Chris Perry of Upper Pass Brewing in Tunbridge/South Royalton, VT.
by Dan Kochakian
If you can get your hands on a bottle, check out The Sword That Slays The Seasons from Amherst Brewing. While only at 7%, this beer is full of flavor after aging for 14 months in oak and four months with apricots. Just debuted at The Hangar Pub & Grill locations in Westfield, Greenfield and Pittsfield. Cork and cage bottles will be available at the pub for $17 each.
While Mystic Brewery in Chelsea has been constantly cranking out hazy IPAs with many combinations of fragrant hops, big news is that Mystic has collaborated with Foam Brewers in Burlington, VT, to produce what we hope will be an unforgettably hoppy IPA. Also, 50 bottles of the 14% Entropy from 2016 were recently released. A couple may still be available.
Will Meyers and crew at Cambridge Brewing recently returned from Austin, TX, where they collaborated with Jester King on a 3.75% amber table beer with Texas malts, spelt and rye, and European hops. Heather flowers and sweet gale from MA were added to the brew along with gentian root and meadowsweet. In the coolship, the wort was pitched with JK’s house mixed culture and then went into fermentation in an oak foudre. No specific date for release is known, but the flavors will be amazing. This year’s You Enjoy My Stout was aged in Woodford Reserve rye barrels, and at 10%, it’s rich and warming with chocolate notes. This is the first time YEMS is on tap in three years! Blunderbuss Barleywine (12%) was aged in Four Roses barrels and will be featured at CBC’s barleywine festival on 1/26 with 15 other vintages of Arquebus, Old Butternuts and Bad Knees. With different durations in varied woods, expect a plethora of rich, warming expressions to enjoy with chef David Drew’s special menu.
Sam Adams’ seasonal brews are on tap and in stores now. Winter Lager is a 5.6% wheat bock that has been a favorite since 1989 because of its warming spices, including cinnamon from Southeast Asia, in the latest recipe. A touch sweeter are Chocolate Bock (5.8% with cocoa nibs), Old Fezziwig (5.9% with orange peel and cinnamon), White Christmas (5.8% with nutmeg and Spalt Spalter Noble hops) and Holiday Porter (5.8% with EKG, Fuggles and Noble hops).
Lamplighter Brewing in Cambridge has announced the launch of its Luminary Society, a members-only bottle program from six small-batch releases during 2019, including sours aged on fruit, wild beers fermented with Brett and a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. There are three levels of membership (6, 12 and 18 bottles plus perks), so check the brewery website for details. Lamplighter’s New Year’s Eve party will have a 1980s theme with food provided by Brato Kitchen, and the debut of the champagne-inspired Brut IPA.
While Lord Hobo Brewing is known throughout New England and other states, the new on-site brewery taproom, nicknamed The Humble Castle, is 3,500 sq ft with 40 tap lines, pizzas, a retail store and entertainment. The Castle will hold 180 people and recently opened in the original Woburn location.
The North Shore of Massachusetts will be a busy hub of beer activity with the opening of many new breweries recently and planned for 2019. Essex County Brewing in Peabody opened on Nov. 16 and co-owners Peter Doig and Paul Donhauser, and brewer Julian Miller, were inundated with over 1000 people during their debut weekend. Brews such as Judah (8% with Citra, Galaxy and Vic Secret) and Tallowah (6% with Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy and Azacca) drew fans with their hazy full-flavored hoppiness. Granite Coast Brewing, also in Peabody, is set to open soon. Beverly hosts Gentile Brewing, a local staple for several years, who will be joined by Wandering Soul, Channel Marker Brewing, Backbeat Brewing, and a new taproom and 10-bbl. brewery for Old Planters, now contract brewing. Marblehead Brewing Co. is the first Orthodox Christian monastic brewery and beers are brewed at the Shrine of St. Nicholas. Also in the works are Great Marsh Brewing in Essex and East Regiment Beer Co. in Salem.
Castle Island Brewing in Norwood turned three and celebrated with a big party on 12/8 with the release of Three, a Russian Imperial Stout with flavors of dark chocolate, roast coffee, black licorice and piney hops.
Down The Road Brewing in Everett has been adding to its production with four new brews for the winter. Cranberry Feyborn Berliner Weisse is tart with cranberry juice; Folktour Cocoa Porter features chocolate and marshmallows; Boston Brown Bread is the first in the limited edition series from the 3-bbl system; and this year’s Darkest Night Imperial Stout (14%) debuts on 12/21.
Slumbrew’s Yankee Swap is out with this year’s holiday ale at 12% aged in rum barrels with warming notes of toast and char. Speaking of toast, Attic & Eaves, a toasted brown ale with a lovely fullness is now available. Toffee, coffee and hop bitterness complement this 7% sipper.
Small Change Brewing, also in Somerville, is making a splash with its American pale ale called A Little Rain, dry-hopped with Mosaic at 4.9%, and The Future Is Unwritten, a 3.1% English-style dark mild with chocolate and caramel notes. Night Windows, a 6.3% robust porter is on the horizon as are Looking Good For Radio, a 4.8% brown ale, and Two Days Short Tomorrow, a 4.5% cream ale.
Night Shift Brewing, also in Everett, is throwing a Speakeasy-Gatsby themed New Year’s Eve party with the great swing band, Betty’s Bounce. Jan. 1 is the debut of First Night, a Brut IPA, but partygoers may enjoy it the night before. Aeronaut Brewing in Somerville is the site for the 1940/3040 NYE bash with themes of classic ‘40s and what 3040 will bring. Aeronaut has joined with the band, The Lights Out, to release X-Ray Night Vision, a black IPA at 6.3% with Columbus hops and wheat with house IPA yeast. A limited edition of the digital album appears on the cans! And Harpoon is hosting a 1990s-themed NYE party with ‘90s tunes and TV shows, starting at 8PM.
For the holidays, Jack’s Abby is releasing its Noonanbach, an oak-aged Flanders-style red ale in collaboration with Idle Hands Craft Ales, to honor the late Greg Noonan. JA’s Springdale Brewery offshoot has collaborated with The Black Ale Project (which raises money for US veterans) to produce Pledgehammer, a blend of 2014 and 2016 barrel-aged Framinghammer, and 2016 Mole barrel-aged Framinghammer; this beauty is sold in magnum bottles in the Springdale Barrel Room only. The newest edition in the Maker series is Eis Maker, an Eis Bock full of sweetness, malt and dark fruit flavors, similar to a barleywine.
River Styx Brewing in Fitchburg is hosting its first annual StyxMas on 12/22 with a special can release and an extensive list of sours. Be sure to wear your ugliest holiday sweater!
Lawson’s Finest Liquids has opened its gorgeous new brewery and taproom in Waitsfield. A visit is definitely in order, especially with an incredible line-up of Lawson’s brews. Included on tap during a recent visit were Chinooker’d, Sip of Sunshine, Double Sunshine, Triple Sunshine, Hopzilla and Sugarhouse IPAs! Add in a few session IPAs with Amarillo and Idaho 7 hops, Knockout Blonde with Cascade and Centennial, Maple Nipple amber ale with maple syrup, and Fayston Maple Imperial Stout at 10.1%, and you may forget about skiing and settle in with charcuterie and cheese plates for the afternoon.
Also open in Waitsfield is a new outpost from Worthy Burger, based in South Royalton and owned by David Brodrick of NYC Blind Tiger fame. Also worth checking out is the Mad River Taste Place, where you can sample (and buy) craft edibles and drinkables from the Mad River Valley.
Chris, Andy and Ivan of Upper Pass Beer Co. in Tunbridge have a few new beers in the tanks that will be pouring in the tasting room on the village green in South Royalton. A hoppy red ale, a coffee stout and a wheat pale ale will be on tap for Taco Tuesdays and Flatbread Fridays; 16-oz. cans of these beers will soon be available. The hazy unfiltered Cloud Drop Double IPA may usually be found through central Vermont.
Drop-In Brewing in Middlebury is set for your aprés-ski imbibing with Blissed Out Stoke, a filtered golden ale with a touch of wheat and light lemon. For the first time in two years, Fetchez La Vache, a 6% rich, malty milk stout hopped with Chinook is back on draft and cans.
Big news in the Waterbury area is that The Prohibition Pig brewpub, next door to the Pro Pig Brewery, has been sold to the Hen of the Wood restaurant folks. We’re looking forward to another excellent culinary adventure. BTW, The Hen’s current Waterbury location is the only place where fans are able to drink pints of Heady Topper on draft!
While cruising downtown Burlington’s breweries and restaurants for excellent local drafts, don’t forget Hotel Vermont’s bar near Lake Champlain. A wide range of area brews are on tap, including drafts from Foam, River Roost, Good Measure, Lawson’s Finest, Hill Farmstead, Zero Gravity and Queen City!
Sad news in The Granite State is that after three years, Neighborhood Brewing in Exeter closed its doors Nov. 17.
1766 Brewing Co. in Plymouth now has its Main Street pub in full operation. The 12 taps include 11 1766 beers and one cider to complement a varied food menu. Anderson’s Milk Stout is 5.9% and a few variations will be on tap at the pub. Upcoming beers will be a red ale, a saison, a dark lager and a dessert beer.
Finestkind Brewing, aka Smuttynose under new ownership, has released its first year-round IPAs. Mysterious Haze is a 6.7% New England-style IPA, and Whole Lotta Lupulin is a big 8.6% double IPA. Of course, both are hazy and juicy. A Plum Cinnamon Sour is also available and a Brut IPA called Uncorked is set for this month. Also watch for Chupa Mexican Stout with its slightly sweet vanilla and cinnamon flavors with a touch of heat.