Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday Night Tasting - Harpoon Brewery: 100 Barrel Series Pott's Landbier

Harpoon Brewery – Boston, MA & Windsor, VT
100 Barrel Series #32: Pott’s Landbier
4.8% ABV, 30 IBU, OG 12

Pott’s Landbier is the latest installment of the 100 Barrel Series by Harpoon Brewery. The pour is a dark amber, which displays a nice foamy head that takes a while to dissipate. The first smell picks up the smoky, roasted barley, which is reinforced by the first sip. The flavor can easily be described as subtly smoky with rich malty tones.

Conversely, the beer has a rather dry aftertaste that I wouldn’t have figured, considering the darkness and richness of the beer. Much to my surprise as well is that the beer has a rather light mouth feel. It has low notes of bitterness, spiced by the Magnum hop – which is a German bittering hop, which gives it a great crisp flavor. The Pott’s Landbier has a moderate, at best, drinkability. I have to say that most of the 100 Barrel Series beers that I have tried (6-7) are best off one at a time, and spread out.

Although I purchased this bottle when it first came out, I was fortunate enough to taste it at the Boston brewery a few weekends ago. It had a consistent flavor, being served both out of the tap and out of the bottle though, so I wouldn’t hesitate to try it again if I found it at one of my local bars.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brew England Vistis: Watch City Brewery

So as I explained in my last post, I started a homebrewers club. For our first official meeting, we congregated at one of my favorite local brewpubs – Watch City Brewery, which is located on Moody Street in downtown Waltham, MA.

Sarah and I visited the brewpub for the first time several years ago, upon the suggestion of our friends Dave and Caren. Watch City Brewery, founded in 1996, is the city’s only brewery, featuring delicious hand crafted beers, and serves some pretty tasty food to boot. It’s typical for the bar to serve up six or seven beers, and you can often find a beer served out of their cask.

I should point out that Watch City’s cask beers are not as enjoyable as their other beers. It was explained to me from the bartender at the Coat of Arms in Portsmouth, NH (read our review here)that a beer served from the cask should not be room temperature, but rather slightly chilled – typically served around 55 degrees. However, Watch City Brewery’s beers from the cask, at least the ones that I’ve had (2-3), have been warm/room temperature. This was what initially made me stay away from cask conditioned beers; however, if done properly the beers are enjoyable, and often have different flavors to those of their chilled brethren.

At any rate, their beers are typically very good and their staff is pretty friendly. Sarah used to get her hair done in downtown Boston, so I would often drive her in and shoot down to WCB for a few beers and a cup of chili. I’m not one to typically go to a bar by myself (though I have a few times if in need of a beer/food), but when I did go there by myself, the bartenders were always friendly. They have some TVs at the bar and around the restaurant, almost always on NESN, and even count down the days until spring training for the Sox, when in the off-season…just incase you forget!

To further support my claim of how great their beer is, they have won numerous awards and distinctions for their beer at not only the Great Northeast International Beer & Cider Competition, but the Great American Beer Festival.

Their beers are also featured at some of the bars and restaurants around the Waltham area. Their beer is also served up occasionally at Boston area beer and food festivals, such as Lamb Jam, where they served their Troika beer. Troika was one of their specialty beers, which was brewed with three distinct versions of squash - blue hubbard, buttercup, and butternut, along with a variety of spices, which made this a very distinct and amazing beer.

So, if you're in the greater Boston area, or are looking for a nice trip, definitely stop by Watch City Brewery. Their prices are good, and ther beer is great. If you do stop in, let us know how you liked it!

Watch City Brewery on Urbanspoon

Hopside Down

Adam recieved this glass as a birthday gift from our friend Meaghan.

I think it is kind of a riot!

Get your own here

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boston Brewin' Homebrewers Club

Sometime in late June, I decided it was time to start a homebrewers club. I've been brewing on my own since December of last year, and have really enjoyed myself. I can't paint, I can't draw, but I can make beer. And so can some of my friends.

I knew that I didn't need an excuse to brew beer, and certainly didn't need a reason to drink beer; but, I thought if I were to get a group of people together and add fresh hand crafted beer, it would be a lot of fun. So, I made a list of people I knew who brewed their own beer, sent a Facebook message (if weren't aware, we have a Facebook page, click on the link on the right to view our page and "like" us), and waited to see who replied.

So fortunately, the response was good. Although not everyone was able to attend our kick off meeting, which was held last night at Watch City Brewery in Waltham, MA, there was a group of 10 people interested. We're going to meet every other month to share our beers, kind of similar to a book club, and in the off months we're going to plan some cool group activities like: brewery tours, beer store trips for tastings and finding new brews, group brews (indoor and outdoor), beer events like Lamb Jam, Bacon & Beer Festival, Beer Summit Oktoberfest, and the like.

If you, or someone you know brews beer and is interested in joining our rag tag group of (so far) guys, please drop me a line at While we have just begun our adventure, we are, and will continue to look for new members.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Brew England Visits: The Tap at the Haverhill Brewery

Sarah and I have spent the last four or five Memorial Day Weekends up at my parent's place in Allenstown, NH. On occasion, we have been known to take a small detour, in order to get a bite to eat or a cold drink. This past Mem Day Weekend was no exception.

A few years back, Sarah bought me a new beer. It was brewed at the Haverhill Brewery out of Haverhill, MA and was (and is still) called Whittier White. From the first sip, I knew I had found a very enjoyable late Spring / early Summer beer that I could drink without thinking twice. A quick Google search yielded the fact that they are not only a working brewery, but a brewpub. Naturally, we had to make a trip up North.

Since our first trip, we have been back a two or three times. When we first arrived in downtown Haverhill, where the Tap is located, I noticed that it was directly across the street from my friends Jay and Marcella's former loft apartment. I had passed it several times, and even suggested we visit, but the when I visited Jay and Marcella it was strictly for karaoke at the local Chinese Food joint down the street - Smoooooooth!

But, the first time we pulled into the parking lot, we were overjoyed that they had an outdoor deck. The parking lot, and more importantly the deck, overlook the Merrimack River, which gives this urban setting a rather rural atmosphere that makes me feel at home (I'm a New Hampshire boy). This time was not much different than the first time - a beautiful Friday afternoon, mild temperatures, good food, and cold beer!

Returning to one of our favotire places in Massachusetts, we started this visit with their sampler.

This included the Leatherlips IPA, HaverAle, Whittier White, Three Graces Ale, and another one which escapes me - we have the name in a notebook that is currently missing, but when we find it we'll post the name! The Leatherlips is probably my favorite offering by the Tap, which is a hoppy, bitter beer, not for the novice IPA fan. That's followed by the Whittier White, which is a Belgian style Wit...slightly spicy, tart, and enjoyable. Expect a full review on both beers in the upcoming weeks.

Sarah enjoys the Whittier White as part of the sampler

As we made our way through the sampler, our food arrived. Now, I had posted about the Tap a while back and mentioned they had an awesome menu (I seem to remember anyway), because they do. Their burgers are $7-$10, with all sandwiches $9.99 or under, entrees in the mid teens, and their most expensive food item at $20.99. Beer prices are equally as economical, with an opportunity to "Imperialize" your beer for an extra $0.50.

Enjoying a Leather Lips IPA

It should not go without mention that the deck features one of the best jukeboxes around. Next to Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square, and the Drinkers' Pub in Philadelphia, I have not found a better jukebox. Van Halen, Huey Lewis and the News, and Foreigner all find their way to the speakers on any given day/night (yes, they have newer music too).

On this particular visit, they were also brewing a batch of Leatherlips IPA, which for a hop head was like heaven. I got a chance to speak with the brewer, who said he had just added a massive quantity of hops, which helps give the beer its 50 IBUs. This seems rather low for a beer as bitter as the Leatherlips. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed walking by the brewhouse to get a whiff of the wonderful hops.

Before we made our exit, I managed to pick up a bottle of the Gesalt Germa-Style Brown Ale as well as their Triskelion Barleywine Style Ale. I also reviewed their Three Graces prior to making this visit, which you can read about here.

We're due at least one more visit before the end of the summer and if you're looking for a great place to enjoy the excellent New England weather, make sure to stop off at the Tap in Haverhill, MA. Whether you're on your way to New Hampshire, Maine, or just happen to be north of Boston, stop in for a bite to eat and a cold pint!

Tap Brew Pub & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 6, 2010

I don't want to say I've hit Rock Bottom

...but I have to admit, I miss my old regular bar. I used to go to Rock Bottom at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree all the time. In fact, I still carry my Mug Club card in my wallet, even though I haven’t been to a RB in probably two years.

That place was the best. I mean, sure…they’re a chain restaurant, but to be perfectly honest – they made some great beer. I hadn’t visited the restaurant until I started dating Sarah, but once I went for the first time I was hooked.

First off, their food was always good. It was consistent, could be reasonably healthy depending on what you got, and they had some good dinner specials, including a late night bar menu. In addition, their prices were reasonable. AND, if you belonged to the Mug Club, you got a bigger beer for the same price as a pint, and quite frankly who doesn’t love that? If you got their beer of the week, which rotated weekly, you could also get it for a cheaper price…not to mention the bigger beer if you had your MG card (or told them you were in it, if you forgot it at home).

On top of all this, they had a good line up of beers. Their North Star Amber was the first beer I fell in love with. It featured a smooth and full body, with a great malty flavor. I also really liked their Munich Gold, which was a great pale lager, and was also extremely drinkable. They also brewed seasonal beers as well; including their amazing award winning Rocktoberfest (Oktoberfest).

Enjoying a Munich Gold on Valentine's Day 2006

Sarah enjoys a glass of Pino Grigio

Sarah and I would sometimes go there religiously. We celebrated our relationship there, valentines day - at least would go there for a few drinks after dinner, and I used to have my birthday bash there each year. Unfortunately, they closed down as the mall owned their building and was charging them far too much in rent. Even though the restaurant was always packed, their rent was simply too much and they sadly closed their doors.

Rock Bottom’s Boston location is nice, but certainly not as nice and convenient as the one in Braintree was. Despite this fact, I miss the restaurant and really need to make a trip into town to revisit.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How I Spent My 30th Birthday

What does a man who is obsessed with tasting new and exciting beers, brewing beer, and talking about beer do for his 30th birthday? Well, if know me, then you would probably say “Adam, you old fart, go to another brewery!” Well, that’s exactly what Sarah and I did last Thursday.

As part of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), we were invited to attend an Open House Rally at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain, MA on July 29th. This was an opportunity to peruse the brewery at our own leisurely pace, while sipping on a perfect pint of complimentary Samuel Adams beer, and enjoy the company of fellow home brewers.

Although Sarah originally wanted to take me on a tour of the Sam Adams brewery for my (first) birthday celebration (read the story here!), she opted for the Harpoon Brewery as she could get advance tickets to the tour. In addition, we had not previously taken the tour, so it would be a good chance to see how their ship is run. We have both been lucky enough to tour the Sam Adams brewery many times in the past, so this would provide some familiar territory among unfamiliar faces.

As soon as we walked in the door, we were instantly handed a Perfect Pint glass, along with three drink tickets, a ticket for sampling the Samuel Adams Beer Lover's Choice, as well as enter for a chance to win cool brewing stuff from Beer and Wine Hobby.

We immediately headed over to one of the tap rooms, where we both ordered a pint of the Glacier Ale – what they call a test batch, and only available at the Boston brewery. This was a single-hoped Pale Ale, which was soft, and smooth, with a great hoppy finish. It had a nice body, and was a great way to kick off our evening!

After milling around for a little bit, we decided to cast our vote for the 6th Annual Beer Lover’s Choice.

The choices were between a Belgian Style IPA, which was an IPA brewed with a specific type of Belgian yeast – one that worked quite well actually (which I plan on trying to brew an inspired version over the next few months), and an American Rye, which lacked a certain pizzazz – which Sarah and I didn't really care for all that much. We gave our votes for the Belgian Style IPA, before returning to the tasting room for our second pint.

To find out more about the Beer Lover’s Choice click here, and find out where you can try these beers in your area (throughout the country) follow this link!

Our second beer was Rob's American Rauchbier, which was at least at one point found in the Beer Lover's Choice pack. It was a VERY interesting beer, which featured a great smokey, malty flavor, which finished with a noticeable bacon flavor. It has a fantastic dark body, and is quite tasty. I don’t know if I would drink more than one or two in a sitting, but it is definitely worth a try if you can find it – or if you visit the brewery.

After grabbing our Rauchbier, we hit the bar-b-q, which featured food that incorporated beer in each recipe.

The Sam Adams Beer Garden

The food was delicious, and a great way to make sure we still had something in our stomachs, considering we were drinking. For my final beer, I opted for the original – Sam Adams Boston Lager, while Sarah opted for the Boston Brick Red. We enjoyed our final beer, while chatting up the proprietors of Beer and Wine Hobby, which has been my homebrew supply store of choice since December.

It was not long after where we ran into the one and only Jim Koch. We had met him a few years ago, as he gave Sarah, I, and about 40 others a private tour of the facility. He was amazingly nice the first time, and even more so this time! Of course, this was the icing on the cake, so to speak, of my birthday. Sarah was quick to let him know it was my 30th birthday, and asked to get a quick picture. Of course he was willing, wished me a happy birthday, and told me with a big smile that he vaguely remembered his 30th. That was followed by a big “Cheers!” and our exit of the brewery.

Jim Koch takes a moment to take a quick picture

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday and an amazing time at the brewery. I really look forward to future AHA rallies! If you’re not a member of the American Homebrewers Association, and are a home brewer, I highly recommend you register. It’s rather inexpensive for a yearly membership, you get discounts at countless bars/pubs, a subscription of Zymurgy Magazine (exclusive to the AHA), and cool opportunities to hang out with other home brewers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday Night Tasting - Wachusett Brewing Co: Wachusett IPA

Wachusett Brewing Co. – Westminster, MA
Wachusett IPA
5.6% ABV, 50 IBU

This is a bold, robust, flavorful India Pale Ale, which has quickly become one of my new favorite IPAs! It features a modest piney and floral aroma with a feathery, foamy head that dissipates fairly quickly. It does however leave its mark on your glass as you work your way to the bottom.
It has a slightly pale and moderately red hue and is complemented by a reasonably bitter, not over the top hoppy flavor with a rather dry finish. The beer is dry hopped with Cascade hops, which helps give the floral and citrus fragrance. It has a full, yet not too heavy mouth feel, which makes it an enjoyable beer. The body also has hints of citrus, pine, helped of course by the hops, throughout and is not overly malty. This makes the beer extremely drinkable, and highly enjoyable with any summer event, big or small.

The only negative remark I have about the beer actually in fact has nothing to do with the liquid. The packaging is severely lacking on the IPA. This beer is one of the most basic labels that Wachusett Brewing Co. actually produces. Unlike the Country Ale, or one of my favorite pale ales Green Monsta Ale, the IPA is a subtle purple and white label. Perhaps this was done intentionally, but I think the company can come up with something better. But in the end, it’s all about the beer – which certainly deserves any accolades it receives.

It should also be noted that the first time I had the Wachusett IPA was when we ventured to the Cape earlier this March. We stopped at a fancy place called Sam Diegos for a night cap, and I couldn't resist...known now in our household as Das Boot! Hopefully it will be replaced by a huge German draft beer when we make the trek to NYC, and eventually to Oktoberfest in Germany.

Wachusett IPA!