Climate change in New England Beer Scene.

Discussion in 'US - Northeast' started by moaner, Jun 10, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. moaner

    moaner Initiate (129) Oct 18, 2003 Massachusetts

    Or… Why I will no longer be going to San Diego 3 times a year.

    In 2004, living in Amherst and running The Moan and Dove, it was a long drive from Brattleboro VT to Burlington. I’d make my usual stop at McNeill’s, down a few pints, and then make the trek to see Paul at Flatbread and maybe head over to 3 Needs. For my palate, there was not much for me to drink on the way. Similarly, the drive to Portland meant a stop at Portsmouth, with a lot of time dedicated at Allagash, hoping to find a decent pint in old port. Boston? Well, it was CBC, Publick House, or busto. Worcester? Fuhgettaboutit.

    Thankfully, much has changed. Now when I drive to VT I don’t even make it to Burlington. Starting at Whetstone, I can have a word class beer every hour as I head north. Worthy Burger. 3 Penny. Black Back. Pro Pig. Alchemist (sometimes). Hill Farmstead. Lawson’s (sometimes). Parker Pie. On my way to Portland from Cambridge I now stop at the new Smuttynose, I offer words of encouragement to Tod Mott in Kittery, and I roll on to Maine Beer Co before landing in the Industrial park that house’s Allagash, Bissel Bro’s, Foundation, before finishing my evening at Infiniti and Novare. I haven’t made it to Blind Pig or Black Back’s new joint yet, but I hear great things. In Boston, when I’m not at my own joint Lord Hobo, I see great Craft Beer popping up all over town. Stallwart’s like Deep Ellum. Newbie’s like Trillium, Mystic, Nightshift, Aeronaught et all. I see craft beer being poured at serious foodie joints like West Bridge and Row 34. And Worcester? Well, now we’ve got Armsby, and the Dive. A little further out we’ve got Treehouse… and if you make it to the 5 college area we have The Dirty Truth, High Horse, and now Seymour in Greenfield.

    With apologies to all the places I’ve left out, the last decade has seen a stunning shift. We have World Class Beer all around us. And there is a strong differentiation from the previously dominant West Coast brands. Unlike the predominant malt forward IPA’s of California, a lot of the New England brewers are producing wonderful and refreshing hoppy beers that are delicate, subtle, floral, yellow, hazy, and gorgeous. For the first time in a decade I am forgoing my daily drinkers like Racer 5, Stone IPA, Wipeout, and instead picking up Trillium, Jacks Abbey, Treehouse, Bissel, Farmstead, Topper, Double Sunshine, Enlightenment, and many others. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve never been a “drink local” guy. To me, the only thing “Local” about beer is Water. I’ve had fresher beers from California than I did beers brewed 25 miles away. But no more. Our New England Beer Scene is rapidly changing, growing, expanding, and we are the happy recipients. The beer is better. The Brewer’s are better. The Quality is higher. Beer is fresher. There are more tasting rooms. People wait hours in line for 3 growlers. There are more bottle shares and tasting events. More festivals and beer releases. And of course, there are more and more Brewery’s popping up seemingly everyday. And fortunately for us, most of these new Brewer’s have better palate’s than they used to… which thankfully, leads to better beer.

    I used to walk into Green Flash with a jealous smirk. Look at these 200 people standing around drinking fresh beer in the corner of an operational brewery, eating taco’s from food trucks, having tours and laughs. Buying fresh six packs and T-Shirts.

    Well, call me jealous no more.

    In New England, these are heady times indeed.

  2. emannths

    emannths Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Right on. But I am still jealous of their prices.

    And their tacos.
  3. afi4lifer

    afi4lifer Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2011 Colorado

    As a native San Diegan I cannnot believe how much I agree with this sentiment. SoCal beer will always have a special place in my heart but we are in our own beer Mecca out here. Well said!
    smutty33 likes this.
  4. JGLittle

    JGLittle Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2012 Massachusetts

    To build on your great post, I look forward to the days when a lot of my local craft bars serve more of the local offerings. With the burgeoning new brewery scene, I am excited at the prospect of walking into the Truth or Sierra Grill (I live in Northampton) or the Dove and ordering a Trillium or Tree House beer instead of a Founders or a Stone. Not that I dislike those formidable breweries and I enjoy a lot of their offerings, but I think you're right, local options are catching up or surpassing some tried and true favorites.

    I am a big fan of the hop forward less malty IPAs from around New England. Excited to try Bissell Bros. this summer, maybe Austin St. and others. Been fortunate enough to have access to some VT beers, but they seem to be churning out more and more (too bad I left VT in 2001).

    Trillium FPPA might be my favorite beer at the moment followed by Tree House Sap, Green or Julius.

    Great time to be a beer lover.

    Some fish tacos would be a nice touch though....
  5. BoldRulerVT

    BoldRulerVT Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2013 Vermont

    Here Here! Great post!
  6. Justin42

    Justin42 Aspirant (225) Apr 3, 2013 Massachusetts

    Excellent post, my thoughts exactly. I'm in DC and Florida a couple times a year, and while there are some good offerings here and there (Cigar City most notably), I can't help but appreciate how lucky we are in New England every time I travel.
  7. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Kinda agree on the ipa front, but mostly because the west coast ipa's coming here as of late have been mostly crap - malty, not so fresh, staling hop flavors. Racer5 was always hit or miss depending on freshness, and GF WC Ipa and Sculpin have taken nose dives as production has increased. Coupled with the freshness factor of local ipa's the balance has shifted towards local/regional.
    moaner likes this.
  8. TheMagnanimous

    TheMagnanimous Initiate (0) Mar 16, 2011 Vermont

    Agree 100% with the OP. After leaving Boston in 2011 I spent 3 years living in California and enjoying all there was to offer out there. I came back thinking there were a few good bars in Boston, Jack's Abby, the Vermont scene and that was about it...

    However, after moving back to Boston this fall I have been blown away by how the New England scene has developed. We have so much world-class beer within a few hours drive. I love the idea that there are so many destinations (Boston, Western MA, Waterbury, Burlington, Portland, Portsmouth etc.) that each deserve their own itinerary and planning.

    We're pretty spoiled to get the distro we do in MA, as well as proximity to so many great local breweries.
    FrankLloydMike and mjc255 like this.
  9. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,694) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Is this more a function of New England breweries specifically becoming more savvy at brewing hop forward beers, or the US craft scene overall? I think it's a combination of the two, but I would say the latter has had a greater impact.

    I wonder how many beer scenes in major cities truly lack in world class IPAs these days. Moreover, remove the IPA belt in Vermont from the picture and comparisons to San Diego begin to make less sense.

    Now that that's out of the way, I buy local a lot, and not because I believe in, "SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CRAFT BREWERIES!" New England has a lot to offer, even outside of Vermont. For example, I think Notch Pils may be the beer I purchase more than any other. Heck, just this past weekend I purchased Notch Saison and Jack's Abby's Session Rye.

    Cheers to a decade of building options, I look forward to what the future brings.
    markdrinksbeer likes this.
  10. Jdiddy

    Jdiddy Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2002 Rhode Island

    This article says it all...100% spot on.
    duchessedubourg likes this.
  11. Auror

    Auror Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    This is a good point and echoes that Vermont IPA style question that came up before. I think you're right in that it's most likely a combination of both an increase in newer breweries with modern recipes and techniques all across the country and a specific flavor profile achieved by a few breweries in VT that has either been learned, guessed, or approximated predominately (but definitely not entirely) by brewers in this region.
  12. ljkeats

    ljkeats Zealot (538) Jun 27, 2007 Massachusetts
    Fest Crew Society


    That being said, I like Jack's Abby stuff and the unfiltered lagers out of Idle Hands have been absolutely lovely.

    Still buying a ton of FW Pivo Pils when I see it fresh though. And 12pks of Notch Pils in cans for post yard work rehydration :slight_smile:
    TheMagnanimous and ctkach like this.
  13. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Defender (657) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    Agree with alot of what's been said - but draft beer in New England is still too effing expensive for many reasons. Until something happens with that, the "beer bar" scene lags behind many other metro's just way too expensive to drink craft beer at bars in this region.
    AlcahueteJ, jbertsch and braineater like this.
  14. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (566) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Head up to Lost nation in Morrisville, VT for some world class beer at 4 bucks a pint and food comparably priced.
    jlordi12 and RyanOooh like this.
  15. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    OP:keep your eyes out for honest weight brewery. Should be popping up sooner than later near Amherst.
  16. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    Love me some fresh Jacks Abby. I think so many people in the Boston area have their beer sights set on stuff so far a way and and not fresh that they have yet to take stock on what is in their own back yard. Fresh and delicious and local.
    RyanOooh likes this.
  17. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    Where exactly will it be? I am just outside of Amherst.
  18. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    Not to forget Wormtown, Lefty's, BBC, Paper City, Element, pretty things, people's pint....
  19. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (289) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    Agree with this post. Even just ten years ago the way I approached beer was completely different in our NE area.

    Pretty good stuff
  20. RyanOooh

    RyanOooh Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2013 Vermont

    But them SD fish tacos? Got DAYUM!
  21. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    markdrinksbeer likes this.
  22. davemont

    davemont Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2008 California

    Great post, and this is happening in pockets all over the country. Though it's funny, since on the West coast, we always say the "malt-forward East coast IPAs." Of course, we're all pretty much hop-heads out in San Diego...
    jrnyc likes this.
  23. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (950) Mar 17, 2009 Washington

    After my last trip to LA/SD I'm not jealous except for the price of a taco. Like beer, MA has stepped up their taco game as well.
    konabrewer and hawkfarmorganic like this.
  24. emannths

    emannths Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Besides Lone Star, what's new in the Boston taco world?
  25. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    Beer game and taco game are reciprocal. If one market grows so does the other. :wink:
  26. Justin42

    Justin42 Aspirant (225) Apr 3, 2013 Massachusetts

    I want to know too!
  27. timotao

    timotao Aspirant (296) Sep 16, 2013 New York

    AMEN. And I don't even live in New England but i'm close enough in NY :slight_smile:
  28. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (950) Mar 17, 2009 Washington

    Nothing too new. Just well kept secrets.
  29. messrock

    messrock Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2010 Massachusetts

    What he's trying to say is - this isn't and he's keeping his taco supply close to his chest. (Tenoch is pretty solid taco wise, doe)
    ljkeats and JrGtr like this.
  30. Auror

    Auror Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    I've been enjoying the new North End location. Now we just need some beer there.
  31. jrnyc

    jrnyc Meyvn (1,161) Mar 21, 2010 New York

    Yeah, I agree, never heard West Coast beers being called malt-forward.
  32. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    A little part of my soul dies everytime I order a "new IPA" and all I taste is malts.
    davemont likes this.
  33. blckout20

    blckout20 Initiate (0) May 24, 2012 Connecticut

    I think in pretty much any direct comparison your New England/"Vermont" IPAs (Tree House, Nebco, Trillium, etc.) tend to have a much more simple, modest malt profile in comparison to most West Coast IPAS (really all IPAs outside of NE). In my opinion this allows the hop varieties being used to have a more distinguishable flavor which appeals to me. In contrast, most West Coast IPAs (Green Flash, RR, Alpine, Stone), while still being hop bombs, tend to be darker (almost amber) in color and have a sweeter, less distinguishable taste. Now obviously beer profiles and tastes change but I find the "New England" style to be much better in nearly all instances.

    With all that said, our sour game here in New England is still behind. I mean we have Allagash, HF, and to a lesser extent Night Shift all doing very nice sour beers, and OEC just opened here in CT with a nice reputation behind them but it doesn't compare with Lost Abbey, RR, SARA, Ale Apothecary, etc.
    Guzzle_McBrew and RyanOooh like this.
  34. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    You need to get your hands on some oxbow sours. Really good.
  35. RyanOooh

    RyanOooh Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2013 Vermont

    That first paragraph! Nice words, exactly how a lot of the West Coast IPAs taste.

    It's pretty rare, but Backacre Beermakers makes a pretty ridiculous sour, hope that's on your radar. I've seen it at Hunger Mountain Coop before.
    blckout20 and Guzzle_McBrew like this.
  36. brendanryan1234

    brendanryan1234 Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 Massachusetts

    I disagree. There is simply just not enough evidence to suggest a climate change in the New England beer scene.

    Hop levels are no higher than they've ever been, and brewers are just engaging in fear-mongering to get you to buy their latest DIPA.
  37. Shyla987

    Shyla987 Initiate (109) Jul 18, 2013 Connecticut

    How are brewers engaging in fear-mongering to get us to buy latest DIPA? Examples? Not challenging you, just interested in your perspective on how this is happening? Thanks.
  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,694) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    "Of course, we're all pretty much hop-heads."

    This would be more accurate. NOT being a hop head makes you an outlier these days. This isn't my opinion either, IPAs are the best selling style (in craft of course).
    davemont likes this.
  39. hawkfarmorganic

    hawkfarmorganic Initiate (0) May 18, 2014 Maine

    I think he was making a joke. /green font. We need to start using that for sarcasm like they do on sports forums. Lol
    RyanOooh likes this.
  40. brendanryan1234

    brendanryan1234 Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 Massachusetts

    I should be less subtle with my facetiousness.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.