Dave Higgins, head brewer at Wachusett Brewing with a pint of Wally Juice
By Dan Kochakian
For those of you who are tired of unfiltered hazy IPAs (yes, both of you), Oktoberfest season is in full swing with traditional versions from Sam Adams and Harpoon as well as from many small breweries and brewpubs throughout the New England area. However, brewers such as Mystic in Chelsea and Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden are continuing to release the big cloudy IPAs. Neither has been known for IPAs, but they have been releasing New England-style versions for several months now. Mystic’s big hit is Danger! Danger, an 8.8% shot made with Simcoe, Citra, Equinox, Ella and Mosaics and dry-hopped with four lupulin powders. Voltage is a milder version at 7%, but just as juicy. Idle Hands’ Four Seam is the first year-round IPA packed with citrus, mango and guava notes, and Change Up is a series of IPAs utilizing different hop combinations.
Lamplighter Brewing in Cambridge is also seeing success with its IPAs, especially Major Tom which is an intense 6.5% with 100% Galaxy hops.
Wachusett Brewing in Westminster, one of the top-ten fastest-growing breweries in the US in 2016, has been brewing Larry and Wally, nice IPAs with a good amount of hoppiness, but is coming out with Wally Juice, a new 7%/70-IBU hazy blood orange-infused IPA for a red-hued juicier version. WBC also has Brewin’ Pale Ale (5.3%) which has four hops and is dry-hopped with Mosaic, and Belgian White Mamba (4.8%) with three hops and three malts, in the City of Champions Series which also includes Green Monsta IPA and Bella Czech Pils.
And Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis also has a recent New England style IPA on the shelves with Narrow Lands (6%/50-IBU) which has a soft malt character and was double dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic.
For a more seasonal brew, check out Ipswich Ale’s Pumpkin Porter, 5.4%, made with real pumpkin and spice. Ipswich also has Hop Harvest, celebrating hop picking season, as a bigger 7% Ella and Mosaic-laden IPA.
Congratulations to Will Meyers and his crew at Cambridge Brewing for their bronze medal win at this year’s GABF for Cor Cordium, a mixed-culture Brett beer made in collaboration with Jester King of Texas.
One of our favorite beer events, NERAX (New England Real Ale Festival) North in Salem, will take place on Nov. 16-18 with 50 cask ales from the US and UK with each of the New England states represented. Mark Bowers, president of NERAX, is also a brewer at Aeronaut in Somerville. After the smash hit of Double Hop Hop IPA, Mark & Co. have released Galaxy Cirocumulus Imperial IPA and the New England-style SMASH IPA with all local ingredients. A session IPA with Citra and Galaxy are set for release soon.
In Amesbury, Brewery Silvaticus is settled in with some fine beers to enjoy on its side patio. Jay Bullen and Mark Zappasodi are steeped in the techniques of Belgian farmhouse ales and German lagers, and brew Smash & Grab (6.3% hoppy lager with wheat and rye as well as Simcoe and Mosaic hops), Brevity (5% tart kettle sour with Lactobacillus and dry-hoped with Mosaics), Oblivion (5.2% schwarzbier, dark and roasty), and Tamarack Saison (5.5% with fresh hops from Mark’s farm on the Merrimack River).
Gentile (pronounced Gen-til-ee) Brewing in Beverly has acquired a loyal following of fans with its solid array of beers and cozy tasting room on Park Street. You won’t find 15% barleywines or big Russian Imperial Stouts here, but you can look forward to excellent versions of Blonde Ale (4.1% with Tettnang and Mt. Hood hops), IPA (4.6% with US and UK hops), Porter (4.7% with English hops and dark caramel malt) and Stout (4.4% with EKG and big roasted barley notes). On a recent visit, we were treated to a 5% Dunkel that Paul Gentile brewed with Chris and Nate at Notch Brewing in Salem.
Jack’s Abby in Framingham, well-known for its traditional lagers, has released the 4.7% Post Shift Pilsner, made with all-German malts and hops which provide that crisp dryness with a bitter finish.
Making a big splash recently is Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. from Williamsburg. Founder Paul Wengender and head brewer Shaun Radzuik are committed to brewing big beers, whether they be pale ales, IPAs, Porters or altbiers. Pulp is an 8% Vermont-style IPA, V-Imperial 5-Hopped IPA is the 8% little brother to Greylock, a 12% cloudy and citrusy New England-style IPA. Good Night Moon is an 11% milk porter while Helena is a 10% altbier. Citra has a Belgian touch as a 9% IPA.
On the south shore in Scituate, Untold Brewing opened on Oct. 13 with East by Northwest IPA (7% with Chinook, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus), Stayin’ Alive IPA (6.9% with Columbus and Pekko and an experimental hop from Hop Head Farms in Michigan), and Eleventh Hour IPA (6.5% with Citra, Cascade and Columbus). Also on tap are Voorhees Stout, Abigail Blonde Ale, Rebecca Brown Ale, and The Carpenter Pale Ale.
Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth released Lazy Ambition, a saison with lemongrass and lime peel, in the Ebb & Flow Series of limited edition beers, and has the new 5.7% Hometown Brown Ale, brewed with six malts, pouring now.
Michael Otto, beer manager at the British Beer Co. in Hyannis, has a fully booked schedule of visiting brewery reps throughout the winter and spring. Founders, Troegs, Devils Purse, Grimm, New Belgium and Lagunitas are among breweries who will be pouring special limited editions with their seasonals. Consult the BBC website.
On the off-chance there may be tickets left, check out Bantam Cider’s Cheese & Charcuterie Party on Nov. 10. With loads of food, Bantam will also celebrate the 23rd year of Franklin County Cider Days with Artifact Cider & Stormalong Cider who will be serving their apple-based drinks, some with hops, at the party in Somerville.
Jason and Margot Phelps have a successful crowdfunding campaign running now for their Ancient Fire Mead & Cider project in Manchester to open in 2018. Check their Facebook page or website for more information about their plans.
Great North Aleworks’ silver medal for their IPA in the World Beer Cup caught the attention of Night Shift Distributing’s Rob Burns in Everett, MA, and we’ll be seeing this beer on shelves and in pubs in the Bay State soon, along with Tie-Dyed Dry-Hopped Pale Ale, Moose Juice IPA, Tragically Hopped Double IPA and Robust Vanilla Porter.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery & Cidery of Boone, NC, has an agreement with Craft Brewers Alliance in Portsmouth (Redhook) where AMB brews its beers for expanded distribution. AMB won a gold medal for Boone Creek Blonde, among 126 entries, at this year’s GABF.
Congratulations to Neighborhood Beer Co. in Exeter on its second anniversary. For those wanting a traditional German-styled lager beer experience, you can’t do any better than spending time in the taproom enjoying lighter styles such as Hallowed Hammock Blonde Ale and Trophy Mutt Copper Ale, and some bolder beers such as Boss Flamingo Bronze Ale and Decadent Eclipse Black Lager. There’s also the 8.2% Bastardly Blitz, a “German Style” IPA made with all German malts and hops.
Portsmouth Brewery’s co-owner, Joanne Francis, and head brewer, Matt Gallagher, have formulated Libeeration, a beer designed for menopausal women to help ease symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and sleeplessness. The beer is a gruit made with lemon balm, chamomile, stinging nettle, chickweed, et cetera, with a small dose of Saphir hops to add a tangerine note to the finish. In a recent interview, Francis assured us male drinkers that if we enjoy Libeeration, we won’t have a strong desire to buy new shoes.
If you were one of the lucky few to grab a bottle of the fast-selling Mad River Distillers’ Hopscotch, a single malt whiskey made in collaboration with Lawson’s Finest Liquids, make sure you get in line for their latest with Stone Corral Brewery of Richmond, due for release this month. This spirit starts as a ‘wash’ made by the brewer and then the barley base is fermented and dry-hopped before distilling. The whiskey is aged for six months in American oak. The Lawson’s collaboration was incredibly smooth with a subtle fruitiness and a slight hop presence, so we’re anxious to sample this second version.
Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville celebrates this year with 20th Anniversary Double IPA, 8% with gobs of Galaxy hops. Sun Rocked IPA is now in 12-oz cans in the regular rotation. At 6% with 60-IBU, Sun Rocked is a tribute to Rock Art’s solar-powered brewery.
While the Great American Beer Festival in Denver is the well-respected granddaddy of beer fests in the US, folks in New England are wondering why there was no presence by Vermont breweries there this year. Could it be that it costs too much money for small brewers to serve a beer that will probably never see distribution in Colorado?