Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mystic Brewing's "Hazy Jane"

So, Beer Bloggers Conference 2013 kicks off tomorrow in my home town! As a lifelong Bostonian and craft beer drinker, I am thrilled to have the beer community coming to my city for this great event. Welcome, my fellow brothers and sisters of beer blogging!

Boston is a fitting choice for #BBC13. Home to the God Father of craft beer- Sam Adams- and also to the outstanding Harpoon Brewery, one of the often overlooked pioneers of craft beer. In fact, did you know that Harpoon owns brewery permit #1 in the City of Boston? Yup, they were brewing in Boston even before Jim Koch! You'll get to experience both these great breweries first hand during the conference, and I hope to raise a pint or two with as many of you as possible during the festivities!

Some events not included on the BBC13 agenda that you may be of interest:

  1. Jacks Abby Brewing's 2nd anniversary party at the Sunset Bar and grill on Friday night. (The event is in Boston, but the brewery is in a suburb about 20 minutes away)
  2. The 10th Annual hop Head ThrowDown at the Publick House in Brookline (this is right on the city line with Boston, easy to get to)
 As the two events above indicate, there is great beer to be had outside of Boston as well. There are dozens of outstanding breweries operating in cities bordering Boston.

One of them is Mystic Brewing in Chelsea. Here is my review of one of their new summer saisons. 

Hazy Jane, Summer Saison Farmhouse Ale
Mystic Brewery, Chelsea, MA

Hazy Jane pours a beautiful hazy (shocking!) ice tea color, with a tall, vibrant white head that collapses from several inches to a  healthy cap of tight froth.

Bringing the glass to my nose, I get a wheaty, citrusy aroma- Orange, maybe lemon. The aromatics are strong but clean and not at all overpowering. It smells great.

Mouthfeel is light, appropriate and expected for a summer saison, with equally appropriate carbonation for a warm summer evening. 

Taste, initially at least, reminds me of a classic great hefeweizen - banana and cloves up front, and kind of spicy. I'm surprised. Notes of bitter citrus follow, more orange peel along with less pronounced fruity notes that you expect to find in a Belgian style saison. There's a lot of flavor here, but none are overwhelming, and they all work in a complimentary fashion to craft a really unique, tasty interpretation of a summer saison. It tastes very much like a summer beer, which is its purpose. Call it Hefeweizen meets Belgian saison, and the love child gets the best qualities of each. Finish is mildly bitter.

I highly recommend this beer. I found it very complex and difficult to describe accurately, but its a great summer beer, and I guarantee you'll love it.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jack's Abby 2nd Anniversary Larger- Double IPL

Jack's Abby Brewing of Framingham celebrates its second anniversary this July with a special new double IPL (India Pale Lager) appropriately named "2nd Anniversary Lager".

In the Jack's Abby tradition, its a lager, in this case a double IPL that will remind loyal Jack's Abby drinkers of their excellent Kiwi Rising Double IPL that they served up last year.

Additionally, on Thursday, July, 18th they will be celebrating with a 2nd Anniversary celebration at the Framingham British Beer Company. There will be 10+ Jacks Abby beers on tap! I'll be there, you should be too! 

If you haven't tried Jacks Abby's beers yet, what are you waiting for? This brewery is quickly gaining local and national notice for its outstanding brews, winning a bronze medal at this years Great American Beer Festival for their Smoke and Dagger black lager. The brewery itself is expanding dramatically to keep up with demand. If you love good beer, take the time and make the drive to Morton Street in Framingham. Don't live near Framingham? Ask for Jack's Abby beers at your local bottle store and bar.

2nd Anniversary Lager
Jack's Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA
8% ABV

This beer is an absolute hop bomb, brewed for the hop head devotees that have been following Jack's Abby since they opened the doors in July of 2011 and released their outstanding "Hoponius Union" IPL. When I say "hop bomb", I'm referring to the fact that this is Double India Pale Lager is brewed with Mosaic, Amarillo, Apollo, Citra, Calypso and Simcoe hops.

Hoppy enough for ya?

Second Anniversary Lager pours a hazy sunshine yellow, with a vibrant tight, dirty blonde head. The head retreats some to leave light lacing and a glossy sheen on the surface.

Smell is dank, deep, wet from the rainforest hops. Tons of fruit on the nose, with massive doses of grapefruit taking center stage, and slight hints of pine following the barrage. The aroma is strong, almost pungent, and awesome.

Mouthfeel is substantial, very full, not quite chewy, with lots of bubbles. Very active.

Upon tasting, bitter grapefruit assaults the tongue. Its not quite palette wrecking, but its intense. I get a hint of resinous pine, and a touch of spice from the Amarillo. There is no balance here, the malt characteristics didn't stand a chance against all those beautiful hops. The taste really follows the nose, all dank and hop bitter. Finish is bitter and wet and I want another...

Jack's Abby's 2nd Anniversary Lager is an intense celebration- and triumph- of hops, bitterness, and great brewing. It's delicious, and strongly recommeded by this humble blogger.



Friday, July 5, 2013

Trillium Brewing- Pot & Kettle Porter

I finally made it in to Trillium Brewing this past week.

I have been trying to sneak into the city for months now, in large part to visit my old neighborhood in Southie, but also to try to stop by Trillium to pick up some of their well reviewed brews. Living in the suburbs now, its difficult to get into the city, and as Trillium's distribution doesn't yet extend to my neck of the woods (Metro West), I've only been able to enjoy their beers through the posts of others, like this excellent review of Trilliums super-saison- "Sunshower" by the Boston Globes Gary Dzen.

With a rare day off on Wednesday, I headed in to the city, straight to Fort Point. When I was finally able to find free, on street parking near the brewery (no small task mind you, even for someone who used to live nearby), I picked up two growlers- one of Sunshower, and one of Pot & Kettle, a porter.

I brought the Sunshower to my family's Fourth of July party, and the consensus among all who sampled it was that is was excellent. I didn't take formal notes, as it was a party. But I will say that I agree with Gary Dzen, this is a great beer. Reminded me a lot of a IPA/saison blend, taking the best attributes from both styles. I loved it, and will be returning to Trillium for more (any chance you guy's can save me a parking spot? please?)

I did, however, take the Pot & Kettle home to enjoy and write about. Here's my review..

Pot & Kettle Porter
Trillium Brewing, Boston, MA
7.5% ABV

Pot & Kettle pours a deep dark black, with a low, thin brown head. Aromas of roasted malt greet the nose first, followed by dried dark fruit- raisins, plums- and chocolate sweetness. Hints of hops round out the robust nose of this beer.

Mouthfeel is moderate, what I'd expect from a good porter, and the carbonation is very active, most likely because the bottle tipped during my long drive home. But I didn't find it overly carbonated, it settled nicely after being allowed to breath a few moments.

Lots of earthy, deep, dark roasted malts greet the taste buds on first sip. Not smokey, just perfectly dark toasted malts. The sweetness present on the nose wasn't noticeable in the taste, but I didn't miss it at all.  The flavor profile here is very deep and full, but not complex, exactly what (I feel) a great  porter should be. The finish left me with a hint of dank hops, but no bitterness.

I loved this beer. I found it refreshingly simple- no gimicks, no mocha, no vanilla, no barrel aging- just an old school, kick ass porter, brewed about as perfectly as I've ever had. I highly recommend this beer.

If you have a chance, visit the brewery at 369 Congress Street in Fort Point. Be advised, the city is currently prohibiting them from serving samples (more on that later), but do yourself a favor and grab a growler- they offer 32 and 64 ounce sizes, its well worth the trip.



Have you tried Trillium's Pot & Kettle? What did you think?