Big things are happening at Castle Island Brewing.
In June the Norwood spot opened its tap room, with 16 lines serving everything from Chuck, a dry hopped cream ale, to Palmside, a coconut porter. Castle Island recently expanded production, boosting capacity 50 percent to a max of 13,000 barrels annually. It’s the brewery’s second expansion since opening less than two years ago, which helps explain why Castle Island products seem to be everywhere.
The beers are getting bigger as well. Castle Island brews a session IPA, Candlepin, named after the bowling alley in Southie, and an IPA called Keeper. But until now there hasn’t been a double IPA — the strongest, often most heavily-hopped version of the style — in steady rotation. Hi-Def, Castle Island’s new year-round double IPA released last month, has been worth the wait.
“Hi-Def is a totally different beer from Keeper or Candlepin,” says founder Adam Romanow. “The ABV clocks in significantly higher — 8.4 percent — but more than that, it focuses on the more fruity, juicy hop profile that seems to be popular these days. It’s still super smooth, even for the high ABV.”
Every brewery says their IPAs and double IPAs burst forth with waves of tropical fruit flavor — I’m pretty sure you get fired from the marketing department if you don’t write that — but Hi-Def actually does. Pop a can of Hi-Def and pour some of the 16 ounces into a glass and you’ll immediately smell a kind of Fruity Pebbles thing going on. Mango and pineapple flavors come through just as much in the taste, owing in part to Idaho 7, a relatively new hop grown in the Pacific Northwest that also imparts a black tea flavor. The beer is partially filtered to give it a longer shelf life, but retains some of the hazy qualities of the juice bombs you love.
“It’s got all the telltales of the New England IPA,” says Romanow. “Soft mouthfeel, low bitterness, big juicy flavor, and pungent aroma.”
While the buzz words Romanow uses fill IPA packaging everywhere as a kind of ideal, they apply literally to Hi-Def, which is one of the most exciting beer releases to hit Greater Boston in some time. Hi-Def is available year round, in cans and kegs. You can visit Castle Island (31 Astor Ave., Norwood) seven days a week. For hours, go to castleislandbeer.com.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.