Those who patronize Trillium Brewing Co. in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood all have something in common: They know what they want.
You can spot repeat customers by the contents of their portage. Almost everyone comes into the brewery with a growler, the brown glass vessels inked with the company’s white flower logo — and soon to be filled with beer. Occupying the tiny tap room on most days is a handful of customers, some wearing T-shirts from other breweries, engaged in conversation about their beer travels. On special bottle release days, the line snakes out of the alley housing the brewery and around the corner, past the loading dock and onto Congress Street.
What’s all the fuss? Trillium has quickly established itself as the best brewery in the state. Since opening in March 2013, owners JC and Esther Tetreault have shown incredible range: farmhouse ales brewed in an urban setting, barrel-aged wild ales, and some of the best pale ales and IPAs this side of the Russian River. And no, Vermont, I haven’t forgotten about you.
That’s big talk, but Trillium backs it up. On a recent Thursday, I stood in line not knowing what I was about to get, subject to whatever the Tetreaults had in store. I took a sample of “Big Sprang,” a dry-hopped Kolsch that drank more like an India Pale Lager, and at 7.5 percent alcohol by volume, punched like one. While I sipped, a young woman entered and asked if there was a purchase limit on bottles of Galaxy Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale.
Twelve, she was told.
“I’ll take 12,” she said.
I needed no more convincing than that. I took home two Galaxy Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ales. According to a sticker on the label, the beer was bottled on “10/23/14,” the same day I happened to pick it up. That’s as fresh as it gets.
Fort Point Pale Ale is a Trillium staple. This version, dry-hopped with Galaxy, pours a mucky orange into a glass. Galaxy hops originate in Australia, and are known for releasing passion fruit and clean citrus flavors. A wonderfully pungent nose rises up to meet me. What makes Trillium’s IPAs and pale ales truly special are these aromatics. You smell these beers before you taste them. They also manage to be light-bodied, and more fruity than bitter. The beers are proof that you don’t have to drive to Vermont to get an amazing, dry-hopped IPA or pale ale (though you should probably do that, too).
One other thing on the label to take note of. Trillium beers are brewed in the City of Boston, a rarity. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 31 breweries in the city, and now there are three. Harpoon brews in its South Boston plant, while Samuel Adams brews a small amount in Jamaica Plain.
We don’t need to go back to the era of dozens of city breweries, but we could use another like Trillium.
Trillium Brewing Co., 369 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston, 617-453-8745, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.