Category Archives: Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Beer Review: Bay State Brewing Co’s Becky Likes the Smell

Hello,

I can’t stay away from IPAs. There was a time when I did not like IPAs at all, but, because I’m stubborn, I kept drinking them, over and over again. Now I kind of like them.

I really don’t know how I feel about the name of this one: Becky Likes the Smell.

I dig what they’re referring to, as the can promo woman is holding a hop (one hop?) in her hand, but man, I dunno.

The IPA does smell good. Smells like a fruitier IPA. Sweeter, maybe.

Love the can art.

No credit for the can art though. Not sure how I feel about, Bay State Brewing Co..

Anyway, it’s late and I need to write this blog entry and drink this beer.

And not sure how I feel about this one. I feel like the can over-promised on this one. Supposedly I can taste notes of: tropical fruit, pear, spice, melon, pine and citrus.

I feel like you’d be hard pressed NOT to taste pine and citrus in an IPA. That’s just what hops taste like.

It’s just a little empty, especially considering that this is a double IPA. I expect a little more oomph from a double IPA, and I don’t just mean with the alcohol. Other double IPAs really pack in the flavor, sometimes to an overwhelming degree.

I’d say that if you want a lighter, more refreshing double IPA, than this one is a good bet. Not too much backbite with the bitterness, but when they say subtle notes on the can, they mean subtle. It’s definitely not as sticky as some IPAs can get.

Feeling let down.

Great can art. Ok beer. Upsetting name.

Six robots that transform into cassette tapes out of eight.

-D-

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Beer Review: Collective Arts’ Life in the Clouds

Hello,

I decided to take another crack at a Collective Arts Brewing IPA tonight because I enjoyed last night’s so much. The initial smell is definitely not as intense as it was last night, but this is not a Double IPA.

I will say that IPAs are a devil of a thing to review because unless a company is actually trying to make a distinctive flavor, mostly all you get is the in-your-face flavor of hops. This one smells a little citrus.

The one last night reminded me a great deal of a Ballast Point IPA and I’m getting the same vibe here.

Oh and the art on the can is by Annabelle Popa. She does some pretty cool comics that you can read through her site as well.

Sorry, forgot about the beer for a moment.

It’s another solid IPA, but there’s nothing that particularly stands out to me about this one, unlike last night’s offering.

Again, it doesn’t aggressively overwhelm me with bitterness and again it’s very pleasant. There’s no point where I feel let down, where it’s too airy, or too light. It’s ticking the boxes for everything I want in an IPA.

I just realized I’m coming across as disappointed and there’s nothing to be disappointed about. I think this is a good IPA starter, if you’re not a huge fan of IPAs or you’ve never had one, you won’t go wrong trying this one. It’s still bitter, but it doesn’t linger like in some craft IPAs. It’s complex enough to not be boring, but not overly heavy and it has a decent kick, in terms of alcohol content.

I give it five IPAs out of four t-rex pepper shakers.

-D-

 

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Beer Review: Collective Arts’ IPA No. 8

Hello,

The first thing I have to say about this beer is that the moment I popped it open, all I smelled were hops. Keep in mind, I didn’t have my face right in the beer. My nose was a good two or three feet away from the can when I opened it.

Bam.

Hops.

And I mean, the actual physical hops. Like when you go on the Sam Adams brewery tour and they make you rub hops between your hands so your hands smell like hops for the rest of the day. Like that. Not hoppy or essence of hops.

Just. Hops.

I still haven’t even tried it. It’s..astonishing. I don’t even know if I want to try it.

I love their can art though. Is that a term? A real term? Can art? I prefer the art on Stranger than Fiction, their porter, but this just pops. According to Collective Arts’s website, they use their beer to promote artists and muscians, so that’s pretty cool.

Still haven’t tried it.

I waved the beer at my wife and she said it smells like a brewery floor.

It smells like its calmed down a bit, much more muted, more tame. Before it was a hops djinn that had been released from some thousand year slumber. Now it’s…an IPA.

Whoa, that’s pretty pleasant actually. Not aggressively bitter, it’s not one of those craft beers going for the IBUs. It’s…a really good, really solid IPA. It’s a little sweet, barely any back-of-the-throat bitterness biting at you.

Wow.

I don’t think I’ve had such a positive turnaround on a beer from beginning to end.

If you like IPAs, but you’re sick of some bearded, flannel wearer cramming bitterness down your throat like a craft beers are a contest to see who can get the highest IBUs, definitely try this out. Little sweet, very solid and a strong IPA.

I give it six happy, floaty clouds.

CORRECTION: It’s a double IPA, so at 8%, it might put you down, if you’re not used to that.

-D-

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Beer Review: Wormtown Brewery’s Sweet Tats

Hello Again,

So I have a weird relationship with porters and stouts.

A lot of the time, I’ll try, say, one of the many variations of Guinness and it’s…empty. There’s some flavor at the front and some bitterness at the back and there’s just nothing holding up in the middle.

But! With Imperial Stouts, there is something in the middle. There’s a little more oomph. Now, a lot of that is probably the higher alcohol content, but usually they’re richer, fuller and more flavorful and you’re drunker much faster.

And Wormtown Brewery‘s Sweet Tats is no exception.

Unlike a lot of imperial stouts I’ve had, which can be almost viscous and overpowering, Sweet Tats is less dense, less heavy, but still flavorful with a bit of a punch.

I will say that the label says it’s been flavored with coffee beans, cacao nibs and vanilla beans, but I’m not really picking any of those out. Sometimes I’ll hit a glimmer of coffee or maybe a hint of vanilla, but that’s about it.

However, if the alternative is aggressive vanilla flavor hitting me in the face like a wet sock soaked in vanilla extract, I think I’d rather have this. I swear to god, there are some brewery’s that don’t think people can taste something unless the beer is saturated with spice. I’m looking at you, Shipyard and your cinnamon obsession.

Anyway, if you want a lighter Imperial Stout that’s not too aggressive, but also isn’t like drinking bitter air, Sweet Tats is the way to go. It’s smooth, nice and doesn’t reek of vanilla beans.

I give it five out of five dinosaur pepper shakers.

Also, they have really nice glassware, so if you’re ever in Worcester go buy some. I think I’m using the “wrong” glass, but my one rule for glassware is: does it hold a pint of beer?

I don’t need to be told that I should use tulip glasses for IPAs or shot glasses for stouts or martini glasses for Coors Light.

-D-

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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Fat Jack

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a beer review and, in all honesty, it’s probably been a long while since I’ve actually spent any time thinking about the stuff I’m pouring into my stomach. It’s time to slow down and think about what I’m drinking. And we’re going to start off with something season appropriate.

FatJack

As I’ve mentioned before, Sam Adams has a series of limited edition beers that they only release in their larger bottles. I’ve reviewed one or two in the past and they can range from very nice to solid, but underwhelming. They’ll rarely hit one out of the park, but they’re dependable, more complex than average and will allow your typical beer drinker the go outside of their comfort zone without gettin’ too crazy.

Fat Jack is a great example of a Sam Adams craft beer and it’s high on my list of pumpkin ales. A lot of pumpkin beers rely too heavily on spices leading to a lackluster experience. When all you have seasoning your beer is an overabundance of cinnamon, your beer is going to lack any true depth. Most of the pumpkin beers I’ve tried have started off with a strong burst of flavor and then quickly peter out into nothing.

But Fat Jack is solid through and through. You can tell from the color that things are different. Instead of the pale orange typical of its breed, it’s a deep amber color. It has a spiced smell, but it’s not sharp or overwhelming.

It’s a deep, rich beer, with a lot of flavor of pumpkin in addition to the usual assortment of spices. It’s well rounded, bold and heavy, in terms of flavor. From first to last, you get a strong pumpkin ale with a great start and a strong finish.

All in all, this is one of the best pumpkin ales you can get, right up there with my favorite, Pumking. Do yourself a favor this Halloween season and check it out.

I give it a Great Pumpkin and the original Black Christmas.

-D-

 

 

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A Tour of GrandTen Distilled

EDIT: Lonnie from GrandTen sent an email my way and let me know that he enjoyed my review. Also, I am now aware that his name is not Robbie. Correction made!

For whatever reason, most of my experiences around Boston have been centered around brewery tours. Or trying to find a decently priced  sushi restaurant with an atmosphere that we enjoy. But mostly brewery tours. If ever we’re at a loss for something to do on the weekend, there’s a pretty good chance will head on down  to the Harpoon Brewery and see how many free samples we can consume in fifteen minutes.

Yesterday, we decided to continue the trend, but in a slightly different direction. A couple of friends and I went to take a tour of the GrandTen Distillery, which just opened in South Boston last April. It’s about midway between Andrew Station and Broadway Station on the Red Line, although, if you have your druthers, get off at Broadway and walk down. There are a lot less…bones on the sidewalk in that direction.

We’re used to the strictly regimented and tightly coordinated tours of Sam Adams or Harpoon, come in twenty minutes ahead of time, get a ticket for next available tour, muddle around the conveniently located gift shop and then get herded through the brewery by excited youths. At GrandTen, we walked through the door and were immediately greeted by Lonnie.

He asked us if we wanted to go on a tour and then away we went. It was very relaxed, very informal and one of the most easy-going tours I’ve been on. He showed us around the stills and the fermentation tanks and the barrels where their Medford rum and gin were currently aging and I learned there’s more to aging liquors than just throwing it into a barrel and walking away.

Afterward, we went back to the tasting room. GrandTen currently has five different products available and all of which we were able to taste: Wire Works Gin, Fire Puncher Vodka, Amandine, Angelica and Craneberry. Most of the names and references in their products draw from local industries or legends and really help to cement GrandTen as a Boston institution in spite of its youth. For example, Fire Puncher is named for a local man who, in an act of incredible bravery, attempted to put out a fire in the building using only his fists.

All five spirits and liqueurs offer an incredible range of flavors and complexity. Fire Puncher is a vodka that was distilled with chipotle peppers and then aged, giving it a smokey flavor with a deep, slow burn. Wire Works gin is the gin you offer to your friend who does not like gin. It lacks the usual sharp, piney flavor of most gins, and goes for a more rounded, citrus flavor. The juniper berries act as a bind for all of the other flavors, giving the gin a mellow and more delicate taste, instead of being the one, overriding flavor.

And while normally I’m not a big fan of liqueurs because they’re usually saccharine sweet and a little too thick, GrandTen’s selection all hits the right notes without dumping a metric ton of sugar on your palate. While I’m not normally a big fan of amaretto, Amandine just hits in the right ways, while Angelica is a flowery fruity concoction. Craneberry is astonishing in its drinkability, but I don’t really want to talk about it so much, because they’re almost out.

The most exciting thing about all of their products, but their liqueurs in particular, is their potential in cocktails. As Lonnie pointed out, their strengths are their ability to enhance and brighten other drinks. They would all be powerful and useful tools for people who love to experiment with new cocktail creations.

All in all, if you’re in the Boston area, I recommend checking out the GrandTen Distillery tour. And, if you can’t take the tour, you can always track down their products here.

I would give them five out of five Hours of My Saturday Morning.

BONUS FACT: The tour is free!

-D-

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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Third Voyage

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For a long time, I had a love/hate relationship with IPAs. They were too bitter, too strong tasting, too hoppy. Now I feel like I could go the rest of my life never drinking anything else. So when I saw a new Sam Adams Double IPA, (Third Voyage) I ran and grabbed my specially designed, high tech Sam Adams guzzlin’ glass and filled it to the brim with hoppy.

And I’m underwhelmed. I’m never happy with an ordinary IPA. I want to be sandblasted with flavor. I want to have trouble finishing the whole glass because the flavor is punching me in the uvula with a ferocity that could only be equaled by Jake LaMotta roid ragin’. I want my taste buds to be knocked out so hard that the only thing they’ll be able to handle is watered down PBR.

The problem with Third Voyage is that it’s too….nice. There’s no bold flavor at the front and there’s no bold flavor at the back. It’s smooth, almost downright mellow and it’s ticking me off. It hits all the right notes, but not with the right intensity. It has a sharp bark, but no bite. It has that bitter finisher, but not that throat puckering grab that some IPAs have.

It’s a perfectly good Double IPA, sweet and grapey and strong, but it’s just not the IPA for me. I recommend it if you’re not into ultra-hoppy IPAs like Harpoon’s Rye Ipa.

I give it half a hop and a skip.

-D-

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