This winter, CBS Boston told you about Local Beers You May Not Have Heard Of… Yet. The goal was to introduce novice and casual craft beer drinkers to some local brews that may be a bit off their radar but definitely worth trying. For the Spring edition, we decided to reach out to some experts on this subject. Drink Craft Beer holds beer festivals aimed at pleasing a wide audience – beer aficionados and novices alike – while focusing exclusively on suds from New England breweries.
“They’re meant to be fun while helping attendees learn about beer and the great local brewers in our area. Additionally, we give back to the beer community as 10% of all profits go back to the brewers. In this way, Drink Craft Beers really helps Make Craft Beer,” Drink Craft Beer co-founder Jeff Wharton told us. Since their SpringFest is coming up next month, they’ve already done the leg work. All of the beers on the list are (or will soon be) available at many local liquor stores. So, here are 7 Mass. Craft Brews You May Not Have Heard Of That Novices And Experts Can Both Enjoy (as picked by Drink Craft Beer):
The ABCs Double India Pale Lager
Jack’s Abby was featured in the last round of “Local Beers…” And while the goal is to introduce you to new local brews, there are exceptions to the rule. This two-year-old brewery has come onto the scene like gangbusters. And as the brewery sponsor of Drink Craft Beer’s upcoming SpringFest: A Celebration of Hops – in Wharton’s words – “We were too excited about this one not to include it!”
This beer packs over 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel, which, by the way, are grown on the brewers’ family farm in Vermont. Despite the heavy dose of hops, you aren’t getting the enamel stripping bitterness of some hoppy beers. Instead, it holds a delightfully balanced citrus hop flavor. Also, since lagers have a cleaner aroma than ales, you’ll really be able to smell those delicious hops. At 7.5%, it’s got a bit of a kick to it, but it’s not so powerful that it’ll knock you over.
Whale’s Tale Pale Ale
Making its home on Nantucket, the Cisco Brewery is just a short ferry ride away. It’s a great place to check out during the summer. They have something for everyone on site — the brewery, a winery and a distillery! Cisco’s Whale’s Tale Pale Ale has a big, fruity aroma from the hops, but a balanced flavor that is crisp and refreshing at 5.6%. While it’s still available in bottles, Cisco completes the island summer feel with a bright blue can – perfect for taking to the beach, camping, or wherever your travels may lead.
Clown Shoes Beer
Years ago we were introduced by the beer guy at a local liquor store to a new local beer they had in called Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA. Since then, Clown Shoes has blown up in popularity and has more beers than we can count on the market. One brew that still sticks with us is their Clementine Witbier, a Belgian-style witbier crafted with sweet orange peel and coriander. Fermented with Belgian yeast and unfiltered, it’s a hazy, spiced smelling beer and a style often ignored by craft brewers. This is another one that everyone can enjoy.
Illumination Farmhouse IPA
Enlightenment founder Ben Howe started out washing kegs at Cambridge Brewing Co. He worked his way up to assistant brewer, training under one of the most respected brewers in the country. This beer shows that he’s truly come into his own. It was one of DCB’s top 12 new beers of 2012. If you’re a fan of saison or IPA styles, then you’ll love this beer. Tropical hops flavors and spicy, dry, yeasty notes come together in a way that makes you wonder, “Is this beer? Or is this art?” ABV: 6.8%
Notch Brewing Company
Notch Brewing brews up what the beer brass refers to as “session beer.” What it means is that all of their styles are extremely light on alcohol content, but still pack a delightful flavor, allowing you to enjoy more of it before your taste buds start to fade. Notch Saison is another DCB award winner – in the top 11 new beers of 2011. Originally Notch’s summer seasonal, it sold so well that it’s been elevated to year-round status and put into six packs…which you should be very happy about! Drier than a brick oven – but much more refreshing — it utilizes a mix of grains to provide a flavorful backdrop for the spicy yeast. Saison is what Belgian farmhands used to drink and this example of the style is sure to show you why. ABV: 3.8%
The Tap Brewing Co.
Leather Lips IPA
Leather Lips is a flavorful, super hoppy beer that can be enjoyed several at a time. In fact, this might just be Massachusetts’ original session beer. With a bitter upfront bite the turns into a bready body with some honey and apricot that’s as much from the smell as the taste. ABV: 5.0%
Wachusett Brewing Co.
Wachusett IPA is one of those beers that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The majority of people haven’t caught on yet about how good it is. And that’s fine, as it just means more for us! Cascade hops give the beer a great floral, citrusy aroma. A hazy golden copper and moderate bitterness, each pour should come with a warning: you’ll be pouring another soon. This is one to drink with friends, mainly because we’re certain all of them are going to enjoy it – beer lovers and beer novices alike. Inside secret: the Wachusett staff calls the IPA “Purple,” because of its purple label. ABV: 5.6%