Tag Archives: Pale Ale

Tree House Tornado

If you look at any list of the most popular or sought-out breweries in Massachusetts I bet you’ll find Tree House Brewing Company near the top, but my trips out to the brewery in Monson or now Charlton have been pretty rare. It has nothing to do with their beer, I have never had a bad beer from Tree House and the vast majority of their beers I’ve had a chance to try have been world class. The issues I’ve had are with everything else that goes into a trip to Tree House, it’s a long drive round-trip and it’s hard to find the time and energy to deal with the long lines and can limits. The popularity of the brewery also attracts a subculture of people that care more about the trophy than the beer, it’s only a small percentage but they can be a hassle. Fortunately everything I’ve heard about the new brewery has been positive, the lines are still there but they move quickly and the increased production means you can buy much more beer in a stop. While the issues with the trophy hunting/beer trading subculture probably aren’t going anywhere, it’s probably time to make the trip out to the new facility. Fortunately, one of the perks of writing a beer blog is that my friends keep me in mind when they visit breweries, especially those that are a little out of the way for me. My friends Tim and Amanda made a recent stop at Tree House and picked me up a few treats. One of the beers they grabbed was new to me, Tornado, an American pale ale originally brewed after the 2011 Brimfield tornado. Tree House Tornado is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz cans at the brewery.

Tree House TornadoTree House Tornado pours hazy light yellow with a solid white head. The scent features a solid hit of hops, juicy and a little floral. The hops lead the flavor, notes of orange candy, mango, peach and pear with minimal bitterness. There is a little malt flavor in the backbone, touches of biscuit and crackers. Tornado is medium bodied, drinks very easy, and at 5.4% ABV it won’t put you under the table. The finish is crisp and refreshing with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a very good New England style American pale ale, it’s nice to have more beers in the sub-style that feature the juicy hop flavors without the bigger ABVs. I’ve still never had a sub-par beer from Tree House, and with their expanded production I need to make a trip out to Charlton very soon. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Tree House Reviews:

Tree House Julius, Tree House Alter EgoTree House Haze

 

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Bog Iron Drawing a Blank and Fancy French Name

Life is crazy between work and family stuff, so I don’t make as many trips to breweries as I used to. There are a few exceptions, local places that I can sneak into while I’m running other errands or bring the family to for a meal, and the places I stop in Maine of trips North. Unfortunately there are a number of places in Massachusetts that I still haven’t visited, and even more that I’ve been to but it’s been way too long. One place that lingered on that last list for far too long is Bog Iron Brewing in Norton. I’ve always enjoyed Bog Iron’s beers, and they are hard to find outside of the brewery, but I hadn’t made the trip in a while. Recently I had a rare Saturday late morning/early afternoon to myself, so I took the trip to Norton, sampled a flight and bought a wide selection of bottles to take home. Along with some classics (like Middle Child, one of my all time favorite DIPAs), I grabbed a few new-to-me beers. Drawing a Blank is a new school pale ale with fruity hop flavors that was my favorite beer from the tasting flight. Fancy French Name is a saison aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces. All of Bog Iron’s beers are now available on draft and in 16 oz. bottles at the brewery.

Bog Iron Drawing a BlankBog Iron Drawing a Blank pours straw yellow with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of hops, tons of citrus and tropical fruit. The hops dominate the flavor, notes of grapefruit, tangerine, papaya and a little pine along with a crisp bitter bite. This is complemented by a mild malt backbone, hints of bread crust and cereal. Drawing a Blank is light bodied and super easy to drink, with moderate alcohol at 6.0% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bite. I love American pale ales that combine big hop flavor and aroma with smooth drinkability and this beer hits all of those boxes. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Bog Iron Fancy Frech NameBog Iron Fancy French Name pours deep yellow with a small white head. The scent is a mixture of white wine and fruity yeast. The yeast leads the flavor with notes of apricot, pear and funk along with just a touch of acidity. The barrel aging melds perfectly with the flavors imparted by the fermentation, hints of white grape, oak and apple. A touch of light malt and a minimal amount of hop flavor round out the profile. Fancy French Name is light bodied, super easy to drink but it packs a solid punch at 7.5% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering fruit and yeast flavors. This beer is crazy good, complex with big flavors that all work together, you taste something new with each sip. Highly recommended. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Bog Iron Reviews:

Bog Iron Devil’s FootprintBog Iron Jump Back, Bog Iron Ryezing Son, Bog Iron Middle ChildBog Iron Stinger IPABog Iron One Down Robust Porter

Foundation Cosmic Bloom

When you ask a beer nerd to name the best breweries in Maine there are a few that will inevitably come up. Hopheads will immediately cite Maine Beer Company and Bissell Brothers, while fans of Belgian styles would point to Allagash and Oxbow. There are many others that would also be mentioned, it’s an incredibly vibrant scene is my home state. One brewery that as crept up my list of favorite Maine breweries in recent visits is Foundation Brewing Company in Portland. Their expanded brewery in Portland is a must visit, especially on a nice day when the fun spills out onto their expansive patio. Unlike some other popular breweries, Foundation also distributes their beer, mostly in Maine but it has now made appearances in Massachusetts too. Foundation’s most popular beer is definitely their stellar DIPA Epiphany, but they feature a strong lineup of diverse offerings. I recently sampled a relatively new addition to their lineup, an American pale ale named Cosmic Bloom. Foundation Cosmic Bloom is brewed with five types of hops and is available on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Foundation Cosmic BloomFoundation Cosmic Bloom pours hazy light yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity hops, tropical, citrus and berries. The flavor is also very hop forward with a unique new-age flavor profile that includes notes of melon, strawberry and tangerine. There is a little bitter bite, not bracing but this isn’t a straight jooce-bomb NEIPA either. The hops are complimented by a mild malt backbone, hints of white bread and cereal. Cosmic Bloom is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 5.8% ABV.  The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This beer is delicious, well crafted with tons of flavor and a little different than other hoppy beers. Cosmic Bloom is now neck-in-neck with Epiphany for my favorite Foundation beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Foundation Reviews:

Foundation VentureFoundation Afterglow, Foundation WanderlustFoundation Epiphany

 

Mast Landing Gunner’s Daughter and DDH Tell Tale

Some beer geeks get very excited when a new out-of-state brewery begins to distribute in Massachusetts, they have a list of beers that they want to try as soon as they land. I am not usually in that group, I focus nearly all of my drinking on New England beers so I don’t pay much attention to breweries in states like Illinois or North Carolina. Nothing against beer from other regions, I just have a hard enough time staying current on local beers. The exception is when a brewery from another state in New England expands into Massachusetts. I was excited to see that Mast Landing Brewing Company in Westbrook, ME has signed on with Night Shift Distributing. I’ve heard great things about Mast Landing’s offerings, but hadn’t tried many of their beers. While I haven’t seen cans of Mast Landing in local bottle shops yet, I did grab a sneak preview on my recent trip to Maine. The two beers I found were the double dry hopped version of Mast Landing Tell Tale Pale Ale and Gunner’s Daughter, a peanut butter milk stout. Both are available year round on draft and in 16 oz. tall boy cans.

Mast Landing Gunner's DaughterMast Landing Gunner’s Daughter pours cola-brown with a solid tan head. The scent is a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter. This beer tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in beer form. The malts and adjuncts combine for notes of chocolate, peanut butter, caramel and lingering sweetness. There is minimal hop flavor, this beer is made to showcase the sweet malt flavors. Gunner’s Daughter is medium bodied and smooth, not too boozy at 5.5% ABV. It finishes with some sugar and lingering roasted malt. This is a really interesting beer, I loved it at first sip but was OK with just one can, anything more would have been overkill. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Mast Landing DDH Tell TaleMast Landing Double Dry Hopped Tell Tale Pale Ale pours hazy orange with a massive white head. The scent is a huge burst of hops, tons of citrus and tropical fruit aroma. The flavor is also very hop forward, hints of tangerine, grapefruit and mango with a soft bitterness. This is balanced by some light malt flavor, touches of bread crust and honey. DDH Tell Tale is light bodied and crushable at 5.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This beer is stellar, huge hop flavor and aroma but still easy to drink and not too boozy. I hope cans start hitting the shelves in MA, because this will become a regular part of my rotation. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

 

Proclamation Derivative: Galaxy

I’ve made it pretty clear in this space that I don’t usually go out of my way to chase “unicorns” or “whalez”, the craft beers that are so hyped up they cause otherwise rational people to wait in line for hours in order to buy a couple cans or bottles. That being said, I do have a running list of beers that I’ve heard good things about and will jump at the chance to try if acquiring them doesn’t require anything too crazy. One beer that’s been on this list for a while is Derivative, a series of American pale ales from Proclamation Ale Company in West Kingston, RI. Each version of Derivative features a particular hop variety. Proclamation has been distributing their beers to the Boston area for a while now, but we get limited amounts and they tend to sell out very quickly, so I’ve been looking to try this beer for a while but always seem to just miss it when it lands in stores. I saw on Instagram that Sudbury Craft Beer got in a shipment of the Galaxy version of Derivative the other week, I showed up the next day and was able to grab the final can left in the store. Proclamation Derivative: Galaxy is available year-round (when you can find it) on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

proclamation-derivative-galaxyProclamation Derivative Galaxy pours a hazy light yellow with a massive white head. The scent is a big burst of citrus hops. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of tangerine, grapefruit and mango along with a mild bitterness. This is balanced by some malt flavor, touches of white bread and crackers. Derivative Galaxy is light bodied and very easy to drink and just a touch boozy for an APA at 6.0% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with a little lingering hop flavor. I was glad that I finally tracked down a can of Proclamation Derivative, and it didn’t disappoint, this is a top notch pale ale. I will still be on the lookout for the other versions, as I tend to prefer Mosaic and Citra hops to Galaxy, but this is still a very good beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Bucket Brewery Pawtucket Pale Ale and Black Goat of the Woods

There are so many breweries that have opened in the last few years that I have a hard time keeping track of the beers being produced in Eastern Massachusetts, let alone keeping up with all of the new breweries throughout New England. I’ve considered keeping Hoppy Boston’s focus on MA beers, but it’s fun to try things from across the region. New England isn’t that big anyways, with a short drive can try amazing beers in every New England state. You can also have awesome friends who bring you beers from their travels. My friends Tim and Amanda live in Providence and recently came to a get together at our house with a bunch of local beers that haven’t made their way to Massachusetts yet. Many of these beers were consumed that night, but I set aside a sample pack from Bucket Brewery in Pawtucket. It took me a little time to get around to writing my thoughts, better late than never I guess. A couple of the beer I sampled were Pawtucket Pale Ale, a balanced APA, and Black Goat of the Woods, a milk stout brewed with ginger and cinnamon. All of Bucket’s selections are available on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

bucket-pawtucket-pale-aleBucket Brewery Pawtucket Pale Ale pours a deep amber with a small white head. The aroma is mild, a bit of fruity hops. The flavor is balanced, much more malty than many of the newer style American pale ales. There is solid hop flavor, touches of orange, guava, grass and pine along with a little bitter bite. This is complemented by the malt, notes of caramel and whole grain bread along with substantial body. Pawtucket Pale Ale drinks easy at 5.5% ABV and finishes with a mixture of sweet malt and bitter hops. This is a solid beer, especially if you like more balanced, British inspired pale ales. Hoppy Boston score 4.0/5.

bucket-black-goat-of-the-woodsBucket Black Goat of the Woods pours pitch black with a small tan head. The scent features some rich roasted malts and a hint of spice. The flavor is very malt forward, notes of cocoa, caramel and weak coffee. The spices are subtle, you get faint hints of cinnamon and ginger that add some complexity. The hops are almost non-existent in this beer, which leans toward sweet. The body is a touch thin for a stout, but the beer drinks smooth and has moderate alcohol at 6.5% ABV. Black Goat of the Woods is an interesting beer, with a few tweaks I think it could be very good. Hoppy Boston score: 3.75/5.

Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale

Next week my son turns a year old, it is incredible how quickly the time flies. When my wife was pregnant she completely abstained from drinking, there are plenty of women who have a drink here or there (which is fine, no judgment), but she decided not to and stuck to it throughout. Probably the closest she came to caving was when I sampled a bottle of Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale, the aroma from the hops was so amazing that she nearly gave in and joined me. I promised to get her some after the baby was born, but having a newborn really cuts back on your brewery visits. Fortunately, due to the recent expansion with the facility in Canton, it is now much easier to find Trillium beers, and we’ve had multiple bottles of Fort Point Pale Ale, both the standard version and the varieties showcasing different dry-hopping regimens. Each is stellar, and I though the perfect way to finish up Hoppy Boston pale ale month was to review one of the finest local takes on the style. Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale is available on a semi-regular basis on draft and in 750 mL bottles. My tasting notes are for the Enigma dry-hopped version, but I’ve enjoyed every version of this beer that I’ve tried.

Trillium Fort Point Pale AleTrillium Fort Point Pale Ale (Enigma-dry hopped version) pours opaque orange-yellow with a small white head. The first whiff is a pungent burst of hops dominated by citrus and tropical fruit. The beer is very hop forward, notes of orange, mango, papaya and grapefruit along with a very soft and mild bitterness. This is complemented by a solid dose of malt, touches of grainy bread and honey. FPPA is light bodied and very easy to drink but packs a little punch at 6.6% ABV. The finish is clean and dry with lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Fort Point Pale Ale is an incredible beer, in my opinion it is the finest beer Trillium brews. Hoppy Boston score: 5.0/5.

Previous Trillium Reviews:

Trillium Free Rise Dry-hopped with Citra, Trillium Pot and KettleTrillium Scaled Up, Trillium Launch Beer, Trillium PM DawnBREWERY OVERVIEW, Trillium Sinister Kid, Trillium Congress St. IPATrillium Farmhouse AleTrillium Wakerobin Rye