I remember my first time like it was yesterday. It was late March in the winter of 2016. My wife and I were looking for some après-ski nourishment. After a long day of skiing at Stowe, this was an absolute necessity. Making our way down the mountain access road we eventually wandered into a restaurant called Doc Ponds.
Gazing at the beer menu while taking a seat at the bar, I asked the bartender, “what do you recommend?” An avid Vermont skier, I’m very familiar with the Green Mountain State’s vast craft beer market. However, I always like a local’s take when I can get it. Ultimately, his response pushed me in the direction of Zero Gravity Brewery Green State Lager, a beer that they had just put on tap. One sip and I was in love, hooked on the light, crisp, bready Pilsner bearing the state’s name.
On paper, Dutchess Ales GB doesn’t scream traditional English Ale. This Pale Ale includes a variety of hops like Centennial and Amarillo, and ferments with a hybrid yeast containing three different strains, none of them English in origin. However, this is a beer that works well in the pub (remember those?), several pints at a time. In that sense, it’s 100 percent spot on.
With the ingenuity of brewers these days, there are constantly new styles or hybrid variations of current styles that a consistently hitting the market. While a lot of these new-age beers have garnered a lot of worthy hype and praise, beer drinkers across the country can also still enjoy all the classics that originated hundreds of years ago in various European nations.
Following in the footsteps of industry titans like Russian River, Sierra Nevada, and Threes Brewing, who have rallied the craft beer industry to support their communities’ during times of need, Brooklyn New York’s Other Half Brewing (OHB) is now carrying the torch to unite the industry, for the industry.
In late March, OHB, along with a collective of industry partners, announced the spearheading of All Together Beer, a worldwide beer collaboration aimed at raising funds for the hospitality industry, an area of the workforce hit hard by the effects of COVID-19.
It’s always impressive when a brewery breaks away from their most popular beer. For years, O’Connor Brewing Co. was known for its El Guapo, an Agave IPA that you’d find at just about every supermarket and Mexican restaurant. The brewery had some nice beers here and there, but most got overshadowed by El Guapo. O’Connor finally broke through the mold last year when it released Proper Lager, a new flagship Helles-style lager that ranked #4 on Paste’s 102 of the Best Craft Lagers, Blind-Tasted and Ranked.
Lone Pine Brewing Company is a not-to-be-missed brewery that quickly grew from a small hole in the wall spot to a major player in the New England craft beer scene. Lone Pine opened in Portland, ME’s East Bayside neighborhood in 2016; by 2019, they grew enough to warrant a major expansion in Gorham, ME. Lone Pine is known for its vibrant hop-forward American ales and, over the course of two years, Lone Pine has worked to create what they call the “quintessential NEIPA with boutique hops.” The offspring of that labor of love is their award-winning Chaos Emeralds Double IPA featuring Galaxy and Mosaic hops.
Walk into any taproom and you’ll have a high chance of finding an IPA, Stout, Pale Ale, or another style with which you have grown familiar. While East Branch Brewing Company usually has some of these popular offerings on their draft list, they also mix in other, lesser known but just as tasty options. The perfect example is the East Branch Schwarz.
A trip down the beer aisle will often set your heart aflutter and provide a flash of inspiration, but a recent sighting of Stoudts Gearshifter IPA incited more of a sinking feeling. With the impending retirement of the legendary Carol Stoudt, this six-pack was less about joy or reverie and more about quiet reflection.
Suarez Family Brewery focuses on three broad styles including, per their website, “ales of mixed fermentation, unfiltered lagers and other crispy little beers.” The brewery specializes in making refined, humble beer, a unifying theme connecting these styles. Crescent, their “Belgian inspired refresher” is no exception. Though just a few years old, Suarez Family Brewery has demonstrated mastery that often takes decades to acquire.
What does adventure mean to you? Is it the adrenaline rush of accomplishing something huge? Is it physically exploring a new region? Is it the urge to leave your comfort zone? To Joe Connolly, director of Springdale Beer Co., it’s that last one. He also believes in the same notion for IPAs. “We believe that real activity deserves real beer,” Connolly notes. “To us, this is what IPA signifies: an urge to push the envelope, leave our comfort zone and simply put, get out there.”
And that’s what Springdale is all about. As the experimental offshoot of Jack’s Abby, Springdale has been in pursuit of adventure since its inception. By delving into sours, wild ales, barrel-aged beers and more, they have numerous successful experiments under their belt. They released their flagship IPA, Springdale IPA, in January 2020.
Although craft beer fans are becoming more keen on pairing beers with their favorite cheeses and meals, I’ve always found that cooking with beer to be a challenge. If you’re not acclimated to the natural bitter flavors of hops and malts, then beer can turn your dish into an overwhelming, unwieldy experience. The upside to this we can now discover new recipes by experimenting with more beer styles. In all my years of cooking, these crowd-pleasing pork rillons may be the perfect vehicle to harness the true flavors of beer.
When you bookend your day with drinks, it’s important to have quality ones. Coffee in the morning? Grind up something fresh to kick-start a productive day. Beer at night? That first crack open that has your taste buds thanking you after that productive day. Rinse and repeat.
Barrel & Bean from Allagash Brewing Company combines the best of both of the coffee and beer worlds. And when one thinks of a coffee beer, it’s common to think of a stout. That’s my first thought. But Barrel & Bean takes a different approach to a coffee-blended beer: the result is a combination of a Belgian-style golden ale aged in bourbon barrels with cold-brewed coffee from a local coffee roaster, Speckled Ax.
Arguably the best part about craft beer? The label art. “Label buying” is a phrase among some craft beer drinkers for when a person purchases a beer just because of the name or label art. Many beer labels produce a recognizable identity for the brewery, which can, in many cases, encourage the purchase of a particular beer. Advertising is a powerful thing!
I’ll admit I’m one of those people who succumbs to the “label buys,” and Foreign Objects is a label buy I will always make. It comes as no surprise to hear that when I saw a can of Psychomantic Cult Worship, my hands were right on it.
For Subversive Malting and Brewing, making their own malt is not just about quality, control and flavor. Their carbon footprint, relationships with farmers, and the local economy are perhaps more important. While slogans like “go local” are often used in the craft beer community, creating a truly local product is nearly impossible for most due to the lack of local grain and malthouses. Subversive is working hard to make it happen.
Some beers are just meant for certain seasons—or temperatures. While Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers are synonymous with fall weather and football, many other seasonal offerings can get lost in the fray. Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale is a staple of the Delaware brewery’s seasonal lineup, yet it’s a newer, apple pie-inspired cream ale release that might start driving bigger headlines soon. First released last November, Dogfish Head’s Suddenly Comfy Cream Ale is back again with an earlier fall release and a bevy of unique fall flavors that makes it immensely memorable.
It has been quite some time since my last article, but I figure I would come back and write about one of my absolute favorite breweries in Pittsburgh, Dancing Gnome. DG has been brewing, hazy deliciousness IPA/DIPA/TIPA, fruity goodness sour ales and delicious pale ales. But the one other beer style that has been talked about and that has craft beer patrons lining up early are their stouts, such as Black Clouds!
An interesting thing happened while prepping annual GABF coverage here at PorchDrinking this year. We noticed a growing trend of breweries bringing craft alcohol-free beer to the beer-lovers event. Now of course, alcohol-free beer isn’t new. Can you recall the times of “near beer” and O’Doul’s? And most recently Heineken introduced their version to the market. Out of curiosity we gave the latter a try, and to our surprise it tasted like a regular Heineken. Needless to say it was intriguing, so we did more research into the non-alcoholic craft craze.
We all know fall (at least in New England) doesn’t truly start until October 1. Sure, the calendar says September 23, but many of us are in denial for the last week of September, trying to soak up the last few warm days before everything cools off.
Within the touristy town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, sits a craft brewery by the name of Troegs Independent Brewing. Originally formed in 1997 and located in Harrisburg, PA, Troegs made the move to Hershey (the home of Hershey Chocolate Factory) in 2011. With a growing popularity within the region, Troegs became very well known for The Mad Elf Christmas Ale, and it didn’t take long for the brewery to gain momentum and demand. Brewing 10 year-round beers, Troegs also offers many options when it comes to seasonal brews and a never-ending list of “Scratch” beers that are brewed in an experimental six gallon brewing system and released regularly at their taproom.
The third Pils & Love Festival returned to Portland, ME this past July and, to honor the occasion, approximately 40 of the 60 participating breweries gathered to make a collaboration brew (a list of the breweries that participated is below). The festival was hosted by Oxbow Brewing Company and furthers a state-side version of Birrificio Italiano’s Pils Pride festival in Italy. Birrificio Italiano is known for its Tipopils, which puts a spin on a German pilsner by dry-hopping the beer, something prohibited by the Reinheitsgebot; the Pils & Love collaboration beer takes its inspiration from Birrificio Italiano’s classic.