Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Beer - 2011

This is our way of closing out 2011 with a bang! The Year in Beer - 2010 wrapped up what was a busy year. We managed to post 92 times, but we vowed to increase that in 2011. Well, I think we succeeded at doing that. But even still, we weren't able to get in all the things we had hoped to.

2011 was an incredible year in both Sarah and my personal lives, as well as the New England Craft Beer world. As you might have read, Sarah and I were married on June 18th. We had awesome beer on draft - Harpoon IPA and Summer, which was a small, but significant detail that made the day even more enjoyable for us and our guests. I also graduated from UMass Boston in August, finishing up my undergraduate degree that I've been chipping away at two or three classes at a time since 2005.

2011 started of with a furry. In the first three months we posted almost as much as we did the prior year. We also organized our first ever beer festival as part of the annual "Cure Me I'm Irish" event on March 5, 2011 at Lombardo's in Randolph, MA. Mayflower, Cape Ann, Cody Brewing, Blue Hills, and Magic Hat poured hundreds of samples for the 1,000 guests in attendance. Truthfully though, it was all pretty stressful. So, we took an unexpected, and unannounced break for the month of April. But, we came back with a fury in May covering American Craft Beer Week with a slew of beer reviews.

Hurricane Irene also hit Vermont incredibly hard, flooding the Longtrail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners and completely destroyed the Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury. Also, the great debate on the Farmer Brewer License issues that plagued the folks at Idle Hands Craft Ales for a while was eventually worked out. The ruling eventually turned out favorable, and allowed the brewery to acquire an affordable license to begin commercial production.

Twitter and Facebook became an even bigger part of Brew England in 2011! Although I'm unsure how many Twitter followers we had coming into '11, but as I write this we have 743 followers. This time last year we had 447 Facebook fans, and now we have 735! Hopefully we can get to 1,000 very soon. Thanks to our friend Chris Cappella, we also got a new logo and banner and couldn't be happier about it!

Instead of breaking down all the other posts, I strongly encourage you do revisit some of the posts by clicking through each month on the right hand side of the page. Please let us know your thoughts as well.

I will, however, highlight some of our favorite's from 2011...

Top Beers of 2011:

Baxter Brewing Co. Stowaway IPA - This is by far one of my new favorite New England IPAs. It's bold, it's malty, it has a nice crisp and floral character to it. Baxter is currently available throughout Maine, and in Eastern Massachusetts; however, the brewery has plans to be distributed throughout Massachusetts by March of 2012. Look out for this brewery, as they're making a lot of noise.

Notch Session Pils - To my delight, Chris Lohring is making beer. Not only is he making beer, he's making great beer. The Pils is a well balanced brew that is high in flavor and low in ABV...meaning you can enjoy several of these in a sitting and not be stumbling out the door of your favorite pub. It's really how beer should be.

Mayflower Brewing Spring Hop Ale - This was a great seasonal beer introduced in 2011 by Mayflower. The first time we had it was at the 2011 "Cure Me I'm Irish" event, and it did not disappoint. It took a while to find it afterwards, but was worth the search. Hoppy, malty, and moderate drinkability made this a great offering!

Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom - This was the third beer I tried from Maine Beer Co. this year, and was by far my favorite. I'm becoming more fond of Stouts, and this coffee stout from Maine did not disappoint.

Throwback Brewery Fat Alberta - You might not expect a beer to be rich and creamy, but the awesome peanut butter and chocolate flavor from the Fat Albert is incredible. Sadly Throwback's beers are only available in the Granite State, but they are growing in a grassroots style, but their buzz is growing rapidly.

Mystic Brewery Descendant - Dark and tasty, this beer from Mystic Brewery is available in both oaked, and unoaked varieties, which adds notable differences to the liquid. One of Massachusetts' newest, their 'Fermentorium' is located in Chelsea, MA, boasting a large set up where they meticulously monitor the fermentation process of their brews, with an incredible attention to quality and detail.

Rising Tide Brewing Company Ursa Minor - Unfortunately, when I visited the Rising Tide Brewery during the AHA Rally Portland, I only got one bottle of Ursa Minor. This beer is a Weizen-Stout, which is basically a stout fermented using a Hefeweizen yeast strain. It yields an awesomely light and fruity beer, with some nice dark malt notes you expect from a typical stout.

Very Honorable Mention: Jack's Abby Hoponius Union India Pale Lager, Backlash Beer Convergence, Slumbrew Flagraiser IPA, Ipswich Ale Brewery 5 Mile Stock Ale, Clownshoes Beer Blaecorn Unidragon, Wachusett Brewery Imperial Pumpkin

Favorite Beer Event:

Beer Summit Winter Jubilee - Held at the Castle at the Park Plaza in Boston, the Beer Summit does a great job putting together a solid line up of breweries, and not overselling the event. There never seems to be super long lines, unless a particular brewery has a special beer they're bringing to the party. Even still, you don't wait very long at all.

So what's up for 2012?

Beer, beer, and more beer of course! Even though we upped the posts from 91 to 168, we'd still like to provide more content. That means more beer reviews, more Guest Blog entries, more Adventures in Homebrewing posts (sadly took a nose dive this year), and more "Meet the Brewer" segments. We'd also like to get to attend more beer events, and take a beer vacation to Vermont to hit several of the smaller breweries off the beaten path.

There's also a possibility that we'll make the trip to Colorado next year for the Great American Beer Festival. Our buddy Dave Lagueux is about to begin his new job brewing at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO, and he suggested we come out in the fall. After seeing Brian of Seacoast Beverage Lab's updates and recap of the 2011 Kate the Great Day in Portsmouth, NH, we look to attend part of the Portsmouth Beer Week in March as well.

Finally, and in the more near future, we'll be organizing the beer festival as part of the 2012 "Cure Me I'm Irish" being held on March 10th at Lombardo's in Randolph, MA. We announced there would be 10 breweries next year, as opposed to only five this year, and that the first five breweries were already confirmed. We're close to solidifying the last five as of this week, and the event is going to be even better. More details will be posted in the next few days on tickets and how you can help out!

We hope you had as great of a year that we did, and we look forward to bringing you more in 2012! Thanks for reading and supporting Brew England and New England craft beer!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tuesday Night Tasting - Samuel Adams: Old Fezziwig Ale

Boston Beer Co. / Samuel Adams – Boston, MA
Old Fezziwig Ale, Brewed with Cinnamon, Ginger, and Orange Peel
5.9% ABV, 12oz available in Holiday Mix 12-Pack

For being my clear favorite seasonal brew within this winter mix pack, I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to actually review the Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale. I’ve been a fan of this beer since the first time I tried it, which must have been back in 2004 or 2005.

The Old Fezziwig pours a rich, earthy brown and slight reddish tinge liquid, with a light brownish head. Although the head doesn’t linger too long, it does leave a nice layer of foam which sits atop the brew inviting you in to take a sip. The beer features a pleasant nutty and slightly sweet malty aroma. Subtle hints of the spices used in the brewing process come through as well.

The Fezziwig has a slight sweetness from the caramel malts, balanced by rich notes from the chocolate and specialty grains. It’s pleasantly sweet without being too one dimensional. It should also be pointed out that although it’s brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel, no one of these ingredients overpowers the other.

The mouth feel of this beer is mild and quite silky smooth. I find that it finishes rather dry and isn’t too heavy. Because of this, and despite the fact that the ABV is moderate at just under 6%, the Old Fezziwig Ale is a very drinkable beer. Sadly though, this is only available in the winter Holiday Mix Pack (and allegedly available on draft, though I’ve never seen it before) and not in six or 12 packs alone. However, if it were, I would happily purchase more! This is, in my opinion, the highlight of this winter mix twelve pack.

Cheers and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cure Me I'm Irish: Update

Wow. All we can say is wow. In the course of about 10 days (we'll call it seven, considering the holiday weekend), we were able to solidify half, or five of the breweries, for the beer festival at the 2012 "Cure Me I'm Irish" event. Sarah and I were actually able to book a few of them within the first few days of reaching out, and wrapped up two more in the past week or so.

So, you're probably wondering who will be on hand (so far) pouring their awesome, and I mean AWESOME brews for you. You may remember some of them from this year, but we've added a few more that we're PUMPED about! Well, without further delay, here's who's coming so far...

Mayflower Brewing Company - For the second straight year, our friends at Mayflower were the first to confirm. Last year they even debuted their Spring Hop Ale at the 2011 event, which was a huge hit. Who knows what they'll have in store for us all in a few months?

Smuttynose Brewing Co. - What can we say about Smuttynose? Well, for one, they make great beer. They also have a cool brewery and tour. They're also a staple in New Hampshire's Seacoast (Adam's home state), and we're excited to have them on board!

Cape Ann Brewing Co. - Tom and TJ will once again be pouring their fine Fisherman's beers, and you know they always come with a great attitude and are ready to party. They are always a hit, and I expect the same from them in '12. We've made a request for their Greenhorn Double IPA, but it's typically only available at their pub. We'll see if it makes an appearance.

Cody Brewing Co. - Sean Cody and his team returns for their second year as well. This year they had two beers that were big hits, both their No Name IPA and Wheelers Brown. I ran into Cody in November and talked about the event and said if the event was happening, he wanted in! Well, we spoke over the weekend, saying Cody Brewing would be there!

Baxter Brewing Co. - Rori from Baxter called this afternoon saying "We are a go!" What better news could we have received? Well, we say equally as awesome was the news is that Amber Road (much to our surprise) was already creeping into the Massachusetts market, but that they hoped to have all three of their beers distributed to the entire state of Massachusetts by the time of the beer festival!

So there you have it folks...The first five breweries to confirm for the 2012 Cure Me I'm Irish / Brew England beer festival. If we were only having five, this list would be killer. What makes it even better is that we still have five more breweries to add. If all goes as well as the first five, the next five should be confirmed within the next few weeks.

Check back often for further updates on the last five breweries to be confirmed. There's a Friends of Will meeting tomorrow night at the new Dave & Busters in Braintree, which will provide an update on ticket information and other details. Once we have full details on ticket pricing and availability, it will be posted here!

Adam & Sarah

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Under Construction

It's never a bad thing to get an email from Ipswich Ale brewery simply with this picture inserted...

As you may recall, we reported in May that the investors for the new Ipswich Ale Brewery had filed for bankruptcy, halting any plans for new construction. Well, one can only assume the brewery has found new investors, and has resumed construction!

More to come on this exciting news!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Harpoon Looking to Add Beer Hall

Hopped-up tours on tap at Harpoon -

I just read this on the Boston Herald and saw it linked on Facebook! Hopefully Harpoon gets approval by the city of Boston to build a beer hall as the brewery in Windsor, VT has a great pub area, which would fit in nicely in the Seaport area!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rare Craft Beer Tapping @ BBC Pembroke

I got an email from Graham at the British Beer Company, who asked me to share an event they're having tomorrow. It looks like they're going to have some choice seasonal brews on tap, which is not to be missed!

One of the great gifts that the holiday brings us now-a-days is a smashing variety of Christmas style beers. That’s enough of an excuse for the British Beer Company to celebrate – Christmas Cheers to the Beers! This Saturday December 17th in Pembroke the BBC will be tapping several rare/seasonal beers.

They include: Goose Island's Nut Brown, Troeg's Mad Elf, N'Ice Chouffe (from Belgium), Avery's Old Jubilation, Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale and St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Santa will be dropping in to see who’s been naughty and nice from 1-2pm and we’ll be collecting unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots all day. A unique specials menu featuring these beers and pairings will be available for lunch and dinner.

Here's a quick peek at some of the lunch and dinner specials:

Goose Island Duck Confit Egg Rolls
N'Ice Chouffe Smoked Haddock
Old Jubilation Roasted Red Beet Salad
Gritty McDuff's Smoked Prime Rib

If you go, please try to bring a new unwrapped toy (if you go between 1-2pm) as it was reported this morning on the Boston news outlets that the Toys for Tots were experience an extreme shortage of gifts this year.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

2012 Cure Me I'm Irish Beer Tasting!

As you may recall, the 2011 Cure Me I’m Irish event was a great time! It was the first time Sarah and I had set up a beer tasting, and it seemed to run smooth and was a huge hit to the guests. We had Mayflower Brewing Co, Cape Ann Brewing Co., Cody Brewing, Blue Hills Brewery, and Magic Hat all come and pour samples of their beers for the guests in attendance.

A while back we posted on our Facebook page that we were asked once again to set up a beer tasting as part of the 2012 Cure Me I’m Irish celebration. After a few weeks, it didn’t look as if we were going to be able to work the tasting into the event. However, I’m happy to say that the details have been worked out and we will once again be helping out the Friends of Will Cancer Foundation with their event!

Although the line up is yet to be determined for the 2012 event, it does project to be even better than the 2011 event. This year we are happy to announce that there will be 10 regional breweries pouring their fresh, handcrafted beers from 8-11pm for those in attendance.

The celebratory fundraiser event will be taking place on Saturday March 10, 2012 once again at Lombardo’s in Randolph, MA. The 2011 event was also held at Lombardo’s and we were able to help raise over $89,000 for the Friends of Will Cancer Foundation and the NB Alliance. Finite details of the event, as well as ticket information are still being worked out, but once we have that information we will definitely be posting it here!

Stay tuned for much more information on the 2012 Cure Me I’m Irish event in the upcoming weeks!

Adam & Sarah

Monday, December 5, 2011

NH BrewFest Raises $19k

I got the following press release from Redhook related to their New Hampshire BrewFest we gave away VIP Tickets for. I was happy to hear the event was such a success, and that local organizations were the beneificiaries of significant donations

Here's the presser:

New Hampshire BrewFest Raises $19,000 for Local Organizations
New England Beer Lovers Turned Out in Record Numbers at Redhook Brewery

Portsmouth, N.H. – Nov. 22, 2011 – The third annual New Hampshire BrewFest, hosted at Redhook Brewery on Oct. 15, attracted a record number of attendees and raised more than $19,000 for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas New England Chapter and Prescott Park Arts Festival. The BrewFest featured more than 120 quality brews from 31 breweries as well as food and music. This year‘s BrewFest saw record breaking attendance of more than 4,000 tickets sold with both sessions selling out days before the Fest. Each organization will receive $9,556, nearly $2,000 more than the previous year.

“This year’s BrewFest was a great success and showcased New England’s diverse brewing talents. We want to thank Redhook Brewery for being an exceptional host,” said Jason Perkins, president of Master Brewers Association of the Americas New England Chapter. “The proceeds will go toward an annual two week training course scholarship for brewers, send a brewer to the MBAA National conference, and continue to bring in brewing experts for our quarterly meetings.”

The Master Brewers Association of the Americas works to improve members brewing skills through scholarships and professional training sessions.

“We are proud to be supported by the NH BrewFest; an event that encourages the art of craft brewing,” said Ben Anderson, executive director for Prescott Park Arts Festival. “The funds go directly toward our programs, and have allowed us to continue to grow and expand our offerings, as well as help keep all of our events free of fixed admission.”

As a nonprofit organization, the Prescott Park Arts Festival has presented music, art, theater, and dance to families on the banks of the Piscataqua River for the past 36 years, and was just voted Business of the Year by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Harpoon Beer Dinner @ Jerry Remy's

Jerry Remy's in Boston's historic Fenway area will be hosting a Harpoon beer dinner on December 14th. It's looking like a fun event with great food and drink. Tickets are $48 per person, plus tax and gratuity, but Friends of Harpoon can receive $5 off the ticket price.

Here are the full details about the event:

Harpoon Beer Dinner at Jerry Remy's Fenway (Boston, MA)
Boston, MA
Date: 14-Dec-2011 Wednesday
Time: 06:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Delicious beer and food have always gone perfectly together, so make sure to come and enjoy the expertly crafted menu at Jerry Remy’s Fenway on December 14th at 6:30 PM during the Harpoon Beer Dinner!

Executive Chef Jacqueline Kelly and Harpoon brewer Jesse Brenneman worked together to create a menu that highlights the flavors of both the food and the beer.

The menu is as follows:

Roasted Whole Garlic Bulbs on German Style Wort Bread

Beer and Cheddar Soup, paired with Leviathan Barleywine

First Course
Ceviche of Pacific Northwest Steelhead Salmon, paired with UFO Pale Ale

Second Course
Korean Style Pork Buns with Yuzu pickled onions and salted bacon mole, paired with Harpoon Munich Dark

Third Course
Roasted Long Island Duck Breast Hen of the Woods with Herb Spaetzle, paired with Leviathan Triticus

New York Style Chocolate Stout Egg Cream

Is your mouth watering yet? Tickets for the dinner cost $48 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Stop by Jerry Remy’s Fenway or call them at (617) 236-7369 in order to make reservations!

We also have a great deal for our Friends! Just mention that you are a Friend of Harpoon when making your reservation and bring your card to the dinner and you will receive $5 off your ticket price.

You won’t want to miss out on this delicious event!

Jerry Remy’s Fenway
1265 Boylston Street
Boston, MA