Friday, September 3, 2010

BrewEngland visits: Mayflower Brewing Company

Last weekend Sarah and I, along with our friends Andy and Meaghan, were scheduled to check out the site of our wedding, set for next year at Camp Kiwanee in Hanson, MA; so, we decided it was a good time to (finally) make a trip to Mayflower Brewing Company’s facility in Plymouth, MA. Camp Kiwanee is only about 30 minutes or so from Plymouth, so we figured would stop at the British Beer Company in Pembroke first, and then head over to the brewery. Not as if we needed an excuse to visit another brewery, but we figured we'd make a day out of it!

Mayflower's flagship beer

I should preface that we were already big fans of Mayflower Brewing Company, and have been since our first encounter at Lamb Jam back in March. Up until then, I had only tried one or two of their beers beer at the American Craft Beer Festival, but quickly learned in March that this was a great brewing company. When Sarah, Peter, Andy, and I went to Lamb Jam, we were literally the last four guests in the room, and Mayflower was the last brewery still serving beer. I struck up a conversation with the guys pouring the beer earlier in the event, and frequented their booth many times there after. We also ran into the same fine people at the Bacon & Beer Festival in April, where I was recognized by the people at Mayflower (and Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project).

Previously, Mayflower only gave tours on Thursday and Friday afternoons; however, for the course of the summer, they were offering Saturday tours from 1-4pm through Labor Day Weekend. But, knowing we would be in the area, we couldn’t pass up one of the final opportunities (at least for now) to see their facility on a Saturday.

The brewery is currently located in a cluster of small businesses in Plymouth, very close to the mall. It also wasn’t very hard to find, thanks to our GPS. We immediately got excited once we spotted their sign.

When we walked in, to our surprise, there was no one in the lobby/tasting room. We figured they had just started a tour, so we took it upon ourselves to peruse their merchandise. It wasn’t more than a few minutes later when the tour guide/sales rep Ryan – the same guy we met at Lamb Jam and Bacon & Beer Festival, made his way back to the tasting room. He once again recognized me, and offered us a sample before heading back into the brewery for the 2nd half of the tour.

Now, I’m still trying to find out if it’s a good or bad thing that I’m recognized when visiting breweries or beer events. Could it be that I ask such awesome questions that I’m someone who should be remembered? Probably not. Is it that I love talking about beer and figure the guys and gals pouring their samples do as well, and proceed to talk their ears off? Eh, perhaps. Or could it possibly be that I am really annoying, so they’re forced to remember the obnoxious guy from beer events? The question remains to be answered, but I hope it’s not the later.

Adam and Andy being classy

At any rate, we got our samples, and headed back into the brewery. Ryan showed us their keg filler, which must be similar to the one that the Harpoon Brewery in Boston has, which allows them to sanitize and fill the keg in about three minutes! They have a more intense, and less cooperative bottle filler, which often short changes the beer. So, the guys working the line return the bottles to the line, so they can be topped off. Talk about a hands on process!

Once the kegs and bottles a filled, they get moved to the cold storage area. It should be noted that all the beer that Mayflower produces, gets stored in refrigeration, right next to some of their several varieties of hops. They also have two delivery trucks, which distribute the brew all over Massachusetts. The company brewed 2,000 barrels last year and their current facility has the capacity to top 5,000 barrels. However, they’re in the process of expanding their brewery, which should allow them to produce up to 6,000 barrels! It’s the company’s goal to build their own brewery in Plymouth sometime in the future, but for now this expansion will certainly help them get their beer to a larger market.

Sarah and Meaghan enjoying their samples

We made our way back to the tasting room for a few more samples, where we were met by John and Matt, who came down from the North Shore to enjoy some beer. We quickly struck up a conversation with them and soon became best of buds, talking about beer festivals we’ve attended, the beers we’ve tried, and the breweries we’ve visited. Ryan took us back into the brewery for round two of the tour, before wrapping up with a final taste test.

L to R: Sarah, Adam, Meaghan, Ryan, Matt, Ryan's buddy, John

Mayflower Brewing Company’s beers are currently only available in Massachusetts, and if you haven’t tried their beer you are definitely missing out. Their IPA has quickly become one of my favorites. It has a full, rich, and malty body, which is complemented by the bitter hop aroma and finish. It is extremely enjoyable and drinkable, as is their Porter – which happens to be Sarah’s favorite. You can expect to see a full write up about both beers in the near future, and eventually their Imperial Stout which is currently aging in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels (the same used for Sam Adams Utopia) and set for release in January '11.

It was certainly worth the drive to Plymouth to check out this brewery. If you're thinking about going, I highly recommend it. Sarah and I have been on many brewery tours, and have enjoyed them all, but Mayflower was definitely one of the best ones we've been on to date. Their selection of hand crafted beers is not to be missed.

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