Battleship Brewfest blasts bodacious beers

Slumbrew reps pour some Attic and Eaves.

Slumbrew reps pour some Attic and Eaves.

What’s gray, hoppy, and 35 tons of fun? The Battleship Brewfest, of course! Held October 12, the third annual brewfest was a blast of brews, food, music, and friendly folks.

Set up under a tent or two on the deck of the Battleship Massachusetts in Fall River, this year’s fest featured brews from 36 breweries/cideries that ranged in location from SouthCoast to California to the Czech Republic. The Pats game was on a giant TV provided by Saber TV and the live band Ryan Connearney and the Dirty O’Brien blasted out tunes for all to enjoy.

One big advantage of the event is that there’s food, food everywhere – quite a bit to eat. Not only is the inclusion of food a nice touch that provides some nifty pairing opportunities, but offering alcohol-absorbing carbs and other culinary delights helps keep attendees sober and the post-fest roads safer. Ten different eateries provided a welcome variety of vittles to give the palate a break from all the delicious beer and cider.

The biggest surprise brew was from Somerville’s Slumbrew. To be honest, I haven’t loved their beer in the past, but their Attic and Eves toasted brown ale was a serious hit with myself and everyone I talked to. Roasty, toasty, nutty, and creamy, this complex 7.5% ABV brew was smooth on the tongue and had just enough bitterness to contrast with the multitude of other flavors. ‘Twas a truly excellent beer that’s definitely worth seeking out. In addition, their Flagraiser IPA is well-worth trying if you find it at your favorite watering hole or liquor store.

I have yet to have a sub-par beer from Connecticut’s Two Roads Brewing, and their brand-new Russian imperial stout “Unorthodox” didn’t disappoint. At 9.2%, the brew packs a serious punch, but does so in the balanced RIS style that makes this one of my favorite styles. What makes the beer unorthodox is the inclusion of malted rye, an ingredient one almost never sees in this style. The beer is well-balanced despite being incredibly rich, and includes standard RIS flavors like dark chocolate, coffee, a hint of hops, and a bit of vanilla.

People plugged into the New England beer scene, or who read my review of the Vermont Brewers’ Fest, are aware of how amazing Lawson’s Brewing is. Fortunately for attendees of this fest, Otter Creek served their amazing and hard-to-get Double Dose IPA, a collaboration with Lawson’s. The beer has only been brewed twice, so if you see it (and you may have to ask the beer buyer at your local liquor store to get some), BUY IT. This citrus bomb is amazingly drinkable considering how hoppy it is, and should be sought out by any hopheads in the area. It’s honestly one of the best double IPAs (at 8.5% ABV) that we can get down here, so try it if you find it.

My final beer to try isn’t a beer at all, it’s a cider: Bantam Cider Company’s Rojo. Bantam is based in Cambridge, and makes a fine, fine fermented apple drink. Rojo is aged on sour cherries and black peppercorns, which makes for a complex, slightly sour and slightly reddish cider. It’s only 5.4% ABV, so it can be sipped for a while. It’s subtle, with a deft balance of the dryly tart apple, the mildly sour flavors of the cherry, and the light bite of the peppercorns. Consider it another must-try drink.

Originally published on October 23

Spring/summer is here, time for beer

Ah, spring in New England is a thing of wonder: full of promise, renewal, dandelions, and new seasonal brews! I’ll admit right up front that I’m not a huge fan of the fruit and wheat beers that dominate in the spring and summer (Sam’s Summer might be my least favorite of their seasonals), but I’ll do my best to share the best of the rest, and I’ll even include a fruit beer or two.

I was able to taste a bunch of new brews at last weekend’s 25-table tasting at Yankee Spirits in Swansea, so kudos to them for having a varied group of brewers and cideries there. Most of these reviews come from that tasting, where I was able to sample dozens of brews (with a focus on spring offerings by local brewers, of course), and I’ll begin with a trio of hoppy offerings. Continue reading