Tag Archives: Jack’s Abby

Jack’s Abby Cordon Rouge Framinghammer

It wasn’t long ago that barrel aged beers were only made by a few breweries that could afford the space for barrels and the patience to leave unsold product for months to properly age it. Now it seems like every brewery is starting a barrel program with a focus on aging beers in liquor/wine barrels or imparting flavors from Brettanomyces or wild microbes. The Mass Brew Brothers recently wrote an article about the history and exciting new developments involving barrel aging at Massachusetts breweries. One of the advantages of so many breweries venturing into barrel aging is more variety in the beers being produced. After the success of Goose Island’s quintessential Bourbon County Brand Stout it seems that most brewers started by aging an imperial stout in bourbon barrels. This is a logical and classic combination, and I love a good bourbon barrel stout, but there are a ton of potential style/barrel combinations that should also be explored. Jack’s Abby has been extremely creative with the various iterations of their Framinghammer Baltic Porter, with versions including bourbon, vanilla, coffee, mole, cocoa-nut and PB&J. One newer version that I was excited to try is Cordon Rouge, Framinghammer aged in brandy barrels with orange peel. Jack’s Abby Cordon Rouge is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 500 mL bottles.

Jack's Abby Cordon RogueJack’s Abby Cordon Rouge Framinghammer pours deep brown with a minimal tan head. The scent is mostly roasted malt with a little brandy. The flavor is malt forward, chocolate, toffee and licorice with a subtle sweetness. The barrels add flavor and complexity without overwhelming the base beer, touches of red grape and candied sugar along with warming booze. The orange is very mild, I’m not sure I would have picked out the flavor if I didn’t know it was there. The flavor is rounded out by some earthy hops that add a little balance. Cordon Rouge is a complex sipper and it packs some serious punch at 10% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering malt flavor and alcohol. I really enjoyed this iteration of Framinghammer and I applaud Jack’s Abby for continuing to experiment. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner, Jack’s Abby House LagerJack’s Abby FraminghammerJack’s Abby trIPL, Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint CustodyBREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

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Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner

I occasionally get beer related questions or comments from friends, I guess they feel like I am some kind of expert since I write this blog (I have never claimed to be an expert at anything). The other day my friend Fred texted “True or false: pilsners are back!” My response was that pilsners never went away, they have been the most popular beer style sales-wise for decades. There has been a recent reemergence of the style as many craft beer snobs who abandoned these light lagers in favor of hop-bomb IPAs and boozy imperial stouts have rediscovered the joys of a well crafted pilsner. One of the guys at Craft Beer Cellar told me they were having trouble keeping a few popular local pilsners in stock, a problem that is usually reserved for limited release beers. One of these sought after local versions of the style is Sunny Ridge, the summer seasonal from Jack’ Abby. Sunny Ridge is a German style pilsner brewed with a mixture of European noble hops. It is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles during the hot summer months

Jacks Abby Sunny RidgeJack’s Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner pours a clear golden yellow with a small white head. The scent is mild, some classic old world hop aromas. The flavor is a nice balance of malts and hops. The noble hops are present, notes of grass, herbs and earth along with a refreshingly crisp bitterness. This is complemented by some light malts, touches of bread crust and grain. Sunny Ridge is very light bodied and easy to drink, not quite a session beer at 5.1% ABV but not overly boozy either. The finish is classic lager, crisp and clean with minimal aftertaste. Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge is one of my favorite versions of the style and a perfect beer for summer. Pilsner is back and this is one of the best. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

Jack’s Abby House LagerJack’s Abby FraminghammerJack’s Abby trIPL, Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint CustodyBREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

Jack’s Abby House Lager

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on house beers, the types of beer you keep around the house for all occasions. My readers seemed to agree with many of my selections, or they didn’t disagree enough to comment on it, but there were a few other beers that people suggested. One was Jack’s Abby House Lager, a Helles lager modeled after the landbiers of Franconia. This is a worthy choice for a house beer, the name suggests that is just what it was brewed to be. I have enjoyed this beer before, but I already included two Jack’s Abby beers that I was more familiar with in my seasonal section of the article. One added bonus to keeping House Lager as a house beer, it is a great way to introduce macro-lager drinkers to a more full flavored beer that isn’t going to overwhelm them with hops. Jack’s Abby House Lager is available year round on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans. I enjoyed this pint on one of my first grill-days of the year!

Jack's Abby House LagerJack’s Abby House Lager pours a clear bright yellow with a massive white head. The scent is mild, some bready malts and floral hops. This is a clean, refreshing and very easy to drink lager beer. There is some malt flavor, touches of white bread, biscuits, crushed grains and just a hint of sweetness. There are also some Old World hops, notes of grass, herbs and pine. The beer is light and crushable, but still packs a little punch at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean, just what you’d expect from a well made lager. I know that a large segment of the beer world focuses their praise on huge hop flavors or boozy stouts, but there is something to be said for a well crafted lager, and this is a great example of the style. This will certainly be a part of my regular house beer rotation. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

Jack’s Abby FraminghammerJack’s Abby trIPL, Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint CustodyBREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

Jack’s Abby Framinghammer

This will be the final beer review of porter month on Hoppy Boston, I’ll do a recap on Monday and then move on to a new style for March. I have focused my reviews on a number of new-to-me beers, but I am going to wrap it up with an old favorite, Framinghammer Baltic Porter from Jack’s Abby Brewing Company. Baltic porter is a slightly different style than traditional porter, it is brewed with lager yeast at lower temperature while traditional porters are ales. Baltic porters are also usually very boozy, with ABVs up into the double digits. I considered keeping Baltic porter as a completely separate style, but there aren’t enough of them to warrant their own month so I decided to lump both types of porter together. I also found Framinghammer on the shelves at a local bottle shop and needed to grab some. Many people seek out the barrel aged variants of this beer, and I have enjoyed those in the past, but I still prefer the original. Jack’s Abby Framinghammer is released in the late winter/early spring on draft and in 12 oz bottles.

Jack's Abby FraminghammerJack’s Abby Framinghammer pours midnight black with a mild tan head. The aroma is light, some roasted malts. There is nothing light about the flavor though, there is plenty of dark malts here, notes of dark chocolate, raisin, toffee and date. There are minimal hops, just enough to keep the malt sweetness in check. The number one thing that always blows me away when I drink Framinghammer is how easy it is to drink, silky and smooth with only the faintest hint of alcohol despite the hefty 10% ABV. The finish is clean and crisp, even with the big flavors and high booze this is still clearly a lager beer. I am glad I am wrapping up porter month with Jack’s Abby Framinghammer, it is a remarkable, unique and delicious beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

Jack’s Abby trIPL, Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint CustodyBREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

Jack’s Abby trIPL

In the early days of “craft beer” (I know, I said I was going to avoid that term, but there is no good way to differentiate the ground-breaking breweries of the 80’s and 90’s with the macro beers that dominated the market at the time) many of the iconic beers and brewers got started with brewpubs, restaurants that served beer brewed onsite. There are pros and cons to the brewpub, running a restaurant is a ton of work and a tough business, but it brings in people who can try your beers, plus I imagine you save a little cash brewing your own. As these small breweries gained a following many moved away from the brewpub model and focused on selling their beer on draft at bars, in bottles or in growlers. Many new breweries didn’t even have a physical brewery, they would contract brew. Recently, with the explosion in popularity of quality beer, many drinkers want to hang out at a brewery and sample all of their wares. This has led some breweries to turn their physical space into full service bars where their customers can drink and the brewers can host special events and limited releases.

Now that many breweries have become popular local hangouts, and having food available to their customers is a big advantage. Food service keeps customers around longer and good food can bring people into the brewery on it’s own. Some breweries have partnered with local food trucks, especially on busy weekend days. Jack’s Abby has taken this to a new level, closing their small tasting room to open a full service beer hall and restaurant in Framingham. The restaurant features a full menu of entrées and pizza, plus an enormous selection of Jack’s Abby brews on draft. One of the releases you can grab right now is trIPL, their “triple” India Pale Lager. Jack’s Abby brews trIPL with Columbus, Chinook and Citra hops. It is available on draft and in bottles on a rotating basis during the year.

Jack's Abby trIPLJack’s Abby trIPL pours a clear deep orange with a minimal off-white head. The scent is a huge burst of hops dominated by citrus and tropical fruit. The taste is led by the New World hop flavors that make so many of Jack’s Abby’s hop-forward beers so delicious. I get notes of papaya, mango, grapefruit and orange along with a solid but not overwhelming hit of bitterness. There is some malt flavor for balance, touches of caramel, fresh baked bread and honey along with just a hint of boozy sweetness. The beer is incredibly easy to drink for 10% ABV, it’s almost dangerous how quickly you can drink this if you aren’t paying attention. Jack’s Abby trIPL has the crisp and clean finish of a lager with a little lingering hop flavor and bitterness. So many big hoppy beers are way overdone, even the huge hop flavors can’t mask all of the booze. This beer is an exception, tons of hops and high ABV, but still drinkable and delicious. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint CustodyBREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

Jack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody

If you didn’t know, my “real world” job is as a research chemist – blogging about beer doesn’t pay the bills unfortunately. My time as a scientist has taught me how important collaboration is. Every person I work with has different skills and experience. They bring ideas to the table that help the group innovate, learn and push a project forward. This is part of the reason I love the concept of collaboration beers. While the tangible result of the collaboration is a single batch of beer, the lessons the brewers learn and ideas they exchange during the process can improve every beer each of them brews going forward. I was very excited when I heard that Otter Creek and Jack’s Abby were working on a collaboration beer. Regular blog readers should know that I am a big fan of both breweries, the extensive “previous reviews” sections listed below supports that too. With Jack’s Abby involved I assumed the collaboration beer would be a lager, and Otter Creek has recently re-focused on hop-forward beers, so a hoppy lager seemed to be the inevitable product of this partnership. Sure enough their creation is Joint Custody, a Nouveau Pilsner that combines a traditional Bohemian pilsner build with heavy additions of newer German hop varieties Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria. Joint Custody is available for a limited time on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

Jack's Abby Otter Creek Joint CustodyJack’s Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody pours a hazy straw yellow with a solid white head. The scent is pleasantly hoppy, floral and citrusy. The hops lead the flavor, with notes of lemon, grass and pine along with a crisp bitterness. It isn’t IPA-level hoppiness (nor should it be), but this is more hop flavor and aroma than you typically find in a pilsner. The hops are balanced by a traditional pale malt backbone, subtle touches of bready grain. The beer is light bodied, very clean and super drinkable, but packs a little punch at 6.2% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. I could drink Joint Custody all day, this is a perfect beer for the summer. I had very high expectations for a collaboration between these two breweries, and Joint Custody met even my high expectations. I really hope this beer is an annual release instead of a one-off! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:

BREWERY OVERVIEW, Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like HellesJack’s Abby Hoponius UnionJack’s Abby Barrel-Aged FraminghammerJack’s Abby Bride MakerJack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAMJack’s Abby Copper LegendJack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass RisingJack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil BrewJack’s Abby Wet Hop LagerJack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner

Previous Otter Creek Reviews:

Otter Creek Backseat BernerOtter Creek/Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double DoseOtter Creek Fresh Slice, Otter Creek Citra Mantra, Otter Creek Kind Ryed

 

 

Brewery Overview: Jack’s Abby Brewing

Jack's Abby Lineup

Location: Jack’s Abby has a tasting room at the brewery, located at 81 Morton Street in Framingham, MA. The tasting room sells full pours and tasting flights along with bottles and growlers to go. They tap a specialty cask every week, usually with dry-hopped variants of some of their hop-forward beers. While they bottle most of their beers the tasting room usually also features a few brewery-only specialties. They are in the process of expanding and building a huge new facility in Framingham, I’ll update this when it opens!

Website: http://jacksabbybrewing.com/

Leadoff: Most small breweries predominantly brew ales, the shorter times and higher temperatures used in ale fermentation makes it more economical to produce. The downside is that many traditional lager styles haven’t seen the same attention and innovation that American brewers have devoted to their ales. Enter Jack’s Abby Brewing who decided to stand out in an increasingly competitive beer marketplace by producing only lager beers. Since they founded the brewery in 2011 brothers Jack, Eric and Sam Hendler have revolutionized lager production, producing incredible versions of classic styles while also inventing entirely new types of lager beer. The brewers believe that the extra time required to brew lagers pays off in the clean and crisp flavor profile of the final beer. The incredible range of flavors that Jack’s Abby coaxes out of their lagers has been extremely well received by the beer community as they are now one of the most well-respected brewers in the country.

Jack's Abby Hoponius Union

My Favorite Jack’s Abby Beers:

Hoponius Union: Jack’s Abby’s flagship India Pale Lager features bold hop flavor in a crisp and clean lager body. Now widely available in the Boston area, Hoponius Union is one of my go-to beers for all occasions.

Mass Rising: A double India Pale Lager with incredibly light body and a huge dose of aromatic hops that easily mask the 8% ABV. This beer is dangerously easy to drink for a higher ABV brew.

Framinghammer: Most beers that fall under the porter umbrella are ales, but the Baltic porter style are dark and alcoholic lagers. Framinghammer is one of the best Baltic porters on the market. Rich and boozy but goes down shockingly easily. The barrel-aged versions get a lot of attention, but I’ve always loved the original.

Smoke and Dagger: Dark and malty with just enough smoke to enhance the flavor of the beer without overwhelming it. Many bars offer Smoke and Dagger on nitro, I highly recommend giving it a try if you see it on a menu. 

Sunny Ridge Pilsner: One of the most flavorful and well constructed versions of the pilsner style that I’ve ever tasted. This summer seasonal is light and crushable but still complex and delicious.

Jack's Abby Bride Maker

Other Beers You Should Try: Bride Maker is one of the only lager wines (a lager version of a barleywine) I’ve seen, and it is chock full of malt flavor and booziness. The year-round session lager Jabby Brau is light and easy to drink but still full flavored. It is no surprise that a lager-centric brewery would make a traditional marzen style for Octoberfest, and Copper Legend lives up to the name. Kiwi Rising is a DIPL in the vein of Mass Rising but using fruity hops from New Zealand. Spring seasonal Maibock Hurts Like Helles is a traditional lager with a nice balance of malt and hop flavors. Red Tape Lager was named in honor of the bureaucracy in MA that puts countless obstacles in place for brewers that want to make and sell great beer. I am a huge dopplebock fan, and Saxonator is a deliciously malty and easy to drink version of the style.

Jack's Abby Hopstitution BAM

Hopstitution Series: Many breweries are doing single hop or rotating hop beers that keep a consistent malt/yeast profile and showcase different single hops variety or combinations. Jack’s Abby’s Hopstitution series uses a pale lager body that is aggressively hopped with a combination of hops du jour. Every version of this beer that I’ve tried has been well done. I reviewed Hopstitution BAM, and Calyptra was so popular that it has been converted into a regular release.

Jacks Abby Jacks evil brew

Collaborations: Jack’s Abby has done a few collaboration beers and has more in the works. I really enjoyed Jack’s Evil Brew, the schwarzbier brewed with Evil Twin Brewing. I am looking forward to a new collaboration in the works between Jack’s Abby and Otter Creek, a noveau pilsner called Joint Custody.

Sour Project: The popularity of sour beers has exploded over the last few years and many brewers are starting barrel programs to establish their own versions of this popular style. While most traditional sour beers are variations on ales, Jack’s Abby is making a number of sour lagers. They started with Berliner Style Lager, a Berliner weisse fermented with lager yeast. This summer the brewery will be releasing a series of new sour beers, I’m looking forward to seeing how they turned out!

Jack's Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer

Framinghammer Variants: While the standard version of Framinghammer Baltic porter is a great beer in and of itself, Jack’s Abby also makes a number of barrel-aged versions. The standard Barrel-Aged Framinghammer is conditioned in bourbon barrels, adding a solid but not overbearing whiskey flavor. The other versions are also aged in bourbon barrels with the addition of Vanilla, Coffee, Cocoa-Nut (chocolate and coconut) or Peanut Butter and Jelly (yes, seriously). All of the versions are limited release and some are brewery-only.

Final Thoughts: It is no coincidence that I have reviewed more beers from Jack’s Abby than from any other brewery, they make an impressive breadth of tasty lagers. No “best breweries” in New England list is complete without this powerhouse out of Framingham. I am excited for the opening of the new brewery and to see what they come up with next!