Every writer has secrets, so here’s mine: Every month or so, I leave work and drive to Trillium Brewing Company’s Fort Point location to load up on IPAs. The timing of the run varies, depending on the list on Trillium’s website and the contents of my fridge, but month after month, my trunk fills with four-packs of brews with names like Mettle, Congress St., Cutting Tiles, and Scaled.
This doesn’t mean that everything else is a lie. Despite my Trillium habit, this column fills weekly with a diverse array of beers from brewers around the world. Many of them are excellent. You’ll be perfectly happy drinking them all.
But it’s important to acknowledge what Trillium is doing: pumping out consistently exceptional beers with soft, juicy qualities that have come to define a category known as “New England style” IPAs.
Trillium cofounder Esther Tetreault says the style came about almost accidentally.
“The first time we made a beer that was super-hazy, we were kind of shocked — this doesn’t look like beer,” says Tetreault. “Of course we love these beers now.”
Tetreault says the more she and husband JC experimented with stripping away the sediment, the more they stripped away the flavor. So they stopped doing it. Today, Esther says Trillium has a regular rotation of 25 base brands of hoppy beers, with variants like double-dry hopped versions pushing that over 50.
It is admittedly hard to choose a favorite. The company’s flagship Fort Point Pale Ale is excellent, packing notes of fresh peach and tropical fruit into something dangerously drinkable. But I’m repeatedly drawn to the IPAs and double IPAs for that very reason. For years, drinking a double IPA was a piney, palate-wrecking commitment. But Trillium’s versions, while boasting the same 8 or 9 percent alcohol by volume, seem like a different species.
Take Upper Case, for example, Trillium’s 9 percent ABV double IPA made with mosaic, galaxy, citra, and columbus hops. Crack a can and pour, and note how the airspace in front of you swells with ripe mango and pineapple. Take a sip, then a couple more, and wait for a bitterness that never comes.
Timing, Tetreault says, is the crucial factor in every Trillium beer: when the hops are added, and in what amount.
“When you do it right, you can get that astringency out of it, like steeping a bag of tea,” says Tetreault.
For the record, Upper Case is my current favorite, though I haven’t checked the website in a few hours.