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Phantom Gourmet: Hopsters In Newton

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NEWTON – Lee Cooper grew up in Liverpool, England and he’s enjoyed pints for beer from all over the world. Now he’s created a one-of-a-kind combination in Newton: a do-it-yourself brew house, craft beer bar and neighborhood restaurant, called Hopsters.

“We’re in the business of letting people know where the beer comes from. You can come in and you can make beer. You can drink beer. You can eat great food. So we’re sort of a custom craft brewery, where you come in and you make the beer that you love to drink.

“We have 30 recipes, 30 different styles of beer. And when they come in, they sit down with a brew master, he figures out what kind of beer they want to make, which is basically what beer they love to drink, and then we go through the process.”

Dan Andelman of the Phantom Gourmet decided to do just that. First, he picked his beer from the beer book: the Hopster Triple Bourbon Oaked India Pale Ale.

Along with his brew master, he headed off to the ingredient room where they collected, measured, cranked and crushed the steeping grains. That gets tied up in an oversized tea bag, and then brought over to the kettles for a bit of a boil.

“In there is malted barley grains, and it’s really for flavor as well as color,” the brew master explained.

Next came the 18 pounds of malt extract, which by the way, tastes amazing; like a combination of butterscotch, caramel and maple syrup.

For the combination of bitterness, flavor and aroma, they chose three distinct styles of hops, and the brew master explained the next steps.

“We’re going to take out our steeping grains, bring it to a light boil. We’re going to stir in our extract and our bittering hops. Then we’re going to boil for a half hour.”

While you’re waiting for your beer to boil, you can grab yourself a nice little lunch. They do Ploughman’s boards, basically butcher blocks with awesome artisan meats. They’re made right up the road at Moody’s Delicatessen in Waltham. You have salamis, prosciutto, braciole, and knockwurst.

Of course, if you’re drinking good beer, you want to have some good cheese. Strongly-flavored, ultra creamy cheeses, some nuts, even a little cinnamon pecan swirl bread, delicious with a nice beer.

Is there any more classic combination than pretzels and beer? Hopsters serves big, beautiful, buttery pretzels, nice salt on the outside, with actual beer mustard for dipping. Or even better: bacon jam.

For a more substantial meal, get the pastrami sandwich: hand-made artisan pastrami, beer mustard and sauerkraut.

After the meal, it’s time to check back in on the brew. Time to chill it down and add the yeast. Then it’s ready to ferment.

Two week later you come back to bottle your beer, cap it, label it and take it home.

“Most of the people who come here have never made beer before and are new to the interest and excitement around craft beer,” Cooper said. “All our beer at Hopsters is guaranteed to come out phenomenal. If you don’t like it, we’ll re-brew it for you again at no extra cost.”

“You don’t take a class here. It’s really about coming in, getting the experience, and just having a lot of fun, having a few beers and experience what local beers in Massachusetts have to offer.”

You can find Hopsters at 292 Centre Street in Newton and online at hopsters.net.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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