Drink Craft Beer
Outside of Boston, I’m probably in the White Mountains up in New Hampshire more than anywhere else. I’m not going to claim to be Mr. Outdoorsy but, that said, I definitely enjoy a bit of hiking, skiing, camping, etc...and the White Mountains have plenty of that. You know what else outdoorsy places often have, though? Beer! The same people who like to do all those things I just listed also like to drink a good beer after they’re done, so inevitably places spring up to serve that need. There’s plenty of them up in the White Mountains but I always find myself near, and so frequent, the Woodstock Inn Brewery in Woodstock, NH. With hearty grub in the restaurant, great beer, a cask usually tapped and a ton of outdoor space in the warmer months, it’s easy to keep coming back.
Situated up in the White Mountains, Woodstock puts out beers that will satisfy the outdoors crowd after a day of hiking/skiing/snowshoeing/what have you...and with the deep caramel-copper color of Thru Hiker, you know this one will satiate you as you hike through! A big, cappuccino head needs just a minute to settle down into a super-thick, creamy topper to the beer.
You can smell some piney hops from this one the second you start pouring, and those don’t go away. Not many people think of Woodstock as putting out big, hoppy beers...and this one still isn’t huge...but they’ve definitely shown they know how to utilize the hops between this and 4000'er IPA. Behind the hops you’ll find some spicy rye notes that go great with the pine and a neutral-ish, if not slightly earthy, English yeast signature.
Taking my first sip I think, “Yep, I’d be more than happy to hike through this place and get this beer!” And I’d know! As a regular to the White Mountains and the area around where Woodstock is located, I’ve settled down for a pint or two after a day of being outside more times than I can remember. It’s got a creamy, full mouthfeel that doesn’t leave you thinking you’ve got yourself a weak beer. This has some sustenance to it! The hops are strong and bitter, but in balance with a significant bit of sweet, doughy malt. The rye kicks a bit of spice into the mid-palate, again complementing the piney hop flavors well!
All in all this is a great beer to sit and drink, either at the bar inside or out on their fantastic patio when the weather allows!
Drinking craft beer is a unique experience for everyone. All of our palates are different, and they continue to grow and change over time. We may choose to have a craft beer at a bar, a restaurant, or in the comfort of our own homes. How we experience drinking craft beer can be based on who we're with and what we're drinking as well as when, where, and why we are doing so. As we experience more, we learn more about the craft beer we enjoy, including how it's made.
Brewing is both an art and a science. There is a good amount of chemistry and engineering involved in making craft beer along with a great deal of creativity and imagination. Many people first try their hands at homebrewing to make beer for themselves as well as their family and friends. Yet, many people don't get to experience brewing due to the time, money, and space it requires. That's where Hopsters comes in.
The front entrance to Hopsters, located at 292 Centre Street in Newton, Massachusetts.
Hopsters opened in September of 2013 as a place for people to come and brew their own craft beer. Using one of Hopsters' 10 kettles, aspiring brewers are able to choose from over 30 recipes, gather a variety of local ingredients, and begin brewing their beer while being guided by Hopsters' brewmasters. Once the brewing process is complete, they can either return to bottle the beer and add their own custom labels or have the folks at Hopsters do it for them and have it delivered. Of course, the most satisfying part is when they are able to drink the craft beer that they hand-crafted themselves.
Since its opening, Hopsters has become much more than simply a place to brew craft beer. It now has a full bar offering a wide and rotating selection of craft beers from the area on tap. It also offers both lunch and dinner options in the form of soups, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, as well as boards featuring charcuterie meats and artisanal cheeses. Most recently, Hopsters received its commercial brewing license, making it the first commercial brewery to be located in Newton since the 1600s! This has allowed Hopsters to begin offering its own hand-crafted beers on tap and to have a distributor send their beers to select restaurants, bars, and stores.
After hearing this exciting news, I had to get a better idea of what the Hopsters experience was like. So, I traveled out to Newton to meet with the owner of Hopsters, Lee Cooper. After taking a look around, I sat down with him to talk about the past, present, and future of Hopsters.
Way back in the blustery days of February I had the pleasure of meeting up with two-thirds of Downeast Cider House: Ross Brockman, Co-Founder/Admiral of the Market/Carpenter, and Tyler Mosher, Co-Founder/Chief of Selling/Electrician (unfortunately Ben Manter, Co-Founder/Master of Fermentation/Plumber wasn’t able to join us). When they aren’t creating & fulfilling their crazy titles, these three are more than busy growing their unfiltered craft cider house which launched in early 2012, producing their juicy flagship offering, Downeast Original Blend with a second addition to the lineup due later this summer. Here’s what Tyler and Ross shared with Drink Craft Beer.
Drink Craft Beer: So guys, how did Downeast Cider come to be?
Tyler Mosher: My dad knew Ben [Manter, co-founder] grew up on an apple orchard and that the three of us didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do after school except NOT a desk job & he casually said, "Oh why don’t you guys start a hard cider company?" We probably took it far more seriously than he intended, ha ha. Basically a few weeks after that we started homebrewing ciders.
Ross Brockman: Tyler had to write a senior thesis soon after his dad’s comment and decided to write his senior thesis on hard cider basically. We formed the company in April (2011) and moved up to Waterville, Maine full time in August (2011) to work on it.
Downeast Founders from right to left: Tyler Mosher, Ben Manter & Ross Brockman
(Image used with permission of Downeast Cider House)
DCB: What was your experience with hard ciders before that?
Ross: We actually started to experience cider more abroad. Ben and I were down at the World Cup in South Africa and we would go out to the bars and there was always lots of hard cider being drank. With that we learned what we enjoyed and [what we] didn’t and what we were looking to make. One way some big companies do it is to use apple concentrate and add water and we wanted our cider to be kind of in the ballpark of what it’s like to drink fresh cider at the Manter’s orchard. We all know the difference between drinking Mott’s Apple Juice and fresh cider from a farm stand. Our goal was to make our cider the real apple flavor, not the “Motts” of cider. The aroma is distinctly like the apple fruit, not like green apple Jolly Rancher “apple” flavor. That was our goal, and we use real, fresh ingredients and not the shortcut.
DCB: Speak of your flagship offering, tell us more about your Original Blend.
Tyler: Our Original Blend is straight down the middle, not too dry, not too sweet, a decent body – it’s unfiltered. Just a true apple taste, the yeast is a lot of flavor too. We use an ale yeast to brew with.
Ross: Typically lots of hard ciders are made with champagne yeast which makes it a lot drier, more like champagne. But using the ale yeast was part of our goal of making this be more of an alternative to beer and the way it drinks than drinking a champagne with that dryness. One of the reasons I love Allegash White is that it has that yeast flavor that I look for, really drinkable.
Tyler: We use a combination of Cortland, MacIntosh, Red Delicious and Gala.
DCB: Having starting just this year how has it gone so far?
Ross: We wouldn’t say smooth sailing but nothing too crazy. I mean if it was easy to start a company everyone would be starting up companies. How much everything cost was a shock. We’ve come to the conclusion that everything costs double what you expect it to cost.
Tyler Mosher with the multiple test batches that led to Original Blend.
(Image used with permission of Downeast Cider House)
DCB: It’s got to be exciting the first time you see your cider out at a bar or restaurant.
Tyler: First time we saw a tap handle at a bar [with our cider] we had gone to the local bar because we were being interviewed by a local paper and they were documenting it - pretty exciting and nerve - wracking. It’s been received well, which is great.
Ross: Pretty funny story. We started pouring that first day and the paper was interviewing these few regulars who spend all day at the bar since they were the only other people [there] at that time. So we come to find out that after that first day, these guys have switched over from drinking Bud all day to drinking our cider. We go through sooo much cider at this place because these four guys drink it all day long; one guy was telling us he feels cleaner & better drinking it. That is the local bar, we lived down the street - it’s definitely fun to see.
DCB: We always love to hear different food & drink suggestions, what have you discovered with Downeast Cider?
Tyler: For food, cider is great in marinades and sauces as a starting point. It’s also a great gluten-free alternative for anything you might use beer in for cooking or baking.
Ross: There is a big population with gluten-free needs due to illness or even personal diet preference; we’re happy to offer them a great option. Cider goes with everything! Apple is a great base and so it is hard to find something that DOESN’T go with cider. [For drinks] Fireball whiskey is a big one with cider, really good. Honey, wine – all are great twist to it.
[Writer’s note: Downeast has a whole page dedicated to different cider beverages check it out or create & submit one of your own.]
DCB: Thanks for sharing with us Ross & Tyler, can’t wait to see what Downeast brings in the future. Cheers!
[Since the Interview: Exciting news for Downeast Cider (and us Massachusetts residents), as of May 1st their cider is available in Massachusetts and they're finalizing paperwork for New Hampshire. As we hear where to find their delicious cider, we will be sure to pass that on to all of you via our Twitter and our Facebook page, or follow Downeast Cider on Twitter and Facebook to get their latest updates as well.
Also, Downeast Cider will now be at Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale! They're making a special cider fermented with Saison yeast just for the event, so you're definitely not going to want to miss this! Get tickets here.]
Summer is officially here, as we rung in the new season this week with some truly hot weather! And what better way to celebrate than by sampling over 80 summery beers and farmhouse ales at Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale?! And this year we've got a way to win your way in, as well as something new and special for you!
B. Good Shandy Station
This year we're introducing the all-new B. Good Shandy Station for Drink Craft Beer Summerfest! We've long been proponents of the shandy, a mixture of craft beer and lemonade, and this year we're putting our money where our mouth is.
Longtime friend of Drink Craft Beer, B. Good, will be supplying both plain lemonade as well as rosemary lemonade for your mixing pleasure. (B. Good's lemonade is made with the same craftmanship that craft beer is, using only fruit juice, water, pure can sugar and fresh herbs in the rosemary lemonade's case.) Take any beer at Drink Craft Beer Summerfest and turn it into a shandy! Or, as we like to say, #GetShandied!
To help you get in the mood for 160+ possible shandy combos (80+ beers/siders and two types of lemonade), we're giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky person. That person will be able to attend a session of their choice where they'll have the chance to sample over 80 beers and ciders from 25 New England Brewers, as well as turn anything they want into a shandy.
How to Enter Contest is Over Entering is easy, just send a tweet on Twitter! There are two ways: OR Just tweet the following: "I want 2 tix to #GetShandied w/ @B_Good_ & 80 New England beers/ciders: http://ctt.ec/cfO9D+ Tix at: http://ctt.ec/9dad0+ #DCBSummerfest" Even if you don't win, you can always get tickets to Drink Craft Beer Summerfest. It's a great chance to beat the summer heat, relax with friends and enjoy some of the best craft beer New England has to offer.
The Fine Print:
- Contest closes at 8pm EDT Thursday, June 19th
- You must be 21+ to enter.
- Winner will be chosen at random.
- Winner will choose from one of three sessions on July 18th or 19th
- If you have already bought tickets and win, you'll be credited the price of two tickets on your original order.
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It's arguable that our menacingly delicious HopDevil has always been "wild." Though the India Pale Ale style that he represents was born in Great Britain, we approached the style with German malts and whole flower American hops, making a unique ale of him, indeed. But what has made him truly wild is a change of yeast. Brettanomyces yeast has given many a Belgian ale its soulful character of sharp tang and deep funk. Fermented completely with brettanomyces, WildDevil features the greatest flavors of Europe and America combined. Floral, aromatic hops still leap from this amber ale, but a whole host of new flavors are intertwined with the citrus and pine flavors of these hops, making WildDevil a sensation that is wild, worldly and wonderful!
We had a chance to try this beer last summer at the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston and WOW! The 100% brettanomyces fermentation does not give it that traditional brett character! It's citrusy and clean and bright! The yeast definitely works great with the hops and the two meld to form some great flavors. If this is the same thing they had on tap there, then this is one delicious beer that we can't wait for!