Saturday, May 31, 2014

Celebrating 3 Years of Man Drinks Beer...

On April 26th, 2014, this blog turned 3 years old.

And I totally, completely forgot about it.

Bad beer blogger, I know.

Year three has been a blur-the new career has kept me otherwise occupied, as have the ever growing and demanding children of the Man Drinks Beer Household, so new content on the blog has been far less frequent that in years one and two. MDB kid # 3 is due this summer, so the content is going to continue to lag.

But the craft beer scene in Massachusetts and across the country continues to grow. And so will this blog, albeit slowly.

One local MA brewery that's grown significantly this past year is Everett's Nightshift Brewing. Founded in 2012 and dedicated to "brewing memorable beers with a wide array of rich, complex flavors", Nightshift recently opened a brand new, expanded brewery and taproom at 87 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA.

Despite their great reputation, until this weekend, I had never had a Nightshift beer. I have no idea why. But it was something I felt I needed to rectify.

Viva Habanera
Nightshift Brewing
Everett, MA
7% ABV

I'm a sucker for beer with Habaneros. I just love what a spicy pepper can do to a beer, and I've found Habaneros to be the best at imparting both heat and flavor to beers. Add to the mix that Viva Habanera is a Rye Ale- spicy in its own right- and also has some agave, and you've got something really interesting going on here.

It was with eager anticipation that, after letting it warm for 15 minutes, I popped the cork and poured this into my glass.

Viva pours almost red, with a tinge of honey color, and a loose, fluffy off white head. Its clear, not cloudy, and deep in color.

I get a whiff of agave sweetness at first sniff, followed by noticeable spice, more black pepper than habanero at this point though. I take a sip, and here's where this beer quickly- and oh not so subtly- begins to assert itself....

Initial mouthfeel is moderate, almost light, but not quite. Nice texture, and some active bubbles on the tongue....

...and then these bubbles then absolutely freaking EXPLODE on the tongue, releasing a massive heat wave of spice. It's hot. I mean, like, Africa hot. Its intense and flavorful, but its difficult to discern rye from the habaneros in the initial assault. When the habaneros finally recede a touch I finally get some noticeable rye. Finish is very dry (or maybe my mouth is just completely dehydrated, I just can't tell at this point).

Wow, this beer is an absolute punch in the face of flavor, and I love it. With Viva Habenera, Nightshift remains true to their mission of producing memorable beers with complex flavors. This is a great brew, but its not for the faint of heart, spice averse, or craft beer newbies. The flavors in this beer are very complex- the heat of the habanero is the star, clearly- but the agave sweetness is also there, as is the more subtle rye spice, and if you can deal with the heat you'll enjoy a truly unique, flavorful, tasty beer. And really, isn't that we all really want?


Monday, May 5, 2014

Yuengling is available in Massachusetts?!! I had no idea....

OMG, when did Yuengling become available in Massachusetts?

I have long heard tales of this fabled beer from older co-workers, who would regale me with stories of it's greatness,  their glory days of college, and prattle on about their beloved Yuengling, which inevitably led to them bemoaning the fact that it was "no longer available in Massachusetts" and that it was "too bad, because you'd really like it"

The conversation typically went something like this:

Co-worker- "I hear you write a blog about beer."
Me- "yes, its hobby. I like to write, I like beer, I thought it'd be fun."
Co-Worker- "I like good beer too! Like Yuengling! It's really good, I used to drink it in college. You can't get it around here now though. It's too bad, you'd really like it. It's really good"
Me- "So I here"

Well, now that's all changed. Yuengling is FINALLY HERE! In Massachusetts!

What, you didn't know?

Did you miss the new YUENGLING signs at the local bar?

Didn't you notice the new YUENGLING tap handles at your local bar (that likely replaced a locally owned and brewed beer)?

The new YUENGLING signs at the liquor store?

Or the YUENGLING signs at the Pizza shop?

Or the annoying YUENGLING banner ads on

Or the YUENGLING ads on the radio?

Or the terrible, terrible YUENGLING ads on tv that only tell you that:

A) YUENGLING is an old brewery, the oldest in the United States in fact!


B)  YUENGLING is AMERICAN owned! (see the flag? it's right... there!USA! USA!)

Have you been living under a rock, with a blind fold on and ear plugs in?


Holy Sh*t is this YUENGLING advertising campaign annoying me! Heres why-

As a professional marketer/media guy, I absolutely appreciate the almost absurd scale and widespread exposure Yuengling has surely achieved with its marketing campaign. After all, that is the goal here. Re-entry into a market as crowded and lucrative as ours necessitates a grand entry, I get it. This is a business venture, they want to steal market share. Guess whose share is getting impacted? Yup, the small local brewery and their one tap at your local pub. It's now a Yuengling tap! Sorry _________(insert superior local brewery here).

It annoys me as a beer drinker to see so much money and hype over a- in my opinion- mediocre, out of state product being brought into a market when there are vastly superior, locally produced beers already widely available. Yes, I've tried Yeungling since it's reintroduction to Massachusetts. I was not impressed (I'll leave it at that). I mean its not like this is Westy 12 suddenly showing up on shelves, or Pliny, to give a better national beer example.  I'd understand any hype around these beers, which are well known and sought after for their taste and quality. But this? It's freaking Yeungling.

Budweiser long ago set the gold standard for advertising a beer as a lifestyle image rather than on taste, something I find both ingenious and disturbing- it's a food product, after all. Can I really blame Yeungling for carrying on that tradition? Probably not.

But I won't be drinking it.

Instead, I'll be drinking one of these great beers, all brewed in the great state of Massachusetts...

  1. Jack's Abby Hoponius Union India Pale Lager
  2. Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA
  3. Mystic Brewing's awesome "Hazy Jane"
  4. Backlash Brewing's "Declaration
  5. Berkshire Brewing's Steel Rail Pale Ale, the best kept beer secret in the state (means more for me!)
  6. Trillium Brewing's awesome Pot and Kettle Porter 
  7. Slumbrew's awesome "Flagraiser IPA"
  8. Mayflower Brewing's awesome "Summer Rye"
  9. Harpoon IPA
  10. Notch Brewings excellent Saison, always a "go-to" brew for me  
  11. Spencer Ale, Americas First Trappist Beer!
  12. Jack's Abby Framinghammer Baltic Porter
  13. Jack's Abby Sunny Ridge Pilsner
  14.  maybe Jacks Abby Smoke and Dagger
  15. Notch Left of the Dial IPA
  16. Berkshire Brewings Coffee Porter 
  17. Trillium Brewing's Fort Point Ale
  18. Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout
  19. Harpoon Ale
  20. Harpoon White IPA
  21. Harpoon UFO
  22. Blue Hills Brewing's Watermelon Wheat
  23. Wormtown Brewery's Hopulence IPA
  24. Wormtown Brewery's Sweet Tats
  25. Trillium Brewing's Sunshower
  26. Wachusett Brewing's "Bad Larry"
  27. Sam Adams Cold Snap
  28. Anything from Element Brewing
  29. Pioneer Brewing's "Path of the Unknown" Imperial Brown Ale
  30. Notch session pils
And that's literally just off the top of my head. And this list just scratches the surface of great beer brewed in Massachusetts.