Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NERAX November Starts Tomorrow

The New England Real Ale eXhibition, better known as NERAX, kicks off its 16th festival tomorrow night at the Somerville American Legion Hall Post 388 (located at 163 Glen St Somerville, MA 02145). They are slated to serve over 100 firkins of Real Ale and Cider, 50 British beers from England, Scottland, and Wales, and over 50 American beers - mostly from New England!

Unsure what Real Ale is? Click here to visit the NERAX website to find out more. However, if you know what Real Ale is, well then NERAX is the place for you. With four sessions: Thursday and Friday from 6:30 - 10:30pm, and Saturday 12 - 4pm and 5-9pm, even those going to multiple sessions will find different beers. NERAX expects to serve about 60 beers in all.

Tickets are required and it is best to purchase tickets in advance. Advanced tickets are $10 and are $15 at the door. Please note that admission price does not include beer. The beer prices are:

$6 for an Imperial pint
$3 for a half pint
$2 for a quarter pint

Beers and Ciders of 7 - 10 % ABV are limited to half pints, which will be $4.
Beers, ciders, and mead over 10% ABV are limited to quarter pints, which will be $3.

There is also a $5 refundable deposit for your festival glass.

For all ticket information and sales, click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bantam "Wunderkind"

As the fall season has come upon us we have gotten into all things fall related: pumpkin coffee (really, all things pumpkin!), good hair days,  Oktoberfest beer, and of course hard cider. Last weekend we popped into Harvest Hoopla at Pemberton Farms in Cambridge to sample a variety of mead and hard cider. Among our favorites was Cambridge, MA cider maker - Bantam - and their flagship cider "Wunderkind". I was impressed with how crisp and refreshing it was - so of course a bottle was purchased and saved. The perfect beverage for a pre-hurricane evening in!

This sparkling hard cider offers a 6% ABV - enough to make it's presence known but not overwhelmingly so. It looks like champagne and smells like that most festive of drinks as well!  The bottle indicates Wunderkind should be served chilled at 40 degrees - and in this state the taste is crisp and dry and palate-awakening - completely refreshing. 

As it warms up a bit, you get more of a sense of the flower-blossom honey it is made with and they taste gets a little sweeter, the feel a little smoother. It is completely delightful from beginning to end and has such a wine character that I think it would be perfect with food. Instead of wine or champagne try serving Wunderkind with a fall appetizer spread - maybe some Roasted Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese or  Baked Brie?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mayflower Brewing Dinner at 5 Napkin Burger

Tuesday night Sarah and I headed into downtown Boston for another installment of the 5 Napkin Burger beer dinners. The brewing company last night was our friends at Mayflower Brewing Co. out of Plymouth, MA, and they brought along some of their outstanding beers for a pairing with an interesting menu of food.

We arrived a bit early and made our way to the bar. What set the tone for the night was seeing Christina, one of the area sales reps for Mayflower, as soon as we got to the bar. We have worked with Christina on a few different beer events, and it is always great to see her. One of the newest sales reps Marissa was also there too, which was cool too as we had met over the summer and got a chance to catch up on the past few months. Our buddy Ryan from Mayflower also showed up just before the dinner started to round out the list of familiar faces.

Sarah, Christina, and Marissa
The food and beer pairings were really nice. Appetizers featured Tuna Tataki Wontons, Grilled Chicken Skewers, fresh guacamole, and Cheddar Tots, which were paired with Mayflower IPA - which is one of the finest New England IPAs you're going to find. It was a little surprising to have the IPA the first beer due to its bold and hoppy flavors, but it paired nicely with the passed apps.

Another great part of the evening was that founder and president Drew Brousseau, the 10th great grandson of a beer barrel cooper on the Mayflower, was there to discuss the beers, their origins, flavor profiles, and so forth. You could see the passion he has for these beers very easily. He also coined the phrase of the night while describing the Pilgrim's journey to America - "Party Like a Pilgrim!" which was touted for the rest of the evening...perhaps you had to be there?

Founder & President Drew Brousseau

The next course was a small bowl of mussels steamed in ale, with garlic crostini, paired with the Golden Ale. The subtle malt flavor of the Mayflower Golden Ale didn't overpower the delicateness of the mussels and broth.

The main course was a choice between a caprese burger (mozzarella, panchetta, roasted tomatoes, arugula, pesto mayo) or the Veggie Burger, with a side of french fries. The caprese burger was cooked to order, and the fries were nice and crisp. The last beer dinner we went to at 5 Napkin Burger featured sweet potato fries as well, which would have been a nice option as well. However, the fries were nice and crisp and quite flavorful.

The burgers were paired with Mayflower's Fall Seasonal Autumn Wheat. This is Mayflower's take on a dunkelweizen, which was really nice. It had a nice dark hue and was a soft and slightly sweet, medium bodied brew. The wheat used in the brewing process really helps make this a very drinkable beer, and it serves as the perfect alternative to the mass of pumpkin and spice beers currently being offered as seasonal beers.

The final portion of the meal was a vanilla sabayon & shaved chocolate, paired with the Mayflower Porter. Honestly, I didn't read the menu closely enough, as I thought it was ice cream. To my surprise, it was more of a creamy desert, which the Porter paired with spectacularly. The Porter is Sarah's top choice for beers by Mayflower, and it's hard to disagree with her. The dark, roasted, toasted notes in the Porter really meld well when it followed a bite of the sabayon.

Overall, the evening was a good time. It was nice to catch up with Ryan and Christina, and hang out with Drew, Sarah, and Marissa. It wouldn't surprise me if 5 Napkin Burger holds more of these beer dinners as they seem to be pretty successful. It also gives the breweries to interact with their customers (or potential new customers) in an intimate setting, as well as fans of the breweries to learn more about the beer they love!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jack's Abby Releases Two Seasonals, Adds New Tanks

In addition to bringing a bronze medal from the Great American Craft Beer Festival this past weekend for their (now award winning) Smoke & Dagger Smoked Lager, Jack's Abby announced the release of two new seasonal beers today. Additionally, they are adding new tanks to their brewery in an effort to increase capacity and meet the growing demand for their hand crafted lagers.

We actually learned about the new tanks and one of the seasonal beers while visiting the Framingham, MA brewery in August, but here is the official release:

October 17, 2012 - Framingham, MA - Jack's Abby Brewing, an American craft brewer specializing in lagers, was awarded a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival® for its Smoke & Dagger lager. Jack’s Abby also announced two seasonal brews for autumn as well as expanded brewing capacity to meet demand.

Award for Smoke & Dagger

This past Saturday, October 13, Jack's Abby's Smoke & Dagger won the bronze medal in the smoked beer category at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.

"We had an amazing time at the Great American Beer Festival," said Hendler." We're very excited for this recognition in only our first year of operation."

Since 1982, The Great American Beer Festival is held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and is put on by The Brewers Association, a not-for-profit educational and trade organization that is devoted to making quality brewing and beer information. The Great American Beer Festival is the largest competition for commercial beers in the world.

Seasonal Lagers Announced

For Autumn, Jack's Abby is introducing two new seasonal lagers: Pumpkin Crop Lager and Kiwi Rising.

"The 2012 harvest on our family farm was fruitful. The Pumpkin Crop Lager uses 100 fresh pumpkins and 40 organic squash," said Hendler. "We prepared, cooked, and pureed all the gourds. A blend of autumn spices adds to the intense pumpkin flavors. We're also using locally grown Triticale." Pumpkin Crop Lager is 5.5% ABV.

Hendler described Kiwi Rising as “an intensely hoppy strong lager that we like to refer to as a Double India Pale Lager. All New Zealand hops (Kiwi hops) were used in progressively larger hop additions throughout the brewing process. Over four pounds of hops per BBL were used to create this specialty beer between four kettle hop additions, the use of our hop back, and three dry hop additions.” Kiwi Rising is 8.5% ABV.

New Tanks

To meet growing demand for its craft lagers, Jack’s Abby Brewing is expanding its production capacity. Jack's Abby will add two 80 BBL tanks and one 40 BBL tank to bring its total capacity to over 5000 BBLs.

About Jack’s Abby Brewing

Founded in January 2011 by three brothers who grew up in a family business, Jack’s Abby Brewing is a craft brewery specializing truly distinctive lagers featuring locally grown hops, traditional German brewing standards, and American innovation.

The name, Jack’s Abby Brewing, pays homage to co-founder Jack Hendler’s wife, Abby, while evoking the tradition of monastic groups in Europe who create handcrafted beers in their abbeys. The brothers are inspired by the tradition of craft brewing using quality local ingredients, mindful labor and great recipes to create delicious, authentic beer.

Jack's Abby is a proud member of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and the Brewers Association.

For more information, visit Jack's Abby's website at or their Facebook page at

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Slumbrew Presents: Ball d'Ville

What are you doing on Friday? Yes, this Friday!?

Somerville Brewing Company, better known as Slumbrew, is celebrating their first year as a company in style on Friday October 19th from 8-11pm at the Arts at the Armory – the Armory’s Ballroom in Somerville.

Tickets are just $22.09 (including fee) for their Ball d’Ville celebration, which is strictly limited to 400 of their closest friends, supporters, and fans. The event information says to “dress up in your swankiest Somervillian-Stylish duds” and join the folks at Slumbrew for an unforgettable night.

The evening features:

- Commemorative glass for Slumbrew tasting
- Sweet and Savory nibbles to purchase, benefitting local charities and businesses

**Funky & fancy Somerville style attire suggested!

Nibbles supplied by: Redbones, True Bistro, Eat at Jumbos, City Chicks, Taza Chocolate, Bantam Cider, Boston Burger Company Salsa, Saus, Formaggio’s Kitchen, True Grounds, Pescatore, Flatbread & Fiore di Nonono!

Charities: Mike McNeil Organization (MMO), One Brick Boston, Arts at the Armory, Somerville Local First

Merch for Slumbrew, ENSMB & Drink Craft Beer

Ticket holders MUST be 21+ and tickets should be purchased in advance. Again, the event is limited to 400 attendees and tickets are going fast!! Click here to purchase your tickets and party in style!

Trio of Medals for MA Brewers at 2012 GABF

The annual Great American Craft Beer Festival wrapped up over the weekend, and a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals went to three different Massachusetts craft breweries for their entries.

Jack's Abby Brewing, out of Framingham, MA took home a bronze medal for their Smoke & Dagger Black Lager in the "Other Smoke Beer" category. This is one of my favorites from Jack's Abby, and is one you should definitely check out!

Cambridge Brewing Company, a brewpub located in Cambridge, MA earned a silver medal for their CBC Heather Ale in the "Herb and Spice Beer" category. I've had many beers by CBC, but I can't say I've had this one yet. From the description on the CBC website, it sounds like a great beer! It has to be to earn a medal at GABF!

Finally, Cisco Brewers out of Nantucket, MA took home a gold medal thanks to Lady Of The Woods, an oak barrel aged wild ale in the "Wood and Barrel Aged Sour Beer" category. This is another one I have yet to try, but will be picking it up soon.

Congratulations to these fine Massachusetts breweries on taking home their medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival!

Monday, October 15, 2012

More 5 Napkin Burger Beer Dinners

5 Napkin Burger in Boston's Back Bay is bringing back their burger and beer dinners! In fact, they're already here. We went to the Long Trail Brewing dinner in April, and had a great time! 

Last Tuesday, the folks at Samuel Adams invaded this local burger joint for a fantastic beer dinner. The menu featured an eclectic mix of seafood, burgers, and some of the favorite Sam Adams beers such as Whitewater IPA and Boston Lager.

The fun continues tomorrow on Huntington Avenue, when the arrogant bastards at Stone Brewing Company storm into town. Here is the menu set for tomorrow, although the menu is subject to change:

Menu Includes: Port Taquitos, Lobster Endive Spears, Deep Fried Pickles & Pistrami, Spinach & Artichoke Crostini, Bacon, Ale & Gruyere Soup, Choice of Avocado-Ranch Burger or Veggie Burger, Smoked Porter Creme Brûlée.

The food is to be paired with: Stone IPA, Stone Levitation Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Stone Smoked Porter.

Tickets are just $45, and includes the meal, drinks, tax, and gratuity! Stop by and see Jeff Nelson and Casey Gruttadauria from Atlantic Importing as they talk all things Stone for the worthy (or not so worthy) guests.

If that wasn't enough, the Cape comes to Boston next Tuesday when Mayflower Brewing Co. brings a unique mix of food and beer for hungry and thirsty patrons. Join Drew Brosseau, founder and president of Mayflower Brewing Company, Marissa Jacobs, Territory Manager, and Sarah Richardson, Marketing and PR Specialist for a great night of food and drink.

The Mayflower Brewing menu includes: Tuna Tataki Wontons, Grilled Chicken Skewers, Guacamole & Housemade Chips, Cheddar Tots, Mussels Steamed in Ale, Choice of Caprese Burger or Veggie Burger, and Porter Granite.

To wash down the menu, the Mayflower Beers will be: Mayflower IPA, Mayflower Golden Ale, Mayflower Porter, and Mayflower Autumn Wheat.

Tickets again are just $45, and includes the meal, drinks, tax, and gratuity.

Both of these events start at 6:30pm with informal and casual cocktail receptions. These are great opportunities to meet the brewery representatives, enjoy some delicious passed apps, and of course great beer! Guests will then be chauffeured to the dining room where the three course meals meticulously crafted by Chef Andy D'Amico and the breweries.

Tickets are still available, but tickets are likely to sell out for both as space is limited. Both events are available to purchase individually, but you can save a few bucks and purchase tickets to both events for $85. Click here for all ticket info!

Mohegan Sun BrewFest

Last weekend Sarah and I headed to Mohegan Sun for their first ever Sun BrewFest. Neither of us are big gamblers, save for Keno when at choice restaurants in Massachusetts or the occasional scratch or lotto ticket when we're feeling lucky. If we needed an excuse to visit one of the premier resort casinos in our region, a brew festival was a great reason - one which we took full advantage of.

The Sun BrewFest had three sessions, as most festivals do - two one day, and one on another. A lot of the times the festivals have an opening session on Friday evening, and then they have two sessions on Saturday. Perhaps because it was Columbus Day weekend, the folks at Mohegan Sun did it a little bit differently. They had two sessions on Saturday, and one on Sunday. Fortunately, our media passes were for all three sessions.

On our way, we decided to stop in at Armsby Abbey in Worcester, and later Willimantic Brewing Company for some lunch. It was the first nice day in Massachusetts / Southern New England for what appeared to be weeks, which only added to the drive. We arrived at the casino about a half hour before the second session kicked off, just in time to get in line for the brewfest.

The line was quite long, but it was moving quite quickly. The staff seemed to have this well rehearsed and they shuffled thirsty beer drinkers into the Uncas Ballroom one after another.

Hartford Better Beer & Thomas J Hooker - CT
Grey Sail Brewing Company - Westerly, RI

Beaver Beer - Westport, CT

The great part about this brewfest is that it was giving us an opportunity to try some beers from breweries we don't see distributed in the Boston area and north. Willimantic Brewing Co, Cottrell Brewing,  Hartford Better Beer Co, Cambridge House Brew Pub, Southpoint Brewing Company, Old Burnside, City Steam, and Beaver Beer, all from Connecticut were there pouring several beers each. Additionally, Grey Sail Brewing Co. - Rhode Island's first and only all keg and can brewery were handing out samples.

The brewery list also included some staples of craft beer; Samuel Adams, Otter Creek, Long Trail Brewing, and Sierra Nevada. Additionally, there were some breweries you don't typically see being represented, such as Guinness, Shock Top, and Heineken.

The Saturday evening session was packed. Like, really, really packed. It was a Saturday though, so that was not to be unexpected. Nevertheless, it was so packed that we only hung around for about an hour and a half. This was a huge ballroom and there seemed to be plenty of space to host some 30+ breweries, but it seemed like there was a lot of wasted space. Most of the breweries were lined up next to the entrance, which made for some traffic problems. There was a lot of standing and milling in line, and you often had to fight the crowd to find the line to a particular brewery. Had there been at least another 30 or so feet between the opposing rows of brewers, there would have been less congestion.

On the bright side though, the people at the event were quite friendly and seemed to be in great moods -it's kind of hard not to with so much beer being poured! We chatted with a few of the guests to see what brought them to the event, and more than once we heard that the trip to the casino was planned around attending the brewfest, which is great news for the many Southern New England breweries in attendance that weekend.

Seeing how our media passes were good for all three sessions, I went back for the first hour or so of the Sunday session. Needless to say, there were far less people there. I was able to chat with some of the brewers, spread the good word about Brew England, and try some new (to me) beers. Some of the stand outs were Old Burnside Dirty Penny, Grey Sail Cream Ale, and Beaver Beer Brunette, but there were plenty more to chose from. If this turns into an annual event though, it would be great to see even more regional craft brewers and less of the macro beers.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Behind Backlash: Helder Pimentel

While scrolling through the old Facebook feed today, I came across the blog post on the Backlash Beer Co. website called "Behind Backlash: Helder Pimentel." It was a nice little read, and gives a bit more behind the scenes look at Helder as a person. I thought I'd mention it here as he took some time to talk with us last October in a Meet the Brewer segment, which you can read here.

Backlash Beer Co. recently released Conquest, a white-IPA and first beer of four in their Apocalypse Series. The label is a departure from their other beers, which Helder explains the nature behind it in his other blog post here, and it makes us excited to see what the next three beers are going to be like and what label will make it on the bottle.

All we can say is that each new beer this company puts out seems to be better than the last. If you haven't had any of their beers, do yourself a favor and pick them up.

2nd Annual Metrowest Brewfest

We posted about this event last year and the Holliston Business Association was able to raise over $10,000 to donate towards local community charitable funds. Please read the below press release, and if you are able to make it it sure seems like it's going to be a great time!

The Holliston Business Association’s 2nd Annual Metrowest BrewFest will take place on Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 6:30pm - 9:30pm at the Holliston Historical Society.

Thirty-eight (yes!! 38!!) breweries will be represented, pouring over 100 of the finest brews and meades in Metrowest and Massachusetts.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. Tickets available to purchase at Fiskes’s General Store in Holliston, 5th Avenue Liquors in Framingham and Millis and online at

Metrowest Brewfest 2011 will include live musical performances from local groups Morris Les and The Stray Tones and HillBilly Pop. Food will be available for purchase and provided by Superette, Pejamajo’s. The Candy Cottage, Dogs on Fire and Bertucci’s.

100% of the proceeds from Brewfest will benefit the Holliston Community Action Fund. The fund is an emergency grant fund designed to provide timely financial assistance to community people in need as well as provide annual financial assistance to charitable and civic organizations serving the Holliston community.

Call 781-492-4337 or go to for further information.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EverLocal at Night Shift Brewing

As you may have heard, the two of us moved to Somerville recently. Like, three weeks ago recently. We're walking distance to some really great places, and a short drive from many others. Notably, two up and coming breweries - Night Shift Brewing and Idle Hands Craft Ales.

Considering we now live so close to both of these breweries, we paid a visit to both the week after we moved in. We stopped in first at Night Shift Brewing. It looked a lot different than the first time we visited, which was about three weeks before they opened. At the time, they had just received their brewer's license, and they were in full production. They were also in the midst of building out their tasting room - which really looks great these days.

At any rate, we chatted with the guys who run the brewery, and they let us know of their awesome event, which is happening TOMORROW from 5-10pm at the brewery. Of course we meant to post about it then, but hey...we're doing it now!

Join the Night Shift Brewing crew at their brewery, located at 3 Charlton Street Everett, MA as they host thirsty beer goers for their bottle release of their new strawberry, kiwi, and hibiscus brew called "Ever Weisse." They'll be joined by Mem Tea Imports, Taza Chocolate, Mei Mei Street Kitchen, and Darlingside (a local indie string rock quartet).

Also, apparently I did not read the information on the Night Shift Brewing website, but they were able to secure a one-day liquor license, which means they are able to sell you pints at the brewery tomorrow night!

Take a minute to hit the Night Shift Brewing website to get the full details on this event, but if you do go feel free to say hello to Sarah and I as we will be there for part of the event!

Adam & Sarah

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday Night Tasting: NEBCO - Wet Willy Scotch Ale

New England Brewing Company – Woodbridge, CT

Wet Willy Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy 2011
10% ABV, 16.9 oz

In honor of our upcoming trip to Connecticut this weekend, we figured we would do our first Connecticut beer review! We picked up this bottle of Wet Willy Scotch Ale a few months ago while visiting Granite Liquors in Weymouth, MA, but since then have seen it in a few other package stores in the general area. It was not until a trip to Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont last week where we learned New England Brewing Co. (aka: NEBCO) had pulled their distribution to Massachusetts. We hope they come back soon.

Nevertheless…on to the beer!

The Wet Willy Scotch Ale pours a cloudy amber color with approximately one finger, thick, off-white head. The head retention is somewhat poor, but this is a 2011 bottle, which may have had something to do with that. The aroma is full of malty-sweetness, that features hints of caramel and toffee, which is fairly typical of Scotch Ales.

The flavor of the beer is much sweeter than anticipated. Again, this appears to be a bottle from 2011, so for a 10% beer to be this smooth it has likely mellowed a bit over time and as Sarah stated it has become “wise” since then. It is balanced with subtle hop characteristics that take a back seat to this malt forward beer style. It also has an almost syrup quality, possibly from being aged a bit. It also shares strong similarities to Scotch whisky and would pair up well with some heavier food dishes. The mouth feel is definitely full and the brew coats the entire palate with liquid goodness.

Finally, the drinkability of the beer depends on the quantity (of course) of the beer. We shared this bottle, so we each got about 8 oz or so and it was incredibly enjoyable. This was a 16.9 oz bottle, and at 10% ABV it was great to share. It is of course not impossible to enjoy an entire bottle by yourself. We feel it would be great on draft in 12 to 16 oz pours.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Return of the Valley Malt BSA

It is with great pleasure, and yet to our surprise, that we announce the return of the Notch Brewing Valley Malt BSA session beer. The word, as it seemed, was that owner/brewer Chris Lohring had nixed the idea of bringing back this truly seasonal beer. Hell, he basically said so in his February blog post titled "The Death of Seasonal Beers." Nevertheless, we just learned today that the BSA Harvest Ale has been born again as Valley Malt BSA.

Lohring actually made the announcement of the beer hitting shelves, taps, and happy beer drinkers' bellies on September 20th in this blog post, but we missed the announcement. It wasn't until a nice Facebook invitation to the beer launch was sent today where we learned about the beer's return.

With that being said, here are some key details about this week's beer launch:

When: Thursday October 4th at 8pm
Where: Clover HUB 1075 Cambridge Street outside of Inman Square Cambridge, MA
Why: To celebrate the changing of the seasons

Check out the Notch Brewing Facebook page to learn more about the beer and the event!