Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Brewery Alert (sort of)- Springdale Barrel Room

Springdale by Jack's Abby
Opened on December 15, 2016
Re-opens on January 14, 2017

Regular Hours
Thursday  4 – 10 PM
Friday  4 – 11 PM
Saturday  11:30 AM – 11 PM
Sunday  11:30 AM – 6 PM

The newest adventure in beer by the team at Jack's Abby opened on December 15th, right next door to Jack's Abby's Beer Hall- welcome the Springdale Barrel Room to the Massachusetts craft beer scene!

What is the Springdale Barrel Room? It's the largest barrel room in New England, where the skilled brewers from Jack's Abby work with their collection of over 1,000 barrels to create barrel aged ales, sours, and everything in between for your beer drinking pleasure.

Jack's Abby built its reputation on brewing the very best lagers anywhere. With the creation of Springdale, the team is now free to expand into ales and all other variants of barrel aged beers not currently available in the Beer Hall. Ever wonder how Jack's Abby would brew a cloudy, east coast IPA? Well, wonder no more, because they have one at Springdale! 

Are sour beers your thing? Then come on down, because they have a half dozen, and more on the way. 

I made sure to visit Springdale on opening night, despite not being a sour fan at all, I had to see what they were doing. I did something I rarely do, I order flights and sampled basically the entire menu. Here are my 4 favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Kriek Mythology- this oak aged sour beer was aged in bourbon barrels with huge amounts of cherries. It was fantastic- not being  fan of sours, I feel that this beer really didn't present the funk as strongly as other sours I've had. Plus, I love cherries, and the bourbon barrel aging seems to have mellowed it some. Great brew, can't wait to have another. 
  2. Single Barrel Sherry- I don't know exactly what this is, except it was aged in sherry barrels and was absolutely stunning. Strong and sweet, this is a supper for sure. This beer does not appear on the web site, maybe it's just too damn good to promote. Oh well, more for me!
    Walk On Porter, enjoyed at the Springdale
  3. Walk On Porter- Not a sour or barrel aged, just an amazing session porter. I could drink this all day. My only full pour of the evening, and its was the correct choice!
  4. Wallace IPA- This is the Springdale take on the East Coast style, Hazy IPA. It is awesome. Big, tropical, and juicy, this was my 4th beer on my first flight. Let me tell you, after tasting the delicate flavors of the sours, this beer was a massive punch in the face. And I mean that in a good way, the bartender did a great job or arranging the tasting. It really made me understand just how heavy IPAs are. Very eye opening.
In summary, the Springdale Barrel room is awesome, and you and all of your friends should go. It's a huge open space, with old school pinball, video games, and corn hole. 

Due to paperwork issues with some permits, Springdale is temporarily closed and will reopen on 1/14/17.

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Brewery Alert- Start Line Brewing in Hopkinton!

I have the distinct pleasure of living right in between Boston and Worcester. So when a great new brewery opens in either one of these great cities, I can get there relatively easily. But these days, the breweries just keep getting closer and closer.

I was thrilled when Jack's Abby opened in Framingham in 2011. Then Exhibit A Brewing also opened in Framingham.

And now the breweries are getting even closer! Welcome Start Line Brewing, now open in Hopkinton! (and frighteningly close to my house...great for beer, bad for my wallet!)

Start Line Brewing opened about two weeks ago inside Waterfresh Farm on Hayden Rowe Street.

I wandered in one Friday after work and sampled a few brews. They were all good, some VERY good. So, of course I took  home a few crowlers. Here are my thoughts on several of the beers being served up by Start Line.

Dark Chocolate Stout
6.2% ABV

This was my absolute favorite, although all of the beers are rock solid. Big roasty aroma, nice tan head, and a super velvety body from this Nitro infused (Nitro is tap room only, for now) stout. I got bitter chocolate and coffee notes, big and tasty but not overpowering. Ty, who was working the bar when I was there, told me they were still playing around with the gas mixture, but that they had introduced nitro to this brew and were still refining it a bit. I thought this was a top notch stout. The crowler did have some issues with pressure loss (remember, new brewery, still learning), but it was still very good.  I'll absolutely be back for more of this bad boy.
Hop Load IPA
6.2% ABV

IPA's pay the bills, I've had more than one brewer tell me this. This one will be paying them for Start Line. A clear, honey colored ale with a sweet, hoppy aroma that elicits tropical fruit, this IPA brings the hops but with a reasonable abv. I found this beer to have a light to moderate feel on the palette, and a resiny hoppy flavor that was nicely balanced with a malty sweetness. A strong debut IPA. 

Night Run Black IPA
6.3% ABV

I wrote a piece several years ago praying for the death of the Black IPA fad. 

No one listened.

And for once, I'm glad. This is a damn good beer. And I don't like black IPAs. At all.

Pouring dark black with an aroma that is as equally malty as it is hoppy, I found this beer soft in mouthfeel, with an earthy malty taste up front followed by a bitter, hoppy finish.   

There are more beers to sample at Start Line, but I'm not going to spoil it for you. Go check them out and tell me what you think.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Growler Problem

Hi, my name is Bill and I have a growler problem.

The problem is, I love them.

I buy them constantly.

And I have no space for them.

Mind you, this little issue doesn't stop me from buying them. But they are starting to pile up in my basement.

How bad is my problem?

I once ordered a six pack of growlers from the Fenway Boston Beer Works.

Yup. A six pack of growlers.

It was 1995, I think. A Friday night in early spring. I waltzed in after work and calmly ordered 6 growlers, including one of a cask beer that had to be hand pumped. (This was all for a party I was throwing that night, not all for personal consumption.)

In my defense, I was a regular there at that point of my life, the staff knew me (and my drinking buddy, Daupha) very well. We drank a lot, but we always tipped well, and we weren't demanding. But still, a six pack of growlers on a Friday night at 6pm is not a bar tenders favorite order.

I am "that guy". I love carrying around a big ass glass jug of fresh beer.

I do not know why.

But what exactly is a "growler"?

Well, as you might have gathered from the photos here, its a big glass jug of beer, typically 64 or 32 ounces- usually filled directly from the tap (there are special growler filling machines, but they are not widely used around here at the moment. Harpoon has one, it's pretty nifty to watch). A growler is best consumed within a day or two of purchase, as most are not flushed with CO2 priors to filling.  If you do purchase from a brewer who has a special filling machine, you can keep an unopened growler in the fridge for a few days.

According to The Oxford Companion To Beer, growlers came to be back  in the late 1800's, early 1900's when men sent their kids to pubs to fetch a bucket of beer for them to have with lunch. Why buckets? Because most beer back then was only avalable on draft. Pubs of the day apparently catered to the growler trade, often having a "family entrance", aka a window near the entrance where one could pick up the beer without entering the bar! These buckets had lids to prevent spillage, and apparently they made a "growling" sound created from the carbonation escaping from the beer sloshing around in a covered bucket being carried by a running child. (all so his/her father could enjoy a beer with lunch. Why didn't they teach this stuff in history class? THIS is what made America great- buckets of beer for lunch! But I digress....)

So, in closing, I like growlers.

Do you like growlers? How many are cluttering up your house?

Monday, April 25, 2016

ManDrinksBeer Turns 5!

It all started 5 years ago with this short little post.

I started this blog for two reasons:

  1. To learn about developing web content and driving traffic to it. I thought this would help me with my job in retail marketing/advertising. (It didn't. Mostly because I ended up drinking a lot of great beer, and the "content" often ended up as drunken typo filled reviews of beers that I thought were great.)                                      
  2. To give me an excuse to buy new beers. (This was a rousing success!)
I also thought that maybe I could educate people about craft beer. 

Turns out I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did. 

In these past 5 years I have learned far, far more than I've "taught". For this I am grateful. 

And I've met some truly wonderful people in the craft beer world- brewers, bloggers, bottle shop owners, other craft beer fans. "Craft beer people" are some on the nicest, kindest, friendliest people I've ever meet. For this I am also grateful.

The glass I bought on the day Jacks Abby opened in 2011
I've seen the number of local breweries positively explode. 

I remember walking into the brand new Jack's Abby brewery on Morton Street in Framingham on the day it opened in 2011.  There were two beers on tap, and Hoponius Union was NOT one of them. You could only get a sample. I recall it was Red Tape Lager and Saxony Pilsner.  I liked them both. I bought a pint glass, which I still have.

Today, a mere 5 years later, Jack's Abby has a huge, beautiful new space on Clinton Street, with 24 beautiful, full size beers on tap. And a restaurant. I go there often, and I love it.

Recently we've made some long overdue changes here at ManDrinksBeer, finally trying to spruce up the site a bit. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.  

Thank you for reading. Here's to the next 5 years!


aka ManDrinksBeer

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016- A Craft Beer Wish List

Ah, the first blog post of the new year! So much potential, so many great things happening in craft beer.  What to write about....

I've decided to make a "Wish List" of what I'd like to see in the coming year in craft beer.

So I present to you here, in absolutely no particular order- 5 things I'd like to see in the Craft Beer world in 2016.

1More Malt forward beer, (aka less IPA's)

OK, listen, I love IPA's. I really, really do. But let's be honest here folks, the craft beer world is
currently very IPA heavy.

I was recently on twitter, and saw a post from the talented beer scribe Carla Jean Lauter, (@beerbabe), where she was discussing going "IPA free" for January. I loved the concept, and decided to join in the challenge. So, I headed to my favorite local beer shop, and in searching the cooler, I saw (in my opinion) a shocking lack of Non IPA's.

Yes, there were several good, Non-IPA options available, but relative to the huge volume of IPA's in the cooler, it was rather shocking. So I checked the shelves, seeking a malty, Jack D'or type option. And I gotta say, I saw the same ratio of IPA's to Non IPA's, and I was really surprised. Again, yes, there were some, but the inventory volume seemed dramatically skewed toward IPA, I was really surprised. 

Accordingly, I submit that there is a frightening lack of stylistic diversity on some craft beer store shelves. Now look, I worked in retail for 21 years, I understand how inventory works- you stock what sells. IPA sells, I get it. So lets take some responsibility as craft beer drinkers and start broadening our horizons. Less IPA, more malty beers!

A "Crowler" of Devils Purse Brewings excellent "Handline Kolsch"
(yes, its just a big can. Buts its super cool.)
2. More Crowler's

What can I say, I totally dig the crowler. 

A 32 ounce can of awesome craft beer just feels....whats the word....hmm, ah yes- "awesome" in your hand. Hook me up!

3. Fewer attacks on Craft Beer Drinkers by AB-InBev

I suspect this is a pipe dream, but it would really help my blood pressure if the big brewers just stopped with the childish attack ads on craft beer drinkers. It's bad PR, poor advertising, and really demonstrates an ignorance (or refusal to admit) of why they are losing market share so rapidly.  

4. More Session Beer.

Maybe its my age (I turn 42 today! Anybody want to grab a beer? I'm off), but the dearth of low abv brews is starting to be an issue for me. While I enjoy a hearty 10% abv barrel aged brew as much as anyone, I simply don't want it all the time. I want more beer with abvs in the 4 and 5's. So basically, I just need to drink more Notch.

5. Distribution Reform for our Brewers

This is a big one, and especially significant in light of the recent ruling in Boston that found a distributor guilty of paying for tap lines. This is widespread, accepted, and nearly impossible to police. And its costing brewers money. Our alcohol laws are in desperate, desperate need of updating to reflect the 21st century world we live in. As craft beer drinkers, we need to get involved in this fight and create a level, fair playing field for our brewers to get their product to market.