What better place to start than the middle of an unfinished story of the unfinished journey of one of the oldest beverages known to mankind? Of course we’re talking about beer.
It’s at this point we’d like to introduce you to our beer swigging quaffer who resides stateside, our very own craft-beer blogger, Natalie. She homebrews, she works for a lovely American craft brewery and knows her malts from her fuggle hops.
I am headed of to Massachusetts. Just for long weekend mind you. But the welcome diversion of a new state will literally be a breath of fresh (blizzardy) air. I’ve been following a couple of East Coast craft breweries via Intstagram (I know, old news right?) and now I have the chance to visit them (audible squee).
So here I sit, in an overly priced location of an already overpriced restaurant housed within the confines of California’s great LAX, waiting for my flight to destinations colder and altogether different than the sunny and plasticine one of Southern California. I am drinking a pedestrian but totally solid beer, Golden Road Brewing’s Get Up Offa That Brown, a totally quaffable albeit slightly watered down version of the style. I don’t want to give a bad impression of Golden Road Brewing as they have done much to bring craft beer to the people of LA. But most of what I have ever enjoyed in the craft beer world has never been attributed to Golden Road. But that is my opinion and what do I know?
I finish my brown ale then order a Goose Island IPA. It’s okay. Not going to write home about it. At this point I’ve exhausted the menu and go off to the other terminals in search of more beer. Sadly the only craft beer bar that was listed on t’internet was undergoing construction so I had to backtrack to the terminal behind my original one. The things we do for beer. The Dogtown Duck IPA from Venice Duck Brewing was again, okay, better than most but not mind blowing.
I boarded my flight and slipped into the sleep of the brewchasers.
When I awoke and landed, I was greeted by snow and friends, carted off to a warm home, and then led on a penny tour of the house which ended in the basement bar of my friend’s house. Seriously. It was like walking into the bar from Cheers! Oddly everyone DID know my name, but that’s probably because I’ve known them since 2006. Anyway, we chatted, drank beer and made beer plans for the next day.
I am not going to go in to too much detail as I have a tendency to witter on but I will just give a few details on the two breweries we managed to visit (my trip coincided with a bit of a blizzard which impacted our ability to brewery hop).
Night Shift Brewing is located in Everett, Massachusetts and I’ve been following them for a year or so because beer but also (mainly) because their logo is a frigging Owl! A hop Owl. Come on! It’s adorable. That said they have one of those things I hate, a membership club. For their barrel aged stuff. Which I totally understand but will still whinge about. Their beers were super yummy and they have their rotating Morph series where the grain bill stays the same but the hop used is different. I think this is a frigging brilliant idea. As a homebrewer I am often tempted to do 1 gallon batches of differently hopped worts. So well done, Night Shift. For owls and for awesome.
The second brewery we were able to visit was Jack’s Abby. Named after the wives/girlfriends/ladies of all the brewers ever and for the main brewer’s Abby. This brewery based in Framingham, Massachusetts makes only Lagers. Which is awesome. I love lagers. The thing about lagers is that they are all about the method and ingredients. If you get one thing wrong then it’s going to be crazy obvious in the taste or clarity. Everything from Jack’s Abby was lovely and clean. There may have been more hop flavor in some or in the case of the Smoke & Dagger too much smoke for me, the malt and the ingredients still shone through. There is no disguising bad beer when it’s a craft lager. Unless you’re a giant MACRO BREWER who looks down on us for brewing “the HARD WAY”. I’m looking at you Anheuser Busch.
In the writing of this article I’ve had a couple “research” beers… 6. Which will be listed but not discussed because we’d be here for far too long and to be honest, I’ve got a plane back to LAX to catch.
Beers Drank: Total- many?
Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles, CA.
Style: American Brown Ale
Color: Light Roast Coffee
Taste: Malty and Bitter, Fairly Balanced and Easy Drinking, Reminiscent of Coffee and Dark Chocolate (more like the faded memory of)
Jury: Basically I chose this because my options were similar to Cake or Death. If I were trying to convert non-beer drinkers to beer, I might use this as a gateway drink only because it’s so inoffensive that it borders on the mundane.
Beer 2) Goose Island IPA
Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL.
Style: India Pale Ale
Color: Golden Straw
Taste: To be honest I don’t much remember. It was clean and crisp with a gentle nod towards IPA (which for some would be bad but for this non-hop-head was totally okay)
Jury: Again, the selection at the Airport was pretty grim. But it’s a solid easy drinking beer which I would not kick you out of my house for bringing to a party.
Beer 3) Dogtown Duck IPA
Venice Duck Brewing, Venice, CA.
Style: India Pale Ale
Color: Burnt Sugar (Toffee or Caramel)
Taste: Resiny but balanced. I actually quite dislike IPAs but I will drink them if they are the only Craft Beer on tap (you can’t say you hate all IPAs until you’ve tried them all)
Jury: I would drink this again, but only if the other beers on tap were less appealing.
Beers 4 & 5) Marblehead (Night Shift Brewing, Inc.) & Fisherman’s Pils (Cape Ann Brewing Co.)
[these are pictured below in “Research Beers” photo]
Night Shift Brewing, Inc., Everett, MA.
Cape Ann Brewing Company, Gloucester, MA.
Styles: Amber Session Ale with Marblehead salt and vanilla beans (Night Shift) & Pilsner (Cape Ann)
Color: Proper Caramel (Amber) Light Straw (Pilsner)
Taste: These were my first brews upon arrival at 1 am in the morning. ‘Nuff said.
Jury: The Marblehead was interesting but I think had overaged in the beer fridge so many flavors were muddled. The Fisherman’s Pils was a classic depiction of the style “It’s what Budweiser used to taste like when the company had a soul.”
Night Shift Brewing, Inc., Everett, MA.
Styles: All the beers
Color: All the colors
Taste & Jury: So many tastes. The hoppy offerings were juicy and full of hop aroma with lots of stone fruits, citrus, and tropical notes. The sours (takes on Berliner Weisse beers) were all quite delightful, the Cape Codder Weisse (cranberry and orange peel) was my sour favorite. A limited release of El Lechedor, a Horchata inspired Milk Stout with cinnamon, vanilla, and poblano peppers was quite delicious.
Jack’s Abby, Framingham, MA.
Color: All the colors
Taste & Jury: Clean and mostly unmuddled. Some were a bit too hoppy for my liking but were still very solid representations of Lagers. The Smoke and Dagger is a smoked malt lager, too heavy on the smoke for me but very interesting. Bride Maker is a Lagerwine which when you give it time to warm up releases more than the usual nose of deep red cherry fruits you expect from a Barleywine. Jabby Braü was my favourite, it’s classed as a Session Lager, meaning it’s lower in ABV and easy to drink. Malty with a clean hop bitterness that doesn’t linger like an awkward date.
Whirlpool, Night Shift Brewing, Inc., Everett, MA.
Morph, Night Shift Brewing, Inc., Everett, MA.
Rojo, Bantam Cider Co., Cambridge/Somerville, MA.
Lil’ Heaven IPA, Two Roads Brewing, Stratford, CT.
a flight at Boston Beer Works, Logon Airport, Boston, MA.
More about Natalie
She is a homebrewer. She write sometimes too. She mostly just sits in a corner and broods. Much like a cat. So in this the first of her ramblings here on Rothfink we would like to welcome here to the Rothfink stable. If you’re still reading then here is a bit more gumph for you:
I am American (not sure if that translates at all via my writing [and you Brits say we don’t understand sarcasm]), I started homebrewing in November of 2013. Since that time I have acquired a job in a delightful craft brewery in Pomona [Sanctum Brewing Company], I am now on the board for the Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society (the oldest homebrewing club in America), I have an oft ignored blog where I chronicle my journey from noob to not-so-noob, and I have somehow wrangled myself into the position of writing for you lovely folks. Not bad for a crazy single mum, eh?
All of the opinions and tastebuds included here are my own and I would suggest taking my views with a grain of salt or better yet, form your own perception through careful “research“.