By Dan Kochakian
Harpoon has released its latest 100 Barrel Series entry, Don’t Be Bitter IPA, which was formulated by Maddy Chambers and Emily Lawson who work in the beer hall. The winner of the 2017 Owners Cup employee competition, DBB IPA is a potent hazy wheat beer with 7.5% and 43-IBU.
On the north shore in Gloucester is Cape Ann Brewing where Kook Island Summer Ale is set for the warmer months. Small limited edition batches in the Forge Series will be for sale at The Forge canning facility on Whittemore Street only; fewer than 200 cases of each will be produced. First up is a New England style IPA featuring Mosaic hops. Stay tuned for future special brews.
Closer to Boston, at Bone Up Brewing in Everett, Liz and Jared released Joybringer Tripel (9.3%). Also, a single hop saison with Vojvodina hops (originally from Yugoslavia) and wheat from Blue Ox Malting in Maine starts flowing. And for cask fans, two real ales a week will be tapped beginning Memorial Day weekend. Also this summer, you’ll be able to buy Big Stupid Cans (25.4-oz to go) of two to three new beers per month. Frozen Hoagies food trucks will frequently be at the brewery for interesting pairings of beers and gourmet ice cream, hot dogs and wings.
In Braintree on the south shore is Widowmaker Brewing. Permits have been approved and the tasting room looks beautiful with natural wood and bright sunlight. Watch for the taproom to open in July. Beers may also be pouring in local pubs by that time.
Wachusett Brewing in Westminster will open its new Brew Yard beer garden June 17. A selection of Wachusett brews as well as special limited edition beers will be served from the Airstream trailer bar. Airstream was invented by Wally Byam in 1929 and Wachusett has paid tribute with its Wally IPA (7% and 70 IBUs).
The Massachusetts Brewers Guild Power Beer Festival at the SoWa Power Station on Harrison Avenue in Boston April 29 was an excellent showcase for tried and true brewers as well as a dozen new breweries breaking out their debut beers. Among the relative newbies was Brew Practitioners of Florence who had a range of colorful beers named Yellow, Orange, Brown, White, Red and Black. Moon Hill Brewing is the brewery of the Gardner Ale House, and River Styx Brewing of Fitchburg (who had a juicy 9% double IPA called Zeus King of Gods, and Rhea Darkness, 1 12% port-bbl RIS); Start Line Brewing in Hopkinton, and Old Planters Brewing in Beverly also had interesting selections of beers on offer.
John Wanner opened the 1-bbl. Bear & Bramble Brewery in Northampton, and Vanished Valley Brewing opened in April in Ludlow. Also check out Outlook Farm Brewery in Westhampton and New City Brewing in Easthampton. And further west is Bright Ideas in North Adams where Chris Post of Wandering Star is doing double brewing duties.
With all the exciting brewery openings, we are also sad about the closures of two who have been on the scene for a while. Paper City in Holyoke has closed its doors after 20 years and Stoneman Brewery, a nano run by Justin Korby in Colrain, has ceased operations. Justin plans to contract brew at Brewmaster’s Services in Williamsburg and has worked with Chris Sellers at People’s Pint. The long-term plan is to reopen a 10-bbl. brewery on his 75-acre family farm. Howler Brewing, while not closed, is now contract brewing at Brewmaster’s.
Sam Adams’ American Summer Variety 12-pack is loaded with lighter beers for the beach. In new packaging, choices will include Hefeweizen (5.4% with German hops), Berliner Weisse (4.8% with crisp, tart lemon flavors), Tropic of Yuzu (6% with Japanese fruit), Golden Hour (5% helles with a light haze), Boston Lager (we all know this classic beer), and Summer Ale (5.3% with Grains of Paradise and lemon peel). Also for summer are Porch Rocker, (4.5% Radler with lemon and subtle bitterness) and Session IPA (4.5% with Centennial and Zeus finishing with grapefruit and pine). For those lovers of hops, Sam’s Pack of Rebels is a perfect box of IPAs with a new recipe for Rebel, the original IPA. Brewer Megan Parisi played with varieties of hops and came up with a final version that boasts Mosaic, Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial and two experimentals. In this box are Rebel Juiced, Rebel Grapefruit, Rebel White Citrus and the reformulated Rebel IPA.
The latest winners of the Sam Adams Longshot Homebrewing Contest include David Cousino for his Barnstorm Saison (7.8%, with white wheat and English hops), Duane Wilson for his Wild Child American Wild Ale (5.7%, with clove and apricots with a mild tartness), and Graham Johnson for his Coffeehead Imperial Stout (7%, aged on coffee beans and coca nibs).
Contrary to a great April Fool’s Day joke, Will Meyers has not left Cambridge Brewing. He was, however, the recipient of the 2017 Russell Scheher Award for Innovation in Brewing bestowed upon him at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. in April.
Ipswich Ale Brewery has a new can/draft beer in Cranberry Beret for the summer. This 5% Kettle Sour Ale includes fruit puree. This one may not last through the summer.
Somerville Brewing, aka Slumbrew, is opening a third location. Not far from its Assembly Row outdoor venue and across town from its main brewery, will be another small brewery directly across the Assembly Row subway stop. With outdoor café tables amidst new shops and restaurants, we’ll be able to enjoy new Slumbrews, including Big Kid’s Table (juicy double IPA), Saturday Morning (Belgian Tripel with cereal and fruit notes), Luma Luma IPA, and Beautiful Dreamer (7% sour brown ale with cherries and plums).
In the southeast area of the state, two new breweries are hopping. Moby Dick Brewing in New Bedford, with ex-Rock Bottom brewer Scott Brunelle at the helm, is situated near the waterfront. Scott will soon be tapping a brown ale called Daggoo’s Virtue (5.5% with toffee and cocoa notes). Firkin Fridays will kick off on May 5 with a new cask beer every week. First up is Quick Eternity with organic grapefruit peel and dry-hopped with Simcoe. For summer, a 5.8% as-yet-to-be-named German Pilsner will be pouring. Skyroc Brewing in Attleboro has six beers on tap, including a 7.1% 14 Karat Golden Ale, IPA, Pale Ale, a cloudy IPA at 5.5%, Turnpike DIPA at 7.8% for four hops, and Porter at 5.1%.
If you are in the East Boston area, do yourself a favor and stop in at Maverick Marketplace to visit the pub run by John Tyler, an ex-Brit who knows about cask ales. John is a cellarman for NERAX (New England Real Ale Festival) and highlights half a dozen spot-on beers at his pub. The latest to draw raves was Gravity, a double IPA brewed by Mystic only for the pub; there weren’t even any casks for the brewery. While we visited, Tripp Nichols of Mystic stopped in to make sure he didn’t miss the beer. Word is he stayed all afternoon…
Medford Brewing Co., just north of Boston, is releasing its American Golden for the summer. Merrimack Ales in Lowell has a new taproom with constantly evolving beers.
Jeff Matthew, head brewer at Bolton Beer Works, has a list of 10 beers pouring at the taproom. Besides the regular brews, including Heron ale and Bolt 117, Jeff uses apple cider from the Nashoba orchard to brew Nashoba Apple Ale. A Smoked Malt Maple Lager is subtle in the smoke at 6.5% and 50 IBUs.
New World Tavern in downtown Plymouth has area bands performing regularly, but we also visit for the oysters and 40-tap beer selection.
When you hit the Cape beaches, stop in at Nor’East Beer Garden, the lively and fun outdoor spot on Commercial Street in Provincetown with 20 drafts, inventive cocktails (such as lemonade with a hop infusion) and excellent food.
After 125 brews, Salt Box Kitchen in Concord is celebrating its first anniversary on July 8 with four farmhouse beers: IPA, Golden Strong, Trippel and Saison. An anniversary dinner is set for July 20 with hors d’oeuvres and a 3-course dinner paired with the above beers. Reservations at www.saltboxkitchen.com.
In the western part of the Commonwealth is Big Elm Brewing helmed by Bill and Christine Heaton who have released their version of the latest hot style, New England IPA. Called Thunderlips, this 6% beer is, of course, hazy and golden with huge aromas of fruit and citrus. This one’s available all summer (we hope!), and it did have a limited production in 16-oz cans. An all-local 5.5% pale ale called Persistence uses Nugget and Centennial hops from Four Star Farm in Greenfield and malts from Turner Hill Malting.
June 17 is the Hopped Up for Health 5K and 12K runs to benefit a local non-profit called Volunteer in Medicine. Run your fastest and then return to the brewery for live music, food, games and beer. Register on-line at www.Berkshirerunningcenter.com or in person at the brewery.
In Webster is Kretschmann Brewery & Beer Garden that always has a nice selection of lagers and farmhouse ales. Doug The Motivator is a hazy farmhouse ale with local yeast, Drachenblut is a barleywine with Vermont maple syrup and mellow oakiness, and Herrmann The Great is a German-style altbier with a slightly bitter finish. Guest drafts have included beers from Barrelhouse Z, Riverwalk, Clown Shoes, Lefty’s, Bentley Brewing, and Wormtown Brewing as well as wine, kombucha and meads.
Hog Island Brewing in Chatham on the Cape is hosting a 1-year anniversary party on June 16. The Cheers To Dad salute at the Chatham Bars Inn Beach House Grill on June 17 will feature Link Montana & The Rough Riders and four beers from Hog Island. Beers that the brewery will be serving and distributing this summer include Outermost IPA (6.2% with Citra, Cascade, Columbus and Chinook), Moon Snail Pail Ale (5.6% with a pine finish at 5.6%), Far Out Stout (5.7% with chocolate and coffee flavors with Columbus for bittering), Pig Pen Pharmhouse Ale (5.6% with Belgian yeast and four ‘C’ hops), and White Shark Wheat (4.2%, cloudy and fruity).
Before Rik Marley of the Flying Goose brewpub in New London escapes to the beach for his surfing fix, grab some of his Jack Wallace Maple Porter, a dark ale brewed with 300 gallons of maple sap instead of water! The hearty 7% mouthfeel and body also come from flaked barley and wheat. The 8.9% Foeder Three is the latest aged farmhouse ale with a light golden color and slightly sweet finish. For summer quaffing is the 4.8% Blueberry Wheat with German Perle hops and 150 pounds of fruit puree. Another lighter quencher is Forever Locked Lager, a 4.5% Vienna-style with Noble hops. A portion of the proceeds goes to land preservations charities and a scholarship for outdoor education. For bigger thirsts, Wild Kong RIS will satisfy with its two months of aging in bourbon barrels and then re-aging on vanilla beans. Slightly tart, this bomb hits you with a powerful 10% – not for the faint of heart (or palate). And you knew we’d get to one of Rik’s huge hop monsters with Devil’s Lettuce Double IPA, a collaboration with Ben Mullet at Elm City in Keene. You’ll have to stop by the pub to learn the ABV, but it does have big doses of Centennial, CTZ, Simcoe and Chinook hops.
Smuttynose Brewing in Hampton brought back Brett & I in April. This popular sour used Belgian strong-ale and Brett yeasts and was then aged in red wine barrels. Smutty’s Rhye IPA (6.9% / 71-IBU, with several malts and three hops) is now a year-round beer available in 6 and 12-packs and draft. In the new Heritage Beer Series, Smutty has just released S’Muttonator Double Bock in 4-packs and draft for limited availability. S’Muttonator has been one of Smutty’s most popular beers through more than two decades of beers. Double decoction mashing and German specialty malts provide a nutty toffee flavor to this malty brew. The brewery kicked off American Craft Beer Week with Summer IPA, its 5% summer seasonal. Complex and hoppy, this session ale is packed with Citra, Saphir and Amarillo hops.
Henniker Brewing’s latest in the Off The Grid Series is Queen Pollyanna, a sour red ale aged on oak and red wine barrel staves. With plum, cherry and date flavors, QP drinks like a Flanders Red rather than a puckering sour.
Pipedream Brewing in Londonderry is one year old and a big blowout party is set for June 10. Twenty beers will be on tap with five different barrel releases, including Imperial Stout and Bombshell Brown in bourbon barrels. There will also be an IPA aged in a gin barrel and Cali Common in a rum barrel as well as a blond ale in a tequila barrel. Pipedream’s first sour will also be released that day. Summer beers pouring soon will be three different IPAs taking over for Naked 3 Sum, a 5.7% citrusy IPA. Events through June include Beer Belly to Beach Body workout class with Tori, a certified personal trainer (we know a few of us can use that!) on June 4, a Pig Roast on June 8, a Run/Walk for Hope on June 11, and Bend & Brew cornhole fundraiser for Alzheimers on June 25, as well as local musicians through the month.
Steve Allman at Canterbury Aleworks is bringing back his popular 8%/111-IBU Immense Intense Phat Alpha Double IPA this June after Red Glare Double Irish Red (8%) that debuted on Memorial Day. Weiss Cracker is a bit lighter at 5.3%, but with a smacking smoked habanero wheat base, and Gale Warning is a strong 7.4% gruit with sweet gale (aka bayberry).
Litherman’s Brewing in Concord has two new beers for summer with Misguided Angel (a 7.2% NE style IPA with Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic at 75-IBU) and true to the brewers’ music loving hearts, Lil Peach of My Heart (a sour peach ale). Of the brewery’s 75 beers thus far, the Angel is the fastest selling. A gruit made from foraged ingredients from the San Francisco area called This Is How We Gruit has sagebrush, peppercorn and grapefruit peel and is aged on toasted redwood. Brewery-only releases also include Milli Banilli, a vanilla banana porter, and Hall Street & Oats (NE IPA).
Beara Irish Brewing Co. in Portsmouth has seen high demand for Cake By The Ocean, a 6% Oreo-infused java porter made even better with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Other brews pouring are Bless This Juice (a 5.3% red IPA with Mosaic, Citra and Azacca hops), Outer Limits double IPA with Galaxy and Citra at 8.1%, Tango Irish pale ale at 5.5% infused with tangerine and mango puree, and Bourbon Oaked Mighty strong ale in Jim Beam barrels (8%).
Assistant brewer Mark Harrington of Martha’s Exchange in Nashua recently formulated a biere de garde, The Garde-Ian, malt forward with Belgian yeast at 6%. Mark and Greg Ouellette, head brewer, will be brewing their first Berliner Weisse for the summer. An easily quaffable 3.8% with a tart lemon flavor, this one’s perfect for the patio facing Main Street. Watch for various fruited versions through July and August. For June and July, the guys will have Summah Bock (7%), La Belle Blonde, and Smokin’ Blonde (smoked kolsch), and in late July, meet the Martha’s crew at the NH Brewers Association Fest. All Granite State brewers involved in the fest will pour their own versions of a base recipe with creative and imaginative tweaks to show off the skills of NH brew teams.
Burlington Beer Co. released Orbital Elevator, an 8.3% double IPA made with oats and Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo hops. Chasing Rabbits is a 5.7% hoppy wheat ale. Mid-May sees more hop-infused beers: Elaborate Metaphor (5.4% hazy Citra/Amarillo bomb), Single Hop IPA (5.7% with the fruity Medusa hop), It’s Complicated Being a Wizard (8% double IPA), Future Glow (4.2% dry-hopped table beer), and a Barbe Rouge IPA in the single Hop Series. This last beer uses hops from France with nice 5.9% fruity and flowery aromas and flavors.
Rock Art Brewery of Morrisville has just gone 100% solar. A special can release will celebrate this environmentally-friendly effort. Rock Art has also brought in more Jack Daniels barrels in which the Russian Imperial Stout will age for a while. If you’re on hiatus for the summer and want a job in beer, Rock Art is looking to fill part-time and full-time positions in its tasting room. Check out the website for contact information.
Harpoon in Windsor is holding its annual BBQ Festival July 29-30 with both days filled with BBQ from teams across the country. Enjoy fantastic smoky meats with pints of Harpoon while enjoying the outdoors at the Taps & Beer Garden near the river.
Dave and Lynn Juenker have made the Blackback Pub in Waterbury a must-visit beer mecca with 20 taps and a beer engine as well as interesting food items. Dave just announced that after their first expansion, the pub would be another 600 sq ft larger with 30 taps plus a cask and more tables for dining. Look for a July opening.