Tag Archives: Stout

Newburyport Joppa Grande Stout

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I love blind beer tastings. We all have inherent bias for/against certain breweries and beers based on our previous experience tasting their beers (or even positive and negative experiences at the breweries), and sampling the beers blind removes any of these biases. While my favorite set of blind tastings are the ones held by the Mass Brew Brothers (and frequented by yours truly), the Paste Magazine blind tastings are definitely second. Paste acquires beers from across the country for each beer style and then rates their top 50. Local beers took many of the top spots in their recent blind tasting of stouts, including a 3rd place finish for Joppa Grande Stout from Newburyport Brewing Company. Joppa Grande also got an extra mention as the only beer in the top 5 brewed without the addition of coffee or other adjunct ingredients. Newburyport has made a concerted effort to expand their offerings recently, and this was one new-to-me beer that I was very excited to try. Newburyport Joppa Grande Stout is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Newburyport Joppa GrandeNewburyport Joppa Grande Stout pours nearly black with a mild tan head. The aroma is mostly roasted malt with coffee as the predominant scent. The flavor is also very malt forward, notes of espresso, dark chocolate and black licorice. This is complemented by some mild hop character, earthy and grassy along with a touch of bitterness. Joppa Grande is medium bodied and goes down smooth, it isn’t an imperial stout but it packs some punch at 7.0% ABV. The finish is rich and full with some lingering malt flavor. This is a very good stout, no frills just a well designed and executed beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Newburyport Reviews:

Newburyport Melt Away Session IPA, Newburyport Greenhead IPA

 

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Foundation Forge

Today I am going to attempt to coin a new beer term, Blue Chip beer styles. Blue Chip Beer styles are the few styles of beer that are most sought out by beer geeks, and making an amazing version of a Blue Chip beer can put a newer or less renowned brewery on the map, locally or even nationally. It would be great if making a top notch beer of any style would attract this attention, but when was the last time you saw a line form for a brown ale or ESB release? In my opinion there are two beer styles that are definitively Blue Chip, double IPAs and imperial stouts. If you look at the highest rated beers on any crowd-sourced beer cite the list is usually dominated by DIPAs and boozy stouts, and many of the most sought after beer releases revolve around these styles. Other types of beer including standard or New England style IPA and sour/wild ales are also in consideration for Blue Chip status, but I am going to start with two definitive styles (since I just made up the term I feel like I have that power, feel free to disagree). A good example of the power of a quality Blue Chip beer is Foundation Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. When Foundation first opened they focused on saisons and other Belgian inspired styles. These beers were very good but the brewery didn’t really take off until they released Epiphany, their stellar DIPA. Now Foundation is a sought out destination in the crowded Portland brewery scene. Foundation also brews another Blue Chip style in the winter, an imperial stout named Forge. My visits to Maine are much more regular in the summer, so I hadn’t sampled Forge until recently, but Foundation now distributes to Massachusetts, so it’s much easier to drink their beers on a regular basis. Foundation Forge is available in the colder months on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Foundation ForgeFoundation Forge pours pitch black with a small tan head. The aroma is full of rich roasted malts, make you want to dive right in. The beer is malt forward, notes of black coffee, dark chocolate, raisin and just a faint hint of booze. There is also some noticeable hop flavor, hints of pine and herbs along with a little bitterness. Forge is a full bodied sipper but goes down pretty easy for a beer with 10% ABV. The finish is full and rich with lingering malty goodness. This is a top-notch imperial stout, an absolutely delicious beer. If DIPA and imperial stout are truly the Blue Chip beer styles Foundation is in very good shape with Epiphany and Forge! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Foundation Reviews:

Foundation Cosmic BloomFoundation VentureFoundation Afterglow, Foundation WanderlustFoundation Epiphany

 

Marshall Wharf Little Mayhem and Can’t Dog

I’ve amassed a pretty solid collection of beer glassware. I try to grab a glass from any brewery that I visit on a somewhat regular basis, or any place that makes beers that are a part of my rotation. An entire shelf in our china cabinet is full of beer glasses, and so far my wife hasn’t complained. Most of my glassware has been purchased as I visit breweries, and unfortunately a few pieces have met with mishaps on the way home. One example was a pint glass I purchased last year on a visit to Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast, Maine. Marshall Wharf is close to my parents house, so I tend to swing by when I am visiting, but the glass I bought broke on the return trip to Mass, and unfortunately they only had tasting glasses in stock during my stop this summer. Fortunately I was able to grab some beers, including their sessionable stout Little Mayhem and they huge DIPA Can’t Dog. Both beers are available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.

Marshall Wharf Little MayhemMarshall Wharf Little Mayhem pours deep brown with a massive off-white head. The aroma is mild featuring some roasted malt. The flavor is malt forward, notes of roasted barley, black coffee, and dark chocolate. There is some late hop flavor for balance, grassy with a little bitterness. Little Mayhem is medium bodied and sips easy, sessionable at 4.1% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering malt flavor. Low ABV dark and malty beers are underrepresented on the market, it’s nice to see a flavorful and easy to drink stout that won’t put you under the table. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Marshall Wharf Can't DogMarshall Wharf Can’t Dog pours deep red with a small white head. The aroma features some hops, floral and grassy. The flavor is balanced for an IPA. The hops add notes of pine, tangerine and earth along with a solid bitter bite. This is complemented by a full malt body, hints of caramel, honey and a little boozy burn. Can’t Dog is a full bodied sipper, a very big beer at 9.7% ABV. This is an interesting beer, part way between a classic DIPA and a newer style hopped up barleywine or strong ale. Hoppy Boston score; 4.0/5.

Previous Marshall Wharf Reviews:

Marshall Wharf Bitter Truth

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.

 

Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream

Sam Adams releases a number of variety packs over the course of the year, usually changing them with each season. This month they also released a special new pack, called the Brewing The American Dream Collaboration Pack. This 12-pack features two bottles of Boston Lager along with two bottles each of five new collaboration beers. Each collaboration is with a brewery that helped get their start by participating in the Sam Adams Brewing for the American Dream program, which provides training and loans that helped make these brewers dreams a reality. Profits from this 12 pack will be funneled back into the program to help the next generation of American brewers get started. I was very excited to try the beers in this pack (disclosure: they were provided by Sam Adams). Here are my thoughts on each shown in order of how much I liked them, starting with my personal favorite.

Sam Adams Tea Party SaisonBoston Tea Party Saison: Collaboration with Woods Beer Company in San Francisco, CA. Boston Tea Party is a saison brewed with yerba mate tea, coriander and grains of paradise and fermented with the yeast strain used in Sam Adams Kosmic Mother Funk. My favorite beer in the pack, funky yeast on the nose and tons of flavor from the fermentation, apple, pear, a little acidity along with the distinct flavor imparted by the Brettanomyces. The spices add complexity without overwhelming the beer, and the finish is dry and just a touch tart. A complex but still easy to drink saison.

Sam Adams Oats McGoatsOats McGoats Stout: Collaboration with Brewery Rickoli in Wheat Ridge, CO. Oats McGoats is a gluten-reduced oatmeal stout. A little roasted barley on the nose, and full dark malt flavors, milk chocolate, toffee, espresso. A little bit of herbal hops round out this full bodied but still easy drinking beer. You would have no idea the beer is gluten-reduced, it’s a tasty and flavorful stout.

Sam Adams ThreeNinety BockThreeNinety Bock: Collaboration with Roc Brewing in Rochester, NY. ThreeNinety is a Helles Bock brewed with Mosaic and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops and named after the distance between Boston and Rochester. This is a super drinkable maibock, crisp and clean. The crackers and bread from the malts meld well with grassy and herbal hops. I enjoyed the beer, but I would have liked to see the fruity Mosaic hops shine through a little more, it would have made it a little more unique.

Sam Adams Time Hop PorterTime Hop Porter: Collaboration with ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Ramona, CA. Time Hop is a hopped up porter brewed with Zeus, Chinook, Cascade and Goldings hops. Dark chocolate and black coffee notes from the malt combine with grass, pine and lemon from the hops. Smooth, drinkable and not too boozy at 5.3% ABV. I have mixed opinions on this beer, it was a interesting take on a porter with the extra hops, but not what I usually love about the style. Hop-heads might love this beer, for me it was just OK.

Sam Adams Desert KaleidoscopeDesert Kaleidoscope IPA: Collaboration with Bosque Brewing in Albuquerque, NM. A West Coast IPA brewed with Zeus, Cascade, Mosaic and Ekuanot hops. This IPA features solid hop flavor, notes of pine, lemon and grass along with substantial malt, with touches of honey and caramel. I would have liked some more hop aroma, for me that pungent aroma is make or break in an IPA and I didn’t get enough of it here.

Previous Sam Adams Reviews:

Sam Adams 26.2, Sam Adams Hopscape and Fresh As HellesSam Adams Rebel RawSam Adams Rebel RouserSam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest

 

Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

Otter Creek made a big announcement recently, after 8.5 years their head brewer Mike Gerhart is leaving the brewery. Rumor has it that he is taking a job with Hill Farmstead, which is widely considered one of the best breweries in the world. Gerhart has played an instrumental role as Otter Creek overhauled their brand over the last few years, developing a completely new lineup of beers focusing on hop-forward offerings. This re-branding has included all new artwork that heavily features the bearded and tye-dyed character  of Gerhart on the majority of their bottles and cans (usually accompanied by his dog). It should be interesting to see how the brand evolves going forward, their new beers have been very well received and it looks like they have a stable of up and coming brewers who are ready to take the reigns. In addition to all of the varieties of IPA that Otter Creek is brewing, we’ve seen them dabble in dark beers, including a big and boozy Russian Imperial Stout. Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout is available in the winter on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.

Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout pours pitch black with a minimal tan head. The scent is mostly roasted malts along with a little alcohol. The flavor is malt forward, notes of dark chocolate, raisin and toffee. You also get some booze in the flavor, but it isn’t overpowering. Some late hops round out the flavor with hints of grass and earth along with a bit of bitterness. Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout is a full bodied sipper and it packs a wallop at 10% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering malt flavor. For a brewery that has focused it’s efforts on hop forward beers Otter Creek makes some tasty dark and malty brews too. This one is worth a shot as imperial stout season winds to a close. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Amherst Two Sisters and Jess

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 StoutAmherst 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 JessAmherst 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.