Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest at The Armory in Somerville. The event, put on by the Sustainable Business Network and the folks from Boston Local Food Festival, featured a variety of local brewers and winemakers, as well as some local food vendors. There was  a great turnout, and I had a lot of fun trying some new (to me) local craft beers!

Truth be told – I am not a huge beer geek, but I live with one of the biggest craft beer geeks ever, so the hobby of tasting and trying and reading and learning about them has been transferred to me. And while I still don’t regularly order a beer over a cocktail, I love trying and comparing them, and being able to pick out distinct flavors. I also love getting to interact with brewers, and finding out what makes them different.

This festival was particularly near and dear to my heart, because it showcases all of our local craft brewers, and it’s so impressive to see how many of them there are. I am all about the local food movement, and support local producers as much as possible – but when you can add beer and wine to the local movement too, well that’s pretty awesome.

Vermont Smoke and Cure cured meats

Taza Chocolate

Kevin and I made sure to each sample a different beer from each brewer, so we tried as many different beers as possible. I also tried some of the wine and cider, which I was happy to see available! At the end, we visited probably 75% of the brewers and winemakers represented there, and found quite a few wines and brews we really enjoyed. Here’s a rundown of what we tasted:

Watch City Brewing Co. – Clockwork Summer Ale and Red Titan IPA (pictured below). The summer ale was pretty plain and simple – definitely very easy to drink, but not all that exciting. I can’t remember much about the IPA…

Jack’s Abby Brewing – Hoponius Union and Maibock Hurts Like Helles – I love their beer names here, and the beer itself was is pretty great too. Kevin’s favorite beer is Heady Topper, which comes from a small brewery in Vermont, and I found this to be reminiscent of Heady Topper. It smells wonderfully floral, and is very hoppy.

Idle Hands Craft Ales – Pandora Belgian Style IPA and Blanche de Grace Belgian Wit. Didn’t manage to snap photos of these two, but the Pandora IPA wasv very tasty.

Mystic Brewery – Mystic Saison and Saison Asterisk Bourbon Barrel Aged. Also missed out on photos of these two. I don’t remember a ton about them, except that Kevin tried the Saison Asterisk, and it was rather oaky so not my thing. He really liked it though!

Coastal Vineyards – Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2010, Beach Rose Rose 2011 and Ocean Nectar 2010. The chardonnay was nice and light – I can’t stand oaky wines which chardonnays often are, and I enjoyed this one – it was very light on the oak flavor. The Beach Rose was rather flat, and I didn’t find it particualrly exciting. The Ocean Nectar, however, was wonderfully tasteful – sweet, rich and smooth. Perfect dessert wine!

Blue Hills Brewery – Watermelon Wampatuck Wheat Ale and Comet Tail Pale Ale. The watermelon was WATERMELONY – but in such a pleasant way. I’ve had it before and I’ll have it again. It’s certainly not a super sophisticated beer, but man is it refreshing!

Sam Adams – Blueberry Hill Lager and Hazel Brown. I tried the Blueberry Hill, which was really delicious – it had a distinct blueberry flavor, but wasn’t really fruity or sweet. Kevin doesn’t typically like fruity beers, but even he agreed that this one was nice to drink. Fruit beer is often made as an ale vs. a lager, so I think that is a unique distinction with the Blueberry Hill. I will be buying some of if this summer! The Hazel brown was very rich and nutty – almost reminiscent of unsweetened Nutella. Yum!

Cambridge Brewing Company – Weekapaug Gruit Unhopped Herbal Beer and Mind Left Body Session IPA. I tried the herbal beer (pictured below), which was definitely something different – lots of complex, herbal flavors and a slightly unique taste since it was lacking the hops. I liked it for a change.

Zoll Cellars – Lighthouse Blend Unfiltered Red Wine Blend and Late Harvest Vidal Blanc. The red blend was very fruity and slightly acidic, and while I’m typically not a big red wine fan, this particular blend was quite tasty. I especially liked that it can be served cold – perfect for weather like this! Also very cool to note – the owner of Zoll Cellars, Frank Zoll, makes his wine in his BASEMENT in Shrewsbury Mass. Pretty neat, huh?

Night Shift Brewing – Bee Tea Wheat Ale and Taza Stout. The Bee Tea was wonderfully balanced – an ale made with green tea leaves, orange and honey. All of those flavors come through in the final product, and it has pleasant herbal overtones. Very yummy. The Taza Stout was just like it sounds – big, bold and rich.

Peak Organic – Pomegranate Wheat and Summer Session. Both light, refreshing beers – great for summer. Nothing outstandingly different or unique about these two, but I’d have them again.

Slumbrew – Rising Sun Red Barley Ale and Trekker Trippel Belgian Style Ale – not pictured, but both very delicious. The Trekker was one of my favorites of the evening. It had both fruity and caramely notes, with a bit of peppery spice to it. Lots going on, but very smooth and approachable.

Bantam Wunderkind Cider – totally wonderful cider. I find that most hard cider really doesn’t resemble apple cider at all, and I’ve always wished that it did. But – this cider is just like fresh-pressed apple cider, but the sophisticated, adult version. I absolutely LOVED it, and definitely will be buying some to enjoy myself this summer.

Notch Brewing – Session Ale and Tafelbier. Didn’t take photos of these two – we tried them on the way out – but I remember them being pretty good. Nothing remarkable, but both low in alcohol, which is a nice alternative to what else is available that might be comparable.

This festival was tons of fun, and so yummy – the best kind of festival! There is another Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest coming up this fall – October 5th if you’re interested in attending. You can get ticket information on Eventbrite.

Have you been to any exciting/delicious/fun festivals lately?

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