Wachusett Brewing’s new taproom at the brewery in Westminster with an Airstream Trailer Bar and a fire pit outdoors.
By Dan Kochakian
After an early December trip to Minneapolis where we suffered in 2-degree wind chills, we won’t complain about Boston winters anymore and are looking forward to our next cold beer. And there are plenty, including those from a couple of new breweries.
True North Brewing on the north shore in Ipswich opened in early November to enthusiastic crowds. Owned by father and son team, Gary and Jake Rogers, with Seth Barnum as head brewer, True North is a pristine 30-bbl DME brewhouse with a smaller 5-bbl system for in-house recipe formulations. Jake and Seth worked at Ipswich Ale Brewery and Seth also had experience at Breakside Brewing in Portland, OR, before being coaxed back to the east coast. During a recent visit, we sampled Vincianne (6.3% Belgian blonde), Cerveza (4.3% crisp Mexican lager), and two New England-style IPAs, North Shore Session (4.7%/35-IBU) and North Shore Double IPA (8.2%/65-IBU). Pouring soon will be a Porter for the winter as well as two different seasonal sours.
Widowmaker Brewing in Braintree just off Rte. 128 is also open now with 10 drafts. A few that caught our eye (and taste buds) were Gowanus Canal Screw Job (an American IPA at 7.1%), Old Oaken Farmhouse Saison (8.1%), Donut Shop Coffee Stout (6.5%, big and roasty with coffee from Big Eye Roasters in Hingham), and Com-Rad RIS (10.1%, a bigger version of Donut Shop with additional hoppiness). Hop lovers will appreciate Greenbush Pale Ale (6.8% with Mosaic hops), Pure Hoppy Chinook IPA (7.2%), Ecstasy of Gold (7.2%), and 50-Year Storm DIPA (7.8% with Australian hops and a grapefruit finish).
On the coast in Scituate on the way to Cape Cod is the 15-bbl Untold Brewing which opened on Oct. 13. Run by Kristen Greene and her brother Matt Elder, with Kyle Hansen, UT has a cozy taproom with a patio and additional quiet pub to enjoy 11 drafts. Of these, there were six IPAs when we stopped by. Ghost In Paradise is a session at 4.7%, while Time Shall Unfold and Melon Patch are more citrusy at 6.2%, and East By Northwest (the first to be canned) is piney and hoppy at 7.3%. To The Limit is more dank at 7.1%, and Retail Therapy is a big black 7.5% IPA, full of roasty hoppiness. Blonde, Pale 143, Brown, Amber and Stout round out the offerings. Kristen and Kyle promised that Winter Ale (8.2% with caramel and dark fruit roastiness) and Oatmeal Stout (6.9% with dark malts and smooth chocolate notes) will be on tap very soon, and a barrel-aging program is planned with canning also in the works.
Harpoon has introduced a new UFO beer called Apricadabra, easy-drinking at 4.8% with slight apricot flavor, perfect for cocktail blends. This beer is part of the UFO Jet Pack with Hefeweizen, White and Raspberry UFOs included. The single hop pale ale, Fresh Tracks, shows off the piney character of Centennial hops at 6.2%. The Craic, a combination IPA and red ale, is now in cans. The beer is malty with a citrus and fruit finish.
Trillium has opened another location to enjoy its hazy pale ales and IPAs: the Roslindale Substation Building. Open five days a week, the indoor winter beer garden will have a rotating variety of drafts. In the summer, enjoy Trillium outside at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston.
Barrel House Z’s line-up of barrel-aged beers has been very impressive of late. Such varied styles as a 10.7% Baltic Porter aged in Bully Boy Whiskey barrels, Fuggley Sweater Sour with cranberry and orange, and Townie Double Irish Strong Ale (10.6%, aged in oak for 11 months) complement Adeline Stout (8.8% in whiskey barrels) and Sunny & 79 (6.2% Ginned Pilsner in Tequila barrels). For the IPA lover, check out Bamboozled By Hops, 6% with strawberry and melon, finishing with tropical citrus notes.
In Plymouth, Mayflower Brewing (celebrating its tenth anniversary) has released its third beer in the Ebb & Flow Series. Bavarian Rhapsody is a dunkel marzen at 5.3%. Brewed in collaboration with German lager expert and author Horst Dornbusch, this beer features all Weyermann malts giving it a clean nutty flavor with a very slight hop finish.
To the southwest will be Crue Brew Brewery, located near Routes 495 and 24. This 5-bbl Portland Kettle Works system will push out 10 beers on draft in the taproom. Slated for a spring opening, Crue Brew plans Porter, Stout, Red, Amber, Orange Blonde, Dog Walk Strong Ale, French Toast Ale and Mass Maple and a quadruple-hopped IPA.
Further south in Hyannis, Cape Cod Beer unveiled a lovely silky smooth Oyster Stout brewed with oysters from 15 area towns. A debut party with East Dennis Oyster Farm shucking briny bivalves to accompany the stout was held on Dec. 8 at the brewery with over 500 beer and oyster fans in attendance.
Note Jan. 27 on your calendar for Cambridge Brewing’s Barleywine Fest when master brewer Will Meyers will serve 10 years of Blunderbuss (aged on different sets of oak each year), and Arquebus (aged in white wine barrels, from chardonnay to tokaji). Two or three vintages of Old Butternuts, CBC’s bourbon barrel-aged old ale, will complement the 16 barleywines that evening.
Mystic Brewing in Chelsea, known for its excellent saisons and farmhouse ales, is cranking it up on the IPA front. Recent offerings have been DDH Amperage (a 7.5% Belgian-style IPA with Ella, Santiam and Citra hops), Fabrication X (7.5% farmhouse ale with lactose and Mandarina Bavaria, Huell Melon and Citra hops) and Mosaic Position (9.3% double IPA, big and juicy with lupulin powder). If you missed these, hang in there as more are coming.
Somerville Brewing has started the Professional Comedians On Tap series at their Ward Street brewery with nationally-known TV comics who will have you crying tears of laughter in your beer every Sunday night. Admission is free before 7:30PM and you may order dinner and drinks before or during the show.
Join owners/brewers Jared and Liz at Bone Up Brewing in Everett on Jan. 8 for Horatio Day, the birthday salute for their model-slim logo character, Horatio. Special for that celebration will be Quadless Leg Monster (a quad oak-aged ale in Stillhouse apple brandy barrels), Joybringer Tripel, El Pulpo Chocolate Orange Imperial Stout, Life Sentence Double IPA, and Shelby Smoked Stout, along with added hoppy and session beers. Before then, stop in to sample any of their 10 beers, and a cask ale that pours on Thursdays.
Dave Richardson of Flying Dreams, who won a load of medals at the Great International Beer festival, has several new offerings at his Worcester brewery. Park Avenue Porter, Winter Lager and Nightcrawler are on shelves now. Nightmare After Christmas RIS will be out after the new year, and Hop Tart is the next hoppy kettle sour. Following that is Black Currant Gose in February. A new as yet unnamed Double IPA is set for January, but in the meantime, enjoy Pond Jumper IPA (6.6% with Bravo, Citra and El Dorado), Woo-Tang IPA (6.2% with Motueka, Ekuanot and Mosaic) and Dreaming of Summer Saison. Double Bock will be available in February after lagering for two months
In western Massachusetts are two new breweries, Jute Town in Ludlow and Arcpoint in Belchertown. JT is described as a home brewery with half a dozen interesting beers, including Coconut Porter, Keep Your Pants On, I Go to Extremes, One Damn Vote, Fire & Leather, and Summer in Hawaii. Arcpoint is owned by Air Force vets Chris Peterson and CJ Eldridge and is not open to the public. Their beers may be purchased at local stores, and with added production at Brewmaster’s Tavern, the guys will be able to supply more cans to more locations. Check out Vagabond Double IPA (8.5% with lemon rind and Galaxy hops), Variance VI Pale Ale with grapefruit and lime flavors, Reveille Coffee Stout with milk sugar and Ethiopian beans, and Cold Spring session pale ale with mango.
A recent beer jaunt through northern Vermont confirmed that the beer scene in the Green Mountain state is still worthy of all accolades bestowed upon it. In Waterbury Center is The Prohibition Pig, located on the original site of The Alchemist, where you’ll find a cozy bar in the brewery as well as a fine restaurant on South Main Street. The brewery and restaurant always have at least 10 drafts with guest beers (Citra Wheat, American Double, and West Coast Style IPAs, and Lager, Brown, and Stout). Across the side street is Craft Beer Cellar where you may find many of the coveted Vermont brews as well as 10 drafts for growler pours. One hundred yards away is The Blackback Pub which has expanded into a full bar/restaurant with 30 drafts, including Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s and surprises such as Prairie Christmas Bomb. A hand pump for cask ale is nearly always pouring as well.
In Burlington, Zero Gravity now has The Great Northern restaurant next door run by bar manager supreme, Jeff Baumann. Fresh oysters and an innovative food menu complement ZG’s fabulous beers, including Jaguar Shark Pale Ale, Grand Royal Double IPA, Mungo Berry Sour, and the always lovely Conehead IPA. A few miles south along Pine Street, you’ll find Switchback Brewing which has evolved considerably from its flagship Switchback Ale to offer a Citra-Pils Keller Beer, Fresh Hop XPA, Roasted Red, Connector IPA, and the limited run, Flynn on Fire Ale in the Smoked Series.
North on Route 100 is the beautiful Alchemist Brewery where one always finds Heady Topper and one of its siblings, whether it be the 7% Alena, Focal Banger or Crusher. Not far north are Lost Nation Brewing and Rock Art Brewing in Morrisville. LN’s Mosaic IPA, Saison Lamoille, and Lost Galaxy wheat IPA are always easy-drinking and balanced, and the 100% solar-powered Rock Art has debuted its 20th Anniversary and Twin Tip Double IPAs as well as a bourbon barrel-aged RIS. In Burlington, we can’t stress enough that you should visit Foam Brewery on the shore of Lake Champlain with its hazy New England IPAs and serious sours. A short walk away is the farm-to-table restaurant, Farmhouse Tap & Grill with 20 taps and a beer garden, and Mad River Distillers in the square for a change of pace with creative cocktails from Josh and John using the new Single Malt Whiskey, Hopscotch, made from Stone Corral’s peated Scotch Ale. And of course, a trip to this area of Vermont isn’t complete without searching for Lawson’s Finest Liquids and spending some time enjoying pints and buying cans of Hill Farmstead’s Society & Solitude IPA in Greensboro Bend.
Four Quarters Brewing in Winooski has recently expanded to increase production from 400 barrels to 1000 and up to 3000 when more demand occurs. Ex-14th Star brewer, Tim Jacob, has joined owner/brewmaster Brian Eckert to assist with the 20 styles of beers which are now being canned and bottled.