Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MA Brewfest Beer Line Up

So the Massachusetts Brewers Guild posted the full line up of brewers and their brews for this Friday's 2011 Mass Brewers Fest...How can you NOT get insanely excited about the following list?? I dare you...Rather I double, no double-DOG dare you!!

Have you had any of these beers? The beers with links have been reviewed, and you should check them out!


Cisco Brewers
Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, Pumple Drumkin, The Grey Lady, Indie IPA

Rapscallion Brewery
Honey Ale, Blessing

Wachusett Brewing Co.
Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Green Monsta IPA, Blueberry Ale, Octoberfest

Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Steel Rail EPA, Berkshire Oktoberfest Lager, Berkshire Bock, Lost Sailor

The Boston Beer Company
Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Octoberfest, Chocolate Chili Bock, Imperial White, Maple Pecan Porter, Oaked Ale

Cambridge Brewing Company
Cambridge Amber, CBC HefeWeizen, Mind Left Body, The Black Ryder

Clown Shoes
Clementine White Ale, Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA, Hoppy Feet Black IPA

Notch Brewing Company
Notch Saison, Notch Pils, Notch Session Ale

Harpoon Brewery
UFO Pumpkin, IPA, Chocolate Stout, Uncle Fester

Watch City Brewing Company
Toasted Ah Ah Pale Ale, Titan German Red Ale, Monkey Monk Saison, BeeJezus Botanical Fruit Ale

Haverhill Brewery/ The Tap
Kolsch, Alt, German Pilsner, IPA, Pale Ale, India Schwarzbier

Gardner Ale House
Oma’s Altbier, Chair City Pale Ale, Summer’s End, The Hef

Blue Hills Brewery
IPA, Watermelon Wheat, Okto Brau, Antimatter, Imperial Red IPA

Wormtown Brewery
Pumpkin Ale, Octoberfest, Be Hoppy IPA, Buk Rye Pale

Frosty Knuckle Brewing Co.
Frosty Knuckle Ale, Helles Alt, Frosty Knuckle Sea Spray IPA

Ipswich Ale Brewery
20th Anniversary Imperial Pale Ale, Ipswich Harvest Ale, Ipswich Oatmeal Stout, 375th Summer Barley Wine

Mayflower Brewing Co
Golden Ale, Porter, IPA, Autumn Wheat

Cape Ann Brewing
Greenhorn Double IPA, Fisherman’s Tea Party Barleywine

Cape Cod Beer
Cape Cod Red, Cape Cod IPA, Cape Cod Beach Blonde

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Jack D’Or, Baby Tree

Backlash Beer Co.

Amherst Brewing Co.
Anniversary Ale, Wedding Wit, Cascade IPA, Cask

Jack’s Abby Brewing
Smoke & Dagger, Copper Legend, Hoponius Union, Saxon Sons Pilsner Cask

Irene Washes Out Vermont Breweries

Long Trail Brewery in VT is shown under flood water

The effects of Tropical Storm Irene is being felt by residents and businesses all over the state of Vermont, who along with Eastern New York were hit the hardest by last weekend's storm. Pictured above is the Long Trail Brewery, located in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont, which was build basically over the Ottauquechee River, was flooded. According to and Beer Advocate, the brewery wasn't tottally washed out, although they have water in the brewery and their deck is under water. Production is halted, although they have beer fermenting under normal conditions.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waturbury, VT. Also according to, the brewery itself was totalled, but they have their sets on rebuilding. Fortunately for the Alchemist, their cannery is located up the street and out of the flood zone, and is still up and running.

Pictures and video show the massive devastation felt all over the Green Mountain State. Bridges and roads have been washed away, cutting off only exits to several towns - including Killington, VT. The road running through the Quechee Covered Bridge, which spans the river and leads to Simon Pearce was destroyed, and washed down stream.

This is what the bridge typically looks like, from the deck of Simon Pearce

Here's a video from showing the bridge over the weekend:

This is also an excerpt from Simon Pierce's President Rob Adams posted on their website:

"As you’re likely aware, Mother Nature dealt Vermont a tough hand as Irene dumped 7+ inches of rain on a saturated landscape. The Mill in Quechee bravely took the brunt of this storm as the Ottaquechee River, running adjacent to the Mill, rose rapidly on Sunday afternoon. Despite a valiant sandbagging and pumping effort, the river was just too much and flooded the glassblowing, hydro turbine, and some of the kitchen operations located on the lower levels of the building. Thankfully, the river peaked before any significant damage was done to the main floor that includes the restaurant and retail store."

Sarah and I were both sad to hear about the devastation of one of our favorite fall vacation spots. There will no doubt be many months of recovery for the entire state of Vermont and surrounding towns, and we will try to keep you posted on the repairs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

National Craft Beer Pulled from RI

Glass is half-empty in Rhode Island

This was an interesting read I saw on today. It seems that in an effort to meet more demand, Dogfish Head, Avery Brewing Co, and Great Divide Brewing are pulling their distribution from the Ocean State.

You may have read specifically about Sam Calagione's Dogfish Head brewery, located in Milton, Delaware, growing so quickly that they have had to actually reevaluate their increase to production, in an effort to focus on quality. Because of this, DFH and the others have pulled their distribution from Rhode Island in order to fill orders from other states.

It's Rhode Island's loss, but the gain of several other states. As the author Steve Greenlee suggests, it wouldn't be a shock to see those from around the border of Massachusetts to cross over to fill up on their national favorites! On the plus side, there have been additional Massachusetts breweries increase their distribution to the Ocean State - notably Mayflower Brewing Co. from Plymouth, MA, who began distribution to RI earlier this year. There are likely to add Rhode Island to their list, due to its proximity to more area breweries.

Brass City Brew Fest - Next Saturday

Connecticut will hold another huge brew fest next Saturday September 10th, 2011 from 1-5pm at Library Park in Waterbury, CT. There's also a VIP session from 12-1pm. Only 2,000 tickets will be sold (500 VIP tickets - an extra $10), and it is expected to sell out again this year!

With a colossal list of breweries, this is set to be a great event! Some notable New England area breweries pouring samples are: Berkshire Brewing Co, Coastal Extreme (Newport Storm), Cisco Brewers, Narragansett, Red Hook, Willimantic Brweing Co., Otter Creek, Shipyard, Trinity Brew House, Sea Dog, Sebago, and so many more! Other great craft brewers include Chimay, Rogue, Stone Brewing Co, Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and Ommegang to name a few. The full list can be seen by clicking here.

Tickets are just $30 in advance, and $35 at the door - with a Belgian Beer tent for an additional $10 per person. Overall, there will be more than 250 beers, plust live music, food, door prizes, Beer 101 seminars, and more! Click here to purchase your tickets!

Monday, August 29, 2011

QAS 2011 Wine & Beer Tasting

Sarah found this upcoming fundraiser online, and suggested that we both attend. I figured I'd find out a little more about it, and share it with you all! Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, MA is partnering with Frozen Freddies, and the Quincy Animal Shelter (QAS) for the "Quincy Animal Shelter's 2011 Wine & Beer Tasting presented by Frozen Freddies."

The event is Friday September 23rd, 2011 from 6 - 9pm at the Kennedy Center (440 East Squantum Street in Quincy - near Marina Bay), and every ticket holder gets entered to win a $125 gas card. Tickets are just $30 and it includes samples of wine and beer, as well as light refreshments and entertainment. You can purchase your tickets at the Quincy Animal Shelter, or at the door.

Here is the full press release:


For immediate release

QUINCY, Massachusetts, July 28, 2011 – The Quincy Animal Shelter, Inc., (“Shelter”) announced today that it will be holding its sixth annual Wine and Beer Tasting presented by Frozen Freddies on Friday, September 23, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Center, 440 East Squantum Street, Quincy, Massachusetts.

Event goers will have the unique opportunity to learn about and sample distinctive wine and beer selections presented by local purveyors and regional brewers while enjoying light refreshments and live entertainment. Tickets are $30 per person and each paying attendee will automatically be entered to win a $125 gasoline card. They may also buy chances on amazing raffle prizes, including two certificates for direct, round-trip travel on JetBlue® Airways.

“The wine and beer tasting is a popular affair and the Shelter’s principal annual fundraiser. In addition to vital financial contributions, it raises awareness about animal welfare and the benefits of adopting, said Board Representative Sandra Morse. “We are delighted to have Frozen Freddies—a dedicated member of the community and long-time supporter of our organization—as official presenter of the event again this year. Their generous contribution, and that of other donors, allows us to continue to care for displaced animals in the area.”

“We are proud to underwrite this fundraiser for the Quincy Animal Shelter,” said Dawn Gaffney, Frozen Freddies’ proprietor. “The volunteers do an amazing job nurturing the animals and finding homes for them. Many of our customers bring the entire family to our store for yummy treats, including their adopted pets for a ‘puppy cup’—vanilla soft-serve ice cream topped with a dog biscuit. We encourage the community to attend the wine and beer tasting. It’s a festive occasion that has become a ‘can’t miss’ Quincy tradition.”

The fundraiser will be held at the Kennedy Center, conveniently located on East Squantum Street (off Quincy Shore Drive, near Marina Bay), with free parking and handicap accessibility. Proceeds will be used for the direct care and adoption of Shelter animals, including food, medications, examinations, spay/neutering and training. Participating suppliers include Atlas Liquors, Blue Hills Brewery, National Wine & Liquors and Shop-N-Save Liquors.

Tickets to the 2011 Quincy Animal Shelter Wine and Beer Tasting presented by Frozen Freddies may be purchased in advance, through September 9, for pick up at the “will call” table. Contact Shelter volunteers at 56 Broad Street, Quincy, or order online via They may also be purchased at the door on the night of the event; cash or check only. (You must be at least 21 years old to attend, proper identification required.) For more information, call 617-376-1349.

About The Quincy Animal Shelter
The Quincy Animal Shelter is a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and a recognized Massachusetts charity. It is a 100% volunteer-run, no-kill animal facility focusing on the care and humane treatment of the city’s homeless canine and feline population. Since its incorporation in 1999, the Shelter has placed more than 5,500 cats and dogs into loving and forever homes across New England. It receives no government funding, relying solely on the generosity of its volunteers, area businesses and the community for support. To learn more about the Shelter, become a volunteer or foster care provider, or to make a monetary contribution, visit

About Frozen Freddies
Frozen Freddies—a locally owned establishment since 1994—offers many delicious flavors of hard, soft, and sugar free ice cream; frozen yogurt and sorbet. This quaint, neighborhood corner store also dishes up mouthwatering sundaes; airy flurries; novelty treats; ice cold slushes, frappes and other refreshing beverages; frozen cakes and hand-packed containers to-go. Air conditioned, sit-down service is available. Located at 435 Washington Street, Quincy, the ice cream parlor is open every day, April through October. For more information, call 617-328-7772 or visit them on facebook.

For more information regarding this announcement, contact:
Contact: Sally Hayward
Telephone: 617-257-7975

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hop Picking at Jack's Abby Brewery

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, I found out a few weeks ago that the Hendler boys at Jack's Abby Brewing Co. were planning a Hop Picking event at their brewery in Framingham. Considering I haven't had a chance to stop by the new brewery yet, or try their beer, I figured I'd take the opportunity to pay them a visit to help them with their hop harvest, and recruited my buddy (and guest blogger) Mike to come as well.

First off - the day could not have been nicer! I had gone up to New Hampshire the previous day to hang out with my buddy PJ, and it was nice; but, Sunday was a picture perfect weather day (at least to begin the day). The drive to Framingham was very pleasant, as the sun was out, and the mid 90's punk (Rancid's "Let's Go") was blasting away in my car. It took me around 40 minutes to get there, which was nice compared to the almost two hour drive to get to NH on Saturday.

Anyway, once we got there we walked in to see that the 15 or so volunteers had already begun picking the hop cones. I have to say...I have NEVER seen so many hops in my entire life. Sure, I've seen the commercial where Jim Koch of Samuel Adams fame visits Bavaria in Germany to choose his hops, but that was on TV and you can't really get a sense of the magnitude of the plant. The Jack's Abby crew have their hops - Willamette, Cascade, Centennial, and Mt. Hood growing organically in/around Bennington, VT, and brought in at least two to three dozen plastic bags of freshly cut hop vines to their brewery. They were dumped out on several tables, and everyone just picked away.

We quickly introduced ourselves to Owner/Brewer Jack and Eric Hendler before Mike and I picked our spots. I let him know I have this little website, and he was quick to thank him for the support here and on Facebook. Anyway, Mike and I proceeded to fill a 2-3 gallon bucket with freshly picked hop flowers within about 20 minutes. We couldn't believe how many flowers we were picking!

Drinking on the job and a Jack Hendler Photo Bomb

Around the time we filled our first bucket, Jack announced that there was beer and snacks available on a help-yourself basis, which was my cue to grab Mike and I a few beers. Jack had poured a few pitchers of both their Oktoberfest and India Pale Lager. I filled up our cups with the Oktoberfest, and went back to work. I have to say, the beer was very, very good. Malty, slightly sweet, and actually pretty refreshing and not heavy. What motivation for being productive!

Mike getting VERY into picking hops, while looking good!

What was cool about this event, was that Jack's Abby Brewing was actually brewing their batch of Wet Hop Beer (official name yet to be decided) while we were picking the hops! Even now and then Jack would make an announcement that they were about to mill their grain and mash, then about 30 minutes later he announced they were transferring it to the brew kettle, and so forth.

Everyone was cruising along, and providing enough flowers to fill up the biggest hop back I've ever seen. I'm probably underestimating the amount, but it probably had to hold a good 30-35lbs of hops alone. From what I heard, they strain the wort through the hop back and into the fermenter (or it might have been from the mash to the brew kettle) to pick up all the hoppy goodness!

After a good two hours or so of picking hops, Mike and I decided we needed a short break. We took the opportunity to hit the tasting room, while grabbing a bite to eat. We tried the full current line up of Jack's Abby beers: Saxon Sons Pilsner (a nice malty beer), Hoponius Union India Pale Lager, Smoke & Dagger (similar to Harpoon's Munich Dark), Red Tape Lager (think a slightly hoppy red lager), and their Oktoberfest (malty, slightly sweet, delicious).

We returned to picking more hops, which seemed to go on forever, but thankfully there were great tunes playing (on vinyl nonetheless) on the stereo, and people were having fun. Having the opportunity to drink some tasty beer in the process didn't hurt either, and it made the day go by pretty quickly. It was also pretty cool that the wet hop beer was actually being brewed as we were working!

Earlier in the day Jack had offered up any hops to the homebrewers in the house, and to no one's surprise there were several. Mike and I left with a good amount of the hops, as did others, which are currently being dried out. We're planning on using them very soon in some of our homebrew batches.

The crew also raffled away two tickets to the upcoming 2011 Mass Brewers Fest to the person who guessed the closest to how many pounds of hops were picked that day. As a group we picked a combined 168lbs of hops!!

These were most of the hops

If you haven't stopped by Jack's Abby Brewing yet, it's worth a visit. The beers are great, and the guys are too.

Jack's Abby Brewing is located at 81 Morton Street in Framingham, MA. Stop by, say hello, and grab some beer - you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AHA Rally Portland - TONIGHT!

Tonight is the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally at the Allagash Brewing Co. The event runs from 5:30 - 7:30pm at the brewery, and none other than the “Godfather of Beer” Mr. Charlie Papazian (Brewers Association President and founder of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver) will be there to greet his fellow homebrewers!

I’m pretty excited. I haven’t been to Portland in probably close to two years, and it will be my first visit to the Allagash Brewery. By now you’re probably familiar with Mike, and he’s coming along too! We also have tentative plans to grab a bite to eat at Nosh Kitchen Bar, Gritty McDuff's, and perhaps a visit for some beers at Novare Res Bier CafĂ© – both in Portland. My buddy Tristan Omand is actually performing some of his new music live tonight at Slainte Wine Bar & Lounge not too far at 10pm. Seeing how we’re staying in Old Orchard Beach overnight, I think a nightcap at Jimmy the Greek’s as well. No matter what we wind up doing, there’s plenty to keep us busy!

Tonight’s AHA Rally is free to all current AHA Members. Non-members can register for the AHA at the door for a discounted price (I think it’s $35).

Here are the full details of tonight’s event:

Rally Host: Allagash Brewing Company
Address: 50 Industrial Way Portland, ME 04103

-Meet special guest Charlie Papazian!
-Meet Rob Tod and the Allagash brewers.
-Take a VIP brewery tour of Allagash, Maine Beer Co and Rising Tide Brewing Co.
-Special Beer Release Free Gift to Attendees: a 10oz Allagash Chalice
-An opportunity to mingle with local homebrewers.
-Chance to win great prizes from the AHA and Host!

I'm looking forward to meeting up with some MAINEiacs tonight who enjoy some tasty brew and the craft of beer!

Press Release: Farmer-Brewer Ruling

I figured I would post this, as it was emailed me from an intern in the Massachusetts State Treasurer's office yesterday afternoon. I figured it was a good thing to post, considering I learned on Facebook on Monday that the Farmer-Brewery license for Idle Hands Craft Ales was approved!


Treasurer Steven Grossman, as a long-time small businessman, was concerned that an ABCC decision that would have required small brewers to grow (or contract for) half their ingredients would have harmed many of those breweries and hurt the Massachusetts economy. Accordingly, the Treasurer and ABCC Chairwoman Kim Gainsboro announced on Monday, August 8 that the commission had withdrawn its decision.

The Treasurer and the Chairwoman also met with the leadership of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and a number of small brewers from across the state. At that meeting, the Treasurer reiterated his belief that a workable solution must be developed on this issue that protects and creates jobs, supports the economy, and enhances the Commonwealth’s agricultural industry. Therefore, ABCC will hold a number of hearings to seek public comment about the ways in which the farmer brewer license can help maximize the performance of the Massachusetts-based brewing industry.

The hearings have not yet been scheduled. If you are interested in participating, please check our web site The schedule will be posted there.

We think that through such a public, transparent, and open process, the public and all the parties involved will have an opportunity to make their views known and help shape future policies. Additionally, we will work with the Legislature to determine if changes to the laws governing the brewing industry are warranted.

As the Treasurer has said, too often government fails to acknowledge when it makes a mistake. Farmer brewers have created 1,100 jobs in the Commonwealth and have boosted the hospitality and tourism sectors as well as creating a robust market niche for themselves. We are committed to ensuring that the industry and its small businesspeople will continue to have an opportunity to succeed and contribute the Massachusetts economy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Haverhill Brewery Riverfront Brewfest

The Haverhill Berwery and The Tap Brewpub are holding their annual Riverfront Brewfest on Saturday September 24th. There are two sessions for this great event, which will feature from 20 local and regional breweries! The first session is from 12:30-4pm and the second session is 5:30-9pm. Of course, there will be plenty of beer, food, and live entertainment for everyone.

Discounted tickets are available online for $25 and you can click here for the afternoon session and here for the evening session. Tickets should be available at the door, but are likely to increase to at least $30 the day of the event.

Confirmed brewers to date are: Haverhill Brewery, Notch Session (on cask), John Harvard's, High and Mighty, Clown Shoes, Ipswich Ale Bewery, Martha's Exchange, Sam Adams, Cape Ann Brewing, Boston Beer Works, and Jack's Abby, with more to be added!

The Haverhill Brewery at The Tap Brewpub is located at 100 Washington St in downtown Haverhill, MA - located on the Merrimack River. It is a great restaurant with a superb deck (and jukebox) - one of Sarah and my favorite places to visit, especially in the summer time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Taste at Wachusett Brewing Company

Towards the end of July I received an email from Stacy Furtado, the Marketing Director at Wachusett Brewing Company, announcing the pending release of their newest and strongest beer - Imperial Pumpkin. Within the same email was an invitation for Sarah and I to attend their "First Taste" at the brewery on August 11th. Even though I was supposed to be in class, I opted to skip school and attend the event instead - which admitably I knew was going to be much more fun.

Unfortuantely Sarah had to work late, so I was flying solo to Westminster. I knew it was going to be a long drive, as on a good day it's close to an hour and fifteen minutes, so I mentally prepared myself. Despite hitting several patches of traffic, I still managed to get there in just about an hour and a half. If you know anything about Route 2 West of Boston (and West of 95N/S), but east of 495, you know the kind of traffic I'm talking about...

I must say, had it not been for the traffic, the drive would have been spectacular. Westminster, and the surrounding towns, are quite nice. It's definitely going to have to be a drive Sarah and I take during the fall, because it becomes very scenic.

I arrived to the brewery at 6:15pm, a little late, but better late than never. Now, as soon as I stepped out of my car I realized that I had in fact locked my keys in my car. Holy shit, was I pissed. This is only about the third time in my life this has happened, but each time it happens it's a pain in the ass. Thankfully I had my wits about me, and called AAA right away (it's a good thing I did too, because it took them about an hour and a half to arrive, and retrieve my keys).

Nevertheless, I wasn't going to this little inconvenience ruin my evening. I bolted inside, where I (finally) met Stacy. We are friends on Facebook and Twitter, and converse somewhat regularly, and in fact she was the one who sent a donation on behalf of Wachusett Brewing Co. to the Friends of Will "Cure Me I'm Irish" event back in March, but we had yet to actually meet face to face. She was nice enough to get me my First Taste of the Imperial Pumpkin, as I made the call to AAA.

My first impressions were "Wow, this is very, very good!" As I examined the beer some more, I could see just how tasty the brew was. It has a sort of golden brown hue to it, and it is incredibly fragrant. I have a bottle at home that I will do an actual review of, but I need to let you know that this is certainly one of the better pumpkin beers I've tried to date.

As I was sipping on my first beer, I ran into Norman Miller, aka the Real Beer Nut, as well as Rebecca and Kristen from Massachusetts Girls Pint Out, so at least I knew that I had some people to hang out with during the event.

Since getting far more involved in Brew England, Sarah and I have been invited to some really cool events. We seem to run into Norm quite a bit, as well as our buddy Josh from Lost in the Beer Aisle, and the past few events have run into the gals from MGPO. Needless to say, it's nice to run into people you know who share a similar passion for craft beer.

Rather quickly after grabbing the Pumpkin Ale, a small tour was about to start, led by President Ned LaFortune. The brewery was rather condensed, and it was a familiar story as we walked by the boil kettle, mash tun, etc, but we all learned that the expected 2011 sales of (my personal favorite) Larry Imperial IPA was already reached by May of this year...hopefully we'll start to see it in six or twelve packs!?

After the tour, I needed another beer, so I went back to the new tasting room and grabbed a Larry Imperial IPA (why not?). As great as it is in the 22oz bottle, it is incredibly delicious on tap and at the brewery! Equally as nice on draft (and at the brewery), is the Milk Stout. If you have not had one, the other, or both - you are sincerely missing out. These have to be my two favorite brews by Wachusett. You. Must. Drink. These. Beers.

More schmoozing took place with some of the aformentioned beer enthusaists, but I also met Jen, who writes for the Yankee Brew News publictaion you've probably seen at your local brewery or beer bar. Jen is a cool lady, and we had a few good laughs about the beer industry and some of the naming choices of Clown Shoes Beers.

Just prior to heading out, Stacey brought me two bombers of the Pumpkin Ale to take home with me. I couldn't have been happier, as I had such a great time at the event. I met some cool people, caught back up with people I haven't seen in a while, and enjoyed the event.

You should start seeing the 22oz bottles of Wachusett Imperial Pumpkin at your local stores and bars this week, if you haven't already seen them! If you have spotted them, let us know where you found them and what you thought of the beer!

*Once again, I have pictures for this post, but am having trouble uploading them. Once I the issue has been resolved, I will add the pics!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Blogger - Time for Oktoberfest!?

by Mike Micalone

I know August might seem early to talk about Oktoberfest but to a homebrewer August is the perfect time. For those who have never homebrewed, brewing a batch of beer can be as quick as a few weeks or as long as 2-3 months. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle since I've found letting the beer condition really helps in taking some of the unnecessary bite out of the beer.

A traditional Oktoberfest (aka Marzen) is brewed as a lager, not an ale. Lagers are a cold fermenting beer that takes several months to ferment and condition. Ales ferment at warmer temperatures and have quicker fermentation times. Marzen was originally brewed in March (thus the name) and was left in caves until late summer and then brought out for Oktoberfest in late September. Now, as much as I would love to toss a 5 gallon bucket of beer in my fridge for 5-6 months, I'm pretty sure my wife would toss me out in the street. Most homebrewers who are in a similar boat are left with brewing an ale version of Oktoberfest.

This past weekend Adam and I decided to undertake brewing not just one Oktoberfest, but two! Mine was an all grain recipe that I developed using software called BeerSmith, with the ingredients I purcahsed from Witches Brew in Foxborough, and Adam's came as part of a partial grain kit from Beer & Wine Hobby in Woburn. After sanitizing our equipment we proceeded with brewing our awesome concoctions!

The first step was to heat up some water up to 167 degrees Fahrenheit. While that was happening we roasted some 2 row pale malt for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. That, along with some chocolate, Munich and Vienna malt were cracked and added to a cheesecloth bag and put into a 2 gallon cooler (called a mash tun) to wait for some of the water we were heating. After the water reaches the right temperature, it is added to the two mash tuns to completely soak the grains. Rather than get into a whole dissertation into how the whole mash process works or how much water was added to achieve the proper water to grain ratio it goes without saying that this is part of what makes homebrewing feel similar to commercial brewing. After 30 minutes in the cooler for Adams grains and an hour for mine we then rinsed the grains with some more hot water (known as sparging) and started to bring the liquid to a boil in our brew pots.

Waiting for wort to boil is like watching paint dry so we took the time to try out some of my Centennial Brown Ale that I brewed a few months ago and had on tap in my basement. After getting Adam's wort to a boil it was time to add his extracts and start working on his hop schedule.

What's a hop schedule you might ask? It's the times during the boils that you add various types of hops to add some bitterness to your beer. My hop schedule included adding Tettnang and Hallertau which were added at 10 minute intervals for my 60 minute boil. Adam's only had Hallertau and were added at 30 minute intervals for the first hour and then at 15 minute mark until the 90th minute. We also added some Irish Moss at the last 15 minutes of the boil to help pull some of the proteins out of the beer and help make it clearer.

After the boil it was time to break out my immersion chiller to bring our beers down to around 70-76 degrees so we could pitch our yeast.

The immersion chiller is nothing more than coiled up copper tubing with two hose connectors on it. With it cold water is pushed through the piping and pushed out the other end. The cold water draws the heat from the recently boiling wort and takes it out to the drain. This device helps make a process that normally takes 3-4 hours only take 15 minutes.

After chilling our wort it was time to move it to the fermenters. We poured it in, added enough water to make it to a volume of around 5 gallons and then took a gravity reading using a hydrometer. We take a gravity reading so we know when the beer is done fermenting. You see, beer is really a bunch of sugars that get converted to alcohol by the yeast. When the sugars are done being converted, the density of the beer reaches a certain point depending on the style of beer you are brewing and what ingredients you added. We added our yeast, waited 10 minutes, aerated the wort and sealed the lid. On the lid is an airlock that is half full of water. This is used to indicate when the beer is fermenting.

The next day I found both beers actively fermenting. In around 10 days I hope to do some dry hopping (to be explained when I post about the rest of the brewing process for this beer), wait another week or so and then move our beers into most likely bottles. Stay tuned for more next month after the beer is finished!

This is Part I of this edition of "Adventures in Homebrewing." Stay tuned for Part II soon!

You can find Mike on Twitter under the handle @Mickle623!

Contest Winner for BHB Oktoberfest!

First off, I'd like to thank those who left comments on the site letting us know what your favorite Blue Hills Brewery beers are. It seems like most of you really enjoy the Black Hops IPA, which is a good choice. That was actually the first BHB beer I reviewed last year!

Without further delay, the winner is...


Even though your favorite was the Watermelon Ale (we don't hold it against you), which was actually reviewed by Sarah in January, we'd still like to congratulate you on winning the pair of tickets! So, JaySto - please email me your full name, and if you know the name of your guest their name too, to There will be a pair of tickets waiting for you at the door.

For those who didn't win this contest, do not fret! There will be more contests to come soon, as this is the start to a very exciting and busy time in the beer world in New England.

As a reminder, tickets are still available to the Blue Hills Brewery Oktoberfest, which again is taking place Saturday September 10th from 12-6pm at the Irish Cultural Center located at 200 New Boston Road in Canton, MA. A full line up of Blue Hills Brewery beers will be available for purchase, along with food, music, and activities!

Tickets are just $12 in advance - which you can purchase here, and just $15 at the door!

Adam & Sarah

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maine Brewers Festival - Portland, Maine

The annual Maine Brewers Festival makes its triumphant return to Portland on November 4-5th, 2011 at the Portland Expo. The details are still in the works, seeing how this event is still a few months away, but they already have confirmed D.L. Geary Brewing Co, Gritty McDuff's Brewing Co, Sea Dog Brewing Co, and Shipyard Brewing Co, with many more yet to be added.

Tickets are already on sale and start at just $32 for Saturday's Happy Hour (afternoon session) from 1:30-5pm, and the Evening Session 6:30-10pm, but there are packages available for a few different options. Friday marks the Evening with the Brewers VIP session, wich includes gourmet food paired with local Maine beers, and a moderated panel discussion with Maine brewers!

Click here to get more information on the event, and here to purcase your tickets!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sam Adams to Release Harvest Collection

There is a HUGE rash of fall beers popping up all over the place. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Wachusett Brewery was releasing their new Imperial Pumpkin Ale, I just picked up a six pack of the Harpoon Brewery's Pumpkin UFO, and I just got the Samuel Adams "What's On Tap" monthly newsletter. Within the email, they mentioned the release of their Harvest Collection mix 12-pack.

Sam Adams has been very good at putting out seasonal mix 12-packs, and have gotten into it more over the past year or so. Last fall, they released their brand new Harvest Pumpkin Ale at the Beer Summit's Octoberfest celebration. This year, much to my delight, they are releasing another special beer - Bonfire Rauchbier.

Now, last year on my 30th birthday we went to the AHA Rally at the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston. Aside from the Glacier beer, which is/was a single hop Pale Ale (I loved this beer), we also got to try the Rob's American Rauchbier. This was a great beer that went incredibly well with the bbq we had that day. I imagine the Bonfire is either the same, or a similar recipe, and I'm excited to try. It should especially go well with some of the awesome fall food dishes Sarah prepares.

Anyway, I will be on the lookout for the Harvest Collection in the next week or so. I highly recommend picking up a pack, as it includes Boston Lager, Octoberfest, Harvest Pumpkin, Black Lager, and Irish Red - which are all solid beers!

Tuesday Night Tasting - Notch Session: Saison

Notch Session – Boston / Ipswich, MA
American Session Saison
3.8 ABV, 22 oz and on draft

I picked this beer up not too long ago at Craft Beer Cellar, and actually reviewed this beer a few weeks ago. Unfortunately there are no additional pictures as our USB hookup to our camera is missing in action. Hopefully I can find it, as it’s far better than the other camera we have.

The color of this Saison is a beautiful deep golden orange hue, with a big, fluffy, white head that lingers! The head appears to sit atop the liquid like a cloud. The aroma is quite pleasant and robust. It has a floral and fragrant hop character, with hints of orange, citrus, and tones of nice Belgian like yeast. It is also perfectly carbonated.

The flavor is smooth and soft. You can pick up the slight piney, citrusy, and floral flavor you typical see from farmhouse brews. Yet, the malt provides a nice balance. It is lower in alcohol compared to most Saison and other Belgian beers, so it doesn’t quite have the same bit. But, considering this is a “Session Saison” it makes the mark!

The Notch Saison has a mild mouth feel, and surprisingly so, considering the low gravity of the beer. It also has a high drinkability level. All of owner/brewer Chris Lohering’s beers are incredibly drinkable, which comes with the Session style…but, that doesn’t mean this beer can’t stand up to other Saison and Hefeweizens.

The Notch Session Saison is yet another solid, solid beer which I suggest you try why the weather is still warm!

Monday, August 15, 2011

BHB Oktoberfest Contest Drawing This Week!

This is just a friendly reminder that the contest we announced for a pair of free tickets to the Blue Hills Brewery Oktoberfest celebration is ending THIS WEEK! The event is taking place on Saturday September 10th from 12-6pm at the Canton Irish Cultural Center and should be a good time had by all!

A reminder of how to enter:

In order to be entered into the contest, please post a comment here letting us know what your favorite Blue Hills Brewery beer is, where you most like to drink them (ie: at home, at the brewery, a favorite festival, the best bar in town), and share this post with your friends on Facebook & Twitter (and Google+ if you're on it).

The cut off date to enter is this Thursday - August 18th, and the winner will be announced on Friday August 19th at 12pm.

Redhook to Release Late Harvest Seasonal

Redhook Brewery, which has an East Coast Brewery in Portsmouth, NH is set to release their Late Harvest Seasonal beer. According to the following press release, it's a big hit on the East Coast, so this will be only distributed to the fortunate New England (and beyond) craft beer lovers!

Here's the full release:

Redhook Brewery Releases Late Harvest Seasonal in its East Coast Markets
“Better late than never.”

Portsmouth, N.H. – Aug. 15, 2011 –Redhook is bringing back one of his favorite fall seasonal ales, Late Harvest, for his East Coast fans. Redhook Late Harvest is a great beer to celebrate the bounty of fall and enjoy while tailgating, sitting around a bonfire or recharging after raking up the leaves in the front yard. The seasonal ale is an easy-drinking, robust, full-bodied brew with a rich flavor. Late Harvest will be available August through September in grocery stores in 12-ounce bottles and on draught throughout Redhook’s East Coast markets.

“Late Harvest is one of our more popular brews in New England,” said Andy Schwartz, brewmaster at Redhook’s Portsmouth, N.H., brewery. “We have a lot of fun brewing this beer. It uses four different malts to really bring out a distinctive flavor while maintaining a smooth, bold profile.”

Redhook Late Harvest features a deep chestnut color and roasted malt aroma and flavor. Its rich taste is the result of using the different malts, yet the robust profile remains balanced. Late Harvest has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 5.9 percent, 32 international bittering units (IBUs) and 194 calories per 12 ounces. Late Harvest will retail for approximately $8.99 per six-pack.

AHA Announces New Logo

Here's the release from the American Homebrewers Association (AHA):

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is excited to present a new logo to represent the organization. The AHA's most recent logo was more than a decade old, and the time was right to freshen up the look and feel to reflect the fun and passion for homebrewing found in the AHA membership and the hobby as a whole.

The new logo incorporates several graphic elements that represent the fundamentals of the hobby, including a hop cone, a barley stalk and a tall glass of beer, on a circular background that evokes the shape of a bottle cap. AHA Director Gary Glass explains the design process: "It wasn't easy, and the AHA staff and our graphic design team took the redesign seriously. We're thrilled with this new visual representation of the AHA, our members and the broader homebrewing community."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

White Birch Brewing in Draft Magazine

Bill Herlicka, owner and brewer at White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, New Hampshire, was profiled in the June/August 2011 issue of Draft Magazine. The article, which you can get to by clicking here, gives a nice little profile on Bill, who started as a homebrewer, and transitioned from his career in Finance to running a seven barrel brewery in a small town (which happens to be my hometown).

The article goes on to profile some of White Birch Brewing's flagship, rotating, and apprentice beers, which are readily available at Bert's Better Beers in Hooksett, as well as package stores in MA, PA, and other states. The article is a fairly quick read, but will certainly get you interested in trying Herlicka's beers if you haven't already.

The brewery is actually moving from their current location at 1368 Hooksett Road to the former Auto Wholesalers building (right down the street) at 1339 Hooksett Road. The new space is substantially bigger, with a huge parking lot, which will allow for expansion of not only White Birch Brewing's production, but will provide them with far greater space for events - such as their Southern New Hampshire Brewers Festival which took place last month. This is also prime real estate, right on the busiest road in town, and will give the company far greater exposure!

Congratulations Bill!

First Annual Metrowest Brew Fest

The First Annual Metrowest Brewfest, in conjunction with Fifth Avenue Liquors and the Holliston Business Association, will take place on Thursday October 13th from 6:30-9:30pm. The event is still in the planning stages, so the list of brewers is still being set, but to date the confirmed brewers are Magic Hat, Oskar Blues, Troegs Brewing Company, and Sierra Nevada; however, there are likely to be several more local and regional brewers to be added to the list!

Advance tickets will be $25, and admission at the door is $30. Tickets can be purchased at Fifth Avenue Liquors and the Holliston Business Association (both online) shortly. Beer, food, and live music will be in abundance for sure!

The event will take place in the barn and on the grounds of the Holliston Historical Society in Holliston, MA (547 Washington Street). Once more infomation becomes available, I will update everyone!

Throwback Brewery Opens Tasting Room

Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, NH will officially open their newly constructed tasting room. Owner/brewers Annette and Nicole received their state approval yesterday, and are planning on opening THIS SATURDAY! From 12-5pm you can stop by and taste five of their amazing beers, not to mention take some of their fresh, hand crafted brews in their stylish new swing-top growlers! If five hours on Saturday wasn't enough, they will also be open from 12-3pm on Sunday to meet your beer needs.

***Correction! Empty Growlers are just $12, plus the cost of beer (price varies, based on what goes inside)! This weekend, they will have their Spicy Bohemian, Hog Happy Hefeweizen, Dippity Do, Hopstruck, and Maple-Kissed Wheat Porter available for sample and purchase. They plan to roll out a few additional flavors next month, and will likely keep things interesting trying out different beers each month.

The bar and retail area was added last month, and was not yet constructed when we paid Annette and Nicole a visit back in March. The ladies had a VERY successful launch party a few weeks ago in Dover, NH, and followed that up at the Southern NH Brewers Fest in late July.

Throwback Brewery is located at 121 Lafayette Road in North Hampton, NH and is definitely worth the trip!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Great News on the ABCC Ruling

Alcohol board backs off small brewer rule change

The Boston Herald announced yesterday that the decision to change the Farmer-Brewery license requirement will not go into effect. Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman announced yesterday that the ABCC decided to eliminate the change, which would have required breweries with a farmer-brewer license to produce 50% of their grain and hops, after yesterday's meeting.

So, that is really, really good news for brewers and consumers, not to mention the economy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Their article also indicates that the commission will hold a series of public hearings, so they can obtain feedback from consumers and brewers. Once I know of these hearings, I will be glad to post them here!

Take a quick look at the Herald's article!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Brown backs tax cuts for brewers, Hedlund files bill in response to ABCC

Brown backs tax cuts for brewers, Hedlund files bill in response to ABCC

This is a MUST read! Lots of developments on theABCC crap going on. State Senator Robert Hedlund is on the case, in response to Idle Hands Craft Ales rejected farmer-brewer license. Senator Scott Brown is cosponsoring a bill to finally reduce the excise tax imposed on each barrel of beer a brewery produces.

This reduction of excise taxes will only help the smaller craft breweries grow, produce more beer, create more jobs, and become more competitive with the giants of InBev an MillerCoors. Of course, converting people from that foamy light beer to better beer is another way!

There are more articles I found online while digging through Facebook and Google that I will share with you all soon!

Fourth Annual Summer Brew Fest

In celebration of International Beer Day, which today, I'd like to inform everyone of yet ANOTHER great beer festival coming up!

The Indian Ranch has announced a HUGE brewfest happening later this month. On the shore of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (seriously, that's the name - don't ask me how you say it) in Webster, Massachusetts, the Indian Ranch known for it's camp ground, classic rock (Blue Oyster Cult is playing tomorrow), and (mostly) country concerts. However, they will hold their 4th Annual Summer Brew Fest on August 27th, 2011 from 2-6pm.

Local and regional craft brewers will be on hand, and confirmed to date are: Harpoon, Narragansett, Sierra Nevada, RedHook Ale Brewery, Longtrail Brewing Co., Wormtown Brewery, Wachusett Brewing Co., Maine Beer Company, Paper City Brewery, Ipswich Ale Brewery, Sherwood Forest Brewers, Watch City Brewery, Clown Shoes Beer, Peak Organic, Woodstock Inn, and Olde Burnside Brewing Co. just to name a few. There will also be some National brands, as well as imported beers from Spain and Scottland.

Tickets are just $20 if purchased before August 13th, and $25 after the 13th. Admission includes 15 beer sample tickets, a souvenir tasting cup, live music, *pole-ish horseshoes, and more! Award winning BBQ will also be available for purchase from B.T.'s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, and pulled pork and other BBQ favorites from Tiny Tim's Cafe and Catering.

While Webster, MA is in **Central Massachusetts, it's actually only about an hour from Boston, Providence, and Springfield. Sarah and I were recently in Oxford, which is only a few miles away, and I was surprised that it didn't take very long to get there.

You can purchase your tickets at the Indian Ranch box office, or through Ticketmaster by clicking here. Please note this event is rain or shine!

* I previously stated I didn't know what pole-ish horseshoes in, but in fact I do know what it is - I just didn't know what it was called. Man, where have I been hiding?

**I previously stated Indian Ranch was in southeastern MA, but Webster is kinda near Worcester (about 15 miles) and somewhat on the Connecticut border. Sorry for any confusion!

Redhook Fest - Tomorrow

I have no clue why I didn't announce it earlier, but the 15th Annual Redhook Fest is TOMORROW at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. The gates to this party open at 2pm, and the even goes well into the night. It is also rain or shine, but is bound to be a great time! Tickets are just $30 in advance, and $40 at the doors.

Here is the official press release:

15th Annual RedhookFest Tickets Now On Sale

Citizen Cope to Headline Redhook’s 30th Birthday Bash

Portsmouth, N.H., Join Redhook Brewery for his 30th birthday bash and the 15th annual RedhookFest. The monumental birthday will be headlined by indie rocker Citizen Cope and is expected to attract thousands of craft beer and music lovers from across New England for a summertime bash in the brewery’s backyard. For this year’s birthday celebration, Redhook has partnered with 100.3 the ROCK Station to offer live music, food, and Redhook beer. Opening acts include, Mitten, Soulive, and Robert Randolph & the Family Band. RedhookFest is open to all ages, however photo ID is required for the purchase of alcoholic beverages and minors must be accompanied by a parent. The festival will include a vendor village complete with games, activities, and prizes from local cultural and adventure-based businesses.

Tickets for RedhookFest are on sale now and are $30 when purchased in advance, $40 at the door. Kids 12 and under get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Tickets can be purchased at Cataqua Public House, located at Redhook Brewery and online at the brewery’s Web site,

What: Redhook Brewery’s 15th Annual RedhookFest/30th Birthday Party· An all ages, general admission, festival style event· Featuring headlining musical guest Citizen Cope· Festival activities include a 40ft. rock wall, dunk tank, etc.· Prizes provided by local businesses Sky Dive New England, 3 Rivers Rafting, Sunday River, Alpine Adventures Ziplines, and more· Redhook beer and food from local vendors will be available

When: Saturday, Aug. 6
Gates open at 2 p.m.
Music begins at 2:30 p.m.

Redhook Brewery
1 Redhook Way
Pease International Tradeport
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Who: Thousands of food, music and beer lovers from around New England

Tickets: Available now at the Cataqua Public House at Redhook Brewery or online at $30 advance / $40 day of show Kids 12 and under get in free with adult admission

An Update on the Farmer-Brewer Issue

Treasurer Steve Grossman offers hope of rescue for craft beer industry from his agency’s red tape

So, yesterday's post about the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) was no mistake; however, it may have been an instant knee jerk reaction to a preposterous idea. Thanks to the ladies at Craft Beer Cellar for posting a link to this article on their Facebook page, it seems that Massachusetts' State Treasurer Steve Grossman had no idea that the ABCC was modifying their requirements for breweries to produce 50% of their hops and barley to qualify for a farmer-brewer license. Grossman has to approve any changes, which if passed, this new requirement would hurt incredibly - but, according to the article he is on the side of small business.

There's a meeting between Grossman, the ABCC, and representatives from the craft beer industry next Monday, and we'll hopefully have some news to share with you. For now, take a look at this Patriot Ledger post from yesterday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy National IPA Day!

Today is National IPA day! I didn't actually know about it, or perhaps realize it, until a few days ago, but an impromptu package store run last night made me realize that I needed some hoppy brews in order to celebrate this evening properly! I ended up stopping at Atlas Liquors in Quincy, which has a rather decent selection of craft beers.

With that being said, I got the following beers:

Haverhill Brewery Leather Lips IPA - a great IPA with a modest IBU of 50. Although the number is low, the flavor and bitter bite is definitely there! Haverhill Brewery uses Centennial, Nugget, and Chinook hops to give the IPA its bold flavor and aroma.

Great Divide Brewing Co. Rumble - an American IPA aged on French and American Oak. It's said to have a heavy addition of Pacific Northwest hops, and who doesn't love that!?

Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA - a COLOSSAL dose of Columbus and Centennial Hops help give this beer 100+ IBU, enough to ruin any other beer you may chose to drink after the Ruination IPA. A serious beer for serious hop heads, it's not for the run of the mill IPA fan.

Although I killed off the last of my Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPAs last night, I still have one 16 oz. can of Sixpoint Craft Ales Bengali Tiger. The Bengali Tiger is sufficiently hoppy, clocking in at 66-69 IBU. I had to represent New England, which is why I went with Leather Lips (one of my favorite beers by Haverhill Brewery), but the Rumble just kind of caught my eye. You can also never really go wrong with a big beer like Ruination IPA.

I hope everyone participates in what might be my new favorite holiday of the IPA! I tend to celebrate India Pale Ales regularly, but there's nothing wrong with having a special day to honor such a great style in beer!

What will YOU be drinking?

Massachusetts Lawmakers: Counter Productive

For anyone who reads this blog and enjoys any of the craft beers brewed right here in Massachusetts, you will probably be as steaming mad as I am after reading this article titled "Rule Change Alarms Small Brewers" released today.

Essentially, the Massachusetts legislature is trying to redefine/regulate those brewers in MA that have a Farmer-Brewery license. By definition, those who operate under a farmer-brewery license are required to produce at least 50% of their own grain and hops, or get them from a domestic source (read: a Massachusetts farm). According to the article, around 25 of the state's breweries would be affected by this redefining.

While the revamping of the definition of farmer-brewery is meant to increase and promote the state's agriculture - meaning, adding more farms in the sate, it is INCREDIBLY counter productive. Although the state probably has hundreds or thousands of acres of land suitable for growing barley and hops, one might find it hard to believe that someone will simply open a specialized farm for such a thing. Meanwhile, these small breweries are going to be severely impacted and even forced into closing operations.

What the article points out, and almost all of the brewery tours we've been on indicate, that spent grain from brewing sessions are given to local farms for feed of the animals. Additionally, breweries purchase local fruits and other ingredients to incorporate into their beers.

When asked what the changes in the law would do, Cape Ann Brewing Company's owner Jeremy Goldberg was quoted in the article saying, "We would have a brewery that couldn't serve [beer] on the premises,’’ said Goldberg, who said it could be very hard to get the local liquor license he would need to operate in Gloucester without his farmer-brewery license. “It is going to kill my business.’’

This redefining effort was spurred on after an application request submitted by would be commercial brewery Idle Hands Craft Ales of Everette, MA was discussed during a commission hearing in July. The request was subsequently rejected, leaving Idol Hands Craft Ales in a tough spot while they try to figure out how to get their beer to the market.

Please take a moment to read the article on and show your support by leaving comments here and on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

1st Annual Portland Brew Festival

The 1st Annual Portland Brew Festival will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday September 3rd & 4th in beautiful Portland, Maine. There will be 25+ breweries on hand pouring their liquid gold for you! Not limited to just Maine breweries, there will be three buildings for exhibitors, over 75 varieties of regional craft beer, home-brewing supplies and demonstrations, food, music, and way more.

As you would expect, there will be some well known regional brewers, such as Shipyard Brewing Co, Samuel Adams, and Sea Dog Brewing Co pouring their beers. Other, less-known breweries, such as Baxter Brewing Co (Lewiston, ME), Tuckerman Brewing Co (Conway, NH), High & Mighty Beer Co (Holyoke, MA), Casco Bay Brewing Co (Part of Shipyard Brewing Co in Portland, ME), The Prodigal Brewery (Center Effingham, NH) and Martha's Exchange (Nashua, NH), will be on hand as well to introduce themselves to you (or refill your glasses if you've had some of their brews before)!

There will be three sessions - two on Saturday: 12 - 3:30pm and 5 - 8:30pm, and a Sunday afternoon session 12 - 3:30pm. All tickets are $30, and are on sale now! Click here to purchase tickets.

British Beer Company Westford Turns 1!

Get ready to celebrate! The British Beer Company Westford is celebrating their one year anniversary! Here's the press release I got from the Director of Marketing at the BBC:

What: One Year Anniversary Weekend Celebration
Where: Westford British Beer Company
When: August 12-13th
Who: The Silvertones with Ricky King Russell and Danny Banks (Saturday)
How: With a Wachusett Brewing Tap Takeover (Friday)

It’s been a brilliant first year for the British Beer Company in Westford, MA. The BBC would like to thank all their customers for their devotion and to the community as a whole for their support. The BBC was awarded Restaurant of the Year in Middlesex County via the Chamber of Commerce. They also received the following awards from Best Bar, Best Lunch Venue, Best Dinner Venue, and a Silver Award for the Regions Best Bar. Very humbling… So how about a celebration with some free BBQ! On Saturday August 13th the BBC is going to fire up a grill out by their spacious patio and offer up free vittles while the Silvertones featuring Ricky “King” Russell and Danny Banks bang out the blues. The Berkshire Brewing Company will also be out on the patio offering samples from their diverse portfolio of beers. Later that night the Pablo Palooza Band performs.

Kicking off the weekend on Friday the BBC teams up with Wachusett Brewing Co. for a big ole Tap Takeover. Seven tap lines will be devoted to this local brewery’s beers: Octoberfest Ale, Imperial Pumpkin, Country Pale Ale, Belgian White, Larry, Green Monsta IPA and Blueberry Ale. That’s right – it’s time for Pumpkin beer again! Kegs will be tapped at noon and will flow all day! A crew from Wachusett will be in the pub from 5pm to 10pm to offer knowledge and give away cool stuff. The night ends with Drunken Uncles…the band, at 10pm.

More about Ricky “King” Russell: Described as "The Kingpin of the Blues" by the Boston Globe, Ricky always delivers from the heart. He has appeared with such notables as John Lee Hooker, Ronnie Earl, Susan Tedeschi, Toni Lynn Washington, Roomful of Blues and many others. He was the featured artist at the original House of Blues in Cambridge and Harvard University has bestowed upon him an honorary "Doctorate of the Blues."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guest Blogger - AHA Rally Boston

by Mike Micalone

"Take a drink, and you'll sink, to a state of pure inebriation," Pawtucket Pat from "Family Guy"

These words were being sung in my head as I was walking into the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally at the Samuel Adams Brewery on last Thursday. If you're a homebrewer and aren't part of the AHA I highly recommend you sign up just for the rallies alone! The people at Sam Adams did a great job of welcoming the local members of the AHA to their brewery. Hell, even if you're not a homebrewer and just enjoy craft beer I recommend taking a tour of one of the grandfathers of the craft beer industry.

When I arrived (and after I was done singing to myself) I was handed a name tag, pint glass with a raffle ticket, a small sample cup, a card for four samples and one taste test, and two poker chips (good for a BBQ dinner and a sample of the Patriot's Homebrew Contest winner).

Not a bad start for a free event! A trip through a tunnel with all kinds of information about brewing leads into a room with a bunch of barrels of beer (for the Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection) and several 25 barrel fermenters that I would love to try and brew a batch of beer in.
The first stop after passing by the fermenters was to taste test the two beers they had setup for us to vote on. Our vote was going towards the final decision which one would get put into a future mix pack. The first was beer brewed on a bed of oak chips that had a subtle smoky taste to it. The second one was a darker beer with a hint of maple syrup and pecans in it. Despite not being much of a maple syrup fan (I know, sacrilegious for a New Englander to say this!) it wasn't half bad. I cast my vote for the first one and moved on.

After perusing a display of products that Beer & Wine Hobby of Woburn had setup I moved into the tap room to get myself one of my four samples. I decided to start with a Deconstructed Latitude 48. They get their name from the fact that the regular Latitude 48 has five different types of hops in it. Sam Adams decided to brew different versions of the beer focusing on just one type of hops. The one I had was based on Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops.

My buddy Mike from work arrived just as I was ready for another beer. I decided to sampled the East-West Kolsh. This beer was fairly light and ended up going well with the BBQ food setup they had outside in the beer garden. The beer garden was particularly cool to me since I got to sit next to some hop plants they have growing. It made me realize that my hops have a ways to go (more on this in a later post).

After eating some great BBQ I decided it was time for another sample. I decided to go with a Hefeweizen they had on tap. It had a good flavor and aroma overall. Its lighter body was perfect for the weather outside. We were all ushered outside for some raffles and to hear from Jim Prucha, this year's winner of the Patriot's Homebrew Contest. Each year Sam Adams hold a competition to decide a beer to be brewed and served on tap at Gillette Stadium during Patriots games through out the season. Jim brewed a Baltic Porter (which is somewhere between a Russian Imperial Stout and a regular porter) which had a great full body, smooth chocolate undercurrent and pleasant aroma that is sure to keep any fan warm during the cold winter months in New England.

After taking an opportunity to hear Jim field any questions on his brew, the AHA held raffles for a few door prizes that included some T-shirts, books, good bags with brewing supplies, and the grand prize - which was a pair of tickets to the Mass Brewers Fest. I managed to win a t-shirt that had the motto of the AHA ("relax, don't worry, have a home brew"). I would have been disappointed I didn't win the tickets if I didn't already buy mine earlier in the week.

After grabbing another Deconstructed Latitude 48 (my favorite beer out of the ones I got to sample), I took a chance to talk to a few homebrewers about their setups and what they've brewed in the past. Overall I say it was a great first rally and it makes me even more excited for the AHA Rally at Allagash Brewery in Portland, ME later this month!

You can find Mike on Twitter under the handle @Mickle623!