Probably the biggest challenge facing “veteran” craft brewers is balancing the continued production of the beers that built their brand with innovating to compete and meet the changing preferences of the market. Some brewers stubbornly refuse to change, even if they need to lower production due to decreased demand. Some have completely changed their brand, new beers and new artwork to meet the changing culture. While I can understand this approach, I like it when I brewery balances their classic beers with new releases. Even with this approach it can be tough to attract the interest of the fickle beer drinkers that are constantly chasing the next big thing. For that reason it has to be exciting when a veteran brewery makes a new beer that starts to generate some buzz. A good example is Wally, the New England style IPA from Wachusett Brewing Company. This juicy hop bomb has earned the praise of a number of local beer drinkers, and it held it’s own in the Mass Brew Bros blind New England style IPA tasting. Wachusett Wally is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Wachusett Wally pours a hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent is a big hit of fruity hops, citrus and tropical fruit. This is very much a New England style IPA. Tons of hop flavor, notes of grapefruit, papaya and tangerine along with a very soft bitterness. The malts round out the flavor with hints of bread dough and honey. Wally is medium bodied, smooth and drinks easy for 7% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. Wachusett Wally is a delicious beer, if you like the New England style of IPAs you’ll definitely enjoy this. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Wachusett Reviews:
Wachusett Milk Stout, Wachusett Larry DIPA, Wachusett Green Monsta IPA
Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day (although many drunken college kids have been celebrating for the better part of a week already), and most people will enjoy a couple of “traditional” drinks. One is green beer, typically a cheap adjunct lager mixed with green food coloring. No thank you. The other is Guinness, the beer most associated with Ireland. I don’t mind a Guinness here or there, I’ll probably have a pint tomorrow. If you’d like to celebrate with a stout but feel like something more local, you do have a few options. It seems like most craft brewers focus on Imperial and/or barrel aged stouts, while I enjoy these beers on occasion I am not usually looking to drink a bomber at 13% ABV on a Tuesday night. A few breweries still make traditional varieties of stout, either the dry Irish style stout or sweet/milk stout. Milk stouts aren’t actually brewed with milk, they typically have added milk sugar (lactose) which isn’t digested by the yeast leaving a residual sweetness. One local example is brewed by Wachusett Brewing Company, fittingly named Milk Stout. Wachusett Milk Stout is brewed in the winter and sold on draft, in 22 oz. bombers and now in 12 oz. cans.
Wachusett Milk Stout pours nearly black with a substantial sandy-colored head. The smell is all malts, dark and roasted. The taste is also very malt forward, touches of milk chocolate, mild coffee, caramel, toasted bread and just a touch of sweetness. There is also subtle but noticeable hop flavor that adds some earthy notes and balance along with a little crispness to the finish. The beer is full bodied but goes down smooth and isn’t overdone at 5.8% ABV. This is a nicely done version of a milk stout, lots of flavor without being overly sweet or boozy. I would definitely recommend Wachusett Milk Stout as a local alternative to Guinness on your St. Patrick’s Day. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Wachusett Reviews:
Wachusett Larry DIPA, Wachusett Green Monsta IPA
I know it isn’t the most original or unique stance, but IPAs are my favorite style of beer. It was the bold flavors of American hops that converted me from someone who dabbled in craft beer into a connoisseur. That being said, I have a mixed opinion on double IPAs (DIPAs). For one thing, the line is very blurry. For example, many beers that are now “single” IPAs would have been considered double IPAs not too long ago. When they are made correctly double IPAs can be great, highlighting the hop flavors and balancing the extreme bitterness with a substantial dose of malt. Unfortunately many double IPAs miss the mark, either the malts and the booze overwhelm the hops or the hop flavor and bitterness go completely overboard. Despite this, I can’t help but try more DIPAs. They can be great beers when they are done correctly and the only way to know is to keep tasting. I recently tried Larry, the double IPA from Wachusett Brewing Company. Larry is brewed with a slew of American hop varieties including Amarillo, Chinook, Simcoe, Magnum and Centennial. It is available year round on draft, in 22 oz. bombers, and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.
Wachusett Larry DIPA pours a deep copper with a moderate cream-colored head. The smell is solidly hoppy, favoring earthy and foresty scents. The hops lead the flavor too, notes of pine, grass, forest floor and a hint of lemon. This hop flavor is accompanied by substantial and lingering bitterness. There is a significant amount of malt to combat some of this bitterness, including some touches of caramel and cracker. Despite this, it is still a true hop-bomb beer. The booze comes through a little in the flavor, but the beer drinks pretty easy for 8.5% ABV. Overall this is a solid example of a double IPA, just enough malt to keep the hops in line. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Wachusett reviews:
Wachusett Green Monsta IPA
I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Wachusett Brewing company in Westminster, MA. My lovely wife and I got married in that area of the state and Wachusett beers were on draft all weekend. Having good craft beer of draft was a must for my wedding and Wachusett came through big time. While their most well known beer is probably their blueberry ale, but Wachusett has been making a wide range of ales since 1993, and their beers are available on draft, and in bottles and cans around the state, including at Fenway park and in the seats on top of the Monster itself. This lineup includes Green Monsta IPA, named after the iconic wall at Fenway park. With the Red Sox punching their trip to the World Series last night, and Shane Victorino hitting that key Grand Slam over the Green Monster, I couldn’t think of a better time to review Wachusett Green Monsta IPA.
Wachusett Green Monsta IPA pours an amber/gold with a solid and sustained white head. The smell is stronhly hoppy, with the smells you expect from American hops, citrus fruit and cut grass. The beer is hop forward, with a solid bitter flavor without being overdone. A mild malt backbone adds a little balance and a touch of maltiness, but the hops rule the palate, lemon, grass and some earthy flavors dominate. The beer is clean and easy to drink, the perfect beer for a BBQ or for sitting and watching some baseball. I hope to have a few more as I watch the Sox in the World Series this week! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5
PS-I realize I’ve been reviewing a ton of IPA’s lately, and while I’ll continue to drink and review a lot of IPA’s, I’ll try to mix it up a bit, feel free to send recommendations to my twitter account or on my facebook page!