Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Blogger: Fall to Winter Fest Recap

by Mark Omobono

Ladies and germs, welcome to the show! My name is Mark and I write/live/love ReleasetheKrausen on the reg, but my buddy Adam here at BrewEngland called an audible on the most entertaining fest of the year and asked me to go as a guest in his place. BIG MISTAKE. Because The Drink Craft Beer Fall-to-Winter Fest is easily one of the most underappreciated, high-quality beer festivals in the New England area. Year to year, they continue to impress yours truly, and I look forward to this nonsense all summer from the end of American Craft Beer Festival. As for 2013’s business, lets break down why I've got my jimmies all rustled here.

First of all, the beer selection was amazing. 25 New England craft breweries, all pouring up to 5 different offerings, were all in a constant state of good cheer. From the big guys, like Sam Adams, to the smallest outfits, like Urban Farm Fermentory, every brewery brought their A-game. This was partially due to the fact that the fall-to-winter season is home to some of the most creative and sought-after beer styles all year: imperial porters, Russian imperial stouts, holiday ales, and rum/whiskey/cask aging projects are just a few of the options. Flavor combinations including spices, nuts, oak, juniper, vanilla, pine, caramel… every month colder than March is home to beers that are profoundly complex in a deep, dark way. Drink Craft Beer knows this and primes the pump with the best local beer around, including (but not exclusively) beer hitting mad combinations of these flavor palates, PLUS more that you would never even think of. I’ll get to examples later.

Secondly, DCB is one of the only organizations I know that gives a hearty nod to cideries (Real word, who knows) on a regular basis. A whopping 20% of the invited purveyors were peddling a prominent plethora of pressed apple poisons. It’s New England, people; fall-to-winter is like the Superbowl for our booming apple industry. Act like you’re on the home team! The things the local cideries are doing with apples are BLOWING my mind right now. And for a Fest to dedicate 20% of available space to this underappreciated realm of spicy fruity treats? That’s respect, yo.

Then there’s the actual festival itself. The space DCB uses, Space 57 in Boston in the Revere Hotel, is perfect for Fest events. DCB capped the ticket count at a number that was below the capacity of the space, and I actually had room to swing my elbows and do my I-found-a-great-new-beer Victory Dance. The lighting, the flow of the crowd, and positioning of new and promising breweries were all supah-fine. They put up a live Twitter board filtering the hashtag #FTWfest, which engaged the whole crowd and provided a forum for public beer praise, special “secret offerings” announcements, and even an engagement, I think? The food available was from local restaurants and food trucks, including the ever-popular Union Square Donuts Bacon-Maple donuts, and was perfect for soaking up the alcoholic offerings of the night.

And because I KNOW you’re all wondering about it, here were the best things that I found in liquid form at the festival. These weren’t full reviews, because Iin my opinion you can’t get much of a review using a 2oz tasting. Maybe Adam will let me participate in Tuesday Tastings? Huh? Huh? Anyways, I’ll be purchasing these treats at the Craft Beer Cellar in the next few days to start stocking my nuts up for winter. NOTE: I successfully avoided taking pics of my dirty tasting cup. In no particular order, may I add. 
  •         Bantam Cider (MA) Persian Spice (??% ABV): Delightful flavors of apple cinnamon and floral notes due to added cardamom and a list of other spices I had no time to write down. Would be perfect for Thanksgiving-time sharing.
  •        Berkshire Brewing Co. (MA) Coffeehouse Porter (6.2%): These folks basically define the coffee porter game. Velvet-mouthfeel coffee deliciousness that my fiancĂ© “can NOT get enough of,” meaning I better get some STAT or else. Honorable Mention: the “Secret Menu” which was their Cabin Fever (6.3%) winter warmer spiked with Vanilla Bean mead (of which I didn’t get the creator) that was one of my favorite treats of the night.
  •         Citizen Cider (VT) Dirty Mayor (6.9%): Delicious off-dry apple cider made with a big punch of ginger. Crisp and palate-cleansing, really impressed me for a very young outfit.
  •         Downeast Cider House (MA) Barrel Project #2 (7%): A bourbon-barrel aged sweet(er) cider that really rang with the flavors of vanilla and caramel, and was a great example of how to creatively use barrels for cider. I went back for thirds!
  •         Peak Organic Brewing (ME) Oak Aged Chestnut Mocha Stout on Cask: the names really says it all. They really treated the nuts delicately, as from my own homebrewing experience they can get oily and astringent when used incorrectly. A very well-balanced ale, they do some interesting things for a brewery I’ve usually been ho-hum about.
  •         High Horse Brewing (MA) The Business (9.4%): this imperial stout had a gorgeous smooth mouthfeel that allowed a deep palate of dark fruits, black coffee, dark cocoa, and a bit of alcohol sweetness to conquer your lips. Next time I’m in Amherst I’ll be stopping by for a tasting!
  •         Two Roads Brewing Co. (CT) Biere de Noel (7.3%): If you’re a fan of Delirium Tremens, you would love this beer. Certainly a standout from the rest of the crowd with its distinct banana/clove nose and fuzzy mouthfeel, this was another favorite of mine from the fest.
  •         Wormtown Brewery (MA) Sweet Tats (9%): With oatmeal, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and locally-roasted cold-brew coffee going into this monster, the coffee-frappe semblance of this imperial stout made it go down easier than an Dunks iced coffee in the middle of July.

If you made it all the way here, thanks for reading my babbling all the way to the end. Give some love to DCB via Facebook and Twitter, but do yourself a favor and mark down the next fest coming up from these guys, because they are classy individuals running kick-ass festivals; you can’t afford to not experience it someday so get on that ish. If you went, hit me up in the Twitterverse at @bono_burr to tell me how spot-on I was with my one-liner reviews. You can also tell Adam how much fun you had reading my guest blogging. I may be back for more! Until then, Salute!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest - TONIGHT!

Speaking of Slumbrew Yankee Swap, tonight is your first opportunity to try it at the Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest, kicking off tonight at Space 57 at the Revere Hotel in Boston.

The FTW Fest was the first Drink Craft Beer festival we attended last year, and boy oh boy was it great. First off, Jeff and Devon really work hard to put on a fabulous event. They limit the breweries to 25, which also includes cider and mead makers, all of which are from New England. Obviously, this is something we strongly support!

On top of that, they also limit the amount of tickets sold, so it's not a complete cluster fuck while trying to get beer. The beer lines move quickly, and the brewers ALWAYS bring some great beers - usually some one-offs and special brews specific to the DCB themed festivals. It makes for a unique festival experience, no doubt.

Tickets are still available for all sessions, but are likely to sell out as they tend to do! Tickets are $50 for all three sessions: Tonight from 6-9:30pm, Tomorrow from 1-4:30pm and 6-9:30pm and your ticket includes unlimited 2 oz samples of 75+ fall and winter beers from 25 New England craft brewers. You'll also receive a biodegradable tasting cup and a fest guide!

There will also be food available for sample and purchase, from Mei Mei Street Kitchen, Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Grillo's Pickles, and Union Square Donuts.

Check out the full brewers list at and get your ticket fast!

Tuesday Night Tasting: Slumbrew - Yankee Swap's been a while since we've posted. It's also been even longer since we posted a Tuesday Night Tasting. While we realize it's Friday, it seemed like as good of a day to post our latest review.

Somerville Brewing Co. "Slumbrew" - Somerville, MA
Yankee Swap, English Style Strong Ale
12% ABV, 27 IBU, 22 oz and select draft

This is a new special release beer by Slumbrew, and the first barrel aged beer that they've done commercially. It has a bold, dark brownish hue with a light chocolaty brown head. It pours well, and has a medium, creamy, fluffy head that hangs around. It also gives nice lacing to the glass as you drink it down!

The aroma is incredible. The Turkey Shore Distilleries/Old Ipswich Rum barrels really shine through on this beer. It has a great subtly sweet malty and vanilla scent, and nice oak notes to it that are inviting.

The first sip really gets you into this beer. The vanilla notes carry over, and you're palate is engulfed by a rather mild malt profile. The rum is noticeable too, but is not overbearing. When I drank the first half of the bottle, I could not believe this beer was 12%. Much like the Slumbrew Trekker Trippel, the ABV of the Yankee Swap drinks seemingly much lower than what it actually is. I can't wait to have this on draft.

It has a fairly full mouth feel, yet is not super heavy. This is most likely due to the pale malts used in the mash. For a strong ale, it is definitely drinkable and is really enjoyable. It's highly recommended that you share this with someone you like, because it could prove difficult putting down an entire 22 oz bottle of 12% ABV beer.

Drink now, or age for a while. This beer will hold up!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Exciting Day for the Alchemist

I have next week off and plan (tentatively) to make the voyage north to the Green Mountain state to stop at The Alchemist to get my hands on a case of Heady Topper. I mean, it's been a while since I've had it. So, in preparation I took a gander at The Alchemist's website, where I found some great news!

A few weeks ago they posted a super vague picture of one of their brew kettles with an unknown added ingredient. I'm unsure if it was ever identified, but it looked to be cranberries or cherries. Nevertheless, one could assume that The Alchemist was working on a beer other than Heady Topper.

It was in fact confirmed yesterday on their blog, that they would be releasing 15 barrels a month for growler fills of some of their old beers from when they had their Brew Pub (it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene back in 2011). The first beer is going to be Donovan's Red, and is available at one growler fill per person.

There are many more details, too many to list here, so read more about the new beer(s) and rules here.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Contest Winner

By the power of, I hereby grant Caroline a pair of tickets to tonight's Massachusetts Brewers Guild Festival! Please send an email to brewengland at gmail dot com with your beer drinkin' buddy's name and I will have you put on the list!

Thanks to those who entered! 

Adam & Sarah

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MA Brewers Guild Fest Tomorrow! Bonus Contest!

Tomorrow evening, join 38 of your favorite Massachusetts breweries and brewing companies on the concourse of the Seaport World Trade Center for the 4th Annual Massachusetts Brewers Guild Festival. This will be the 3rd year in a row we have attended, and let us tell you it is seriously one of the greatest festivals on the calendar each year.

The past two years has been amazing weather. Paired with some incredible beer, friendly faces, smaller crowds than you're probably used to, and one killer backdrop, this is an amazing event. When you pair all of those features, not to mention absolutely gorgeous weather (slated to be high 70's at the beginning of the fest, for at least the 3rd year in a row), you can not beat this event.

The $35 tickets sold quickly, but there are still tickets left. However, we have been given a pair of tickets to give away. 

Here's how you have a chance of winning: Just leave a comment here letting us know what beers/brewers you're excited about tomorrow. Pretty Simple! Bonus points if you Like our Facebook page and Follow Us on Twitter (if you're not currently doing so). If you are on Twitter, leave your @Twitter handle in your comment and we'll follow back!

One winner will be drawn tomorrow at 12pm tomorrow August 30th. The winner's name will be left on the guest list, courtesy of Brew England.

Here are the full details for the event, from the full press release:

What:  The Massachusetts Brewers Guild is hosting its fourth annual Mass Brewers Fest on Friday, August 30th, bringing together Massachusetts beer lovers and brewers to celebrate local craft beer!  Featuring more than 100 different beers from 30+ member breweries in the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, the Mass Brewers Guild Fest provides an excellent opportunity for craft beer lovers to sample local favorites, as well as some specialty beers brewed exclusively for this festival.

What’s New this Year?:  On August 2nd,  brewers of the Mass Brewers Guild came together at Mayflower Brewing Company to collectively brew a first of its kind collaboration beer.  The limited release beer, a cask English Mild, will be unveiled at this year’s Fest, but will have a unique twist.  Each brewer will have given the base beer their own special touch – adding a favorite hop, signature ingredient, aging the beer in barrels, etc. – showcasing the brewer’s art and creativity in each cask & ready to be tasted at the Fest.
Where:  The event will take place at World Trade Center Head House Concourse, located at 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, a beautiful indoor/outdoor venue on Boston's historic waterfront.

When:  The Fest will begin at 6:00 pm on Friday, August 30th

Cost:  Tickets are $40, with beer samples included. The first 500 beer lovers to purchase a ticket will receive a discounted ticket price of $35.  For more information please visit the Massachusetts Brewers Guild website at, or purchase tickets directly at

The Massachusetts Brewers Guild is a 501 (c)(6) non-profit corporation, organized for the purposes of promoting craft brewing and protecting the interests of craft brewers in Massachusetts.  Membership is eligible to any business or individual 1.) holding a “Brewers Notice” issued by the TTB and a Massachusetts License to Manufacture, a Farmer Brewer’s License, or a Brewpub License, (Chapter 138 Sections 19, 19C, and 19D) issued by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, or 2) contracting brewing in Massachusetts, selling beer commercially in Massachusetts, and having its primary place of business in Massachusetts.  Currently there are over 52 members of the Guild.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jaws Commemorative Can Out This Week

Who doesn't love a 'Gansett? Well, you can celebrate Shark Week and drink some 'Gansett in style, as Narragansett Beer re-released their 1975 edition of the 12 oz can yesterday. Personally, I prefer my 'Gansett lagers in tall-boy fashion, but these retro cans are pretty cool.

Limited-Edition Can Features Retro ‘Gansett Design Featured in Iconic Film

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (August 6, 2013) – Today, Narragansett Beer announces the re-release of the wildly popular “Jaws” can just in time for Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” and “Jaws” actor Robert Shaw’s birthday. For a limited time, all 12-, 18- and 30-packs of 12-ounce cans of Narragansett Lager will feature the same design and logo made popular by the shark-infested thriller.

The can’s retro imagery, nostalgic to the millions of beer-drinking baby boomers who came of age at the time, became permanently ingrained in American culture with the release of Jaws in 1975. In the film, Captain Sam Quint, played by Oscar-nominated actor Robert Shaw, who would have turned 86 on Aug. 9, famously crushes a can of Narragansett Lager to intimidate Richard Dreyfuss’ character. At the time, ‘Gansett was prevalent throughout the Northeast, including Martha’s Vineyard where “Jaws” was filmed, producing over one million barrels of beer per year.
While this classic can design may recall memories of the good ol’ days, the quality of its contents also speaks to the brand’s rich heritage. Narragansett Lager is the brewer’s flagship beer, its original recipe tracked down by former Brewmaster Bill Anderson when the company was revived in 2005 by CEO Mark Hellendrung. Since then, it has been recognized as the No. 1 rated domestic premium lager and awarded the gold medal for best lager by the Great International Beer Festival.
The 12-ounce limited-edition retro can is available for purchase throughout New England where 12-, 18- and 30-packs are sold (SRP: 12-packs: $9.99 - $11.99; 18-packs: $12.99 - $14.99; 30-packs: $18.99 - $20.99). 

Narragansett Beer…Brewed since 1890. ‘Gansett is a straightforward, quality beer that has been a New England tradition for generations, producing a classic family of award-winning American lagers & ales. Today, ‘Gansett is produced at top-rated breweries in Providence, R.I., Rochester, N.Y., and Buzzard’s Bay, Mass. and is one of America's top 50 regional brewers and the fastest-growing in the Northeast. Narragansett is available for purchase in local restaurants, bars, and liquor stores throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and Nashville, Tenn.

Thirsty for more? Visit: