Saturday, February 26, 2011
Check out this interesting article about the strangle hold beer distributors have on small, independent, craft brewers in Massachusetts. It's definitely not right, and the Commonwealth seems to see nothing wrong with it! Of course, this is still the state that has century old "Blue" Laws still in effect.
Anyway, I thought it was worth the read. Please spread the word!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
#1.) (probably the main reason) They have one of the coolest stores that features a HUGE selection of New England and American Craft beer. This by no means should discount the fact that they have an amazing Belgian and European imported beer section. Did I also mention that they have food items, like Ipswich Ale Mustard? They got that too! I should mention they also have a nice wine section too, for those looking for something a bit different.
#2.) When planning/organizing the Beer Festival portion of "Cure Me I'm Irish", I wanted to seek out donations from local stores, restaurants, and pubs that feature great craft beer to go with the beer theme. Because of this, I emailed Suzanne and Kate of Craft Beer Cellar requesting a donation. No lie - it took six (6) minutes to get a response from Suzanne emphatically stating, "You can count on us!" I couldn't believe it!
#3) They made a significant donation in the form of gift certificates to the event. In fact, it's the largest one I've received so far.
So if you haven't visited Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA yet, what the hell are you waiting for? You definitely will NOT find any macro beer in their store. It would only take away space for their spectacular selection of awesome beers from some of our favorite breweries!
Don't forget - Craft Beer Cellar is hosting Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head on March 10th from 4-6pm. The first hour, Sam will be signing his updated edition of "Brewing Up a Business" (available for purchase), and then for the last hour he will be conducting a beer tasting. It should also be noted that Craft Beer Cellar hosts bi-weekly beer tastings. For more information on these tastings and other happenings, please visit the Craft Beer Cellar website!
Check out Craft Beer Cellar on Facebook and Twitter too!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Ipswich Ale Brewery - Ipswich, MA
(Formerly operating under Mercury Brewing Co)
6.83% ABV, 60 IBU, 12oz
Available in 12 oz and draft
Although this is my first review of an Ipswich Ale Brewery beer, this is by no means my first go around with the beer. I purchased this as part of the mix pack when we visited Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA, and the pack also includes the Ipswich Original and Dark Ale, as well as the IPA (which I have purchased a few times in the past).
This beer pours a dark, rich, and bold black liquid. It's completely devoid of light. It features a great brownish/coffee hued head that melts into the beer rather quickly. The Oatmeal Stout has hints of brown sugar, malt, and toffee as it crosses your nose.
The beer has a mild to full flavor. After a few sips you notice a rich, dark, chocolate tone - but not overpowering. It's quite subtle actually. As you continue, the beer's hidden flavors continue to come out. It has a pleasant bitterness and slight smokiness. It finishes a bit sweet, with tones of dark chocolate, bringing the flavor full circle.
This also has a full mouth feel, and is slightly heavy...which is perfect for the cold winter months we get here in New England. It has a nice lasting flavor, but probably would limit the amount you might put back in one sitting.
In the world of stouts, this is definitely a good one. Although I don't have too many to compare it with, I'd have to rate it a bit lower on my list of choice Oatmeal Stouts. This in no way means it's not a good beer, but I would need a larger sample size to rank it higher.
This, however, should not deter you from purchasing the beer on its own, and I would strongly encourage you to pick up the mix pack. Ipswich has one of the strongest selections of mix 12 packs currently available, and I guarantee you will enjoy the four beers included.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Last year's candidates - Pat Lacey is the current Mayor
Friday, February 18, 2011
In all, it comes in at around an hour of video and is definitely worth checking out. The audio quality isn't top notch, but nevertheless it's great to hear about how Sam got into the business, tests new beers, and runs his business. Honestly, when I listened to the chat it really got me more pumped up about business than sitting in any classroom.
A special thanks to Christine (aka: @missusp on Twitter) for sharing the link!
By the way, I should mention that Sam Calagione will be at Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA on Thursday March 10th from 4 to 6pm signing copies of his revised book "Brewing Up a Business" as well as conducting a beer tasting! It is not to be missed. Check out the Craft Beer Cellar's website for more info!
Basically, a Red Cross employee mistakenly tweeted something meant for her personal twitter, on the company's twitter.
And what's even better is The Red Cross and Dogfish Head were able to respond with humor. Love it!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
As you may recall, we reported that Sea Dog was opening a new brewpub location in Woburn. Well, their doors are officially open, and Sarah and I visited them last weekend.
After making our way to Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose, we had accumulated quite the appetite. Knowing that Woburn wasn’t too far away, and that Beer & Wine Hobby was right down the street (I needed a new hydrometer as mine broke the week before), we opted to make the short drive to visit the Sea Dog Brew Pub Woburn.
To refresh your memories, Sea Dog Brewing Co. is a Maine brewery that has several brewpubs located in Vacation Land. They made a licensing agreement with some Massachusetts businessmen, and the Sea Dog Brew Pub Hull was opened. Well, the same owners decided one location wasn’t enough and opted to open a new, and bigger, restaurant in Woburn.
Now, we have visited their restaurant in Hull twice, which was nice. It has a very cozy, pub-like atmosphere, has probably the best view of any restaurant on the South Shore, and even though they don’t brew their own beer has a decent line up of beers. The food was mediocre to good depending what you got, but it was still a nice place to hang out. For locals, it’s the best around. I have to say though, the Woburn location steps it up big time!
The owners certainly spent some time and money renovating this had-been TGI Fridays into a chic and attractive restaurant. Renovations included a new bar, new high top tables and booths, and certainly a new color scheme. The restaurant has a great cozy waiting area with leather couches, and there is even a rather large patio (although it was hard to see as it is currently under three feet of snow).
Unfortunately this day there wasn’t any room at the bar, so we opted for a nice high top table just next to it. Sarah ordered a beer flight, and I opted to go with their IPA while we took a look at the new menu.
As we were taking a gander, the manager Emily came over to say hello. She is a reader of the blog, and also manages the Hull location. We ran into her last summer there and formed a nice little friendship. We complimented her on the new digs and asked her for some food recommendations. Emily told us they had hired a new Executive Chef who revamped the menu a bit, and it was evident when we got our lunch.
I decided to order the stuffed chicken sandwich, and Sarah selected the fried fish sandwich. While the chicken sandwich was extremely tasty, the shining star was the fish sandwich. It has a mango tartar sauce topping and is literally THE BEST fish sandwich I’ve ever had. I don’t want to say I’m an aficionado or anything (ok, maybe I am), but I have had many, many of them in my days. This was by far heads and shoulders above the rest.
Much like the Hull location, Woburn totes a Mug Club. For around $50 or so you get a personal, numberd mug which holds 20 oz versus the standard 16oz, but for the same price. You also get a t-shirt each year you renew, and invitations to special Sea Dog events.
Unfortunately, from what I believe I heard, the initial Mug Club mugs have already sold out, but you should check out their Facebook page to keep up to date!
Sea Dog Brew Pub is located at 230 Mishawum Road Woburn, MA. It is conveniently located about a mile off the highway. If you're in the area, this restaurant is not to be missed. They've done a great job remodeling both the interior and menu, and it does not disappoint! If you do stop in, tell Emily Adam and Sarah sent you!
*sorry for the lack of pictures, we will get more very soon!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Cape Ann Brewing Company – Gloucester, MA
Fisherman’s Navigator Special Winter Reserve
Double Bock German Style Lager
7% ABV, 37 IBU, 12 oz
This is really a great beer by Cape Ann Brewing Co. Sarah and I have visited both their old brewery and also their new one, and each time we had at least a sample if not a full pint of the Navigator.
The beer pours a nice, soft and foamy white head that fades pretty quickly. The beer itself has a fantastic ruby and amber color with a medium carbonation level. The initial smell is sweet, but there are caramel tones that shine through with subtle notes of clean malt.
The taste definitely compliments the aroma. It’s sweet with hints of caramel with a malty backbone, yet none of the flavors overpower the beer. I’d say it has a really pleasant balance of malt and sweetness.
While the Navigator packs a nice punch at 7% ABV, it isn’t as heavy as you would expect from a strong beer like this. In fact, it has a moderate mouth feel and goes down incredibly smooth. It’s highly drinkable and you could easily put away a few of these in a row. It’s great at any time; however, it would likely go best as a desert beer or after dinner drink.
I picked up this beer when Sarah and I visited Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose, MA last weekend. They also had the Cape Ann Brewing Co. Fisherman’s IPA right next to it, but I opted to go with the Navigator as I hadn’t previously seen it in bottles. Cape Ann actually contracts their bottles to the Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. in Saratoga Springs, NY. They seem to be gaining a wider distribution area, and you can now find the Fisherman’s Mix 12-Pack, which I also hadn’t seen before. The next time I see it though, I will definitely be purchasing it!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
If you’re looking for something to do this Thursday, consider hitting the British Beer Company Framingham as they will host Brewer Dann Paquette from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project from 5-7pm for their “Jack D’Or Pint Night.” The bar staff will be pouring their great selection of New England and American Craft Beers, not to mention their extensive imported bottle selection, and will be giving away a free Pretty Things glass (while supplies last) with the purchase of a Pretty Things beer.
Sarah and I attended a Harpoon Brewery pint night at the BBC Walpole back in October and had a blast. If you haven’t been to a British Beer Company yet, you’re definitely missing out! They always have a great selection of craft beer on draft, no matter which location you go to. On top of that, their food is very good. You can get your classic American pub food, but they also have classic British dishes such as bangers and mash (which I’ve had and must have again very, very soon!) and Fish & Chips.
British Beer Company is located at 120 Worcester Road (Route 9) in Framingham.
Monday, February 14, 2011
As part of our beer hunt last weekend, Sarah and I decided to make a quick stop into Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet. It was a shop that Sarah has known about for years, as the owner Rebecca and she have been blog friends for quite some time. I recently began following Beacon Hill Wine on Twitter (@Beaconhillwine) and learned that they also carry craft beer. SO, considering we didn’t have anything special going on, we opted to take a ride to their Melrose store for a little bit.
Truthfully, I hadn’t been through Melrose before. Sure, I had probably driven through it once or twice, and my father even lived there for a while as a kid, but I definitely had not been downtown. My GPS, though not very old, has not been updated in a while. Though, we weren’t disappointed as half the fun getting to places is finding it. Nevertheless, after a little scenic route, we found our way to Beacon Hill Wine.
The shop is located on the corner of a busy downtown Melrose street (Main Street), but could not have been in a better location! Just looking at the building, we knew we were in for a treat once we went inside.
Now, with a name like Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet, you’d expect it to be full of wine. Well, you would be correct, as a good majority of the store is in fact wine; however, they have more than just fine wines!
For starters, they have a new gourmet food refrigerator that is stocked full of nice D’Artagnan meats, such as buffalo, elk, venison, and wild boar. If you haven’t tried some of these meats, you really do need to. They are delicious, and equally as important they are very healthy for you. They also pair very nice with local cheeses and beer!
Across the store is their selection of gourmet cheeses. They happened to have a few out for us to try, and we could not have been more pleased.
We picked up some Cabot Clothbound Cheese that was one of our favorites from the Vermont based company to date. It actually paired amazingly with our Flag Hill Winery desert wine later that evening.
They have a wide selection of wines, but to be honest I really don’t know a whole lot about wine. The little I do know could not do Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet justice, so I suggest heading to Sarah’s blog The Pink Shoe Diaries to learn about their wine.
Not to be discounted though was the great selection of craft beer at Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet.
The store had around four floor to ceiling coolers, stocked full of great beers. Of course they had their macro beers, but mixed in were the likes of Samuel Adams – including their new Double Bock and Imperial White, Long Trail Double Bag, Beer Works beers, Smuttynose Robust Porter, Ipswich Ale & Ipswich IPA, Wachusett Brewing’s Quinn’s Irish Red and (one of my personal favorites) Green Monsta Ale.
Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet also stocks some other great regional craft beer, including Ithaca Beer Co’s Flower Power and Cascazilla, Southern Tier 2XIPA, Dogfish Head Midas Touch, as well as bombers by Goose Island, Brewery Ommegang, and Lagunitas Brewing Company.
They have a great rack of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project’s Jack D’or and St. Botolph’s Town, mixed in with Chimay and Duvel, which is located next to their amazing cheese case.
I ended up grabbing a six pack of Cape Ann Brewing Co’s Fisherman’s Navigator Double Bock. I have had this beer a few times, although only at the brewery or at beer events. It’s a very pleasant brew, and you can expect a full review of it here soon!
Like most of the places we visit, Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet is definitely worth the trip. Both Sarah and I found the shop to be very charming, and have more than what we were looking for. We only wish we lived in this cute neighborhood so we could frequent the shop on a regular basis.
Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet is located at 538 Main Street in Melrose, MA. Proprietors Gene and Rebecca Beraldi also own Beacon Hill Wine & Spirits, which is located at 63 Charles Street in Boston. It is definitely worth the trip if you have yet to visit, and we will certainly be heading back soon!
To refresh your memory, the event is taking place on March 5, 2011 from 7pm to Midnight at Lombardo’s in Randolph, MA. The brewery line up is: Mayflower Brewing Company, Cape Ann Brewing Co, Blue Hills Brewery, Magic Hat Brewing Co, and Cody Brewing Company.
Get more information on the Friends of Will Cancer Foundation here and please click here to go to the Cure Me I’m Irish event page to purchase your tickets today!
We hope to see everyone there!
Adam & Sarah
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I'm happy to announce that the Dropkick Murphys have donated some really great items to this year's Friends of Will Cancer Foundation celebration "Cure Me I'm Irish" event. The band has donated an autographed "Live on Landsdowne" t-shirt, "Live on Landsdowne" CD, and picture - signed by the entire band! They have also included some buttons and stickers.
By purchasing a ticket to "Cure Me I'm Irish", which is being held March 5, 2011 at Lombardo's in Randolph, MA, you will be helping children in need! Proceeds help patients with Neuroblastoma , a rare form of pediatric cancer.
The ticket includes a beer festival, with samples from Mayflower Brewing Co, Cape Ann Brewing Co, Blue Hills Brewery, Magic Hat Brewing Co, and Cody Brewing, which will be held from 7-9pm. From 8pm on, your ticket includes a full open bar, appetizers, live music from U2 tribute band Joshua Tree, Irish step dancers, raffle items, a silent auction, and more!
You can currently receive a 20% discount on tickets, available until February 15th. Go to www.curemeimirish.org for online ticket sales!
Mayflower Brewing Co. - Plymouth, MA
Winter Seasonal Oatmeal Stout
12 oz. (also available on draft)
It took me a while to find this beer, but once I did I began seeing it in several locations. I tell you though, it was well worth the hunt, because this is one damn good beer!
The beer pours a liquid as dark as oil, but if you look at it at a certain angle you can see a little hint of red. It pours a fluffy, foamy, and creamy dark brown head, that lasts a little while before disappearing into the night of this stout.
It gives off an effervescence of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee, but you can still pick up the malt and subtle smokiness of the brew.
Upon the first sip, you realize that it is much different that most stouts you've probably had. In fact, it differentiates itself from the typical oatmeal stouts. It is smooth, it is slightly smokey, but the bottom line is that the Mayflower Oatmeal Stout goes down as smooth as any other dark seasonal brew I've ever had! What's great is that it's sweet, yet has a sort of hidden bitterness to it. Not bitter like a Pale Ale or IPA, but it's got a slight bitter kiss to it that I really enjoy.
It has a mild, to moderate mouth feel, and has a very subtle and dry mouth feel. It isn't heavy like some stouts can be, yet it isn't overpowering which would prevent you from enjoying a few bottles. In fact, I have to admit...when I first got a the beer, I killed the entire six pack in one sitting.
Which leads me to the most important factor of this beer review - this beer is EXTREMELY drinkable! I first had the stout at the British Beer Company's newest location in Franklin. I then had a few samples at the Beer Summit's Winter Jubilee, and again at Mayflower's private event back on January 29th, and in general I can not get enough of it. The flavor profile changes slightly as the beer warms, as do most beers, so it leads me to believe that this would be incredible cask conditioned. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the BBC locations put this on cask, if they haven't already.
If you see this beer, do not hesitate to pick up a bottle or a six pack of it. If you're new to the world of stouts, this is a good way to help ease your transition.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
This past Saturday, Sarah and I ventured out on what I dubbed "the Beer Hunt." Truthfully, we had no plans, but I figured what better way to kill some time than to visit some of the places we have been meaning to visit over the past few months. Since I've become fully vested in the world of Twitter, I have begun following many beer-related people, including the proprietors of some really cool beer stores. This was no different, and Sarah and I were pleased as soon as we walked into one of our stops - Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA.
From the outside, we could see that this store was going to be a real treat! Craft Beer Cellar has a full window display of what we just learned was their #2 best seller during 2010 - Rogue Brewery Yellow Snow IPA. It was just after that that we got a better glimpse of what we were in store for.
Craft Beer Cellar has a FULL selection of New England, American, and International Craft Beers. You can find seemingly at least two or more selections from all of our favorite New England area craft beers. They have some of the freshest, and current offerings by all of the area's finest beers!
When we walked in the front entrance to the store, on the immediate left side was a full narrow book case full of Clown Shoes Beer.
It happened to be adjacent to another great, non-New England area brewers - Ithaca Beer Company. Although non-NE based, if you haven't had the Ithaca Flower Power IPA, you must try it. It's seriously in contention for one of my favorite bold IPAs.
Anyway, this quaint store has an amazing selection. They do a great job blending in regional, national, and New England craft breweries into their shelves, as well as their vast cold storage coolers. If you want Samuel Adams, Shipyard Brewing, Gritty McDuff's, Craft Beer Cellar has it. Perhaps you want a bomber of Troegs Java Head Stout, Ithaca Cascazilla Red Ale, or Berkshire Brewing Company Raspberry Barleywine, Craft Beer Cellar has it!
It's hard to resist picking and mixing beers, but that shouldn't stop you. In fact, Craft Beer Cellar encourages patrons to mix six packs. Each beer on their shelves is conveniently priced individually per bottle, and they stock a nice wooden barrel full of empty six-pack holders for their shoppers. They also scatter various twelve packs, including the mix-Cape Anne Brewing Co. 12 pack I have not seen anywhere before!
As you make your way past their register, you find yourself in a very extensive and impressive import section of the store. Craft Beer Cellar features a great Trappist and Belgian inspired segment of the store, including such beers as Delirium Tremens (enjoyed a great pint while at Timothy O'Toole's in Chicago), St. Bernadus, and Hitachino Nest to name a few!
On the other side of the store, adjacent to the Belgian beer selection, the store offers food, chips, mustard, and other food products from some great New England area breweries.
This really makes for one-stop shopping!
For instance, did you know that Sea Dog and Ipswich Ale Brewery have mustard? We didn't get a chance to try it, but I have to imagine it would go great on a beer brat or some soft baked pretzels. We'll have to pick up a few jars the next time we visit the store.
Another great area of the store, one in which Sarah tried to keep me far away from (as I have a vast collection of pint glasses) was in the corner of the store - towards the back. They had a great selection of pint glasses and other beer accessories.
Sarah was out of luck though. To our surprise, Ipswich Ale Brewery just happened to be conducting a tasting of some of their fine hand crafted beers in the back of the store that day!
The rep from Ipswich was serving each of the beers featured in their mix pack. Currently, they offer the Original Ipswich Ale, Ipswich Dark Ale, Ipswich IPA, and Ipswich Oatmeal Stout. Now, I have purchased the mix pack in the past and I have to say...Ipswich makes some damn good beer. Surprisingly, I haven't reviewed any of their beers, but I am definitely going to have to do so ASAP!
It had been a while since trying some of their beers, but as soon as I had a sip of the first sample I knew I was going to have to purchase one of the mix packs. What made the deal even more enticing, was that they were offering a free pint glass with the purchase of a six pack, or a t-shirt and pint glass or two pint glasses with the purchase of a twelve pack. Naturally, seeing how I really enjoyed all of the beers in their mix pack, I opted for the twelve pack and selected the t-shirt and pint glass to go along with it! So, for $16, I got 12 great beers, a nice new t-shirt, and awesome pint glass (not that I needed a new glass).
One of the other nice parts about the visit was meeting Beth. Beth is an employee of Craft Beer Cellar and was really nice when we got there. She asked me if I ran a beer blog, and I of course responded yes, and she let me know that she was a follower. I introduced myself, and thanked her for reading the site.
I have to also say that the other staff at the store could NOT have been nicer. I mean, they really appreciated everyone that entered their shop, and did their best to make them feel at home. Whether it was someone asking if we were looking for a particular beer, or even just the ladies at the register taking the beer out of our hands and putting it into their que for check out, they really made Sarah and I comfortable inside the store.
People had been telling me I needed to check out Craft Beer Cellar for a while. I can only say that I'm glad I finally made the trip out to this small, yet overly sufficient store!
Craft Beer Cellar is located at 51 Leonard Street in Belmont, MA. They have beer tastings most Thursdays and Saturdays, and is definitely worth the drive. If you're within 20 miles of Boston, and appreciate craft beer the way that we do (and the way that Craft Beer Cellar does), you need to take the short trip off the highway to visit this store. You will not be disappointed!