Monday, August 5, 2013

The Playground of Delicious Beer (finishing up my New England adventures)

My "bonus day" in Massachusetts allowed me to go to a brewpub and a beer bar in Cambridge, and a brewery in Everett.
Why yes, I AM!
(Sign outside Lord Hobo.)

After finishing up the Beer Bloggers Conference (which you can read about here, here, here, here, and here) I trekked over to meet my friend Doug in Davis Square in Somerville, where so many past shenanigans in my life had occurred. Most of the shenanigans involved Redbones, where I really honed my beer nerdliness back in the day. (I know I mentioned it briefly in my previous post, but it bears some expansion here). I started with Element Brewing's Lavender Extra Special Oak, which was.. well, there was a lot going on. It was an English Strong Ale (like a pumped up ESB) brewed with lavender and aged on oak. So it had this malty, floral, oaky thing going on. I finished my LESO happily, but was satisfied with a 10 oz. pour of it. 

the Southern Tier cask
(my friend Doug was able to score one before it kicked)
Next up was Ithaca Brewing's Flower Power IPA. A well balanced, refreshing, East-coast style IPA. Incredibly easy to quench your thirst with. Redbones had a cask of Southern Tier 2XIPA, but it kicked before I had a chance to have one. I cheered myself up with a Hoponius Union lager from a new (well, new since I left anyway) brewery in Framingham, MA called Jack's Abby Brewing that brews only lagers - oh, but what lagers they are. After a few beers and enormous plates of meat, we called it a day, and drove back to Everett (a couple towns over from Somerville) and chilled out watching Dr. Katz and Archer.

The following day, Doug was at work, so I took the bus out to Cambridge to get some lunch and drink some beer at another one of my favorite stomping grounds, the Cambridge Brewing Company. One of the oldest brewpubs in the country, it continues to produce incredibly diverse and delicious beers. It's even begun distributing their beer in bottles, which you can find at Stein's (a wonderful discovery of mine a few months back.)

I think this was Hay is for Horses
I started with a Mind Left Body, a session IPA hopped with Centennial hops on cask. After that, I had the CBC2, which was a collaboration that Cambridge Brewing Company did with local craft beer store Craft Beer Cellar. It was basically a hoppy HefeWeizen, with the spice from the yeast and the rye in the grain bill, and citrusy hops blending with the fruit notes of the Hefe yeast. I enjoyed it. After that was the craziest beer I had ever heard of... Hay Is For Horses.  Here's the description on the website:
Anders Kissmeyer (Kissmeyer Beer and Brewing Project, Copenhagen, Denmark)) and Yvan de Baets (Brasserie de la Senne, Brussels, Belgium) joined us to produce a Nordic history-inspired pale ale using oats and gruit herbs. We were also inspired by our good friend, local farmer Andy Carbone, to incorporate locally grown, sweet alfalfa hay. 
Using a grain bill of pale and Munich malt as well as malted and flaked oats, the hay was added to the mash in hopes it would lend a subtle fresh grassiness. Hops are kept to a minimum, adding balance to the herbs yarrow and heather, both of which had historical precedence in Nordic brewing traditions. Also employed in this brew was a small amount of heather honey, harvested from hives on the Danish island of FanØ in the North Sea and adding just a delicate floral note to the beer’s aroma.
While ordinarily we would have used our house Belgian yeast, Yvan recommended our English yeast strain instead, allowing the focus of the beer to be on its refreshing floral and herbal notes. We were also pleasantly surprised to find an incredible creaminess to the body of this beer. Despite it finishing extremely dry, it exhibits a richness and smooth palate that makes this complex but delicate beer very quaffable.
I swear, it sounds like it shouldn't work, but it totally does!

The sign of awesome

Working brewpub!
My next beer was their Jack Straw, a barrel-fermented 100% Brettanomyces sour ale, which was created by fermenting their flagship Regatta Golden beer with 2 strains of Brett in oak barrels. It was very tart and light, with bright fruit notes. Really nice to drink on a warm day. And my final beer at the CBC was the Bachelor's Buttons, which was a traditionally brewed saison with plenty of hops and rye malt. Also a fantastic beer. Sitting at the bar at the CBC, whiling the afternoon away with one amazing beer after another, really made me feel like I was home.

Lord Hobo's mesmerizing taps and glasses
When Lord Hobo up the road opened at 4:30, I decided it would be good to get some fresh air and check some different beers out. I ambled up Hampshire Street and got there just as it opened. I started with an American Bitter on cask called "Beer for Badgers" brewed by a nanobrewery out in Lowell called Enlightenment Ales. Great cask beer, I really enjoyed it.



Then I checked out another tiny brewery, this one in Fort Point on the Boston waterfront, called Trillium Brewing Company. I discovered my One True Beer, called Little Rooster, an absolutely delicious rye pale ale. So very much in my wheelhouse. I even had a second one after I tried Notch Brewing's Left of the Dial session IPA (which was also excellent.) My friend Doug met me at Lord Hobo for a couple of these beers, and when we were finished, we headed back to Everett with the intent to visit a small brewery there called Night Shift Brewing.


Owls are cool!

Tap room/counter

The barrels where all the magic happens
Despite the warehouse atmosphere, Night Shift had a great little tasting bar, where we tried: a white stout called Snow; Viva Habanera, a rye ale brewed with agave nectar and aged on habanero peppers;  Oasis Belgian style IPA brewed with Cascade hops, coriander, and cardamom; Bee Tea wheat ale brewed with honey and aged on loose green tea; a Honeydew Saison; their Ever Weisse Berliner Weisse aged on strawberries, kiwis, and hibiscus, which I had had previously at the speed blogging event on Saturday but definitely enjoyed very much again; and SimcoeNation, the latest offering in their Nation of Hops series, a 100% Simcoe-hopped Belgian double IPA.

I could go on and on about specifically how great all their beers were, how thoughtful, creative, and well-executed they were, but this blog post's long enough. My advice though - if someone offers you the opportunity to try Night Shift's beer, take it!

So these were my wanderings in my old hometown and former haunts. I'll always be homesick for great New England beer, but that's something that can be easily resolved by getting some shipped down to me!

2 comments:

  1. Nora,

    Could you please email me at thepourfool(at)gmail.com? I'm working on a new project that you would be great for.

    Thanks!

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  2. P.S.: I write the blog "The Pour Fool" for the Seattle P-I. I don't know why google labeled me "unknown".

    ReplyDelete