New England News 12-15-17
By Dan Kochakian
Sam Adams opened its new Bier Keller in the old Haffenreffer Brewery, built in 1871, across the street from the tasting room in Jamaica Plain. In a beautiful display of various oak barrels (Bonfire Blond Rauchbier in Armagnac barrels, anyone?), the Bier Keller includes a special tour called the Barrel-Aged Experience that must be booked ahead and includes vintage beer tastings with cheeses, and a souvenir glass. Brewer Jennifer Glanville was given the envious task of swabbing for proprietary yeasts lurking in the cellar before the rehab (and she did find viable yeast!). She also designed and supervised the construction of the new taproom in the main building which is open from 11-8 Monday to Saturday. You’ll find brewery-only beers here (including an 8% Rebel Rouser Trial Double IPA, Fat Jack double pumpkin ale on nitro, and Oyster Stout) among the 10 taps as well as previews of new releases such as New England IPA (6.8%).
Big news in collaborations is that Clown Shoes is now an integral member of the Harpoon family who acquired the CS brand recently. The Clown Shoes crew has made the move to Harpoon’s Boston brewery and will be brewing in the Windsor, VT, facility as well. Clown Shoes is known for its incredible variety of beer styles, and now will be able to do more small-batch pilot brews at Harpoon. Also in Harpoon news, the brewery is making a line of beers for the Ninety Nine Restaurant chain; the first is a fruity mild pale ale.
Row 34’s very capable beer director, Suzanne Hays, has begun the Bookshelf Beer Program with Tommie Sjef Wild Ales from The Netherlands. Future evenings will showcase a rare beer from a vintage bottle, or a new draft with food pairings such as oysters or cheeses. Check Instagram for dates and offerings.
Terra Italian Grill at Eataly in Boston’s Prudential Center hosted a Dogfish Head beer dinner on Dec. 13 with Bryan Selders, head brewer guiding through five courses with five beers with three from the restaurant’s barrel room where 15 beers are being aged in oak wine barrels.
Bone Up Brewing in Everett has 10 beers on draft as well as a cask featured every Thursday. Liz and Jared have also made three batches of El Pulpo, an 8% chocolate orange imperial stout. Extra Naked is a 5.5% cream ale that is a combination lager/saison that was well-received in a cask at NERAX North.
On the north shore in Gloucester, Cape Ann Brewing released its first canned Forge Series beer. The series is a constantly changing run of limited edition beers.
Watch for a New England-style IPA (5.4%/45-IBU) featuring Mosaic hops. Cape Ann is working with Gorton Seafood and has brewed the dry Irish Blackburn Stout at 4.5% in conjunction with this partnership.
If you’re constantly in search of another New England-style IPA, check out Narrow Lands (6%/50-IBU) by Cape Cod Beer of Hyannis. NL is double dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic that burst with grapefruit, mango and orange flavors. Having been a small pilot batch, customers’ very favorable reviews of this mildly-bitter and juicy beer persuaded CCB to produce a full batch. Cape Cod Beer also debuts Mint Chocolate Porter in 750-ml champagne bottles on Dec. 11.
Shakesbeer Beverages of Hingham (brewed in CT) is a new brewery with its first beer in local distribution. Act One is a 5.5% New England-style IPA at 29-IBU that features mostly Mosaic hops with a mix of Amarillo and Citra. Coming in December is The Tempest, bigger at 7.7%/64-IBU, and boasts a blend of Citra and Amarillo for the juicy nose, and Motueka and Nelson Sauvin for more aggressive flavors in the background.
Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing in Framingham has increased its production capability to 8000 barrels a year as a result of its second expansion. By the end of December, look for brewer Matt Steinberg’s first Scottish ale, Wee Heavy, featuring smoked malts from Valley Malt. An IPA is planned as a collaboration with Amazing Things Arts Center with proceeds benefiting the Center. Matt and Co. are also experimenting with gin, wine and Elijah Craig whiskey barrels. For entertainment, Exhibit ‘A’ now has a 10×13-foot TV screen in the brewery to deliver sports events with all local teams during taproom hours. Friday nights from 7-9pm will be saved for ‘live’ music by local artists.
Jack’s Abby is also in Framingham and is known for its flavorful lagers. The Hendler brothers, owners of JA, opened Springdale, a separate brewery with tasting room next door, to cater to hopheads. The most recent IPA is You Had To Be There with Comet and Mosaic hops. Departing from hazy NE IPAs, Springdale has launched Fresh Boysen, a foeder-aged golden sour lager aged on boysenberries, and No Fuzz, a nectarine sour with fruit from South Natick’s Lookout Farm, which now also has a brewery.
Dan and Ralph at Saltbox Kitchen & Brewery in Concord are brewing their annual seasonal stouts to be released the week before Christmas. Dan is working on an oatmeal stout while Ralph is playing with a milk chocolate stout. Customers will vote on which will become this year’s seasonal.
The new Zelus Beer Co., based in Medfield with beers brewed at Ipswich Ale, has launched a winter porter called Light Into Dark (4.7%), followed by a New England Mild Ale (a combination Scottish Mild and New England-style IPA) in mid-December with a low 3.7%. Zelus is known for beers that rehydrate those with active lifestyles though anyone may enjoy Long Run (4.7%/42-IBU, apricot pale ale), Competitor Wheat IPA (4.7%/52-IBU), and Race Pace Dortmund Lager (4.8% with Hallertau hops).
Lefty’s Brewing in Greenfield has opened its new taproom in the brewery. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday and pints, flights and snacks will be served. Food trucks will be available on weekends. 12 drafts are on tap, including three IPAs, three stouts, and a nitro brew.
Also in Greenfield is People’s Pint where brewer Chris Sellers is busy making this year’s Imperial Stout set for release just before Christmas. At 9.5%, this RIS has big roastiness and a finish with caramel, toffee and molasses. A second batch will spend some time in Heaven Hill whiskey barrels and will be released later in the winter. True North Breakfast Stout was aged for 10 months in Berkshire Mountain Distilling’s whiskey barrels and then aged with cacao nibs and infused with Pierce Brothers coffee. With only 25 cases set for 8.5% release, this very limited edition will only be for sale at the brewpub. Scotch Ale will be out in mid-January. This is an 8% wee heavy, strong and rich, perfect for sipping.
Justin Korby’s Stoneman Brewing of Colrain is back in full force after a short hiatus. Three beers in the line-up are standouts. All In With Western MA Hops is a 7% northeast IPA brewed with 100% Four Star Farms hops, and malts from Valley Malt. Dry-hopped with 3-lbs of Rakkau per barrel, this beer is earthy and mellow with low bitterness. ZzzIPA is 8% with Four Star’s Crystal hops and Aussie and New Zealand hops at the end of the boil. King Korby Imperial Stout, at 9%, is a small-barrel batch also brewed with Four Star’s hops and 50% pilsner malt from VM. Belgian candy sugar boosts the alcohol to 9%. Upcoming is BeeZerker, a 10% Belgian-inspired Braggot with Warm Colors Apiary’s Wildflower Honey from Deerfield, and Four Star’s Cascade and Tea Maker hops.
In Easthampton, Matt Tarlecki of Abandoned Building Brewery has signed on with the new Night Shift Distributing, so we should see his fine array of beers in eastern Massachusetts soon. For those out west, enjoy Matt’s St. Ebrius, a Belgian dubbel at 6.8% when it debuts around Thanksgiving on draft and in 16-oz cans. Later in December, Odin, a Belgian quad at 9.6% starts pouring.
If you hurry, you may be able to snag a bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vendel (10.4%) with cinnamon and vanilla at Kelsen Brewing in Derry. Aged in Heaven Hill barrels for seven months, Vendel is a coffee imperial stout sold only at the brewery. Kelsen also released Battle Axe IPA with coconut, and a second version with pineapple.
Steve Allman of Canterbury AleWorks has his latest Long Winter’s Nap (10%), an imperial stout, now available. A few bottles of 2016’s stout are also on sale. The 8%/111-IBU Immense Intense Phat Alpha New England Double IPA with Apollo, Mosaic, Amarillo and Citra is back, also.
Beara Brewing Co. in Portsmouth turned three in November and folks celebrated with Anniversary Ale (5.8%) which is Summer Ale aged in a Jim Beam barrel for five months. BBC is self-distributing and is in 50 stores in The Granite State. 16-oz cans on the shelves include FeKit! (an 8.1% DIPA with west coast hops), Outer Limits (8.5% DIPA with Galaxy hops), and Cake (6% Oreo-infused java porter). I Want Some More (O’Sullivan Stout with Graham Crackers, cocoa puree and Marshmallow Fluff) is a new experimental beer in the works, and Boris is a new 9% imperial stout that will be out at the end of the year.
Paul Davis, known for his delicate and distinctive German-style lagers, is at the helm for Stark Brewing in Manchester. Currently, a Vienna Lager is on tap with a limited can supply, and Bo’s Scotch Ale, at 10%, is a big mover in the pub. Paul’s considering a bock or two for the pub’s draft lines. The distillery is producing vodka and will have a bourbon release in the spring.
The Alchemist was featured in a lengthy article last spring in Food & Wine magazine covering the history of the brewery and how Heady Topper came to be an IPA sensation. Breaking from that style, John Kimmich has brewed Wild Child, a 6.1% very tart wild ale with Brettanomyces Lambicus and German Munich malt, and Petit Mutant, also a Brett ale, but with Bruxellensis yeast. At 7%, PM is brewed with a pound of Montmorency cherries per can (or 3000-lbs per batch!) and Vermont and Maine barley and The Alchemist’s own hops. El Hefe (6.2%/90-IBU) is the annual holiday IPA loaded with Simcoe hops that is “bitter as hell,” according to John. Hellbrook is a 7% red ale with all-Cascade hops with hints of nuts, grapefruit and chocolate, and Ouroboros is a big 8% double IPA. Get to the brewery immediately as these will fly out of the cold room.
The Blackback Pub in Waterbury and Hill Farmstead are putting the finishing touches on plans for a New Year’s Eve gala dinner at Blackback with brewer Vasilios Gletsos describing each beer through the six-course pairing. The scarce Wunderkammer bier (80 cases a month), the once-a-month varied release made with foraged herbs, flowers and/or mushrooms, will complement one of the food courses.
Located on the river in Brattleboro, Whetstone Station is hosting a series of beer dinners called Tap That Beer. The most recent was a five-course Jack’s Abby/Exhibit ‘A’ food-beer pairing and rumor has it that a Hill Farmstead dinner is to be scheduled.
14th Star Brewing in St. Albans has released Hurricane Saison, a recipe from Colonel Joe Noonan who is stationed in the Virgin Islands assisting with hurricane relief efforts. All profits from the beer sales will go to the Love For Love City Foundation, aiding folks who were adversely affected by the storm. Follow Me IPA (4.9%/60-IBU) hit the draft lines at the brewery on Veterans’ Day and will be canned early in 2018. A portion of the proceeds from this five-hop beer will benefit the Josh Pallotta Fund that raises awareness of and assists veterans suffering from PTSD.
Scott Salmonsen, owner/brewer of Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury, is working with Allan McDonald of Next Trick Brewing in West Burke on a 3-bbl collaboration beer called Hoppy Lager (5.2% with Saaz and Hallertau, with Citra as the dry hop) which will debut at the Vermont Brewers Association winter festival on March 24 at Killington. In Scott’s taproom, you may find Smokin’ J IPA (6%, smoky, with Citra and dry-hopped with Simcoe), Brown Chaga (6%, brown ale steeped with chaga mushrooms), Double Citra J (8%, double IPA with Citra and Simcoe) and St. Steven RIS (9%, strong with anise and vanilla). Specialty beers appear throughout the year. Note: Next Trick is closed for the season and will re-open in mid-May, 2018.
Recently opened in the Green Mountain State is Mill River Brewing BBQ & Smokehouse in St. Albans. With in-house smoked meats, freshly-baked breads as well as sauces and dressing, this brewpub will be another asset to the northern Vermont beer scene.
For a departure from hazy IPAs, try Switchback’s new year-round beer, Citra Pils, a pale kellerbier. At 5.1%, Citra Pils is made in the traditional style, but has an added kick of Saaz as well as Citra hops. Switchback’s Connector IPA at 6.2%/65-IBU is another new brew that has a moderate bitterness from Citra hops and is dry-hopped with Mosaic and Centennial. A malty resinous finish blends well with the moderate hoppiness.
Ten Bends Beer of Hyde Park has released its Dark Daze, an 11.2% imperial stout that has rested in a rye whiskey barrel for nearly a year. Mike Scarlata and J Coleman also brewed a younger version that was blended with the older beer. Another interesting brew was Pearallel Saison made with purified pear. Both funky and fruity, there is also a mild hoppiness from Lemon Drops.
Mad River Distillers of Warren has released its second whiskey in the Hopscotch Series that utilizes local beers in the distilling process. This entry is made from Stone Corral’s Scotch Ale (brewed with peated malt) providing an American whiskey style with smokiness of Scottish single malts. Tobacco, malt, and a touch of hops lead to the smoky peat finish.