See? I knew I’d have your attention. In preparation for making our sojourn to New England this summer, I took a look at a popular beer listing (beeradvocate.com) and found there was some top ranked brewers in New England. Far be it for me to ignore this important information. Once you know, well, you know. Some things you just can’t un-see. If your refrigerator looks like mine, things have gone “right”.
In our travels we wove craft breweries into our itinerary. More accurately, Karen wove these locations into our itinerary. Whatever. It worked. She was a great partner in that she would purchase beer in my behalf – even though she does not drink beer. She is a great partner (and the love of my life) anyway – just icing on the cake.
Now I will readily admit to being an IPA and stout fan (snob), so from your own exploration of these breweries you may come up with different favorites.
Also, keep in mind that ALL of these brewers limit your purchase of their brews – at one brewery the limit was 6 CANS! And typically availability is completely sketch. Don’t expect to find any of these beers available near you, unless you live next door to these brewers.
Trillium Brewing Company (Boston and Canton, MA). Well, this was a home run. I acquired several of their double IPA’s (Mettle, Upper Case and Vicinity). Typically double IPA’s have more hops and malt (and typically a higher alcohol content) than a more traditional IPA (India Pale Ale) and therefore more flavor. And these double IPA’s were absolutely rich in flavor! I was also able to procure Outside the Lines and Dusk Trill Dawn, two of their imperial stouts, both brewed with coffee for an incredibly rich flavor. I didn’t find anything here that I didn’t love!
Paradox Brewery (Schroon Lake, NY). Yes, I know New York is not in New England. But on a road trip while staying in Vermont we toured around Lake George in the Adirondacks and by chance came upon the Paradox Brewery. This is a really unique brewer as it is really “old school” – born from a love of brewing beer and made into a small brewery beyond just giving away beer to family and friends. This is an award-winning brewery it turns out, and while I would have preferred cans to growlers, I came away with a growler of their Beaverbite IPA – and it was really good!
The Alchemist (Stowe, VT). I reported previously about our travels into Vermont. Vermont has a couple of really great breweries. The first one we visited (a couple of tines I might add) was The Alchemist in Stowe. The Alchemist produces a number of really great brews that includes Focal Banger, Crusher, and Heady Hopper. Aside from producing great brews, this was a really interesting brewery. Not your typical run-by-the-seat-of-your-pants brewery, this was a well-oiled machine with a very modern facility. Obviously someone felt convinced that this was to be a successful brewery and spared no expense. I would have to agree. The brews here were so rich in flavor that you knew they were using great skill, and top-ranked and highest-quality ingredients; just no other way to make such great brews.
Hill Farmstead Brewery (North Greensboro, VT). This is a very different brewer, with what seems a more traditional beer/ale heritage with a lesser focus on IPA’s or stouts than in wheat and saison brews. My limited assessment of their selection is these brews are more carbonated, fruity, and lighter than any of the other brewers we visited. As such, your taste buds need to be forewarned. These are delicate flavors and clearly the result of great skills and ingredients. Availability of these brews is almost exclusively limited to what you can purchase at the brewery, and even then with some products a limit of one bottle! Oh, and in case you don’t know where North Greensboro, VT is, it is at the end of a dirt road in the middle of God’s country.
Tree House Brewing Company (Monson, MA). OMG; that’s all you have to know about Tree House Brewing. You want to get some of this. We were lucky enough to visit on a Wednesday when they sell cans of several of their brews, and on this day specifically Julius and Alter Ego (on other days they typically focus on filling growlers). Keep in mind that their per-customer-per-day limit is 6 cans of their brew! Yes, that is 6 cans, not 6 cases! Yikes! And still I had to wait in line to purchase! Think soup Nazi from Seinfeld. Still, worth it. These are exceptional IPA’s that are so flavorful. Julius has a very citrus flavor to it, and depending on the day you look, Julius has been ranked #1 on beeradvocate.com. Even so, I think I enjoyed Alter Ego even more! This is a must-visit brewery if you are in New England.
New England Brewing Company (Woodbridge, CT). I have to say that if being perfectly honest, this was my least favorite brewer of the breweries we visited. I only tried their wheat beer (Weiss Trash Culture) and their double IPA (Coriolis). Weiss Trash is a soured German-style wheat beer and I think it is a little bit of a learned taste. And similarly Coriolis has a distinctive taste. I don’t think these are bad beers – I just think there must be an acquired taste. And I will admit to not being a wheat beer fan in the first place. This is an interesting brewer in that it is located in southern Connecticut and not far from NYC, and is located in what looks like was a vacated building adjacent to a car dealership. A visit to this brewer is worth the effort if in the area.
So, that was our beer journey through New England! Until next time, cheers!