Monday, April 30, 2012

5 Napkin Burger & Longtrail Beer Dinner

This past Tuesday, Sarah and I paid a visit to one of the newer burger joints in Boston - 5 Napkin Burger. Not only were we in need of sustenance, but 5 Napkin Burger happened to be pairing up with Longtrail Brewing Company for their fourth installment of their Bourbon and Beer dinners!

We arrived about 30 minutes early for the dinner, but that was perfect as we took a seat at the bar and ordered a pre-dinner drink. This also allowed us to take a peek at their every day menu, and get a glimpse of the inside of the restaurant.

What's really cool about 5 Napkin Burger is not only do they have six draft lines (with 1-2 rotating taps), but they have over 60 different bottles of beer for you to chose. In addition to that, their menu looks quite nice! They have aps for $6.96-$9.75, 10 different burgers from $13.95-$16.95, in addition to salads and other entrees. On top of that, they have Slider Happy Hour from 4-7, and 9-close every day!

After perusing the standard menu, we let the hostess stand that we were there for the Longtrail dinner, and they led us into a nice reception type area. We were promptly brought a Wolaver's IPA, and met Dave Hunter - the Boston area rep for Longtrail Brewing Co. We also met Sammi, the rep for Wolaver's Fine Organic Ales and Otter Creek Brewing, as well as Kate the Boston area rep for Burke Distributing. It was actually a great start to the evening, as we introduced ourselves and immediately dove into the awesomeness of New England beer, and more specifically our affection for the Green Mountain State!

We actually chatted about our several visits to the Woodstock area, not to mention the Longtrail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT - which we MUST add is ALWAYS worth the visit. Their food is excellent, their beer is always fresh and tasty, and you can just relax and enjoy the company of the other visitors. More importantly though, we talked in great detail about how the brewery, as well as the majority of the area, was affected by Hurricane Irene. Woodstock, VT has special meaning to Sarah and I. We typically go there once a year, on our dating anniversary, but we upped the specialness of the town when we went there on our honeymoon.

There were spicy salmon wontons, turkey meatballs, pork taquitos, and tempura fried veggies passed around before the dinner got underway, and after about 20 minutes getting to know people and snacking on the passed aps, we took our seats.

The first course was a Mac & Cheese, with a creamy beer & gruyere fondue and crisp bacon, which paired really nicely with the Otter Creek Copper Ale.

The main course required a choice - for Adam, the Beantown Burger, which featured a thick patty topped with smoked gouda, Boston baked beans and relish. For Sarah, the Veggie Burger which featured 5N sauce, and bread and butter pickles. Both burgers were also complemented by french fries and some of the best sweet potato fries we've had! Both burgers paired very, very nicely with the Longtrail Double Bag fresh off the tap.

Our final course was a mini cheesecake, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. This was probably the best paired course, as it was served with a fresh pint of Wolaver's Wildflower Wheat. The beer is subtle, soft, and smooth, and makes for a great and enjoyable beer - especially during the warmer weather months. 

All in all, the beer dinner was a great time! All the guests had a lot of fun, and left feeling full and satisfied. The brewery reps were incredibly friendly, well spoken, and definitely brought some great beers to the event. 5 Napkin Burger did a fantastic job pairing these beers with the course, and incorporating them into the dishes. They were also great hosts for this incredible event. 

If the Longtrail dinner was as successful as their previous three beer dinners, you can expect to see more happening in the near future! We will make sure to let you know when they are announced!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beer for Breakfast?

Why not? When it's a Session beer (typically 4.5% ABV or less) you can enjoy a few pints and hit the rest of the day hard without slowing down.

It was brought to our attention recently (read: Friday) that Jeff and Devon from teamed up with Chris Lohring from Notch Session to brew a Coffee Milk Session Stout as part of the Notch Cask Series. They were celebrating the release of the brew with a Beer Brunch at the Lower Depths in Kenmore Square, which is where we ended up yesterday morning.

Despite it being a relatively clear and very sunny day, it was a bit chilly when we arrived in Boston. We were happy to arrive around 11:10am, but to our surprise the Lower Depths actually hadn't opened yet. This meant we had to stand in the chilly Boston air for a bit. Fortunately though, we ran into a few people we know - Rebecca from MA Girls Pint Out, Jeff from, and Adam Greiner from Chatham Bars Inn.

We were about 15 people deep in line, but once the doors opened we made our way to the bar. It was a pretty amazing sight though, because with the turn of the locks and a couple of minutes, the Lower Depths was completely full. Pulls from the cask were under way, and mugs of the commemorative Notch Session / Drink Craft Beer mugs were filling up with tasty Milk Session Stout!

The Milk Stout has a deep, dark color with a chocolate milk colored head. It features a light body, with a nice moderate hint of lactose sugar (which is added to the beer to make it a milk stout), and a gentle hint of coffee. In fact, to us, the coffee was extremely aromatic, but less pronounced within the beer. It made for an overall tasty beer, which clocked in at 3.8% ABV.

The keg was quickly kicked, completely running empty in approximately 85 minutes after the doors opened. Fortunately though, there are several other casks of this beer in and around the Boston area. You can view the draft accounts on the Notch Brewing website in an effort to catch this beer before it's gone!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Newport Craft Beer Festival

This press release was sent to me last week, but in my typical deadbeatery I forgot to post it. At the time of the email, there were less than 100 tickets left for sale, so I’m unsure if the event is completely sold out as of yet. Please visit the Newport Storm website, and check out for additional information!   

The First Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival!
Proceeds to benefit the Newport Historical Society  

Mark your calendars! Your Craft Beer Festival is coming to town! April 28th, on the daffodil-filled lawn of the Great Friends Meeting house, 30 New England breweries will congregate to show off their art! This festival will celebrate Newport’s rich brewing history (dating back before the American Revolution!) and proceeds will benefit the Newport Historical Society.  

The First Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival is sponsored by Pour Judgement Bar and Grill and the Newport Storm Brewery. “Brewing craft beer is an art,” states Hank Whitin of Pour Judgement, “and that art has been ‘brewing’ locally for over 400 years! We want to celebrate that history and give New England’s brewers an opportunity to show off the brews they work so hard to hand-craft. It will be a ‘different’ kind of beer festival, with the focus on personal interaction between the brewers and guests. Set on the historic Meeting House lawn, the venue itself reinforces the history we are trying to bring attention to.”  

The Festival will take place from 2-6pm on April 28th (the last weekend of free parking in Newport!). Approximately 30 craft breweries will participate, coming from as far as Vermont and as close as Newport’s North End! Guests will be given the opportunity to try small samples of a spectrum of craft brews and converse with the folks who made them! Come taste the difference between a stout and a porter, learn the impact a unique yeast strain can have on aroma, and celebrate craft beer! The South Shore Homebrew club will be brewing on site and happy to answer questions of those curious about learning to brew themselves! Acoustical music will set a relaxed tone while restaurants from the up-and-coming lower Broadway area serve up tasty nibbles!  

“Newport has some fantastic food festivals celebrating the culinary diversity around our city and state,” comments Evan Smith, President and CEO of the Newport & Bristol County Visitors & Convention Bureau, (and a big fan of craft beer!). “This new festival would give us a chance to showcase and celebrate the importance of craft beers to the local and regional culinary scene.”  

The Newport Craft Beer Festival is strictly a 21+ event. Tickets are $45 and are available at the gear store of Tickets include admission, beer samples, and a souvenir glass. Food from local restaurants will be available for purchase. For up to date info follow the Festival’s Facebook page @NewportCraftBeerFestival and check out  

Newport Storm is Rhode Island’s Microbrewery, handcrafting over 35 unique brews since 1999. Their Visitors Center is open for tours and tastings from 12pm-5pm on Weekdays and Weekends (except Tuesdays). Newport Storm beers continue to be distributed throughout RI, MA and CT, with their beer lines including the flagship Newport Storm-Hurricane Amber Ale, Newport Storm-Rhode Island Blueberry, the Cyclone Series of limited release beers, the Storm of the Season beers, and the Annual Limited Release Series of bottle-conditioned beers. Their Summer Storm of the Season is available in kegs, cases, twelve-packs and six packs. Hurricane Amber Ale Cans are available in twelve packs in the summer months.  

Pour Judgement Bar and Grille is Newport’s place to ‘have a night out without spending a day’s pay.’ Located in the up and coming section of Newport’s lower Broadway they offer great food and a wide selection of craft beers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

CBC Release of Experimental Sake Beer

We received this official press release last week direct from Todd Bellomy, the founder of, who thought people might be interested in finding out more about his second batch of an experimental Sake-Beer Hybrid beverage.

We heard about this concoction sometime lat year, when the pictures of the brew were posted on Facebook. Some of you might have already had one or both of the batches, but unfortunately we have not had the chance to grab some of this interesting experiment. However, the read is a good one, and we'll be trying to grab some before it's gone!

Cambridge Brewing Company to Release Second Batch of Experimental Sake-Beer Hybrid  

Cambridge, MA – April 6, 2012 – On Friday, April 6th Cambridge Brewing Company will release a true sake-beer hybrid, using house made sake to ferment a unique barley-rice wort mixture. The result is Banryu Ichi, which comes in at approximately 14% alcohol by volume, is an incredibly complex brew with flavors of sweet rice, fresh apples & grapes, earthy hints of mushroom and subtle notes of fennel, herbs and spices. The sake-beer hybrid is being served in a 5oz glass inside a traditional cedar masu (a square wooden box used for drinking sake) and is expected to be available on tap through May 2012.  

The brewing of Banryu Ichi was a collaborative effort between Cambridge Brewing Company Brewmaster Will Meyers and local sake home-brewer, Todd Bellomy, founder of The two have been working together on the project for over three years. The brewing process began in January by brewing 100 gallons of traditional sake, a fermented rice beverage gaining popularity in the U.S. Next, they created a custom wort using both pale barley malt and rice. The sticky, thick result was transferred to a fermenting tank and the sake was added to start the fermentation process.  

Brewmaster Will Meyers has been enjoying and exploring the world of sake for several years, and this was his second experience brewing it. “Todd really opened my eyes to the incredible tradition of sake brewing, and the complexities of this beverage. The process was time-consuming and labor-intensive,” explained Meyers, “but the end result was amazing and well worth it!” The two spent many days in the cold and wind on the CBC patio, steaming polished rice with very small-scale equipment. Named for a traditional Japanese expression, “There are 10,000 ways to make sake”, Banryu Ichi means 10,001 ways. This is an intentional allusion to the fact that something truly new had been added to the tradition of sake brewing.  

Sake is brewed using a somewhat different process than beer, called multiple parallel fermentation: polished rice is converted to sugar by a fungus called koji; sake yeast is used for fermentation. Banryu Ichi was creating using this exact method. While the sake was fermenting, the entire batch including koji, yeast and rice slurry was added to the wort to start the beer’s fermentation process. The beer was then fermented at 50*F for 6 weeks, followed by cold conditioning until it reached an impressive 14% ABV.  

“What makes this beverage truly unique,” says Bellomy, “is that many beer brewers have incorporated aspects of sake production but mostly have just fermented traditional beer with sake yeast. This collaboration has taken the time and effort to actually brew sake and use it as a base for the hybridization of two distinct fermented beverages. Using an ingredient in a beer does not make it a hybrid; you have to explore and use the best attributes from both systems to create a beverage that is greater than the sum of its parts - we have done that here.”  

The resulting hybrid beverage is a clear copper color, full bodied with a dry finish. Presented without carbonation it abounds with flavors of brown rice, apples and grape, along with bright alcohol notes, earthy mushroom tones and also herbal, fennel like qualities. The well balanced and complex beverage is meant for sipping and savoring.  

Founded in 1989, the Cambridge Brewing Company is the oldest brewery-restaurant in the Boston area and one of the nation’s first. As pioneers of new American beer styles, they offer a wide array of hand crafted original beers as well as interpretations of classic world styles and experimental beers. Brewpubs such as The CBC have a unique culinary opportunity to continually pair new and interesting beer styles with innovative menu ideas. CBC’s in-house artisan ales are paired with fresh and local ingredients on the menu, providing choices not found anywhere else in the local dining arena. was founded in 2011 by Todd Bellomy, local sake home-brewer, enthusiast, and expert. His love affair with sake began while living in Japan as an apprentice sword-maker and has continued through the reading of Japanese brewing texts, repeated travels, and study at Japanese sake breweries (kura). By day Todd is responsible for consumer relations at the Boston Beer Company; using his knowledge of beer and brewing to bring answers to the amazing community of Samuel Adams drinkers.  

For more information about The Cambridge Brewing Company,, or Banryu Ichi, see contact information below.  

Contact Info:  

Will Meyers, Brewmaster
Cambridge Brewing Company

Todd Bellomy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday Night Tasting: Jack's Abby - Smoke & Dagger

Jack's Abby Brewing - Framingham, MA
Smoke & Dagger Black Lager
5.8% ABV, 25 IBU, 16.9 oz
Unfiltered, Unpasterized

Jack's Abby Brewing opened their brewery doors in Framingham last summer, after months of hard work on their brewery and tasting room. They currently produce a variety of beers, but are currently producing all lager brews. It's encouraged that you to visit their brewery to sample the wide variety of great beers!

The Smoke and Dagger pours a pure black liquid, which is dark as night. However, if you look at the glass in the right light, you can pick up a slight red tinge. The head is fairly thin and off-white, and fades quickly into the brew. The aroma is earthy, with a dark roasted/toasted malts, but hints at having a tad bit sweet, subtle, and gentle hop characteristics.

The flavor of this Black Lager's label calls this basically a cross between a schwartzbier and smoked porter, and you can totally see that. This rich, full bodied, malty treat gives you nice tones of bacony, smoky, charred malts. You can also pick out nice dark bitter chocolate tones of the Smoke & Dagger too.

The mouth feel is surprisingly mild, considering the up front appearance of the Smoke & Dagger. It's not too heavy, and finishes with a sublet bitterness and lingering flavor.

Finally, the drinkability of Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger is moderate for sure This was one of the first Jack's Abby beers Adam tried at their brewery during their hop harvesting event, and really enjoyed it then too. Now that it's in bottles, we'll be sure to pick up another bottle or two soon! It goes down so smooth!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tragedy Strikes at Redhook Ale Brewery in NH

Exploding keg kills Redhook Brewery worker |

It was reported earlier this morning on that a worker at the Redhook Brewery died this morning, when a keg he was filling failed when pressurized (which is part of the sanitizing process) and exploded. The article explains that the worker was unresponsive and in cardiac arrest after parts of the keg hit his head and chest.

Redhook spokesman Ted Lane stated that the brewery management is saddened by the incident and that the brewery would be conducting its own investigation after local police and the Federal agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms complete their investigation into this tragic death.

We at Brew England would like to offer our thoughts to the coworkers, friends, and family of this young man and the rest of the Redhook Brewery family.

Please take a moment to read the article for more details.

Brew England Visits: Baxter Brewing Co.

As you know, Sarah and I like to travel, especially around New England. As a benefit from these trips, not to mention our honeymoon last year, we accumulated a free night stay through, so we decided to spend our free night in Portland, ME.

Ever since I bought a few cans of Baxter Pamola XTra Pale at Craft Beer Cellar earlier in the year, I became a fan of the brewery. Each beer I tried only reinforced my feelings. Considering we were going to be in Portland for the night, we decided we had to pay a visit to the Baxter Brewing Co. facility in Lewiston, which is exactly what we did!

Lewiston is a small mill city located approximately 40 minutes north of Portland. Sarah and I have visited Portland many times; however, it was the first time in about 15 years that I had traveled north of Portland! With the address plugged into our GPS, we knew we wouldn’t have any problems finding the brewery.

Leading up to our trip, we had been communicating via Twitter with @baxterbrewing, which is run by Chris – a part time employee of the brewery, who handles their email list and of course their Twitter account. He was actually expecting our arrival and greeted us as soon as we walked into the facility.

The Baxter brewery is a reclaimed part of Bates Mill, which is one of the most historic buildings in Lewiston. They spent months working on the brewery, and tried to reuse as much material they could. It must be said, they did a great job with their retail and tasting area, as well as their brewery!

In true fashion, it was set to be a small and intimate tour. Just before we got started, two more people came in to make it a group of four – you really can’t beat that!

For those unfamiliar with Baxter Brewing Co, they are New England's first and only all-cannery brewery, meaning you can only purchase their beers in a can on the retail market. They also have their beer available on draft, but you will not find any bottled Baxter beers. This is actually great in several ways – the cans are lighter, which cuts down on shipping costs; they are able to be easily recycled; and, they block out 100% of light, which is the main reason beer can become skunked (exposure to oxygen being another main factor).

Keeping up with the environmentally sound practices exhibited by Baxter Brewing Co, their six pack rings are remarkably green! According to Chris, “we use a #4 plastic, LDPE photodegradeable polythelen plastic. This means they are non-toxic and begin degrading when exposed to UV light. They become brittle very quickly, lose most of their structural integrity, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, and depending on the season, may break down completely in as few as three weeks.” This is obviously great for the environment.

Chris chatting about how they make Baxter beers! 

Chris led us into the brewery, where we instantly found the canning line. We quickly moved passed the line, as we were hitting the brewery floor first, to learn how they make their wort, which eventually turns into the beer they can, keg, and package.

Once we entered the brewery floor, it was obvious that the tanks the brewers use to produce their beer were quite large. So large in fact, that they had to cut a segment out of the back wall in order to move in the kettle, whirlpool, hot liquor tank, and several fermentation vessels.

The brewery currently has the capability of producing up to 8,600 barrels annually, but in 2011 they were able to produce 5,000 barrels. They went from only distributing in the central to southern Maine area, to eventually getting into the Boston market. There's no estimate on their production for 2012, but all three of their beers - Pamola XTra Pale, Stowaway IPA, and Amber Road are now distributed throughout the greater Boston area, and the brewery is currently planning on releasing some seasonal beers, beginning soon with their Summer brew!

Another prime reason for us to visit the brewery was that they had just released Amber Road, which at the time was only being served and distributed in Maine. It is unbelievable, and truly deserves its own review, which will be done here soon! Needless to say, it was deliciously malty, a bit hoppy, and clocked in at a moderate 5.5% ABV. There was no surprise that we purchased a case of Amber Road, as well as a bunch of other schwag, while we were there!

Despite being a bit north of Portland, a trip to Lewiston to visit Baxter Brewing Co. should not be passed up. There are a few bars in the town as well, notably a Gritty McDuff's brewpub, but is definitely (read: obviously) close enough to head back to Portland for a fun night out on the town.

Baxter Brewing Co. is located at 130 Mill St in Lewiston, ME. Visit their website for upcoming events, brewery news, and tour information - and for Pete's sake - GET SOME OF THEIR BEER! We promise you will love them!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baxter Brewing to Release Summer Seasonal

Baxter Brewing Company, Maine's first and only all canned beer brewery, is set to release their fist seasonal beer - Celsius Summer Ale. The summer ale will be the fourth beer released by Baxter, the first since they released Amber Road, a delicious malt forward and finely hop balanced Red Ale, which was released late in 2011.

Interim Head Brewer Ben Low says, "Celsius has a solid base of citrusy American hops, which gives it a crisp bitterness, without overpowering the summery touches that make this beer so unique: lemon and lime peel, Kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass. And while it intended to accompany warm-weather activities, it pairs great with summer foods, too - lobster, clams, oysters; green salads, curried chicken salad; burgers and hot dogs; Italian ice."

At the time of the press release/email from the brewery, the beer was only available on tap in Baxter's tasting room; however, they said it will be on draft the last week of April (i.e.: this week), and will be available in cans in mid-May.

The brewery will also debut Celsius at their launch event at Davinci's Eatery in Lewiston on Wednesday from 6-8pm.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday Night Tasting: Blatant Brewery - Session Ale

Blatant Brewery - Westport, MA
Session Ale - Unfiltered Session Ale
3.9% ABV, 22 IBU, 22oz. (may find on draft, unable to confirm)

Blatant Brewery is the brain child of Matt Steinberg, former head brewer at Mayflower Brewing Co. A professional brewer for years, his brewing company Blatant had been in development for a few years. Well, Steinberg officially launched his first two beers - IPA and Session Ale, in late October 2011, and is beginning to pop up all over the place. Blatant Beer is also brewed at Just Beer in Westport, which makes for a great local for producing hand crafted beer!

The Session Ale has a straw colored hue, which pours a medium fizzy, mostly white head. A bit of this bottle pours a hazy orangish color, as this bottle is unfiltered. The aroma of the Session Ale is biscuty and malty, with a gentle floral nose to it.

The flavor of the ale is very malty, with a touch of sweetness as hinted at by the aroma. You pick up a mild bitterness within the body, but to us it seemed to lack some overall flavor. We both felt though that it makes for a superb transitional beer for those looking to make the move to craft beer, but overall for the full fledged craft beer lover you might opt for an alternate brew - perhaps Blatant IPA might make for a better selection?

The mouth feel of the Blatant Session Ale is medium to full, as the brew is quite malty. It finishes rather dry with again a subtle sweet after tasted. It also leaves great lacing on your glass!

As with a typical session style beer, the you can drink this beer all day and therefore has a high drinkability level! At 3.9% ABV, you can have a few pints without falling over.

Out of the two Blatant beers we've tried, this is our second favorite. Part of being a beer blogger to us is recognizing that although you don't particularly are for a specific beer, doesn't make it a bad beer. While we weren't crazy about the Session Ale, it is not a bad beer. It's important to keep this in mind with any beer, local, regional, craft, or otherwise.

We look forward to more of Blatant Brewery's other beers in the upcoming months. Keep your eye out for the Session Ale and IPA at bars and craft beer stores near you!