Last Call Monthly is a column where I compile reviews of my recent favorite brewery and beers. Hopefully, I’ll encourage some of you to break out of your beer comfort zone and try something other than your usual go to. And if not, at the very least I can start referring to my beer consumption as “conducting research”.
Brewery of the Month (1A)
Beers of the Month (2B)
Could Use Some Work (3C)
Brewery of the Month (1A):
Beers Sampled: Hermitage, Hip Hop Variation, A Year With Dr. Nadu, High Gravity Sour Planet, single-barrel batch Jupiter, Unionator, Robot Crush, and Summer In Cologne.
Favorite/s of the day: Single-Barrel Batch Jupiter, High Gravity Sour Planet, and Hermitage.
Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville, MA is home to an impressive variety of beers on tap. Ranging from pilsners to stouts and sours, Aeronaut has something for everyone, so much so that it can be initially overwhelming when attempting to decide just where to start. Fortunately, they offer an introductory flight that is advertised as a friendly introduction to their craft. Featuring Robot Crush (American Pilsner), Alternative Hop (Session Ale), Unionator (Doppelbock), and Hermitage (Russian Imperial Stout), the introductory flight is a nice contrast of light to heavy-bodied beers.
I started with Hermitage, their Russian Imperial Stout, which features a rich roasted coffee and chocolate flavor with a semi-sweet aftertaste. Being the heaviest beer of the flight, I found it to be a good starting pointing as the rich and savory flavors make this brew a slow sipper. From there, I moved on to the Unionator, a doppelbock, my first time sampling this style. An interesting style to say the least, as it’s roasted malty body made for a dry, but surprisingly complex and smooth beer. After that, it was onto Alternative Hop, their session ale, which was an aromatic lightly citrus infused ale. While the upfront flavor is fruity and hoppy I wish it had a stronger finish. I finished with their American Pilsner, Robot Crush, which, honestly, I didn’t finish. Light and bland with no real distinguishing features. Again, you can, of course, make your own custom flight, selecting anyone of their 16 available beers, but this is an adequate first taste of Aeronaut, and allows patrons a starting point before becoming comfortable with explring their more unquie and advnced flavors.
Once I had become somewhat accustomed to their brew style, I moved on to what would be my favorite beers of the evening. Their single batch sour Jupiter and high gravity Sour Planet, a tart sour wheat ale floored me. Jupiter which was a mixed fermentation that had been aged for 2.5 years, and was crisp and tart with a subtle dry aftertaste. High Gravity Sour Planet featured a refreshingly smooth and tart wheat body with a lingering mouthfeel. I would highly recommend exploring their sour selection, and for everyone else, definitely, sample a multitude of their offerings.
Now for the bar itself. Aeronauts taproom features spacious tables and bar seating that is laid out next to their towering brewing tanks. Abstract art hangs from the walls, the lights are dim, a single lawn chair hangs from the ceiling. Aeronaut is bursting with personality, while still retaining a low key, relaxing atmosphere. I visited on a Tuesday night, and the line to get into the bar was at least 30 people deep. I can’t speak to how busy they generally are during the week, but if you’re looking to interact with other patrons I would recommend arriving before 9 pm to get seating near the bar. But for people like myself, just looking to enjoy a few beers with friends, Aeronaut is more than accommodating and is an easy recommendation to any and all fans of craft beer and for those in search of a late-night watering hole.
Beers of the Month (2B):
Be Hoppy is my first pour from Wormtown Brewery, who reside in Western Mass, and what a first pour it was. While pouring a clear golden, and retaining little to no head, what Be Hoppy lacks in presentation it makes up for in flavor. The West Coast influenced IPA is instantly notable, as it is a refreshingly crisp and floral beer that isn’t short on subtle fruit and pine notes. This beer goes down easy, maybe, dare I say too easy. This is essentially spring in a bottle, having a refreshingly dry pine and grass aroma that is complimented by notes of pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and orange peel. My only complaint is that I wish there was more alcohol bitterness to balance out the malty fruit notes, but all in all, this is an exceptional, above average India pale ale. This was an excellent introduction to Wormtown and I plan on exploring the rest of their beer portfolio soon.
Back to back months featuring a beer from Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company, and what an exceptional second showing it is. Hair Raiser, their double IPA, pours a cloudy orange body with a slight head that laces the glass nicely. Hair Raiser’s pungent sweet fruit aroma emanates from the drinkers glass, giving them a preview of what’s to come. Hair Raiser features prominent fruit notes of grapefruit, cantaloupe, blackberries, malt, and biscuity caramel. While the nose of the beer is one of the sweeter DIPAs I have had, the slight bitter boozy aftertaste acts as the equalizer that balances out the flavors. Part of what helps to separate Hair Raiser from other double IPA’s is the creaminess of it, which coats the drinkers pallet, aiding its medium body and pillow like smoothness. Hair Raiser is an exceptional double IPA and further evidence that Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company has quickly become a New England craft beer powerhouse.
True to its name, Founder Brewing Companys All Day Session Ale is a beer that the drinker could conceivably drink all day (if they were so inclined). This was the beer that taught me to leave my prejudices at the door before pouring, as despite it’s low ABV of 4.7%, All Day IPA has a surprising amount of flavor. Founder’s All Day IPA pours a light golden body with a slightly lingering one-inch head. You wouldn’t be blamed for mistaking it for any light domestic lager, but a resemblance in looks being the only similarity. All Day IPA has a hoppy lemony aroma, that carries into the beers flavor, a profile that pairs well the beer’s light body and high carbonation. Light, crisp, and refreshing, this is the beer that I would offer to those who don’t typically stray from domestic lagers, as a stepping stone of sorts towards enjoying craft beer.
I’m usually wary of breweries that offer a large variety of beers, as something is lost when the focus becomes about the number of styles over the quality of the craft going into these numerous new concoctions. This is absolutely not the case with Flying Dog Brewery, who continues to impress with their wide variety of styles of beer that are all, more or less, home runs. Their blood orange ale, appropriately named Bloodline, is no exception as it is the perfect citrusy fruit infused IPA to kick off the beginning of spring. Pouring a burnt orange amber body, with a thin yet clingy head, is one of the more bitter fruity aromatic beers I have had. As this is a blood orange ale, citrusy blood orange is the initial flavor that coats the palate, a grapefruit and lemon hoppiness develops on the back end. There’s a great biscuity malt mouthfeel that pairs well with the medium bitter finish that helps to equalize the sweet fruit notes.
A typical worry of mine with fruit beers is that these sweet flavors will overpower and leave behind the IPA backbone, but again this isn’t the case with Bloodline, which provides a well balanced, smooth citrusy fruit IPA with the right amount of bitterness making this the perfect spring IPA.
This was my first time pouring a beer from Fort Hill Brewery, who are based in Easthampton, Massachusetts. I decided what better way to start out than with their session IPA Farmer’s Fresh. Sitting at 5% ABV it’s a very drinkable beer that what it lacks in big explosive hoppy flavors, it more than makes up for with subtle and impactful flavors. Pouring a cloudy burnt orange, Farmer’s Fresh has a large floral and aromatic head with lots of lingering lacing. Again, despite the beer’s low ABV this was one of the more aromatic session beers I have had, having prominent hoppy apricot pine aromas. The upfront flavor is an earth and pine hoppy body that has some subtle notes of mango, orange, and grapefruit.
The back end of the beer has a very subtle malty finish that pairs well with its strong upfront pine flavor and has just the right amount of a bitter finish. Light, crisp, and refreshing just the way I like my session beers, making Farmer’s Fresh an excellent introduction to Fort Hill and provided one of the more flavorful session ales I have had.
Beer of the Month:
Hair Raiser – Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company
Could Use Some Work (3C):
Like most New Englanders, I’m a fan of a majority of Harpoon Breweries brews, their Hoppy Adventure DIPA being a recent favorite of mine. So I was surprised by how underwhelming their Fresh Tracks Single Hop Pale Ale was. Admittedly, I haven’t poured many American style pale ales, but I’m pretty sure a lack of aromatics or profound flavors isn’t typically associated with this style. Upon pouring there is next to no noticeable aroma other than a slight copper pine scent which was off-putting, to say the least. To be fair, when I poured it into a tulip glass it had a good amount of head retention, two lingering fingers worth, and a bubbly golden body. Unfortunately, as can frequently be the case, looks can be deceiving. The body of this beer did nothing for me. I found it to be an earthy bland beer that would have benefitted from more carbonation and at least a hint of citrus. I tasted none of the fresh spring aromas and flavor profile this beer purports to have, making it fall short of the high standard I hold Harpoon to. Pass.
House Keeping (4D)
- Growler Life: We all know that there is obviously a difference in taste when comparing can/bottle and draft beer, but just how much of a difference is there? I’m contemplating doing a comparison of growler draft and canned beer to try to detect just how much their tastes differ. I think this would be an interesting taste test and also an excuse to finally adopt the growler lifestyle.
- As I have vacation time soon, I’m planning several brewery/taproom visitings, including Lord Hobo Brewery, Downeast Cider House, and hopefully Cambridge Brewing Company.
- I’m thinking of changing the reviews section slightly, in terms of how I decide what beers to review. Should I pick one style of beer a month and only review that style or is reviewing a variation of beer styles a month more appealing to readers? Let me know.
As always, I’m always looking for new beer to try, so if you have any recommendations feel free to let me know what you’ve been pouring recently. In the meantime, if you want to keep up with what I’m pouring or see more frequent mini reviews, you can follow me on Untappd (KriegsMachine) and Instagram (KriegsMachine92).
Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next month!