Bruery Tasting @ Bauer and BA’s Extreme Beer Fest Pre-Party @ People’s Republik: 2/19

Just a couple of quick Boston event plugs for this evening for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have tickets for the Extreme Beer Fest this weekend or for those that do and would like to prime the pump this evening.

At Bauer Wines on Newbury St. from 5-7pm Patrick Rue the brewer/owner of California based The Bruery will be pouring some of his offerings which have just started distributing to liquor stores in Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to sample a few of their brews at the Belgian Beer Fest last September and recommend giving them a try, especially the Saison Rue and Black Orchard.

Then from 7-10pm BeerAdvocate is having an Extreme Beer Fest pre-party at People’s Republik in Cambridge. Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head and The Alström Brothers will be in attendance and some great beers are set to be tapped from DFH as well as Nøgne Ø from Norway and Quebec’s Dieu du Ciel!:
– Dieu du Ciel! Rosée d’Hibiscus
– Dieu du Ciel! Péché Mortel
– Nøgne Ø Batch #100
– Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA
– Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
– Dogfish Head Palo Santo
– Dogfish Head Red and White
Should be killer.

An additional Extreme Beer Fest note, I’ll be volunteering the Friday night session and the Saturday evening session so if any readers out there are going and you see somebody in a STAFF shirt wearing a scally cap it’s probably me. Say Hi and ask for some recommendations.

Prosit!
-John

That's me in the green pouring at EBF '08.

That's me in the green pouring at EBF '08.

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It’s What Should Be For Breakfast: Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale

Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale (?ABV draft)- American Amber- Peak Organic Brewing Co., ME
Grade: A BREW OF THE BLOG!

My friend & co-worker Jeremy stumbled upon this tasty brew at lunch and it took all of 10 seconds for him to convince me to head down to The Kinsale after work to give it a try.

As he had warned me the first few sips take a bit of getting used to. The coffee flavor is front and center, but the amber ale that it’s hitching a ride with isn’t a shrinking violet so there’s a bit of a tug of war as to what exactly your tongue is telling the brain it’s tasting at first. Things settle down quickly and find a balance and prove this to be an exceedingly drinkable ale. The up front espresso finishes with the expected roasted bitterness leading into mild hop bitterness at the edges. Definite maltiness going on so there is a touch of sweetness but not overly so. A nice medium body is perfect support for the taste and even though there’s a good amount of malt there’s no slick-sweet build up even after a couple of pints.

In the end I think what makes this a great beer is that it doesn’t taste gimmicky. It doesn’t taste like the coffee was an after thought nor is the coffee an attempt to mask an inferior amber. Peak’s got a great example of balance right here. Absolutely check this beer out if you are a coffee fiend or if you are looking for something different. Also for those beer fanatics who like coffee, but are not fans of the stouts and porters that usually play host to it Peak’s may be the beer to satisfy that craving. And if you are a conscientious consumer not only are the ingredients of the beer certified organic, the coffee used is Fair Trade Certified™. So stand a pint or buy a sixer and help make the world and your belly a better place.

Highly recommended; this is the breakfast beer you’ve been looking for.

Prosit! -John

$6.75 for 20oz. pour @ The Kinsale

BeerAdvocate’s Return of the Belgian Beer Fest!

Been sitting around wondering how it would be possible to spend 4 hours sampling a ridiculous amount of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers?

Of course you have!

Here is the answer to your quandry: BeerAdvocate‘s Return of the Belgian Beer Fest Sept 26 & 27!

From the BA email blast–

The Belgian Beer Fest, Returns!
Save these dates for “The Return of the Belgian Beer Fest!” in Boston, MA.

Fri, Sep 26 = Night of the Funk
50+ handpicked funk-a-licious beers, plus guest speakers and delicious food. $50 per person; all inclusive. Limited to ~600 tickets.

Sat, Sep 27 = Sessions One & Two
100+ beers from here and there, guest speaker panels, and two sessions. $40 per session; includes tastings and education. Limited to 1,000 tickets per session.

Tickets are on-sale now and are going fast! We don’t expect tickets to be available online by the end of August.

BBF will be a great chance to meet-up with other BeerAdvocates in the flesh as our fests welcome thousands of attendees, many of whom are BAs. So we hope to see you there!

Held at The Cyclorama at The Boston Center for the Arts on September 26 & 27, 2008 and is proudly supported by Duvel Moortgat and Boston’s Weekly Dig.

To buy tickets and for more info: beeradvocate.com/fests/bbf

Cheers!
Respect Beer.

Jason & Todd Alström
Founders,
BeerAdvocate

BA fests always rock and more importantly always sellout at the Cyclorama. So get your tickets soon.

I’ll be volunteering at the Friday & Saturday night sessions. Come by say “hi” and remind me to update my blog more often.

Prost! -John

The Lobby Of What, Now?

     Don’t be fooled by the name, The Lobby is neither attached to a hotel nor in the lobby of a building. I’m not sure what the story is behind that. What I do know is that it is a slick little bar down in the financial district on Broad St.

     The clientèle is late-twenties to late-thirties professional guys and gals looking for a place that’s a little different and isn’t packed after work to standing room only like The Times, J.A. Stats, or Mr. Dooley’s all within a stones throw of The Lobby. Prices for food and drinks aren’t cheap, but they aren’t bank-breaking either. Given the neighborhood the prices are about what you would expect; across the board from apps to booze the prices are maybe a buck or two above their competition.

     How could a bar in that area not be a sardine can on a weeknight, you ask? A smart interior layout is the answer.

     Across the front are floor to ceiling windows that open onto the street with three or four two-seat tables situated in front of them. Along the right wall is a long cushioned bench seat that stretches back to the bar with a few more tables and chairs in front of it. On the left side is a sitting area with a few low chairs, ottomans, and low tables situated so that it could be a large open social arena or broken into two smaller areas. Across the back wall was the bar which had six, maybe eight, high stools.

     The space between the bar and the fireplace sitting area really only allowed enough standing room behind the bar stools to be one person deep. I suppose you could get two deep, but you better be well acquainted with the person you’re squeezed in with to do it. Beyond that small space at the bar there is no standing room. The rest of the open space is simply the path from the bar past the tables to the door. The waitresses and waiters had no problem making it known that people were not to be standing in that path. So even though the night my friends and I were there The Lobby was at capacity it was still an enjoyable experience with plenty of breathing room.


My god, man! What about the beer?

     Bottles only and the selection of 10 or so brews wasn’t great, but did have a few gems. (The website beer list is thankfully wrong.) I started with a Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Hell which at $9 was the most expensive beer on the menu (it’s also the biggest at 16-oz.). All the others were $6 for 12-oz. I’ve noticed the Julius Echter popping up at more and more places around town and am glad to see it. Don‘t be scared, “hell” is just German for light in reference to the beer’s color because they make a “dunkel” or dark hefe as well. Julius Echter may not be the best hefe out there, but it’s up there and I’m glad to get my hands on it when I can.

     Next up was Big Daddy IPA from Speak Easy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco; a brewery I wasn’t familiar with. I’m not a big fan of IPAs, however, I never know when I’ll find the one that will bring me over to the hop side and am always game for something new. Big Daddy had lots of grapefruit hoppiness, but it was still balanced and very drinkable. It didn’t exactly make me a convert, still I recommend it if you like IPAs and want something with more depth than Harpoon.

     I can’t clearly recall what other beers they had as I didn‘t take notes, though I’m pretty sure I saw Corona, Stella Artois, and Sam Adams in the fridges behind the bar. I do remember the barkeep saying they had run out of Cisco Brewers’ Sankaty Light which was a drag since I had been wanting to try it.

Verdict?
     The Lobby is a pretty cool place. It’s a bit on the spendy side so I couldn’t imagine going here all the time unless I get that promotion at work, but it’s definitely now in my rotation of post work watering holes that aren‘t packed wall-to-wall with Kate Spades and their Blue Shirt Boys. Their beer list didn’t exactly knock my socks off, but I have to give them props for having the few surprises they did. Yes, $6 (or worse $9) bottles suck; unfortunately this is the financial district so get used to it. Foodwise the appetizers my group had were tasty, though I can’t speak to the entrees. I say give The Lobby a shot with a very small group or maybe even an after work date if you are looking for something a little nicer than the norm.

Cheers! -John

 

BeerAdvocate’s American Craft Beer Fest- June 20 & 21- Boston

If you haven’t heard yet, get ready to get your beer on with BeerAdvocate right here in Boston.

     June 20 & 21 the BeerAdvocate crew are throwing down with the massive American Craft Beer Fest, the biggest BA fest yet. Their fests are always a good time with great beer, but now they are going big. You’ll find local favorites along with some amazing breweries that don’t get distribution here in New England and ACBF might be your only chance to sample their fantastic brews.

You’ll make new friends and drink new beers. Definite Win-Win situation right there.

But don’t take my word for it…

Don’t miss the American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF) this June 20 & 21 at
Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center featuring 75 American brewers and
over 300 craft beers!

http://beeradvocate.com/acbf/beer

Plus guest speaker panels and educational talks by Dave Lieberman
(Food Network / Here’s To Beer), Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery),
Rich Doyle (Harpoon Brewery), and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Craft
Brewery).

http://beeradvocate.com/acbf/speakers

Tickets can be purchased from Ticket Alternative for only $40 per
session and includes beer tastings. Tickets are also a great Father’s
Day gift or an excuse (not that you need one) to gather your friends
and celebrate some amazing craft beers!

http://beeradvocate.com/acbf/tickets

ACBF is brought to you by BeerAdvocate & Harpoon Brewery, and proudly
supported by Boston’s Weekly Dig, Here’s To Beer, Michelob Brewing
Company, and GreatBrewers.com.

For more info:

http://beeradvocate.com/acbf/

Cheers and hope to see you at ACBF!

Respect Beer.

Jason & Todd (Alström Bros)
Founders, http://beeradvocate.com

There it is. You have been warned.
Buy a ticket. Enjoy.
Respect beer.

Cheers! –John

 

The Kinsale- Funny, It Doesn’t Feel Irish.

The Kinsale
2 Center Plaza (on Cambridge Street across from Government Center/City Hall)
Boston MA 02108

     The Kinsale is a faux Irish pub located on the ground level of the Center Plaza at Government Center. It just happenes to be the same building I work in so I used to frequent it a lot when I first started my job 9 years ago. It was before I became the beer geek that I now am, but I quickly realized this place had little more to offer than the standards: Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Harpoon IPA, UFO, Sam Adams, Guinness, Bass, Harp, Blue Moon, and if you were lucky Hoegaarden. Granted it helped foster my love of hefes/wheats/wits with UFO, Blue Moon, Hoegaarden, but otherwise it got boring real quick. After a couple of years myself and my friends slowly drifted away from what had by the end become jokingly referred to as “The Irish Conference Room” because it was just another suit and tie bar and there were better places to go.

     Fast forward to about 9 months ago when late on a week night my fiancé and I dropped into The Kinsale out of desperation for food. It was the usual decent if slightly spendy pub grub it always was, but I was shocked and giddy to see the beer menu had gone into a whole new league. The list is now craft heavy and chocked full of top notch New England brews as well as tasty domestics and imports. Because of that the Kinsale has come to the forefront of my rotation of places to grab a pint downtown especially when I’m looking for a broad selection and to try something new. You would think that in a town like Boston it would be easy to find a good beer bar and unfortunately you would be wrong.

     Over the past several months and visits myself and my friends have enjoyed such beers as Abita Purple Haze, Smuttynose Baltic Porter, Ommegang’s Hennepin Saison, Erdinger Hefeweizen, Founders Dirty Bastard, Allagash White, Victory Pils, Oskar Blues Old Chub, and Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady to name a few. More impressive than just having these outstanding beers they actually have proper glassware and know what beers go in which glass, a feat more difficult than you would expect around here. The table wait staff isn’t always keyed in to the beers they’ve got, but usually if you are sitting at the bar the bartenders are relatively well versed and can give you a hand in deciding.

     The most recent trek was a Friday night (4/11). It was packed, but we muscled to the bar and staked out a corner. There were a handful of us and the beers we ordered were pretty varied: Wolaver’s Organic Brown Ale, Bellhaven, Cambridge Brewing Company Charles River Porter. But truly the most popular amongst our group was the Smuttynose Imperial Stout. This is a bloody amazing beer. Deep dark and complex. I would call it one of the top three imperial stouts I’ve had thanks to it’s balance of malt sweetness, rich dark fruit notes, and just the right touch of dry bitterness at the finish. Put it on tap, served in a proper snifter, and I was in love. The downside is it’s technically a winter brew so they were working off their last keg. The upside is I’m sure it will be replaced with a fantastic spring/summer brew.

     While it may not be the hippest bar in town the Kinsale is the best beer bar you are going to find in the heart of downtown Boston. Yes, there’s Bukowski’s Tavern near Hynes Convention Center, but to be honest their pours are getting smaller while the prices are going higher and the pointlessly loud music makes normal conversation almost impossible. So while Kinsale isn’t as punk rock and lacks an 800-bottle deep selection your wallet and ears won’t take as much of a beating and you will have no problem finding a great brew. You could argue The Elephant & Castle down in the financial district is a beer bar given its extensive beer list, but the reality is my experiences there show it to have a lot of great beers on paper, but few in their coolers and on their taps. The game of continually sending a waiter/waitress away with three beers you would want and having them come back to say they don’t have any of them is as annoying for you as it is for them. 

     If you’re a local looking for some place new or a tourist who has already grown tired of the Sam Adams/Harpoon stranglehold on the taps of Boston and need some more esoteric relief give the Kinsale a shot.