When you mention fall seasonals there are usually two styles that come to the forefront, pumpkin beers and marzen/oktoberfests. I am normally not a huge fan of pumpkin beers, although I did a blind tasting hosted by the Mass Brew Brothers last weekend and actually found more than a few that I enjoyed. On the other hand I’ve always enjoyed the marzen style, Sam Adams Octoberfest was one of the beers that facilitated my conversion to craft beer and I’ve never lost a taste for the style. I’m glad that American brewers have mostly stuck to the style guidelines with Oktoberfests, I’m actually a little shocked that some brewers haven’t tried to brew a version of the style loaded with hops and still try and pass it off as a marzen. One Oktoberfest that I’ve heard good things about but hadn’t sampled myself is Ok2berfest by Two Roads Brewing Company. They release this traditional take on the German lager in the late summer every year, it is available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans, perfect for filling up a drinking stein.
Two Roads Ok2berfest pours deep orange with a small white head. The aroma is rich with toasted malts. The flavor has the full malt flavor that fits the style, notes of caramel, toasted bread and honey along with just a hint of sweetness. This is balanced by a little late hop flavor, herbal and earthy. Ok2berfest is medium bodied and drinks smooth, not too boozy at 5.8% ABV. The finish is clean with some lingering malt flavor. This is a really nice Oktoberfest, a perfect beer for the cooler fall temperatures. Prost! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Two Roads Reviews:
Two Roads/Evil Twin Geyser Gose, Two Roads Rye 95, Two Roads Route of All Evil, Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
For a long time I was hesitant to try gose beers. It took me a little time to warm up to sour beers (I am still working on some of the more aggressively sour styles), and the description of a gose sounded a little strange. Gose is a kettle soured wheat ale that is traditionally brewed with salt, and occasionally other spices. The idea of a salty beer always seemed strange to me, but I’ve given a few versions of this style a shot and I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed them. The salt is usually subtle and provides a nice complement to the sour. Kind of like the mixture of lime juice and salt in a margarita (especially appropriate since it’s Cinco de Mayo). One gose I tried recently was Geyser Gose, a collaboration between Two Roads and Evil Twin. Geyser Gose is brewed with ingredients the brewers sourced on a trip to Iceland including Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr and birch smoked sea salt. It is available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Two Roads/Evil Twin Geyser Gose pours golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a mix of acidity and some herbal aromas from the adjuncts. The beer is light bodied, crisp and very refreshing. There is some tartness from the fermentation but it isn’t a mouth-puckering sour. There is a mild malt backbone, touches of wheat bread and crackers. The salt is evident but subtle, and the herbs add some complexity mithout overwhelming the beer. Geyser Gose is solid summer beer, very easy to drink and not too boozy at 5.5% ABV. The finish is clean with a little acidic bite but minimal aftertaste. Despite some of my initial hesitation at the gose style I enjoyed this beer, I could definitely see myself sipping a few on the porch this summer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Two Roads Reviews:
Two Roads Rye 95, Two Roads Route of All Evil, Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
Previous Evil Twin Reviews:
Evil Twin Ron and The Beast Ryan, Jack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil Brew
I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been on a bit of a rye beer kick recently. The subtle spicy flavor of rye can add complexity when used as a minor adjunct grain or major flavor when a more generous portion is added to the mash. American craft brewers have predominantly used rye in two styles of beer. Rye IPAs meld floral, aromatic and bitter hops with the spicy grain while rye additions to the Belgian saison style complement the expressive yeast flavors. I enjoy both of these styles and understand why they are popular, but I am always looking for creative uses of rye in other styles of beer. An innovative local example is Two Roads Rye 95, a Belgian style tripel brewed with rye. There are many similarities between tripels and saisons (light color, expressive Belgian style yeast, typically moderate to low hop flavor), so the use of rye in this beer style make sense, even if it isn’t a traditional ingredient. Based on the label Rye 95 pays homage to I-95, one on the central highways that connects the states of New England and the rest of the East Coast. It also refers to the 9.5% ABV in the beer, the kind of full bodied booziness that the tripel style is known for. Two Roads Rye 95 is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles during the late winter and early spring.
Two Roads Rye 95 pours a clear light orange with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of spicy yeast and rich malts. The taste is malt forward, some spicy rye, with touches of cracked grain, biscuits and a little sweetness. This mingles with the yeast flavor, notes of pear, clove, pepper and apricot. Many American tripels include extra hop character and this is no exception, the hops add some grass and lemon and dry out the finish. It’s not a “hoppy” beer but the hops add complexity to the palate. The beer is a medium bodied sipper at 9.5% ABV and you get a little bit of the warming alcohol in the aftertaste. Overall this is an interesting take on the tripel style, lots of diverse flavors that work pretty well together. I personally would have liked a little more robust rye character, but others might appreciate the restraint. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Two Roads Reviews:
Two Roads Route of All Evil, Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
While I named this blog Hoppy Boston, and I do tend to center on my current home state of Massachusetts, my goal was always to cover breweries from across New England. I have lived in New England my whole life, the first 22 years in Maine and then Massachusetts, along with a two year hiatus to Connecticut for my post-doc. I moved to CT just as the craft beer scene in MA was starting to ramp up, and I was disappointed in the initial selection of beers in my temporary home state. Naturally, as soon as I moved back to Massachusetts, a number of new and exciting breweries started to open in Connecticut. Relatively few of these breweries have expanded to the point where they distribute their product North, I really need to find an excuse to do a CT beer tour in the near future. One brewery that has recently increased production and distribution though is Two Roads Brewery in Stratford, CT. Two Roads makes a wide variety of year-round, seasonal and special release beers that are now widely available in MA. One of their winter releases is Route of All Evil, a black IPA that is a mixture of dark malt flavor and aromatic hops from the Pacific Northwest. Two Roads Route of All Evil also has one of the creepiest labels you’ll see on a craft beer bottle, featuring a character that looks like the clown from “It” on a small tricycle. Route of All Evil is available during the winter on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Two Roads Route of All Evil pours a midnight black with a moderate khaki-colored head. The scent is mostly hops, piney and floral, with a little dark malt. The taste is hop-forward, notes of lemon, earth and trees with a solid hit of bitterness. There is also plenty of malt, touches of coffee, chocolate and molasses. This beer definitely has a nice balance between the hops and malt, exactly what you look for in a black IPA. The beer is medium bodied with a pleasant bitter kick and moderate alcohol at 7.5% ABV. This is a very solid version of a black IPA, the hop selections are on point for the malt profile, which is usually the biggest challenge with black IPAs. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Two Roads Reviews:
Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
Since the end of Prohibition it has been up to individual states to make laws regulating the production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. As a result there are different laws in every state, and most of the sales go through large distributors that act as middle men between the breweries and bars/beer stores. I could write an extended post about the consequences of this system, especially when it comes to craft beer, but I’ll spare you that for the moment. Many craft beer enthusiasts clamor for popular out of state beers to expand distribution without realizing the work it takes. There is also risk in the brewery growing too quickly and potentially impacting quality. Two Roads Brewery took its time building a strong following in their home state of Connecticut and recently began to distribute their line of beers in Mass. One of Two Roads flagship beers is Workers Comp, a saison brewed with barley, wheat, oats and rye and fermented with a distinct Belgian style ale yeast. All of Two Roads beers are available on draft and in 12 oz bottles, in CT, RI, NY and now MA.
Two Roads Workers Comp Saison pours a clear deep gold with a mild white head. The smell is all Belgian yeast, lots of fruity esters and just a touch of must. The taste starts with the yeast as well, bubblegum, banana, pepper, tropical fruit and apple. There is a solid maltiness contributing biscuits, crackers and barley. The wheat and rye add a touch of additional spice. There isn’t much in the way of hops, but the yeast helps balance the flavor and there is enough bittering hops to keep the beer from being sweet. Two Roads Workers Comp is light bodied and easy to drink. At 4.8% ABV it’s on the light side for the style. The finish is dry, with a touch of malt and fruit flavor lingering on the tongue. This is a solid saison and I look forward to trying some of Two Roads other offerings in the near future. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5