Drink Craft Beer
If you're thinking of joining a beer of the month club you've found the right place. Each month we review a beer of the month club shipment to give you an idea of what you really get. This month Gourmet Monthly Clubs sends us a local (to us) favorite, Ipswich Brewing Company. Ipswich has been brewing for 20 years now and puts out some of the most delicious brews in New England. They're definitely one to look out for, and we're stoked to have Gourmet Monthly Clubs send it to us this month!
Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere De Garde
Appearance: Garde Dog pours a crystal clear light amber with a fluffy white head. While the head is shorter than expected, it’s there and puffy for sure.
Smell: This one smells Belgian! Yeast is the prominent player in this brew, and that’s perfect for style. While it’s a French-style biere de garde, it definitely smells quite a bit like a Belgian-style saison (which is fine, as the styles are close cousins and overlap quite frequently). Yeasty phenolics, light banana and a little pepper come through, with a pale, lightly bready malt as a backdrop.
Taste: While the smell is Belgian, the taste is definitely French! This is more malt forward than the more popular Belgian cousin and finishes a little sweeter. The malt is a little earthy, while the beer transitions to finish a with a light banana flavor. To finish off the review, look out for a little spiciness from the rye malt that the crazy buggers over at Flying Dog threw into this one...it’s not traditional, but rye makes everything better!
Ipswich Brewing Company Original Ale
Appearance: Ipswich Original Ale pours a mildly hazy amber with just a tinge of orange. A bone-white head forms about two inches tall on top, but recedes to a couple of millimeters where it seems to stay almost indefinitely.
Smell: Well, it’s an “Original Ale.” What did you expect it to smell like? It smells like beer. A little malt, a little hops and some yeast...but somehow that simple combo smells delicious!
Taste: Mild hop bitterness and a clean malt character start the beer out deliciously! It has a light, but not thin body, resinous hops that are somehow not bitter or even strong in flavor and a dry finish. This is the beer you want when you just want a beer!
Now, some may accuse us of favoritism on this one as Ipswich Brewing Company is one of our local favorites, but let us tell you that they live up to anything we say about how good they are. Ipswich has been putting out delicious beers under the radar for years now, but only recently have people really started to take notice. So be happy you got this delicious local favorite from Gourmet Monthly Clubs...and if your live somewhere that you can get Ipswich, go pick up a six-pack. It’s all good, but in addition to this month’s package, we have to recommend the Oatmeal Stout as well!
Flying Dog Road Dog Porter
Appearance: Road Dog pours a clear, dark brown. When you hold it up the light you’ll see that it also has some very dark, brick red tones to it. A surprisingly light foam springs up and that heads sits at two fingers for quite a while.
Smell: This beer smells a bit like bitter chocolate with notes of coffee beans. You also get a bit of bitter, almost acrid (but in a good way) aroma from the black malt that the brewers added.
Taste: When you look at this beer you can get a good idea of how it will taste. Many porters are pitch black and you gets bitter, roasty black malt flavors. This one is much lighter and, accordingly, the flavors are a bit sweeter and you even get a little prune out of it. There is some malt bitterness on the finish but, for the most part, this is a super-interesting, if non-traditional, take on the style.
Ipswich Brewing Company IPA
Appearance: Ipswich IPA pours a rich orange and ruby body with a slight haze and a craggy, taupe head that just seems to hang around forever getting rockier and rockier.
Smell: With the pour so came the aromas of hops that permeated the room. Ipswich somehow coaxes an herbal hop aroma out of the Cascade hops they use in their interpretation of an IPA. At the same time, you get malt that is more than a hops delivery device, it provides a backbone and structure that makes this beer so much more interesting than just hop juice.
Taste: Aaaaaaaand this is why this is one of our favorite, if not significantly underrated, IPAs! It has the bitterness and IBUs that make you feel like the enamel is being stripped off your teeth, but the malt to balance out the beer a bit and give it some intrigue. This beer does not get the hype it deserves; it’s without a doubt one of the best IPAs to emerge from the East Coast (or anywhere) in the craft beer movement. As we mentioned, Ipswich is a local brewery and we feel that it’s our duty to alert those not lucky enough to have tried this beer to it’s deliciousness! This is the reason that clubs like Gourmet Monthly Clubs is so great, they find the delicious local beers you’d never otherwise be able to try!
The latest brewer to be a part of our 5 Questions series, Night Shift Brewing, is also one of the breweries coming to Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale! On July 13 & 14 we'll showcase 70+ Farmhouse Ales and summer beers from 25 New England breweries! Get your tickets now!
With so many new breweries starting up these days it's increasingly hard to stand out in the crowd. Night Shift has managed to do just that by creating some fantastically interesting beers. It's hard to live in the Boston area without hearing something about these guys, and for good reason. We'll admit we approached some of their beers with a bit of apprehension at first but were quickly converted to believers at first sip. With beers like Bee Tea (made with orange blossom honey and green tea), Viva Habanera (rye ale brewed with agave nectar and habanero peppers) and Somer Weisee (a sour with lemon grass and ginger) it's clear these guys are taking on some completely new flavors. But here's the thing, every single one of their beers is an exercise in restraint. Viva Habanera, while having some slight spice, is incredibly balanced and you could easily drink a pint or two. Somer Weise? Well that's easily one of my new favorite beers, the ginger comes out just enough, the lemongrass ads amazing citrus character and it's just sour enough to be tart but won't give you "sour beer face". Enough with the praise from me though, lets get on to the good stuff and see what Michael Oxton and Rob Burns, two of the three founders of Night Shift, have to say about their beer. When you're done reading check out the pictures from our visit to Night Shift
From Left to Right: Michael O'Mara, Michael Oxton, Rob Burns
Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?
Drink Craft Beer: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?
Drink Craft Beer: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.
Rob: This is obviously a really tough question. There are so many amazing beers out today that I can never really narrow down my favorites. My ideal 6 pack would include some aged beers and some fresh ones.
1. Cantillon Vignerrone
2. J.W. Lees 1999 Harvest Ale - this aged barleywine is one of my favorite beers of all time
3. Drie Fontaine Kriek
4. Six point Bengali Tiger IPA
5. Rochefort 10
6. Russian River Beautification
Drink Craft Beer: You have one night in your favorite beer city. What city are you in and where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?
Rob: I haven't been to some of the best beer cities in the US like Portland, OR or Asheville, NC, so I can't really pick those. But I would probably pick Philadelphia, PA. I grew up just north of the city, and regularly return. I would visit some of the great local breweries like Yard's Brewing and Nodding Head Brewpub. I would then head to Eulogy for their amazing Belgian beer selection. Afterwards, I would check out my new favorite beer bar, The Farmer's Cabinet, whose selection has so many breweries I have never even heard of. They have an amazing choice of Italian, Dutch, Swiss and other European craft breweries...not to mention a ton of vintage beers. I would probably end the night in a smaller bar like Good Dog or Devil's Den, which both have a chill atmosphere and solid beer selection.
Drink Craft Beer: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?
Drink Craft Beer: Where do you see the craft beer industry going in the next year? And, in that vein, can we get a sneak peak at what new to expect from you in the coming year?
Rob: It's a very interesting time for craft beer. I think a lot of the bigger craft breweries have very ambitious expansion plans. At the same time, there seems to be a shift towards buying local and supporting local businesses. So, I think there's room both for local breweries to continue growing, and for new ones to pop up. It's exciting, and, as a consumer, I'm loving the variety.
Drink Craft Beer: What’s your “Last Supper” of food and beer? Pick up to three dishes and the beers that you think go best with them.
Drink Craft Beer: You can brew any beer you like, no matter the cost and consumer demand, what would you make and what dream ingredients would you use?
Rob: Night Shift Brewing is only a three person company, and there is really nothing off-limits to what we'll consider brewing. I am a huge fan of fruit beers - not the fake, sweet, syrupy types, but more of the Belgian tradition, like lambics. So I hope to brew those beers styles fairly soon. I would love to brew a beer with Star Fruit or Dragon Fruit. They both have such unique flavors, but would be very costly to brew with. If money AND time aren't a factor, then we'll start talking hard-to-find barrels...
Living in New England has its perks. Boston, our homebase, has a vibrant and growing craft beer scene, delicious restaurants, and great access to the outdoors only a short drive away. Beyond that, though, we’re close to several other cities with their own, independent epicurian delights. Of those, we’ve found ourselves in Portland, ME the most over the past few years. Recently Devon and I took a trip up there to visit some of our brewer friends, make some new ones...oh, yeah, and to eat awesome food and drink delicious beer we don’t get in Boston, yet is made only a few hours away. While up there, we hit one of the many stores in downtown with a solid craft beer selection and picked up a few gifts for ourselves. One of these was Bull Jager Portland Lager.
Whoa! OK, so first and foremost, as you’re pouring this bad boy of a lager, watch your head...or, rather, its head. It’s big, puffy and white and it’ll come out of nowhere to overflow your glass. It took me 5 minutes to pour this beer, even pouring gently you’ll get more bubble than liquid, then you have to let it settle. The good news? The craggy, cream-colored head makes the crystal clear, golden beer look oh so good!
As a beer of this style should, the smell is muted with mild biscuity malt tones and just the lightest touch of that not-quite-sulfury smell that often comes with a good lager. The “lager funk,” we call it. This smells like it’d be good after a hard time shoveling snow (as I’m about to do) or after mowing the lawn come summer.
And just as I expected, this is one of those beers I could drink all day long. The malt is a serious presence, rich, smooth and grainy with a touch of toasted bread crust. There’s enough bitterness just to keep it from being sweet. Surprisingly, it coats your mouth in a way I didn’t expect, filling every last bit with a surprisingly full-flavored brew. For real, Portland, ME is doing everything well, from Belgian-styles on through to German lagers.
On Saturday, February 2, 2013 Taza Chocolate let us take over their factory store for the second time to benefit The Greater Boston Food Bank. We were completely floored by the response that we got from our wonderful community; many of you waited over an hour to get inside while temperatures outside dipped into the low twenties. With nearly 700 attendees coming through the door and proceeds from Roxy's Grilled Cheese's chocolate-covered bacon grilled cheese sandwiches we raised $3,600, doubling the proceeds from 2012! That's enough money for The Greater Boston Food Bank to provide 8,496 meals to those in need. Pretty epic!
With that in mind, we want to thank each and every one of you for coming out, for braving the cold and for being a part of this great event!
The line before the doors opened. You can't see it, but it went all the way to the
end of the block, turned the corner, then half way down the next block.
The line for Roxy's Grilled Cheese...luckily the line to get into the event was right in front of the truck!
Of course, we couldn't have done it without our wonderful event sponsors either, all of whom donated their time and products. So we'd like to give a special thanks to:
- Taza Chocolate - Our hosts, for donating their space and their chocolate.
- Advanced Protection Services - For donating security services for the event.
- Backlash Beer Company - For donating their Famine Tripel Ale.
- Ipswich Ale Brewery - For donating their Rye Porter.
- Narragansett Brewing Co. - For donating their Bock.
- Roxy's Grilled Cheese - For donating a dollar for every chocolate-covered bacon grilled cheese sold.
- Slumbrew - For donating their My Better Half Imperial Cream Ale (and some bonus Porter Square Porter).
Again, thanks to everyone involved, from the attendees to the event sponsors! We could not have done it without any of you! We look forward to seeing you all again!
The first attendees in the door finally get some beer and chocolate. They got here an hour before the event!
The end of the line: inside the Taza Chocolate Factory Store after trying all four pairings.
Belgian-Style Saison Ale
Golden in color with a fresh hoppiness and a wild and rustic Brettanomyces character, this saison of Spring is perfect for warmer weather and Easter celebrations.
Our Spring Saison will evolve over time; chelan and hoppy when fresh, and drier with earthy, wild notes when aged up to two years. Best stored and cellared about 55 degrees F in a dark place. Ideal serving temperature is 50 degrees F. Please pour carefully, leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bottle. Best served in a tulip or wine glass.