Archive for the ‘Beer Reflections’ Category
Deep in the foothills of Vermont, a small brewery is dutifully churning out one of the best IPAs in the country. Truth.
The Alchemist focuses on brewing “just one beer perfectly – Heady Topper, an American Double IPA.”
I was jittery, clammy-handed and excited to try the beer that currently rates #1 on Beer Advocate’s list of top 250 brews.
On my first tasting, I rebelliously ignored the explicit instructions to “Drink from the can” and poured the frothy golden liquid into:
…a glass *GASP*
- The first thing I noticed was a flood of delightful hoppy aromas wafting onto my olfactory receptors and staying a while to host a rager.
- I’m not enough of a beer connoisseur to dissect the proprietary blend of exact hops, but the aromas smacked of citrus, grapefruit, spice, and sunshine. It was good.
- The first sip revealed the trademark, signature move of the Heady Topper:
Maddeningly awesome hop aromas with a less-hoppy but smooth and flavorful mouthfeel and a crisp, refreshing finish.
- Upon tasting cans number 2 through 4, I did follow instructions and consume from the can. I do agree that adherence to the directions preserves some of those beautiful smells, but you’ll definitely survive and still enjoy a very good beer by pouring Heady Topper into a glass.
Unfortunately, the only way to access this beautiful beer is by visiting the brewery in Waterbury from Monday thru Saturday between 11am and 7pm, or by getting the stuff at a handful of restaurants, bars and retail alcohol vendors scattered throughout upstate Vermont.
So IS Heady Topper truly the best beer in the country? In this beer snob’s opinion, I’d say it definitely ranks up there among my favorite IPA’s in the US of A, which include:
- Green Flash West Coast IPA (San Diego, CA)
- Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (Healdsburg, CA)
- Three Floyd’s Arctic Panzer Wolf (Munster, IN)
- Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (San Diego, CA)
- Boulder Beer Mojo IPA (Boulder, CO)
Curious whether the Topper tops your “best beers” list? It’s totally worth the trip up to Waterbury to try the experience for yourself.
Very sporadically, I will kvell about a local brew that strikes my fancy. This time, it’s Night Shift Brewing, an operation started by a few nocturnal hausbraumeisters (or home brewers) who branched out into their own “nanobrewery” in Everett.
Why you’ll want to try their beer:
- It’s unique. Night Shifters have a flair for innovative flavorings in their beers. They infuse a rye ale with agave nectar and habanero. They brew a Belgian-style IPA with coriander and cardamom. They make a saison with honeydew melon essence. There’s a wheat ale with orange blossom honey and green tea. They do a stout with chicory root, ginger, and cacao nibs.
- It’s local. You gotta love that these are just some local beer enthusiasts working with other nearby companies like Taza Chocolate and MEM Tea Imports to make great drink.
- It’s real. The brewers take their craft seriously and try to make drinking their creations a personal experience. They hand-write the ABV and Batch #’s on their bottles and share their story with the world.
- It’s available. Liquor stores that carry Night Shift include Downtown Wine & Spirits, The Wine & Cheese Cask, Pemberton Farms, Cardullos, Formaggios (Cambridge) and Sav-Mor Spirits. A full list is on their website. Bars & restaurants like Puritan & Company, Spoke Wine Bar, Meadhall, Area Four, Oleana, and Redbones are pouring on draft as well. Finally, you can visit the Nightshift Tap Room M-F from 5PM – 9PM and Saturday’s from 12-5PM for tours, tastes, and tees.
I recently sampled the Trifecta (Batch #18) – A Belgian-Style Pale Ale made with vanilla beans and three Trappist yeast strains. The beer had a nice smooth flavor with some lovely Belgian fruit notes and was slightly hoppy. I didn’t really pick up on the vanilla, but it may have added a nice touch to the overall flavor.
In this first installment of what Nick is calling the “Beer Reflection” segment, we’re going to be going OM over Somerville’s newest brewer – Slumbrew. You’re busy, so here’s the quick breakdown:
- Launched last Friday, November 4th with a bash at the Independent (lovingly known as the Indo) in Union Square
- Local brew team bringing their craft tradition to the mainstream Somervillain by testing out recipes at a small scale “brew lab” in the ‘ville ‘hood and then smartly producing large scale by utilizing space at Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, MA
- Currently offering an IPA and a Hefeweizen with a soon-to-be-born Porter. The IPA is well-balanced, crisp and ripe in citrus with lots of galaxy hops and a refreshing, home-brew feel to it. The Hefe is famously brewed with 1,000 blood oranges. Tasty, but lagging behind a beer snob’s German fav’s. Can’t wait to try the Porter with Taza choco nibs.
- Slumbrew can be purchased in bottles at Pemberton Farms, Liquor World, Somerville Wine & Spirits, Kappy’s Medford and Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont.
Give these guys a try – they clearly know their beer game and are brewing some good “home-cooked” shit.