SevenPack Beer Blog
Dave - July 5, 2013

The Session #77: IPA: What’s the big deal?

IPA is what turned me onto craft beer. Though I do not remember the exact one (it was either Boulder Brewing Mojo IPA or Great Divide Titan IPA) it made me realize there was something more to beer… and man did I like that bitterness.

The IPA is the fall back style when I can not quite decide what I want to drink. It’s a constant stand-by, due to its popularity you can always find at least one on the shelf or tap list. When a new brewery hits the area their IPA is the first thing I try. It’s the style I most understand, but am still surprised with.

I’ve broadened my tastes since that first IPA. I’ve found other styles I enjoy.

First loves are a big deal, and IPA was my first love in beer.

The Session

Dave - January 17, 2013

The Tally for Golden Pints 2012

golden pintsUPDATE! It was pointed out by the beer monkey that I missed some Golden Pint 2012 responses at Andy Mogg’s Beer Reviews. Since Andy is one of the coordinators of the Golden Pints, this was a large oversight on my part. Fortunately there were only a few entries not in Mark’s post (the one I originally used), so the re-tally was pretty quick. The four missed entries helped change some category winners, and those changes have been made below, along with uploading a new spreadsheet.

I decided to tally up the Golden Pints 2012 responses on Pencil and Spoon to see if there were any category winners or just a hodgepodge of single voted entries. Amazingly enough almost every category, minus “Food and Beer Pairing of the Year” and the “Open Category”, had a “winner” with multiple votes for it. Before I get to the results a quick explanation on the tallying. There were four main ways people voted: single entry per category, a first place with honourable mentions per category, a ranking of entries per category, unranked – multiple entries per category. “First votes” were given to single entries, and entries ranked first. “Second votes” were given to any honorable mention (if someone had four honourable mentions in a category, each one was considered a “second vote”). Second votes were also given to any unranked – multiple entry. This will hopefully make a little more sense when you read the results, so lets get to it.

With thousands of beers to choose from (and tens of thousands when considering the overseas categories) I was amazed even two people voted for the same beer, nonetheless many people voting for the same beer. For Best UK Draught Beer the winner was is a tie between two Magic Rock beers: High Wire and Bearded Lady Bourbon (23 first). The other beers that came close were Greene King 5X (2 first), and Magic Rock Cannonball (2 first). Next comes Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer with a two-way first place tie with Oakham Green Devil IPA (4 first, 1 second) and Buxton Imperial Black (4 first, 1 second). Thornbridge Kipling came in a close second with three (3) first votes, [update] and third went to Kernel Table Beer (2 first, 3 second)[update].

Moving to the Overseas categories, Best Draught Beer was claimed by Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi garnering three (3) first votes and one (1) second vote. In the Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer there was a two way tie for first with both The Alchemist Heady Topper and Brasserie d’Achouffe ‘Houblon Chouffe’ garnering two (2) first votes. Coming in second and third were Russian River Pliny the Elder (1 first, 2 second) and Firestone Walker – Double Jack (1 first, 1 second).

Best Overall Beer was claimed by another Magic Rock beer, Cannonball received two (2) first votes and one (1) second vote. Tied for a close second was Buxton Axe Edge and Oakham Green Devil IPA both with two (2) first votes. Rounding out the pack was Thornbridge Halycon (1 first, 1 second).

Best Pumpclip or Label is next and was claimed by Rukus Brewing Hoptimus Prime (2 first). Breweries’ whose artwork was regarded highly by the voters: Redwillow Brewery (2 first, 1 second); Magic Rock (1 first, 1 second); Moor (2 second); Half Acre (2 second).

Even though Magic Rock claimed best UK Draught Beer and Best Overall Beer it did not even place in the Best UK Brewery category. Buxton came out on top with three (3) first, two (2) seconds and one (1) third votes. Close behind were Hawkshead (23 first, 2 second), Brodie’s (3 first, 1 second), Summer Wine (3 first, 1 second), and Kernel (2 first, 4 second).

Best Overseas Brewery was grabbed by Stone (4 first) though Mikkeller was right behind with three (3) first votes and four (4) seconds.

Best Overseas Brewery was grabbed by Mikkeller (4 first, 4 second) though Stone was right behind with four (4) first votes.

The winner of the Pub/Bar of the Year was a pub that at first I did not think was actually a pub (you Brits and your crazy pub names) Friends of Ham (2 3 first, 2 second). Other pubs/bars of note: North Bar (1 first, 2 second), Earl of Essex (1 first, 1 second), Euston Tap (1 first, 1 second), and Freetrade (1 first, 1 second, 1 third). Another great place to drink beers is the GBBF with five (5) first votes and claiming tops in the Beer Festival of the Year category. Indyman (4 first, 3 second) and Borefts (3 first, 2 second) also seem like swell times.

Next up, Supermarket of the Year. For those a) able to purchase beer in supermarkets and b) not morally opposed to purchasing beer in a supermarket, Waitrose was the clear favorite racking up an impressive thirteen (13) fourteen (14) first votes, and leaving all the others in the dust. If you are not picking the beer up at a supermarket, Beer Ritz is your best bet, winning Independent Retailer of the Year with six eight first votes (though I was happy to learn there is a nice bottle shop near my old stomping grounds of Old Street, London). For the Online Retailer of the Year Beermerchants can not be beat with a solid ten (10) first votes.

Reading about beer encompasses the next three categories with Melissa Cole’s Let Me Tell You about Beer (5 votes) taking Best Beer Book or Magazine. Best Beer Blog or Website handily goes to Boak and Bailey with twelve (12) first votes (second highest first vote count of all categories, only being bested by Waitrose’s 13 in the Supermarket category). If Twitter is your thing, and it certainly is not for all voters, @Broadfordbrewer (4 5 first) is certainly worth following, claiming Best Beer Twitterer. Might as well follow @simonhjohnson (4 first) and @filrd (3 first), coming in a close second and third.

The last category with any real winner is Best Online Brewery Presence and that goes to everyone’s brewery they love to hate, Brewdog with seven (7) nine (9) first and one (1) second votes. Hardknott garnered a pretty respectable second with four (4) first and one (1) second votes.

Though there was no “winner” in the Food and Beer Pairing of the Year a general theme was everyday food (burgers, chips/fries, pizza, fried chicken, etc) rather then haute cuisine.

As for “In 2013 I’d most like to…” and the “Open Category“, you’ll just have to read those for yourself. Speaking of which, I am going to attach the spreadsheet I used to tally everything up (copy/pasted from posts with “explanations” removed) so if you want to do your own tally or look at the information in a different way (what was the most voted upon style? average abv? etc) have at it: Golden Pints 2012 Tally

Dave - January 5, 2013

Golden Pints 2012

golden pintsBetter late then never is my motto, or at least it is for this post. Andy Mogg and Mark Dredge have been organizing the Golden Pints for the past few years and this time I thought I would contribute… eventually. Though the Golden Pints are UK focused, a little editing of the categories and I’m good to go.

Best American Draught Beer
Have not been to many bars this past year, but of the few times I did Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau was ordered a bunch of times.

Best American Bottled or Canned Beer
Boulevard Brewing Love Child #2. The next day after finishing my first bottle, I went out and bought another four. I do not remember the last time I did that with a beer.

Best UK/Overseas Draught Beer
Not even sure I had an overseas beer on draught this past year.

Best UK/Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
I’m going with Thornbridge Kipling, with a close second going to Adnams Southwold Bitter.

Best Overall Beer
Westvleteren 12! Just kidding.
Port Brewing Company Mongo IPA. After a hard days work I always looked forward to having this. Bitter with a great mouthfeel.

Best Pumpclip or Label
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Meadowlark IPA. Colorful with great hand drawn artwork.

Best American Brewery
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project. I can drink their whole line of beers any day of the week, plus their history line of beers has been fascinating.

Best UK/Overseas Brewery
I did not drink enough UK/overseas beer to name one.

Pub/Bar of the Year
Deep Ellum Allston, MA

Beer Festival of the Year
Didn’t go to any.

Supermarket of the Year
Cannot buy beer in supermarkets around here.

Independent Retailer of the Year
Redstone Liquors Stoneham, MA. Friendly, knowledgable staff with good prices. The trifecta.

Online Retailer of the Year
If I cannot get the beer local, I am not going to get it.

Best Beer Book or Magazine
Beer Advocate, but then again it is the only beer periodical I read.

Best Beer Blog or Website
Boak and Bailey. Well written, and concise. When my feed reader became clogged with hundreds of unread posts, Boak and Bailey was the only beer blog I caught up with, the rest got the “mark all as read” click.

Best Beer Twitterer
Umm…

Best Online Brewery Presence
Brewery websites have consistently been awful, so I tend not to bother with them. There might be an outlier or two, but I have not found them.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
I drink beer. I eat food. They might happen at the same time, but no thought goes into it.

In 2013 I’d most like to…
Write a bit more, and be more timely with it.

Dave - November 4, 2012

Jack’s Abby Copper Legend

Next style up on the beer fridge clearing list, Octoberfest. This was an easy task once again, since I only had one Octoberfest left, Jack’s Abby Copper Legend. Jack’s Abby is located in Framingham, MA and is one of the few (only?) all lager american craft breweries. There is definitely something ballsy about being a lager only brewery in the American craft scene. However, ballsy or not, if their beers suck it does not matter.

I do not know about their other beers* but their Copper Legend does not suck. It’s malty, naturally, but it’s a great mix of breadcrust and caramel malt flavors, which give the beer some complexity. The beer does not stop there. Mid-tongue whispers of apple and banana can be found and the finish is dry with hints of black pepper. The orange-amber beer, with a thin head, takes all of these flavors and smoothly passes them over an eager tongue.

High praise for this beer. Though it does not displace my number one Octoberfest (Victory Festbier… which I haven’t reviewed?!?!), it comes a very close second and next year a head to head battle between the two beers is certainly called for. Definitely need to try more Jack Abby’s beers.

*Their Smoke & Dagger won the bronze medal in the smoked beer category at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, so I could assume that is good. Could.

Dave - November 3, 2012

Night Shift Brewing Somer Weisse

With Fall upon us I thought it was a good time to clear out the summer beers in the ol’ beer fridge. This was not a daunting task for the fact there was only one “summer” beer in there. Night Shift’s Somer Weisse is not a “summer seasonal” per-se (they plan to brew it year round, though in higher volumes during the summer) but they mention “flavors” of summertime and air conditionless July days in the beer’s description, so that is good enough for me. Speaking of the description, it also mentions the beer is a Berliner Weisse brewed with lemongrass and ginger. While Berliner Weisse and lemongrass do not scare me, the Berliner Weisse style is quite refreshing and lemongrass tends to impart minimal flavor, the ginger certainly does. Past experiences with beers brewed with ginger do not strike confidence in me but maybe Somer Weisse will change this, and enlighten me on the glories that are beer’s brewed with ginger.

Unfortunately Somer Weisse did no such thing. Upon my first sip, the thought that bubbled into my head was sour ginger ale. I enjoy sour beers, and I enjoy ginger ale, but it turns out I do not enjoy the two combined. As with the other beers brewed with ginger, the ginger is all powering, letting nothing else shine through. The beer did have a sour finish but the sourness was short lived and could not make up for the ginger whollop of the beer. Towards the end of the first glass the ginger became even more concentrated, reminding me of crystalized ginger, and this led to the second glass being a long slog to the finish.

Though I am not done with Night Shift Brewing as a whole, their Viva Habanera is a beer I look forward to picking up again, beer and ginger as a combo looks to be done with in my book. Unless someone brews a Porter with ginger… that might work…

Dave - February 21, 2012

Trappist Westvleteren 12

Newly arrived into my beer stash.  A gift from a co-worker who travelled abroad recently.  No tasting notes yet.

Trappist Westvleteren 12 BottleTrappist Westvleteren 12 Bottle Cap

Dave - February 19, 2012

Slumbrew FlagRaiser IPA

Slumbrew. No it is not a new term for 40 ounces of Malt Liquor, or Fortified Wine. It is actually the name of a new brand of beer from new Massachusetts beer maker, Somerville Brewing Company. Slumbrew started hitting shelves at the end of 2011 with three styles: Hefeweizen, IPA, and Porter. Now I am a fan of the Porter style (living by the saying “The more Porter, the more better”) but America being the country of IPA drinkers, I thought I would start with that one first. Lets hope the beer is more appetizing than the brand’s name makes it sound.

The amber-orange liquid hits the beer glass and produces a rocky off-white head that lasts a short amount of time, even with the fare bit of carbonation in the body. The aroma is quite fruity with orange, macintosh apples, and passion fruit greeting my nose. Mixed with the fruit is a light cereal grain and caramel malt character. The mouthfeel is enjoyable with the beer making its presence known and a subtle roughness around the edges. I get more earthy, black pepper spice characteristics in the taste then the initial aroma profile lets on. The fruit is still present, but less defined, and the earthy bitterness finishes quite strong. For a 7.5% beer the alcohol was well hidden.

For an incredibly crowded beer style, this one does stick out from the pack. I am not saying it is the best IPA ever, but it is different enough to a) remember and b) have again. Slumbrew is not the most appetizing of names, but at least they are doing something different with their beer, which is what matters the most (as long as people get past the name).

NB The name Slumbrew is “a cheeky, irreverant reference to a bygone era” for Somerville, MA. Marketing people… ya gotta love’em.

Photo Credit: walknboston, Creative Commons License

Dave - February 16, 2012

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale

I have never been timely with my reviews (and why change that now?), so I am going to review a Holiday Ale in February.  Now I am not a huge fan of Holiday beers to begin with.  Sure there are one or two I look out for, but most of the time I find them too dark-fruity, too spicy, too boozey, or all three.  My co-worker however recommended Lagunitas Sucks, and valuing his opinion, I picked up a six-pack of the stuff a few weeks after Christmas.

Clear, golden-colored, with a head that rapidly receded to a faint white covering.  Pine sap, grapefruit, mango, and hints of tobacco in the aroma.  Clean with a heavy bitter finish.  Does that sound like a typical Holiday Ale to you?  For me it certainly does not.  Though the beer was enjoyable it does not change my opinion on the Holiday style because the beer is not one… it is a Pacific Coast Double IPA.

Now you might be kicking yourself because you skipped over the beer, thinking it was a Holiday Ale.  I would not kick too hard.  Yes the beer was enjoyable, but it did not stick out from the rather crowded Pacific Coast Double IPA pack.  (My co-worker recently told me he tried the Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale side-by-side with Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale and their was not much difference between the two for him.)

Photo Credit: walknboston, Creative Commons License

Dave - February 5, 2012

Boulevard Brewing and Deschutes Brewery White I.P.A.

The latest trend/fad in beer styles is the White IPA (soon to be renamed by the Pacific Northwest as Cascadian White Ale) with Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Samuel Adams’ Whitewater IPA, Saranac’s White IPA, Anchorage’s Galaxy White IPA, Harpoon’s White IPA, and even Shock Top Wheat IPA (does that mean the style has already “jumped the shark”?) all being announced or released recently.  I can understand why brewers are hopping on the White IPA train because it seems like a sales juggernaut to combine IPA (which is the largest selling single style in the US) with a White Ale (Witbier) (with Blue Moon producing upwards of two million barrels of the stuff a year* and their dollar sales increasing even faster than craft beer’s), and I am surprised it has not happened sooner.  Commercially the White IPA combination only came about recently with a collaboration between Boulevard Brewing and Deschutes (this statement will probably be proved wrong by either a former employee of the The Vermont Pub & Brewery or Ron Pattinson), when they brewed their aptly named White IPA.  Now I have in my stash said beer (the Boulevard Brewing version of the recipe), and decided to crack the beer open and find out what this White IPA style is all about.

“Enticing” was the first word in my head, when I caught the first whiffs of aroma, orange and fruit, emanating from the bottle.  Poured into a tulip glass the golden-colored beer produced a rocky white head with a good inch and half depth that lasted four to five minutes, and did not disappear until half the glass was consumed.  As the head’s bubbles burst, aromas of orange, green apple, herbs and yeasty tang ensconced in my nose.  My first sips were full of coriander, and sage, which I did not find overly enjoyable, and a sour yeast finish.  With time however, the beer’s orange and fruit flavor, initially noticed in the nose, made a more pronounced showing, though never truly overcoming the initial herb flavors.  The sour was also counter balanced by a light bitter note.  The beer throughout the session had a dry, crisp, and refreshing finish.

Now my foray with the White IPA was not on the best of terms.  As I was drinking the beer I happen to notice on the label a “best by” date (in my opinion “best by” dates should be found more often on craft beer) of 02-2012, so my beer was nearing the end of its “life”.  With that in mind, and my belief a fresher White IPA would display a stronger IPA characteristic that would counter balance the herbal notes of the White Ale, I am still on the fence with the White IPA style.  Adding white ale’s herbal characteristics to the fruity chracteristics of the IPA style did not do anything for me.  I am not a fan of herbal beer, and this did not help change that.  I did however enjoy the sour-bitter combination the yeast imparted, and the dry, crisp, refreshing finish of the beer, so I am not against trying the White IPA style again.  And with so many White IPAs coming out in the ensuing months, it looks like I will have plenty of opportunities to decide which side of the White IPA fence I am on.

*Guesstimate based on this post.

Photo Credit: walknboston, Creative Commons License

Ben - November 28, 2011

Dogfish Head / Sierra Nevada Life & Limb

Hey all – just a quick post on this bomber of Life & Limb, a beer that many of you are probably familiar with. Obviously, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada are two seminal breweries in the ‘craft beer movement’. I love ‘em both and I think they’ve both done a lot to push the industry forward. Therefore, I was pretty excited when I heard about this collaborative brew using maple syrup from the Calagione farm (DFH) and barley from the Grossman farm (SN). Disregarding the potential quality of the ingredients, the innovative natures of the brewers promises something worth trying. And, I must say, the beer did turn out quite tasty.

This beer pours a very dark brown, with a dense caramel head. The aroma is quite rich – notes of maple, caramel, and dark cherry do it for me. In the mouth, it stays true to form. At British room temperature, the beer exhibits tremendous richness – full of caramel and dark malt. The maple flavors really take hold around the back of the tongue, as does some flavor of sweet cream – very dessert-like and delicious. It isn’t as viscous as a stout. Rather, it comes across as a rich brown ale with big flavors and some yeastiness that isn’t in your face, but may borrow a bit from their Belgian brethren.

And, that’s about it. Frankly, it seems a short paragraph to write about a beer with such big flavors and some considerable hype. However, I have to wonder – at what point do we experience everything under the sun? This is delicious, sure. But, to be fair, I feel like I’ve tasted it a dozen times before. Don’t get me wrong, this beer is sophisticated and well-crafted and delicious, but it is *not* so different that I haven’t tasted all of these flavors before. And, in that respect, it’s a disappointment. But, I guess we were bound to get here. When dealing with a beverage that stipulates little more than 4 ingredients, the flavors are bound to run out. Leads me to wonder what keeps wine drinkers to interested? At any rate, I’m curious who out there is doing really innovative things and making them work? The further the ‘craft brew revolution’ goes, the weirder we gotta get to stay innovative. And, eventually, the beer is going to start to taste like shit. It’s inevitable. You can only get so weird. However, I’ll bet there are still some breweries pushing envelopes out there.

I’ll tell you the brewery that’s making the most innovative-yet-delicious beers that I’ve had in a while – Furthermore Brewery. Those guys make a coffee lager that’s amazing, and their cracked pepper pale ale is nothing to sneeze at – both fairly low abv beers with medium flavor profiles. I feel like the breweries to push us to the next level will be breweries that understand how to integrate flavors while practicing restraint – something that is, for better or worse, lacking in the current scene.

All I’m saying is that, while I *love* the craft beer culture in the US right now, I’m beginning to get bored with Imperial versions of the same old beers…

Dave - November 13, 2011

North Carolinians, you to can pretend to be Quint!

Narragansett beer is now available in North Carolina. So pick up a six-pack of Tall Boys at your local grocery store and pretend to go out shark hunting!  (Quint is a character in Jaws… I’ll let you guess which one.)

Also along those lines (of beer releases, not shark hunting), Narragansett Porter has recently hit shelves.  I should review the beer, but the less people know how good it is, means more for me! (Lew gives a good summary of the beer with “Wow!“)

Which brings us to (everything is just flowing together so nicely) another point of, will I actually post something of substance (i.e. a beer review)? Hopefully soon, but unfortunately raising an 18-month old is a bit of a time commitment (Who knew?).  Speaking of which, the little guy is up from his nap, so I’m off!

Ben - October 11, 2011

Ninkasi “Tricerahops” Double IPA

Listen. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya’, and seeing as it’s been a solid 2 months since the last SevenPack post at all, I figure we’re a little overdue. So, I come at you know with a special Pacific Northwest posting of a brew that we’re nowhere close to getting on the East Coast. Tonight, I find myself in Seattle and, after being disappointed by the taps at some local restaurants, I decided to sidle into the local Safeway to see what they had in stock. As luck would have it, they had a number of brews that tempted my tummy, from a Fresh Hop Deschutes to an Elysian IPA to this little gem from a brewery I’ve never heard of. Long story short, I have one more night in town, so I had to settle for a single beer, and something called “Tricerahops” is bound to win. So here I am.

The Tricerahops hails from Eugene, Oregon which is, by all accounts, good hop territory. It pours a great deep amber color that is, while apparently not heavily filtered, not altogether too cloudy either. The aroma of the beer is absolutely fabulous – there is a lot of floral Northwestern hop here, but also a great bready sweetness. It’s the kind of beer that makes you want to hold your glass to your nose like a Halloween mask. The taste here is also excellent. Early on the tongue, there is a substantial hop burn – this is full of west coast fresh hops. The sting on the tongue is quickly mitigated by that malt backbone and some buttery flavors, killing the burn and mellowing out the hops while bring a strong sweetbread flavor through the mouth. The mouthfeel of the beer is thick and decadent, coating the mouth with sweet malts and fresh hops, and just a hint of citrusy grapefruit. In the end, the beer finishes with another pretty sharp hop blast that kicks back through the mouth. That sharpness sticks with you for several seconds, but eventually the malty sweetness reigns the aftertaste. Frankly, it’s one of the longer aftertastes I’ve tasted in a beer in a while, leaving a lot of flavor more than a minute after my last sip.

I don’t know much about Ninkasi, and this is their first brew I’ve tasted, but *man* am I impressed. I’m very excited to taste more from these guys, but sad that I don’t know when I’ll have the chance! See you tomorrow, North Carolina…

Dave - August 10, 2011

*Update* Firmer stance on “Farmer-Brewery” in MA

A bit of good news to report on a recent blog post of mine regarding the “Farmer-Brewery” license in MA. After a group of MA craft brewers sat down with State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Mr. Grossman announced, on August 8th, that the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) would be reversing the rule change dealing with “Farmer-Brewery” licensing and will schedule a series of public hearings for comments on the current system of licensing. That is certainly good news, especially since the ruling would have had a dramatic economic impact on current state breweries. Prior to Mr. Grossman’s announcement, legislation was filed by State Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), on August 4th, that dealt with the ABCC’s “Farmer-Brewery” ruling by creating a new craft brewer license. I am unsure where this legislation now stands, due to the ABCC’s reversal, but the press release announcing the legislation ended with a nice quote.

Craft brewers already must deal with many disadvantages, from our archaic regulatory structure to the outdated 3 tiered distribution rules to competition from international conglomerate brewers. We should be creating incentives to promote this industry not hamstring it,” said Senator Hedlund.

Amen.

Dave - August 4, 2011

Recreating Ballantine IPA

Given that today is IPADay, I thought I would write a post I’ve meant to write for some time. A while back Alan wrote a post titled “Mr Gillman On APA, SN PA, Liberty, Ballentines And Stuff“. Having just read about Ballantine IPA in Amber Gold & Black: The History of Britain’s Great Beers, I was curious to read if the post had any more nuggets of Ballantine information.

Boy did it! The post references a forum discussion on how to make a recreation of Ballantine IPA. The recreation utilizes two currently (albeit seasonal) brewed Sierra Nevada beers, Celebration Ale and Bigfoot Barleywine, in a “Half and Half” mixture.

Unfortunately I have neither beer in my beer stash, so I will have to wait, anxiously, for this year’s seasonal release of both beers. I look forward to trying the mix out and reporting back with my thoughts.

Happy IPADay everyone.

PS  A good, quick read about IPA myths by Martyn Cornell.

Dave - August 3, 2011

Firmer stance on “Farmer-Brewery” in MA

Well this certainly is disconcerting news to read. It seems as though the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (the commission of patronage) is taking a firmer stance on “Farmer-Brewery” licenses that will surely put a damper on the recently burgeoning local craft beer industry of Massachusetts.

Though there is another style of brewing license available called “Manufacturer of Wine and Malt Beverages License”, this license does not allow for breweries to self-distribute or do on site brewery tastings (two major pluses for small craft breweries). If a brewery does want to self-distribute they need a second license called a “Wholesaler’s license”. As for on site tasting, I’m not sure there is another license that covers that. Granted this recent firmer stance by the Commission is a great win for distributors in the state, since the new breweries will need to go through said distributors if the breweries can not pony up the cash ($5000) for a wholesaler’s license (the distributors probably had nothing to do with this recent firmer stance). Unfortunately as it stands it looks like the law will need to be updated for either a reinterpretation of “Farmer-Brewery” or a new license devised for self-distribution and tasting, with distributors fighting tooth and nail against (as they have before when dealing with distribution law changes).

The thing is (and this may shock some people, because Massauchesetts is located in the grain belt*), and as a post on Brewbound points out, Massachusetts does not even come close to producing enough malting barley for brewers to meet the “Farmer-Brewery” requirement. I guess if all the local farmers replaced their fresh grown edible produce with malting barley and hops, this might all just work out however. Then again that seems like a rather strange priority to have.

*No it isn’t.