Welcome to Last Call Monthly, 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”.

(Last) Last Call Monthly: May 2017

As always,
Enjoy (responsibly).

Brewery of the Month (1A)
Beers of the Month (2B)
Could Use Some Work (3C)
Housekeeping (4D)

Brewery of the Month (1A): 

Springdale by Jack’s Abbey| Framingham, MA

Favorite/s of the day: Brigadeiro Nitro Stout, Ruby Bluesday

Springdale’s Barrel Room could very provide one of the most inviting atmospheres of any taproom I have been to. On top of featuring some truly unique and original beers, Springdale features a sprawling layout that encourages a lively atmosphere with the inclusion of arcade games, cornhole boards, and shuffle board tables. I visited Springdale on a Tuesday around noon, and while this was clearly not the optimal time for those looking to mingle with other beer enthusiasts, I can see their barrel room being an excellent night venue for groups of friends looking for a lively watering hole. Are these the kinds of accommodations that I typically look for at a brewery? No, but the more options available to patrons the better, options that could possibly help entice friends who aren’t the biggest craft beer fans to leave the house and get outside of their comfort zone.

On to the beer; At my bartender’s recommendation, I started my afternoon with their But I Digress India Pale Ale, their New England juice bomb style IPA with heavy notes of papaya, mango, apricot and the usual accompaniment of pine. Hazy as hell and smooth but lacking any bite. The creamy dry mouthfeel makes this an ideal starting place for those feeling overwhelmed by Springdale’s vast and unique offerings. I wish there were some bitterness to balance out the sweetness from the fruit, but a solid IPA never the less.
Now onto their barrel aged sour offerings, a specialty of Springdale’s and a beer style which has quickly become one of my favorites. Next up were Ruby Bluesday and Kriek Mythology two of their highly recommend sours. Ruby Bluesday is their berry focused sour that is aged in chardonnay and bourbon barrels which impart a grainy sweetness in the front end of the beer, the bourbon barrel aging providing a bitter finish uncommonly found in sours. The tart and sour blueberry flavor is the most prominent flavor, yet it’s the two distinctly different barrels aging processes of the beer give it a satisfyingly impactful flavor. While Ruby Bluesday is a heavier sour than I’m used too Kriek Mythology is a lighter and crisper traditional sour. Pouring a murky grapefruit color, Kriek Mythology has prominent flavors of tart cherries and sour, puckering berries. Not the most unique sour I have had, but certainly, a delicious one that all fans of sours should try.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 12.00.57 PMOnto what would be my favorite pour of the day: What started as a trend within the world of coffee, nitro has made its way to the world of beer, and Springdale is right there to capitalize on this trend. Their Brigadeiro Nitro Stout is an exemplary example of how to brew a god damn stout. Brigadeiro features bold and impactful flavors of roasted coffee and cacao but delivered in a smooth oats body with vanilla and cream notes. It may look intimidating but the beers low carbonation and creamy, smooth body make this a delectable stout that all should try. You owe it to yourself.

I finished my day with my least favorite of the beers I sampled, their Pearly wit which was a wheat citrusy beer that was far too thin overall for my liking. Just wasn’t for me. Overal, my experience at Springdale’s Barrel Room was phenomenal as I was introduced to some of the most unique sour and stout flavor profiles I have ever tasted. Their expansive offering of pours means that there’s something for everyone, even those who rarely step outside their beer comfort zone. Definitely one of my new favorite taprooms. 

Beers of the Month (2B):

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Bennington|Night Shift|Oatmeal Stout|7.1%|4.65/5

I’m typically wary of beers that include inherently sweet ingredients in their recipe, but my love for oatmeal stouts and Night Shift Brewing trump any pre-existing beer prejudices I may have. On a first glance, Bennington’s body pours an inky black which resembles that of an imperial stout though it has a head resembling bubbly chocolate milk, making for a very approach stout. Heavy aromas of bittersweet cocoa, maple, nutmeg, slightly charred bread, and roasted toffee emanate from the glass. Many of the aromas of Bennington are found within its flavor, with vanilla and roasted malt being added to the aforementioned scents. There is a brief bitter finish that is quickly replaced with a creamy and frothy maple flavor that coats the drinker’s palate. The sweetness of the maple syrup acts to counterbalance the bitter thickness of the stout, pair this with its medium carbonation and you’ve got a very complex yet very drinkable stout. Another home run from Night Shift Brewing Company.

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Liquid Crystal|Grimm|Farmhouse Pale Ale|5.5%|4/5

I finally bit the bullet and splurged a little on my monthly beer budget to pick up a 22oz bottle of Liquid Crystal, a farmhouse pale ale from Grimm Artisanal Ales. What is a farmhouse pale ale you ask? Well, it’s a funky, yeasty, hoppy centric pale ale that features an easy sipping body while not skimping on distinctive flavors. Pouring a golden clear body, Liquid Crystal is citrus lemony on the nose continuing into the beers flavor profile. Liquid Crystal nails the farmhouse profile, as it’s fruity, funky, dry and refreshing. The initial sip is peppery, floral, lemony, and funky yeast and cracker malt backbone that makes for a refreshingly hoppy and crisp beer. The fruity dry aftertaste is just apparent enough that you’ll continue trying to chase that funky tangy fruit finish. I just wish it has been a tad funkier. All in all an excellent introduction to Grimm’s Ales, and I’ll be sure to explore the rest of their wares in the coming months.

Jade|Foothills Brewing|IPA|7.4%|4.25/5

A friend of my recently visited from North Carolina and brought with him a number of local brews for me to sample, and Foothills Brewing Companies India Pale Ale Jade was at the top of my list of favorites. Pouring a gorgeous clear golden honey with a frothy milky white head, Jade makes a good first impression. On the nose, it has a very prominent aroma of tropical citrus, alcohol, caramel malt, and a dank floralness. From the first sip, the beer’s high IPU makes Jade a lively beer that shocks that drinkers palate with a crisp and refreshing dryness. While Jade has lots of fruity notes, such as pineapple, mango, and orange, it is by no means a juice bomb as the overtly hoppy and medium carbonation paired with a piney resinous and toasted caramel malt flavor makes Jade an earthy fruit centric India Pale Ale.

The back end of Jade is as unique and bursting with flavor, as there’s a peppery and piney semi-bitter aftertaste that entices the drinker to take another sip to chase the initial sweetness. It also hides its alcohol well, as the bitterness isn’t a result of an alcohol taste, and the chewy mouthfeel of the beer further aids its complexity.  Jade is easily the best IPA I had this month and has me eagerly anticipating sampling more from Foothills Brewing Company.

Little Brett|Allagash|Wild Ale|4.8%|4.45/5

Allagash is one of those breweries that whenever they release a new beer I buy it regardless of the type of beer it is or any potential negative reviews. Time and time again, Allagash proves that no matter the style or flavor combinations they concoct, at the very least the drinker will walk away with having had a unique experience. Fortunately, Little Brett provided this and more, resulting in what is one of my new favorite Allagash beers. Little Brett undergoes dry hopping of Mosiac Hops and then fermented with Allagash’s specialized Brettanomyces yeast, resulting in a funky yet still very hoppy and drinkable ale.

Pouring a hazy straw colored beer, there is a heavy dry pineapple, lemon zest, and barnyard funky aroma on the nose. Not to be confused with a juice bomb styled beer, Little Brett has bold and explosive initial fruit flavors of pineapple and grassy lemon, that jumps around the pallet. Underlying the fruit flavors are slight malty grain sweetness that helps to balance out the tart and semi-bitter dry aftertaste. I was a big fan of the amount of hop in Little Brett, as some wild ales can often omit the hop resulting in a beer that drinks more like a wine.

Don’t Be Mean To People|Ponysaurus|Saison|6%|4/5

A great beer with a great message, Don’t Be Mean To People, a scary drinkable Saison from North Carolina-based Ponysaurus Brewing Company. Pouring a gorgeous hazy amber with a solid amount of head that laces the glass nicely, Don’t Be Mean To People, smells as good as it looks with a moderate aroma of spice, fruity yeast, and earthy floral hops. The first sip jumps around the drinker’s palate, a combination of fruity sweetness and funky earth tones. Apple and pear sweetness dominate the fruit notes which pair well with the spicy yeast flavor which dominates the backend of the beer, but all of these flavors are light and funky enough that this is a smooth Saison. There’s a slightly bitter finish from the hops but this is largely masked by the high carbonation and dry finish. A tad on the sweet side, but this unique and complex Saison makes for an enjoyable porch sipper.

Glorious|Lord Hobo|Pale Ale|6.5%|4.5/5

Last month I featured Boom Sauce, Lord Hobo’s flagship India Pale Ale and thoroughly enjoyed it, I have been less impressed with the last two Lord Hobo offerings Hobo Life and Consolation Prize. Honestly, I was worried that this brewery had become a one and done kind of brewery struggling to replicate the success of their initial beer that put them on the map. And then I poured a can of Glorious, their Galaxy Pale Ale, and that worry went right out the fucking window. Simply put, Glorious is a fantastic Pale Ale that shows that despite my qualms with some of their other offerings, Lord Hobo knows how to make one hell of a beer.

Glorious pours a hazy straw yellow with lots of lacing with an upfront aroma of bubblegum, apricot, oily pine, hops, and citrus. I wasn’t prepared for just how complex the flavor would be, as the initial flavor is that of earthy passion fruit, grapefruit, citrus, malt, and the star of the show the prominent galaxy hops aiding each sip. The complexity comes from the backend of the beer which is a clingy bitter/sour funk that pairs well with the fruit notes while not being overpowering. A dry finish of this creamy and well carbonated Pale Ale makes Glorious an excellent addition to Lord Hobo and has me eagerly anticipating their next release. 

 Could Use Some Work (3C):

Fat Tire|New Belgium|Amber Ale| 5.2%

Every once in a while a beer comes along that’s almost impossible to avoid. It’s at every bar and cookout, seemingly inescapable. Fat Tire is currently that beer as friends and bartenders alike has been seemingly working in conjunction with one another for the last six months to persuade me to try it. And after several months of dancing around it, I finally got around to cracking a can and to my surprise it is even more mediocre than I assumed it would be. Very light malted amber flavor, that has a hint of caramel and citrus that doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from literally any other Amber ales out there. Not an exceptionally bad beer, but unremarkable in almost every way.

House Keeping (4D):

  • Some of you may have noticed that there was no Last Call monthly in June. This was due to being on vacation, but I spent that month visiting lots of breweries in Tennessee which I will be featured next month.
  • Next month I’ll be visiting Flying Dog brewery amongst a handful of others based in Maryland. Be on the look out for periodic reviews of MD brews on my Instagram.

I’m always looking for beer recommendations so leave a comment below with what you have been drinking lately. 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 (KriegsMachine). 

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next month!