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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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 Kettle, Trillium Scaled Up, Trillium Launch Beer, Trillium PM Dawn, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Trillium Sinister Kid, Trillium Congress St. IPA, Trillium Farmhouse Ale, Trillium Wakerobin Rye
Hoppy Boston pale ale month continues with a review of Mo from Maine Beer Company. Mo is a great example of a beer that gets lost a little due to the success of other beers produced by the brewery. Popular IPAs Lunch and Another One typically fly off the shelves, and people sleep in their cars for an opportunity to buy rarely brewed DIPA Dinner. These beers have a lot going for them, they’re delicious hop bombs, they’re well-reviewed and hyped on social media, and they all contain the three magic letters for beer sales success (I-P-A). Mo is kind of a little brother to the IPAs, a little less booze, a little less bitterness, but still a delicious beer in it’s own right with the bright hop flavors and aromas that you expect from Maine Beer Company. One other advantage to Mo is that it’s usually much easier to find, it still sells quickly but it doesn’t disappear in a matter of hours like the IPAs. Maine Beer Company Mo is brewed with Falconer’s Flight and Simcoe hops, you can find it year round on draft and in 16.9 oz. bottles.
Maine Beer Co. Mo pours golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of new world hops dominated by tropical and citrus fruit aromas. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, orange, mango and peach along with a crisp but mild bitterness. There is just enough malt to add some balance, touches of white bread and biscuits. Mo is very light and drinkable while being moderately boozy at 6.0%. The finish is dry and clean with just a hint of lingering hop flavor. Maine Beer Co. Mo is a great APA that routinely gets overlooked, I highly recommend seeking it out. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Maine Beer Co. Reviews:
Maine Beer Co. Mean Old Tom, Maine Beer Co. A Tiny Beautiful Something, Maine Beer Co. Beer II, BREWERY OVERVIEW: Maine Beer Co., Maine Beer Co. King Titus, Maine Beer Co. Lunch, Maine Beer Co. Another One, Maine Beer Co./Allagash/In’finiti 2013 Ale, Maine Beer Co. Peeper
One of the reasons that I enjoy single hop beers (or other beers that showcase a particular hop variety) is my love of homebrewing. I enjoy developing my own brewing recipes, but I occasionally get stuck in a rut with my hop selections. I have a few standout hop varieties that I tend to use in all of my hop-forward beers, Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Cascade, etc., but I am always on the lookout for new types of hops that can add different flavors and aromas to hoppy beers. Most brewers focus on single hop IPAs, it’s a hop forward beer and anything with the letters IPA is pretty much guaranteed to sell. I actually prefer single hop American pale ales, the lower bitterness, alcohol and malt content really allows the hops to shine. One of the newest releases from Long Trail is Stand Out, an American pale ale showcasing the Equinox hop. Stand Out is a spring seasonal release, and is a perfect fit into Hoppy Boston pale ale month. Long Trail Stand Out is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles this spring.
Long Trail Stand Out pours a hazy copper with a small white head. The scent is a solid dose of fruity and floral hops. The Equinox hops lead the flavor, notes of orange, peach, mango, herbs and grass along with a refreshingly crisp bitterness. This is balanced by some light malts, crackers with a touch of honey. Stand Out is super light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Equinox hops are a very interesting variety, I will keep them in mind for future brewing sessions, and I definitely recommend that you give Long Trail Stand Out a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5
Previous Long Trail Reviews:
Long Trail “Sick Day” IPA, Long Trail Harvest Barn Ale, Long Trail Limbo, Long Trail Ramble, Long Trail Double Bag
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
Hoppy Boston’s pale ale month continues with a classic local take on the style, Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield, MA. Berkshire Brewing has been producing a variety of ales in western Massachusetts since 1994, and Steel Rail is their flagship beer. If you bring up BBC to most local beer drinkers they will immediately think of Steel Rail along with Coffeehouse Porter, the defining styles of the brand. Berkshire started brewing Steel Rail as a way to convert macro-lager drinkers to craft beer, they made this pale ale extra light in color and highly carbonated so it would look like the beers that dominated the marketplace. Needless to say the flavor was very different, I am sure that the combination of 2-row malts and a distinct blend of hops has converted many drinkers over the past couple decades. BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale is widely available on draft, in 22 oz. and 12 oz. bottles and in 12 oz. cans.
Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale pours pale yellow with a solid white head and vigorous carbonation. The scent is a mixture of floral hops and some pale malts. The hops lead the flavor, mild by today’s standards but still evident, notes of grass, earth and herbs. This is complemented by a solid malty backbone, touches of biscuit, cracker and toast. The beer is very light and drinkable, not too strong at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with just a hint of hoppy aftertaste. BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale is a classic take on the American pale ale style that is still worth a spot in the rotation. It isn’t like the hop-forward IPA-light APAs that are ubiquitous now, but that helps distinguish it in some ways. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous BBC Reviews:
BBC Brewer’s Choice Blonde IPA, BBC Coffeehouse Porter