First column: About Good Brew Hunting
Most Americans think of beer as light, yellow, fizzy, refreshing, and almost flavorless. From Prohibition through the late 70s, that’s exactly what it was. Thankfully, that light lager monopoly has been losing its grip on the American consumer at an ever-increasing rate, leading to a golden age of more-than-golden beer in America.
In fact, modern beer drinkers are presented with a sometimes dizzying array of options. As your beer guide, I intend to help lead you through the world of craft beers, with a focus on local breweries and places to purchase/consume them.
This bi-weekly column will cover a bit of everything about beer, from reviews of brews and breweries to style explanations and general beer knowledge. I’ll write about upcoming beer events and opportunities to expand your beer horizons. There could even be some occasional homebrew talk.
I’ve been a beer geek and amateur brewer for over a decade. I’m a brewpub enthusiast and have done the legwork for opening a brewery, but have put that on the back-burner for a while. I tend to favor big flavors in my brews, and while I lean towards hoppy IPAs and rich black stouts and porters, I definitely appreciate the craft that goes into a well-made light-flavored/colored ale.
The local scene, and how we got here
In the dark ages of the late 1970s, we hit a measly 89 breweries! Nowadays, breweries pop up almost daily, with a total of 2,416 American breweries as of this month, according to the Brewer’s Association. We’ve gone from a global beer backwater to leading the beer world in innovative and fresh takes on the ancient craft of brewing. The American beer scene is a point of pride!
This brewery boom has taken root on the south coast and across Massachusetts. Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport is the original local brewery, and after a brief stint as Just Beer, the Buzzard is back! Fans can pick up their fine ales at numerous local bars and stores, and should keep their eyes peeled for head brewer Harry Smith’s spicy, hoppy new offering – Lizzy’s Famous “81 Whacks” Red IPA. Look them up at buzzardsbrew.com.
The Buzzards Bay brewery is also home to craft beer maestro Dan Paquette, who brews his Pretty Things creations in the dark of night in Westport. Pretty Things stretches all boundaries of styles … just about every beer they make is a hybrid or a reinterpretation of expectations. Their brews are must-tries for the beer geek, and we often have some of their Baby Tree (Belgian quadruple) around the house. At 9% ABV, this is a sipper with an attitude.
Joining the Westport brews are a pair of strong newcomers from just a bit north of New Bedford – Berkley Brewing and Goodfellow’s Brewing, from Berkley and Lakeville. Both have started in the last year, and both are brewing some fine ales.
Berkley Brewing is the brainchild of Glenn Barboza, and is available in bottle in quite a few locations in the greater Taunton/Berkley/Lakeville area. Their easy-drinking, but complex, Golden Ale is a great “gateway beer” to introduce your favorite Bud/Miller/Coors drinker to the joys of craft beer. Learn more at berkleybeer.com.
John Goodfellow has been winning awards for his brews for nearly a decade. His brews, including the excellent year-round Oktoberfest homage “Wheneverfest,” are available on tap at the Back Nine Pub and at Tamarack Wine & Spirits, both in Lakeville. Find out about Wheneverfest’s malty goodness and their other brews at goodfellowsbrewing.com.
There are four other other top-notch breweries in the SE Mass/Cape area – Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth, Cape Cod Brewing in Hyannis, Offshore Ale on Martha’s Vineyard and Cisco Brewers on Nantucket. They all produce truly worthwhile beers.
While nearly everything these breweries put out is outstanding, I have favorites from each. Mayflower’s Spring Hop is a perfectly-balanced not-quite-IPA that’s just right for the new life of spring. Cape Cod’s Red Ale hits the target with its beautiful amber colored brew with just enough bite to keep the easy-drinking ale interesting for beer enthusiasts. Offshore’s Abel’s Hills India Dark Ale is truly a beautiful brew – hoppy, dark, mysterious – a festival in any beer geek’s mouth. Finally, grab some Cisco’s fine Belgian-style brew, The Gray Lady. It’s a lovely fruity, yeasty brew that positively sparkles with effervescent goodness.
Originally published on 3/14/2013