Local Lager: @JacksAbby’s Hoponius Union (India Pale Lager)

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At craftbeer social, we love supporting local breweries, and Jack’s Abby is definitely that.  Based right here in Framingham, these guys specialize in lagers sourced from local ingredients.  Jim was nice enough to share this one with me which I’d been meaning to pick up.  I’d actually met Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler, the three brothers who founded Jack’s Abby back in November at a Movember Foundation event put on by the folks over at Deep South of Boston.  The brothers are clearly passionate about what they do, and are producing some great product.  This beer is no exception.

Hoponious Union is an India Pale Lager, and as such I didn’t know what to expect.  It’s a very clear golden pour (it’s a lager, remember) with a foamy head which dissipated relatively quickly.  This beer smells very nice but not overpowering.  Floral hops, citrus and pine.  

Nice hoppy character as you’d expet with some bready malts and citrus.  I picked up a hint of sweetness as it warmed as well. A little bitterness towards the end, but where the hops tend to linger with IPA’s, this IPL has a nice clean finish.  Very refreshing and highly sessionable.  Glad I went out on the IPL limb if you can find it, give it a try.  It’s a nice alternative to the traditional IPA, and it’s always nice to see a local brewery produce good product.

Vital Stats: Half liter bottle served at 45F in a Jack’s Abby pint glass I picked up last November at the DSOB event. 6.7% ABV and 65 IBU’s.

Taste: B+. I’ll definitely get this again, I think it’d be very nice to enjoy on the porch on a warm summer night. 

Drinkability: A. The lager pedigree definitely sets it above most any IPA you could name in terms of drinkability.  Lots of nice hops, but smooth as silk to drink. 

Packaging: B-. Love all the information provided about both the beer and the brewery (this is how you do it, folks!), but the design’s not all that exciting.  This is one thing I think they CAN improve with this beer.

 

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Two Hearts for @BellsBrewery

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I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. If Bell’s Two Hearted Ale was available in MA, I’d make it my house beer. It’s that good. It’s no light-hearted ale, but it’s not so big that you’re sorry you had a few the next morning. It’s just an exceptionally balanced IPA that’s nice to look at and even better to drink. Has anyone heard if/when Bell’s will extend their distribution to MA? 

Vitals: Served at 45F in my tulip glass. 7% ABV. 

Appearance: A-. Beautiful color and nice head that leaves beautiful lacing behind. Packaging is straightforward, with just enough info to appease me. 

Taste: A. Balanced. Amazing. 

Drinkability: B+. Very drinkable, but will still make an impression on you if you have too many in one sitting. 

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Creamy Goodness from @BellsBrewery

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This beer was a nice surprise in a shipment from a friend in Washington, DC. I’d never had it before and since this is my last bottle, I figure it deserves a review. This is the second “dueling” review I have planned with Derek. It should be noted that I’m tasting this beer after the Ghandi Bot… whatever that means. 

I’m convinced if Bell’s were available in MA, it’d be one of my favorite breweries. Oberon might just be my go-to summer beer and their Two Hearted Ale would battle for regular rotation in the old Coke machine. Of course, Hopslam is a seasonal delight that would certainly have my focus in Feb/March. 

 

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Special Double Cream Stout was a suprise and a nice one at that. It pours deep and dark with a nice head that fades relatively quickly and leaves nice lacing on the edge of the glass. It smell like a mocha frappe with a hint of malted milk balls. I love malted milk balls. 

The first taste doesn’t betray the smell. So smooth and creamy, with a nice cocoa/coffee/malty sweetness. Faint bubbles deliver a subtle hop tingle at just the right moment. This is a lot bigger than the 6.1% ABV suggests, but it’s soooo drinkable. 

It’s been about an hour since I first opened this beer and it’s just getting better by the minute. 

If anyone at Bell’s is listening, start sending me your beers ahead of your launch in MA and we’ll make sure it goes really smoothly.

Vital Stats: 12oz bottle served at 45-50F in a tulip glass. 6.1% ABV.

Taste: A-. Just what you’d expect. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

Drinkability: A-. This beer scares me. It’s too smooth for the style. 

Packaging: B. It’s attractive, but nothing special.

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Hanging with Ghandi (bot) from @NewEnglandBrew

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Before my palate was completely corrupted by The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, I’d heard of an amazing double IPA from a nearby state (Connecticut). But despite its close proximity to me, it was really hard to find. Eventually I tracked some down, but it was gone before I was able to write a proper review. Today, Derek coerced me into writing a couple “dueling reviews” and here we are. 

Ghandi Bot from New England Brewing pours a deep burnt orange with a minimal head that quickly fades to bubbles on the surface. It’s truly a beautiful beer.

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It’s sticky smelling, with hints of pine and citrus. I don’t get a lot of grapefruit, which is often the case with a double ipa, just clean, crisp and GET. IN. MY. BELLY!! 

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The first taste is a hop explosion. Very smooth, but full of hop goodness. While the hops take center stage, the malt is smooth and steady in the background. Not too much, but just enough to offer the balance that I love in this style of beer. There are hints of caramel on the tongue, but just barely. This is a great example of the double ipa style. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on some. Fresh. 

Vital Stats: 12oz can served at 45F into my new tulip glass from Portsmouth Brewery. 8.8% ABV. 

Taste: A-. Tough to beat this one. 

Drinkability: B+. Smooth sipping, but it’ll sneak up on you. One and done tonight. 

Packaging: B+. While I love the character on the can, they lose points for lack of info (ABV, IBU, etc.). 

75 Minutes with @Dogfishbeer

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I have a love/hate relationship with Dogfish Head beers. I hate that I don’t love them. It’s not that they aren’t good (and in some cases great), it’s just that I’ve yet to have one that I really love. Bitches Brew is as close as I’ve found, but that’s one in a line-up of 30-40. I really wanted to love this beer. 

I cracked this beer to enjoy with the NCAA championship game. I’ve been really interested in trying it, since it’d billed at a hoppy beer made with maple syrup… sounds like a nice combo. 

First of all, I wanted to pour a small amount in my glass to smell/taste before filling the glass and WHOA!!! This beer has a LOT of carbonation. I had a hard time not getting a 3 inch head on 3 inches of beer. That surprised me a bit. 

The smell is a bit sweet (the maple?), but not as citrus/pine/floral as I expected from an IPA. The taste was right in line with the smell… a bit sweet, not much bitterness and extremely carbonated (too much?). The head was pillowy and left some nice lacing on the glass. 

Overall, it’s very well balanced, but a bit too sweet for my liking with this style. Again, this is a “good” beer, but not something I’ll make part of my regular line-up. I wonder if the carbonation is typical or if I got an off batch? The bottom line? There are a bunch of IPAs that I’d reach for before I’d drink this one. Of course Heady Topper, which has a little more alcohol, but is so much more enjoyable, but also Uinta Hop Notch, Lagunitas Sucks, Green Flash West Coast IPA, etc. 

Vital Stats: 7.5% ABV. Served at 45F in a glass. 

Taste: B. The carbonation got in the way of a good beer. 

Drinkability: B. This is not a light beer. 

Packaging: B. Attractive label, but not much else. 

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