Tag Archives: Wild Ale

Springdale Desert Solitaire and Really Though

Some times it feels like Sudbury, the town I live in, is going to become the only town in Massachusetts that doesn’t have a brewery. I know that is a huge exaggeration, but so many new breweries have opened and I haven’t even heard a hint of one in my town. Silly me for prizing my children’s education over immediate access to beer. Fortunately there are a number of great options in neighboring towns, so I get to decide which brewery I’d like to make my local. In some ways this is a better situation, it would be terrible to have a brewery open up in town and make crappy beer, now I can pick a place I know I enjoy. Right now the leader in the clubhouse is Springdale Brewing in Framingham. I guess I could cheat and say Jack’s Abby and Springdale, but I consider them separate places (I love both, but I can get Jack’s Abby beers everywhere, need to hit the brewery for the Springdale stuff). Springdale makes awesome beer, has a great space, cans and bottles everything (I hate growlers), minimal lines, and I need to run specific errands in Framingham on a regular basis so I have a built in excuse to be in the area. That is basically everything I am looking for in a local brewery. On a recent trip I grabbed a number of offerings including Desert Solitaire, a wild ale brewed with wheat, rye and spelt and aged in oak, and Really Though, a double IPA brewed with Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops.

Springdale Desert SolitaireSpringdale Desert Solitaire pours clear straw yellow with a minimal white head. The scent is all from the fermentation, some funk and acidity. The flavors imparted by the wild yeast and barrel aging lead the way too, notes of green apple, lemon, sour cherry, white grape and oak. There is a bit of tartness too, but it isn’t overpowering. The malts add a solid backbone, whole wheat bread and the distinct spicy flavor imparted by rye. Desert Solitaire is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering yeast and acid. This is a delicious wild ale, lots of flavor from the fermentation and I love the rye addition to the malt bill, it really complements the tartness. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Springdale Really ThoughSpringdale Really Though pours murky yellow-orange with a small white head. The scent is a solid hit of fruity hops with a floral undertone. The flavor is hop forward, notes of pineapple, mango, tangerine, resin along with a bit of bitterness. This is complemented by a solid malt backbone, hints of cereal and bread crust. Really Though is full bodied but drinks super easy for 8.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hops. This is a very good DIPA, I have yet to have a bad beer from Springdale, happy to adopt it as my local brewery. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Springdale Reviews:

Springdale Solid State and Kreik MythologySpringdale Amirite?! and Good N’ You?

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Allagash Coolship Red

I’m finally finishing up articles related to my trip to Maine, which is now over a month ago. As part of the trip my group registered for a tour of the beautiful Allagash brewery on Industrial Way. While I’ve visited the brewery many times I had never done the tour, and I highly recommend it, there is a lot to learn and many parts to the facility. On the tour I learned that Allagash is discontinuing their flagship Dubbel and that any employee could propose a beer to brew on the pilot system. This led me to suggest a beer to the tour guide, send Dubbel out in style by brewing a final batch and aging it in port barrels. I’ve always liked the idea of mixing dark Abbey styles with wine/port/cognac, and I know I would buy a beer with that combination in a second. I don’t really expect them to brew the beer, but it would be really cool if they did!

Coincidentally, the day that I was visiting the brewery was also a bottle release day, in this case they were releasing Coolship Red. This beer is part of Allagash’s wild fermented Coolship series, which are brewed in the tradition of Belgian lambics. After the standard boil the wort (unfermented beer) is added to the Coolship, an open fermenter, and wild microbes from the environment ferment the beer while it ages in barrels for an extended period of time. After the aging process is complete the barrels are blended and then bottled. I’ve always been interested in this process, and I was really excited to try one of these beers, especially the Coolship Red which is aged with raspberries (my all time favorite fruit). Allagash Coolship Red is available on a limited basis in 375 mL bottles.

Allagash Coolship RedAllagash Coolship Red pours deep pink-red with a small white head. The aroma is fruity and funky, lots of scents from the fermentation and barrel aging process. The wild yeast takes center stage in the flavor too, solidly tart with notes of pear, sour apple and barnyard. The raspberries complement this flavor, you get plenty of the fruit without overpowering the flavors imparted by the microbes. Coolship Red is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 6.2% ABV. The finish has some acidity along with lingering fruit flavor. This is a really good beer, my taste for sour beers is a little slow in developing but this is complex and delicious. I am glad that I bought multiple bottles. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016, Allagash Sixteen CountiesAllagash TiarnaAllagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Cambridge Brewing Co. Pearls of Wisdom

I think I mentioned this pre-hiatus, but it’s worth re-visiting. The Mass Brew Brothers have started Mass Beer Mondays, trying to get more drinkers to focus on local offerings. You can join in by using the hashtag #MassBrewMonday on twitter. I try to keep most of my drinking to the weekends, but to stay in the spirit I will be focusing Monday reviews on Massachusetts beers as much as I can. One MA brewery that has been impressing me lately is Cambridge Brewing Company, they have always brewed some great beers but many of their most interesting offerings were brewery-only. Their recent collaboration with Mystic brewery on a joint facility devoted to wild and barrel aged ales has allowed for an expanded capacity, which means more beers available in bottles. A great example is Pearls of Wisdom, a wild blonde ale re-fermented in oak with multiple strains of Brettanomyces and then blended and dry-hopped in stainless steel. I tried Pearls of Wisdom pre-hiatus and didn’t get a chance to write it up, but it was so good I needed to do the review now even if the beer might not be widely available currently.

CBC Pearls of WisdomCambridge Brewing Co. Pearls of Wisdom pours a hazy copper-orange with a solid white head. The scent is a mixture of funky Brett and floral hops. The flavor is complex, but everything works in harmony. There is plenty of hops, notes of mango, white grape, grapefruit and passion fruit. The yeast is also well represented, touches of sour apple, barnyard, peppercorn and apricot. The malts round out the flavor with hints of bread crust and honey. The beer is medium bodied and very easy to drink, not too boozy at 6.3% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with a combination of hop and yeast flavors lingering on the tongue. I was really excited when Cambridge Brewing Company and Mystic announced their collaboration, and Pearls of Wisdom is the kind of beer I was looking forward to. This beer is really good, I am not sure if it’s still around or if they will be brewing it again, but I highly recommend trying it if you get a chance. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Cambridge Brewing Co. Reviews:

Cambridge Brewing Co. Le SaisonniereCambridge Brewing Co. Hay is for HorsesCambridge Brewing Co. Sgt. PepperCambridge Brewing Company You Enjoy My StoutCambridge Brewing Company Remain in LightCambridge Brewing Company The Audacity of Hops

Mystic Vinland 4

There are a number of local breweries that put out series of one-off or infrequent beers that I look forward to and will buy as soon as I see a new release. At the top of this list is probably the Vinland Series by Mystic Brewery in Chelsea. The term “terrior” is very popular with wine, it is the flavors that are imparted into the grapes by the region where they are grown. Terrior is one of the reasons why a chardonnay from California is very different from a French version, and some wine aficionados can even taste the differences between vinyards that are only a few miles apart. Mystic uses the Vinland Series to show that beer can have the same type of terrior, especially when the yeast is harvested locally. The first three beers in the series used yeast strains isolated from local fruits. It was amazing how the yeast imparted some of the flavors you associate with the fruit into the beer even though no fruit was added. Vinland 4 is slightly different, it was spontaneously fermented using yeast from locally grown barley. Mystic is developing a wild/spontaneous fermentation program similar to the lambic style of Belgium, and Vinland 4 is an example of this style. Mystic Vinland 4 is available for a limited time on draft and in 750 mL bottles.

Mystic Vinland 4Mystic Vinland 4 pours a hazy golden yellow with a small white head. The scent is all wild yeast, acidic and funky. The microbes are the star on the palate as well, notes of green apple, lemon, some Brett-like barnyard/horse blanket and just a little sour tingle. Some lighter malts add body along with hints of whole grain bread and biscuits. There is minimal hop character, this beer is designed to let the wild yeast shine. Vinland 4 is light and easy to drink at 6% ABV. The finish is dry with some of the complex yeast flavors lingering on the tongue. I am a fan of the wild ale style and this is a very solid version. I personally preferred some of the other Vinland beers, it was interesting to taste some of the flavors imparted by yeast from a specific fruit, but the bar had been set incredibly high for this series and this beer is still very good. I will still look forward to each Vinland release, and I might grab a couple more bottles of this to see how it changes over time. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Mystic Reviews:

Mystic De Varenne, Mystic India Wharf Pale Ale, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Mystic Flor ZMystic Melissa, Mystic DescendantMystic Vinland ThreeMystic Brewery visit and Day of Doom, Mystic Hazy Jane, Mystic Mary of the Gael, Mystic Vinland Two, Mystic Table Beer

Allagash Tiarna

I resisted the urge to start a beer cellar for a long time. Some of it was a stage of life and space issue, but even when those problems were amended I didn’t feel a big need. I typically stock up on quality beers 1-2 times a month and finish most of them before I buy more. This changed when Pretty Things announced that they were closing, I immediately stocked up on some of their beers and started a small cellar, and later added a few ither additions. The issue many beer enthusiasts run into with their special bottles is when to finally crack them open. You want the perfect occasion, but what good is a beer that sits in your cellar forever? Allagash Brewing Company came up with a solution to this with their Drink It Now campaign, a call for all beer enthusiasts to pull out those special beers and share them with friends. You can read more about it HERE. I love the idea of making any Sunday into a special occasion worthy of opening a great beer. Allagash has a number of beers worthy of either holding onto or drinking now, especially their barrel aged and wild ales. A great example is Tiarna, a blend of an ale aged in oak with Brettanomyces and another aged in stainless steel with a combination of Belgian yeast strains. Tiarna is available on a rotating basis in 375 mL bottles.

Allagash TiarnaAllagash Tiarna pours crystal clear pale yellow with a massive white head and vigorous carbonation. The scent is a little like a dry champagne along with a touch of acidity and some fruity hops. Like many of Allagash’s barrel aged beers the flavor is complex but everything seems to work together. The yeast adds some apple and pear along with funky Brett and a mild tartness. The hops are present with notes of pineapple, orange and white grape. Their is also a touch of bready malt and a little oak flavor from the barrels. Tiarna is light and bubbly and drinks very easy for 7.1% ABV. The finish is dry and crisp with lingering flavors from the expressive blend of yeast strains. If you are a fan of wild and barrel aged ales I don’t know that anyone does them better than Allagash, and this is another impressive offering. Buy some and drink it now! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Mystic De Varenne

It looks like Mystic Brewery is undergoing a bit of a re-branding, new bottle art, an updated website and some new additions to the line-up of beers. As an aside, my two favorite Mystic beers (Mary of the Gael and Day of Doom) are not listed on the website, I would be very disappointed if either is no longer being produced. It is probably no coincidence that the re-branding is happening as Mystic begins to release the first beers from their new wild ale/barrel aging program. Last year Mystic announced a collaboration with Cambridge Brewing Company that would allow both breweries to expand their capacity for barrel aged beers. Mystic was planning on focusing on the wild fermented lambic-type styles, something that we can definitely use more of in this area. Wild fermented ales are quickly becoming one of my favorite beer styles, the good ones have such complex flavors. One of the first releases in this series is De Varenne, a blend of wild ales that have each been aged for at least a year. Mystic De Varenne is available on a rotating basis in 375 mL bottles.

Mystic De VarenneMystic De Varenne pours a clear bright orange with a minimal white head. The scent is fruity with a little hit of acidity. The wild yeast leads the flavor, fruity Belgian style esters with notes of apple, pear and apricot combined with some barnyard funkiness and just a touch of tart sourness. Some pale malts round out the flavor, hints of crackers, bread and honey. The beer is very light and easy to drink but packs moderate punch at 6.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with a little sour bite on the tongue. De Varenne is a very solid start to an ambitious wild ale program, complex and interesting but still very drinkable. Massachusetts needs more beers like this, and I look forward to seeing what else Mystic has in store! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Mystic Reviews:

Mystic India Wharf Pale Ale, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Mystic Flor ZMystic Melissa, Mystic DescendantMystic Vinland ThreeMystic Brewery visit and Day of Doom, Mystic Hazy Jane, Mystic Mary of the Gael, Mystic Vinland Two, Mystic Table Beer

Mystic Flor Z

At the beginning of the year I had an admittedly aggressive goal regarding my new series of brewery overview articles. I had hoped to write one article a month and eventually have an overview of every major brewery in New England. I think I underestimated the amount of time it would take to prep and write each article. So even though it is going a little slower than planned I’m going to keep knocking the articles out as I can. This week (hopefully tomorrow) I’ll publish my brewery overview of Mystic Brewery in Chelsea. I stopped by the brewery recently and sampled some of their new and classic creations. One of the newer beers that I really enjoyed was Flor Z, a saison brewed with a house wild yeast strain. This wild yeast mixes varieties that contribute the fruity and spicy esters of traditional Belgian beers with microbes that add the tart flavors present in sour styles. Mystic is in the process of opening a new facility that will expand their capacity to brew barrel aged and wild fermented beers, an exciting prospect considering the breweries experience with culturing amazing strains of yeast. Mystic Flor Z is available currently on draft and in 750 mL bombers.

Mystic Flor ZMystic Flor Z pours a clear straw yellow with a solid white head and vigorous carbonation. The scent is a mixture of yeasty esters and a little tart acidity. The yeast is also the major flavor, notes of pear, pepper, lemon and sour apple. The “sour” component is present but not overkill, it complements the Belgian yeast flavors without overwhelming them. The beer is rounded out by solid malt flavor including some noticeable wheat and just a touch of floral hops. Flor Z is spritzy and super drinkable, a perfect beer for summer. At 6% ABV it isn’t overly boozy, and the finish is crisp with a touch of lingering tartness. If this is the quality of beer we will see more of as Mystic expands their barrel aging and wild ales program I am really excited for more trips up to Chelsea! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5

Previous Mystic Reviews:

Mystic Melissa, Mystic DescendantMystic Vinland ThreeMystic Brewery visit and Day of Doom, Mystic Hazy Jane, Mystic Mary of the Gael, Mystic Vinland Two, Mystic Table Beer