The last time I visited Tree House Brewing Co. was nearly two years ago, in December.
That trip to Charlton was both a success and a reflection of the times. After parking far down in a satellite lot and waiting in the cold for about an hour, I walked out with nearly two cases of beer, the maximum anyone was allowed and a solid haul for what felt like a day’s work. I even wrote about the communal experience of standing in line, and the friendly, parking-lot trading that goes on afterward.
It’s different now. Tree House is still wildly popular, but there’s more parking right next to the brewery, and on the Thursday of my visit last month the line never got so long as to make it outside. They’re also making a lot more beer these days: I had the option to choose from a dozen brands, mostly IPAs, and could take home as much as a case of each (as if any one human could consume hundreds of cans of fresh, delicious IPA in a reasonable amount of time).
Here’s one thought on each of the beers I took home from one of the world’s most sought-after breweries, located right in our backyard.
Julius (IPA, 6.8 percent ABV): When you think of Tree House you think of this flagship IPA, which drinks like Florida’s Natural and helped spawn the juice-bomb-y world we’re currently living in. This may be the most balanced beer on the menu.
Green (IPA, 7.6 percent ABV): Another flagship, and it’s my favorite. Australian Galaxy hops are the star, and Tree House manages to coax all the delicate pineapple, tangerine, and orange sherbet notes out with none of the abrasiveness typical of the style.
Bbbrighttt w/Galaxy (double IPA, 7.8 percent ABV): Another showcase for Galaxy (did I mention I like that hop?), this version of the Bright series is designed to isolate and amp-up the flavor profile. I get lime zest and a dank, weed-like nose.
Curiosity 74 (double IPA, 8.1 percent ABV): Tree House says it uses a “heavily oated” approach to the recipe here, and what I’m left with is something that reminds me of Trillium: big, juicy orange and grapefruit flavor and a slightly fuller mouthfeel than the usual Tree House offerings.
Super Treat (double IPA, 8.3 percent ABV): What is this witchcraft? On the can I’m promised “sweet hop candy flavors” and in practice there’s truly a Smarties, bubble-gum-in-a-pack-of-baseball-cards thing going on. Tree House promises lychee notes and I actually taste the lychee. Not my favorite Tree House beer, but a feat of engineering nonetheless.
Summer (double IPA, 8.1 percent ABV): I like Tree House beers an awful lot, but my main quibble with the lineup, made apparent by this 8.1 percent ABV “summer sipper” (the can prompts me to drink it at the pool) is that it’s a parade of really boozy brews masking as something lighter. That’s nice in theory — and I have no idea how they got this double IPA to be so airy — but it makes for some tough warm-weather drinking.
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.