What’s the best strategy for tackling a flight of beers?
That was the predicament faced last week by a couple of friends cozied up to the bar at the newly opened Dorchester Brewing Company. We could go from light to dark, sure, but what to do with both the regular and nitro versions of the Cream Ale? IPA before double IPA, but before or after the stout?
All of Dorchester Brewing’s beers are brewed by Todd Charbonneau, a longtime veteran of Harpoon Brewery and a fan of making classic styles new again.
“The cream ale is kind of a cool, underappreciated style,” says Charbonneau, and he’s right. The regular version has a lemon-y, biscuit-y quality, but when put through a nitrogenated tap it takes on a a viscosity befitting of its name. Somehow, the nitrogen version of cream ale tastes sweeter, so start with the other.
Up next is Hefeweizen. Charbonneau’s take is true to the German style; the flavor profile is rounder than the cream ale’s, with refreshing notes of banana and clove.
Between rounds, Charbonneau walks us from the tap room — designed to look like a well-lit movie version of a Dorchester warehouse — to the back, where the beer is made. In the brewery, beers sit in stainless steel tanks in various stages of fermenting. A bottling and canning line is ready to roll as soon as someone flips the “on” switch. There’s a walk-in cooler the size of a Beacon Hill brownstone.
“Of course we brewed a couple of IPAs right out of the gate,” says Charbonneau. “I wanted to be using a lot of hops.”
Mass Ave IPA is a showcase for the El Dorado hop, which smells startlingly like Fruity Pebbles and tastes even better. Mosaic hops shine in V1 Double IPA, which is stickier and grapefruit-heavy, and unlike any beer Charbonneau has ever made.
“I’ve been at it for 18 years,” says Charbonneau. “To me, an imperial, double, means a sort of whack-you-over-the-head bitter beer. And that’s just not what people are drinking these days. The bitterness on doubles has gotten lower and lower. The late hopping schedule is very different than a beer I might have developed 10 years ago.”
Save room for the Summer Stout, which is a chalky, roasty beer Charbonneau brewed as a nod to Dorchester, heat be damned. And cold-weather beer fans will take solace in knowing there’s already an Oktoberfest fermenting in the back.
1250 Massachusetts Ave., Dorchester, 617-514-0900, www.dorchesterbrewing.com.
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.