It’s always been a foodie theorem of mine that if you know how to eat well, then you know how to drink well. Craft beer is one such genre of libation that I eagerly awaited to study once I turned that anticipated 21. For the past year and a half, and perhaps a few years before that (shh) I have tried to be as adventurous as possible while traveling through the immense world of beer. I’ve even had the opportunity to engage in the chemistry myself, as a roommate of mine last year brewed a large and highly boozy batch of hard cider. Never though have I had the opportunity to witness the bubbles and flowing of hundreds upon hundreds of craft beers and ciders all under one roof.
Last week that fantasy for beer-lovers around the nation came true at Boston’s American Craft Beer Fest. From blondes, to bocks, ales and stouts, to all that’s in-between and akin–500 hundred different brews were there for the tasting, and man, were swarms of bearded and plaid-clad attendees not ashamed to test as many as guts can tolerate. Not to dumb down this jubilant crowd to the likes of frat-party goers, but the enthusiasm for beer (good beer!) could not be ignored.
As the perpetual filling of tasting cups ensued it was easy to become overwhelmed and therefore overlook subtle details that each brew boasted. However, I did learn two things that bubbly night: 1. I will nearly lose my lunch to so much as a mention of bacon-brewed beer (I won’t name names). And, 2. I am a sucker for summer and blondes (ales that is!).
For those attracted to light, bright, and often citrus-infused beers here is a list of some of my favorites that I tasted:
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Boonville CA avbc.com
Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (Cream Ale | 5.6%)
Notes: sweet, but a pinch of spice to add depth. Drinkable well into the autumn.
Beer Works – Fenway | Boston, MA beerworks.net
Blonde Faith (Belgian Pale Ale | 6.5%)
Notes: Almost like a deep chardonnay, winy, and lacking effervescence, but cool & refreshing.
Cape Cod Beer | Hyannis, MA capecodbeer.com
Cape Cod Beach Blonde (American Blonde Ale) | 4.9%
Notes: your ultimate summer beer–as it’s name suggests, perfect for the beach! (one of my favorites of the evening).
Maine Beer Co. | Portland, ME mainebeercompany.com
Peeper Ale (American Pale Ale) | 5.5%
Notes: Favorite beer of the night, and the nicest, most enthusiastic crew! A sophisticated twist on a pale ale. Bright and lemony, yet bold in texture and depth.
Paper City Brewery Co., Inc. | Holyoke, MA papercity.com
1 Eared Monkey (Peach Lager)
Notes: a surprise favorite. Even for foes of the flavored beer, this one isn’t to be missed–subtle notes of peach sing through this light, drinkable lager.
Wormtown Brewing Co. | Worcester, MA wormtownbrewery.com
Blonde Cougar (American Blonde Ale) | 5%
Notes: Balanced and more dry than sweet. Refreshing. A crowd-pleaser.
…And for those of you who enjoy darker, stronger brews here are some suggested porters, stouts, and dark ales:
Ithaca Beer Co. | Ithaca, NY ithacabeer.com
Dark Humor (American Porter) | 7%
Notes: Toasty and smoky. A bit overwhelming to the palate.
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery | Lake Placid, NY ubuale.com
Ubu Ale (English Strong Ale) | 7%
Notes: This red-in-color ale has a great balance of hops and malt. Although stronger than your average ale, this one will bode well alongside burgers at your next BBQ.
Mercury Brewing Co., Inc. | Ipswich, MA ipswichbrewery.com
Ipswich Oatmeal Stout | 7%
Notes: Strong, but a very drinkable oatmeal stout. Toasty with hints of dark chocolate.
The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery | Farmville, NC duckrabbitbrewery.com
Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter | 9%
Notes: High A.B.V and almost too strong to put down. Intense toasty and mocha flavors.
From this large list I hope you can pick-up a few of these tasty brews this summer to help support small, local, and unique craft breweries. Even is you’re not much of a malty-hopper, beer isn’t just for the drinking, it is also a great accessory to any cook–from brining and braising to marinating and baking, beer, especially interesting and multi-layered ones, can add a new dimension to your food.