to drink, and packs a little punch at 7% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. Ipswich Hop Harvest is the kind of beer I like to drink as the weather cools down in the fall, plenty of flavor but has some weight to it, holds up to the cooler weather and robust fall foods. This was a good find for my random selection, and one of the reasons that I’ll continue to try beers without any previous research. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Ipswich Reviews:
Ipswich Harvest Ale
Ipswich Ale Brewery has been brewing a range of traditional and experimental ales in Ipswich, MA since 1991. Ipswich makes year-round beers ranging from a light and hoppy pale ale to a dark oatmeal stout, along with a series of seasonal brews. All of their beers are available on draft, and most are sold in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles. Ipswich’s Fall seasonal beer is Harvest Ale, an amber ale. Most craft breweries make Fall seasonals that are either German inspired Octoberfest beers (typically Marzens) or the ubiquitous pumpkin spiced beer. As an alternative, I like to seek out breweries who think a little more outside of the box for their Fall seasonal offerings. American amber ales tend toward a balance between a strong malty backbone with solid hop character, making them substantial enough for cool Fall nights. With the popularity of highly hopped beer, many amber ales are nearly IPAs, just with darker and fuller malt backbones. Ipswich Harvest Ale is brewed with Caramunich malt along with some chocolate malt for a darker color and malt sweetness, balanced by a a bitterness from Warrior, Ahtanum and Columbus hop varieties.
Ipswich Harvest Ale pours a dark reddish-brown with a small and quickly dissipating white head. The first smell is sweetness and brown sugar from the dark malts, followed by some earth and pine notes from the hops. The malt is also very evident in the taste, with flavors of toffee, caramel and some chocolate coming through strongly. This is balanced well by the hops, which provide a complementary bitterness along with flavors of lemon and resin. Some American ambers taste like an IPA with a little extra dark malt, but this beer strives for more balance, like a hoppier version of a brown ale. At 6.9% ABV Ipswich Harvest Ale is substantial, but it’s easy enough to drink with just a touch of warming alcohol in the flavor. This beer would be great with a Thanksgiving dinner, or as a nice complement to some apple pie afterwards. A solid and substantial beer for the Fall season. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.