Craig Orrock and Oakley Smith of Lir Raw Bar Service of Kingston with owner/brewer Paul Nixon of Independent Fermentations in Plymouth, MA.
By Dan Kochakian
We’ve been hitting the beach, enjoying growlers and crowlers and cans (oh, my!) which nearly every brewery is offering now. The Plymouth area, with lovely sandy beaches, and fun bars, is now loaded with breweries, including the new Second Wind Brewing Co. with a small cozy taproom on Howland Street. Eight beers are on tap regularly, including Winds of Change, a 4.5% session IPA that was double dry-hopped with Galaxy; Winds of Change #3 (big 8% imperial IPA); and Warbird, a 6.5% New England Milkshake IPA with blood orange puree. Howland at The Moon Witbier has a different take, also with blood oranges in the blend. Dad Bod (super light cream ale) and Coconut Blackout are on tap.
Harper Lane Brewing of Middleboro, whose owner/brewer, Mike Pasalacqua, has been tenant brewing at Independent Fermentations in Plymouth, is another newcomer. Mike’s beer range runs the gamut from Farmhouse (Willis Hill, 6.8%, dry-hopped with Amarillo), IPAs (Knuckle Buster, 5.1%, bitter and piney), Stout and seasonals (Betty, 6.1%, brewed with ginger and local honey). Harper Lane beers are on tap in the Middleboro/Lakeville area and cans should appear this autumn. Paul Nixon, owner/brewer of Indie Ferm, along with co-brewer Ron Cotti, will have Berlinner Weisse as one of this year’s summer seasonals. Kettle-soured with yogurt, BW is a tart and drinkable 3.7% summer brew; German fruit and woodruff syrups are available to accompany it. Farm To Forks Catering offers food on Fridays and Lir Raw Bar Service of Kingston shuck oysters and serve Mexican-styled ceviche on most Sunday afternoons to enjoy outside the taproom. Indie Firm will be hosting a benefit for Black Feather Horse Rescue on July 29 where $2 per pint will be donated from the sale of Black Feather Porter.
Mayflower Brewing, the oldest brewery in Plymouth, has Peregrine witbier, an unfiltered blend of pilsner, wheat and oat malts with orange and lemon/lime notes poking through a Sorachi Ace dry-hopping. (Peregrine was the name of the first baby born to the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in Cape Cod harbor.) A Helles Style Lager called Ottobahn is coming out in July. In the meantime, you may still enjoy the limited edition 10-Year anniversary brew, X, an imperial stout at 11%, and Evolupulin, an 8% IPA in the rotating hop series.
Perfect beach beers in Boston can be found in Sam Adams’ American Summer limited release variety pack. The 12-pack of six brews includes two 12-oz bottles each of Lager, Summer Ale, Hefeweizen, Raspberry Lemon Gose, Pale Ale, and Golden Ale.
Harpoon’s Summer Vacation mix-pack contains IPA, Camp Wannamango, House Golden and the new Lime-y Vice Gose with sea salt and coriander.
For more unusual offerings, check out Down The Road’s summer beers. The Everett brewery has Rosé-Colored Spectacles (a raspberry rosé sour), Light Lager with Lime, and a Spicy Dill Pickle Sour.
Night Shift Brewing, also in Everett, will open a new taproom on Lovejoy Wharf in Boston this winter. On July 29, NS is hosting a friendly competition among four brew teams who have formulated IPA recipes. Fans may sample them and vote on the winner to be the signature of IPA of the Boston location.
And down the road from Night Shift is Bone Up Brewing Co. headed by Liz and Jared Kiraly. While planning an epic 2-year anniversary party for Aug. 25 with bands and bbq, Jared and Liz have brewed a big batch of Loretta, the 7.4% hibiscus farmhouse ale, for the taproom. Also on are Joyrider, a 9% Belgian tripel aged in Bear Creek rye whiskey barrels, and Doomrider, also 9%, but aged in BC wheat whiskey barrels. Bone-Up is expanding into next door to triple square footage, and will include barrel-aging and more tanks to pump up the nano-brewery to 7-bbl for a 500-bbl run this year. The taproom will double to 24 tap lines, will have a second bar and triple the seating capacity with more outdoor space as well! Watch for a grand opening later this summer.
Not far away in Chelsea is Mystic Brewery which Boston magazine named best brewery for 2018! If any of you hopheads haven’t visited recently, you can be assured of big juicy hoppy beers any time. Recent double IPAs have included Social Dynamite (8.5% with Amarillo and Nugget and Simcoe lupulin powder), Everywhere Was Lizards (8.5% with El Dorado and dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria, Summer and more El Dorado), Danger! Danger! (8.9% with 2.8 lbs per barrel of Galaxy hops), Mosiac Position (9.3% with lupulin powder and notes of orange and mango) and Garys In Space (named for multiple Garys in the brewhouse, this is an 8.3% with Loral, Ekuanot and Simcoe).
Bent Water Brewing in Lynn will be expanding to a 30-bbl brewhouse after just three years in business. The brewery is planning to top 5000 barrels this year.
Just north of Boston is True North Ale Co., who won Gold for Vincianne, their Belgian Blonde, in the World Beer Cup in Nashville. TNA now has 12 beers on draft in the tasting room. New brews have been Portolan Chocolate Rye Porter, Tripel Play Belgian Tripel, Northern Haze juicy NE IPA and Princess Peach, a pale ale with oats and peaches.
The Tap Brewing Co. in Haverhill has its new summer seasonal beers pouring: Session Pale Ale #2 (3.9% with all Citra hops), Intergalactic Acid Berliner Weisse (3% kettle-sour), and Maize-A-Faire (4.6% lager with high carbonation). The barrel project is moving along nicely with Vanilla Joshua Norton Imperial Stout transferred to Ryan & Wood rum barrels, and Sephira has been aging in oak alongside a mint-infused Saison. Enjoy these with smoked bbq on the huge back deck overlooking the mighty Merrimack River. Watch for a barrel-aged Barleywine in the autumn months.
On the way to the Cape, be sure to visit Widowmaker Brewing in Braintree who recently collaborated with the up-and-coming Vitamin Sea on Widow’s Walk IPA, a 7.1% hoppy brew with papaya and pineapple aromas before a big hoppy finish. WB also has Martin & Lewis (a 7.1% milkshake IPA), 50-Year Storm DIPA at 7.8%, and Bat Country DIPA at 8.9%, all big and juicy.
In Scituate is Untold Brewing who has three summer brews: Sunny C (6.5% IPA with Citra, Simcoe and El Dorado and juicy mango flavor), Ice Cream Truck (6.1% milkshake IPA with orange zest and lactose over vanilla beans), and Summer Song (4.7% ale with Czech Pilsner malt and Amarillo hops).
Small Change Brewing Co. in Somerville is now canning its beers; chief among them is A Little Rain, a pale ale dry-hopped with Mosaic and late additions of Cascades. A pleasing pineapple and grassy aroma wafts through.
Joining Small Change and Somerville Brewing (whose Message In A Bottle Tropical IPA is very nice with mango and pineapple haze) is the new Remnant Brewing in Union Square with a taproom and spacious beer garden. Beers are made by local brewer Charlie Cummings to fill the eight taps with pale ales, IPAs and farmhouse styles. Clip Art is the latest rotating IPA that features the fruity Azacca hop.
The Springdale Beer division of Jack’s Abby in Framingham has begun a Beta Blend Series to work with local chefs in formulating beers that will complement food. First up is a Pineapple Basil Sour made with the Bronwyn Restaurant folks of Union Square in Somerville. The base was a golden ale that was aged in different French oak barrels and fermented with Brett, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus yeasts with fresh pineapple and Thai basil added.
Inland from the beach is Craft Roots Brewing in Milford run by Robin and Maureen Fabry. These ladies are dedicated to brewing beer mostly with local ingredients. 100% of their malt and 80% of their hops are from the area. On a recent visit, we sampled the 6.4%/48-IBU beer called 5 Realm, a hazy IPA with five hops whose first initials spell REALM: Ranier, El Dorado, Azacca, Lemondrop and Mosaic. A bigger, bolder hop bomb is IPAx2, at 7% with intense piney and resiny aromas. An interesting combo was Black & Bam, dry Irish stout floated on IPAx2!
For those headed to Florida, make a stop in Jacksonville at Veterans United Craft Brewery owned by ex-Wachusett brewer Ron Gamble. Raging Blond Ale is the best seller, and HopBanshee IPA, Buzzin’ Bee Honey Rye, and Scout Dog 44 Amber are also very popular throughout the year. For Florida’s hot summer, Ron has brewed Hedgehog Hefeweizen, a wheat beer with German Magnum hops and a spicy clove and banana flavor, and Farmers Little Helper Belgian-Style Saison, 7.5%, dry and fruity with a touch of rye and three hops, but be extra careful with Cosmic Kat Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale, an 8.6% powerhouse with five malts and Magnum and Saaz hops combined with notes of pepper and spice. Ron’s a vet and does much work to promote veterans’ groups and military dogs.
If you don’t have tickets by now, you’ll have to trade your ‘Hamilton’ ducats to get into Trillium’s big festival in Canton on Aug. 4. Featured will be brewers with whom Trillium has collaborated, including Omnipollo, Other Half, etc.
Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29, make the run to Windsor for Harpoon’s BBQ Festival in the beer garden. Competitive bbq teams from all over New England will be serving their smoky ribs and grilled meats to enjoy with Harpoon beers.
Brocklebank Brewing and Bent Hill Brewing have collaborated on a limited edition 4% Berliner Weisse with berries called Hot Tubs ‘n’ Bongs that will be served on Friday and Saturday of the Vermont Brewers Festival on Lake Champlain in Burlington on July 20 and 21. On Aug. 18, Brocklebank will be hosting NanoFest at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds featuring 12 nanobreweries, food trucks and ‘live’ music. Tickets available through Eventbrite.
Zero Gravity in Burlington is pleased to release one of the fans’ and brewers’ favorite beers, Strawberry Moon, a 5.2% sour that was conditioned on 2400 lbs of locally-grown strawberries. Light, refreshing and slightly sour, SM may be found in cans throughout VT, MA, NY and RI. The brewery has expanded once again, this time with four new 120-bbl fermenters, a whirlpool and a centrifuge in the past few months. Zero Gravity has been invited to pour at the Firestone Walker Pils & Love Fest in California and at OctFest in NYC.
Scott Salmonsen of Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury has brewed a ‘new’ beer for the VT Brewers festival. Carpet Crawler is an updated version of Sierra Nevada’s first Beer Camp recipe to be into regular production, about eight years ago. Scott was part of that camp that had Steve Grossman in charge, and he’s made this brew a bit maltier, but with the big 10%/93-IBU still intact for hop fans.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids has collaborated with Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut on Typecast IPA, a 6.5%/15-IBU New England Farmhouse beer with notes from cedar boughs and spruce tips with medium hoppy flavors and bitterness. Typecast was dry-hopped with Connecticut-grown Wye Challenger and Cascade hops and Vermont-grown Centennial hops. Scott Shirley, long-time brewer at Harpoon in Windsor, has recently joined Lawson’s as Brewery Operations Director.
Rik Marley, veteran surfer at Flying Goose Brewpub in New London, has taken time out from the sun and waves to brew a Lavender Saison with Greg Ouellette and Mark Harrington of Martha’s Exchange in Nashua. This brew has eight different hops and eight grains symbolizing The Granite State’s eight original breweries (can you name them?). Rik has formulated what he terms a New Hampshire IPA (hazy and juicy NE IPA made in NH) brewed with Citra, Galaxy and Motueka hops (5.5%). Another version that should be ready now is brewed with oats and tons of Cryo-Citra at 7.1%. And Rik’s homemade cider (Patience and Perseverance, semi-dry at 4.5%) will be available in 22-oz bottles this summer. Other seasonals include Jack Wallace Imperial Maple Pilsner (7.9% with German malts and hops and local maple syrup in place of water). A lighter NH IPA is Cold Soup For The Soul (4.7% with big hop flavors from Galena and Wakatu hops), but a big kick may be had from Oculus Funk (Solis Lacus), a 9.5% beer made with wild yeast and European hops, and refermented on oak for four months with wild yeast.
Great North Aleworks in Manchester has two special summer releases to enjoy after a dip in a lake or a hike through the bucolic surroundings. Country Mile is a new beer, a 5.75% farmhouse ale. Brewed with Pilsner malt and Belgian yeast and dry-hopped with Falconers Flight and Azacca hops, Country Mile is available in 16-oz 4-packs and on draft in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Northbound is a 5.2% Pilsner with subtle crisp hop flavors and a bright finish. This beer is available in 16-oz 4-packs and on draft in New Hampshire with Massachusetts and Connecticut pending.
While we’re familiar with the various beers in the regular line-up at Kelsen Brewing in Derry (Battle Axe IPA, Draken Robust Porter and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vendel Imperial Stout), don’t forget The Cryptic Project, a series of sour ales. The latest is Innocuous Blueberry Coffee Sour, a 4.6% ale with aromas of chocolate and coffee with tart berry flavor and a beautiful pink hue. Others in the series are Hypnotize (saison with hibiscus and lemon), Faded (gose with sea salt and coriander), Luminous (aged on blackberries) and Nocturne (dark sour with chocolate aged on raspberries).
Pipedream Brewing in Londonderry, open just over a year now, has 15 beers on tap in the brewery tasting room. Everything from sours to IPAs, stouts and blonde ales will be sure to appeal.
Neighborhood Beer Co. in Exeter has just released Mow Money IPA (a lawnmower ale at 6%) with Boss Flamingo Bronze Ale (7.2%) in 16-oz 4-packs coming on soon. Only available in the taproom. Mellow Grove Summer Ale (5%) is back on tap, but this season’s version has a new twist. Blood orange puree was added to the regular Hefeweizen-style ale.
Sad news in Hampton is that Four Pines Brewing has closed after being in business for a short time. Their sister restaurant, Community Oven, is going well next door. We hope that brewer Jason Goldweber and his crew find work soon in the beer industry.