The Massachusetts Brewers Guild Festival returns to the Seaport World Trade Center on Friday, Aug. 30. It’s one of my favorite events and takes place at one of the most beautiful venues in Boston.
More than 80 styles of beer from more than 30 Massachusetts breweries will be available to sample in the indoor/outdoor setting. The first 500 tickets are $35. Regular priced tickets are $40 in advance of event. You can buy them at www.massbrewersguild.org/, where you can also see the list of brewers and get more details.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche
Pumpkin beer may be creeping onto store shelves, but there’s one more summer beer I’d be remiss in not reviewing before Labor Day.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche is one of my favorite beers to enjoy on a hot day. I used to hate the beer. I took home a four-pack of this several years ago expecting something sweet. Peach beer? How could that be bad? Thinking the beer would taste something like Magic Hat No. 9, I was in for a shock when the beer tasted more sour than sweet. At that time, I didn’t like it. Many of you probably had the same experience.
Now I can’t get enough of it. Festina Peche is in the style of a traditional German Berliner Weisse. It’s a style that’s intentionally tart, low in alcohol, and meant to be refreshing. Fermented with an ale yeast, lactic cultures produce the beer’s trademark green-apple-like acidity.
Sour beers take some getting used to, but I do think they’re worth your while. Dogfish brews theirs with peaches. Rather than make the beer sweet, the sugar from the peaches ferments out during brewing, leaving behind fruity character and aroma. Poured into a glass, Festina Peche is clear with just a hint of orange color. Take a whiff and you get the familiar smell of peaches. You wouldn’t be wrong to linger here.
The first sip is bracing. It’s immediately tart, with apple skin and lemon up front on the tongue. Somewhere back there is peach, and it’s welcome. If you can get past it on the front end, the sourness provides levity on the back end. The beer is dry, the finish crisp. Like a sparkling water with lemon, it’s hard to imagine something more refreshing.
Stone R&R Coconut IPA
I recently reviewed two beers that might be considered gimmicky. Both were brewed by California’s Stone Brewery; one was brewed in collaboration with New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company. The two are among my favorite breweries, which warrants giving the gimmicks a chance.
The better of the two is Stone Coconut R&R Coconut IPA. This beer is technically a collaboration, too, brewed with San Diego homebrewers Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan. Earlier this year, Masterson and Reschan entered Stone’s homebrew competition and won. Stone recently released their winning recipe to the public.
Coconut is not a traditional ingredient in IPA, but here we are. A whopping 280 pounds of lightly toasted coconut are added to a base IPA of 7.7 percent alcohol by volume and 90 IBUs (international bitterness units). Six hop varities — Centennial, Amarillo, Calypso, Simcoe, Belma, and Australian Helga — were used.
The beer pours a bright orange into a tulip glass. It smells hoppy and familiar, a nose stuffed with grapefruit that is typically Stone. I don’t get coconut in the aroma.
The first sip is all IPA, but then the coconut rushes in. It’s a pleasant burst in the middle, showing itself before the hops take over. This is a strong IPA, fittingly bitter, but the coconut provides a pleasant twist. I really, really like it.
The next beer is a gimmick based on an entirely different kind of ingredient. Hops are a beer standard, but the Cluster hop fell out of fashion some time ago. With bright, lemony hops all the rage, the sturdy Cluster has taken a back seat. (In a lighthearted press release, Stone and Smuttynose agree that “Cluster’s Last Stand” is as good of a pun-inspired name for a beer as any.)
I pour the beer into a tulip glass and smell pine and dark earth; no big waves of orange or melon.
There isn’t a lot a lot of citrus in the taste, either. It’s bitter, weighing in at 62 IBUs and 8.4 perceent ABV. The beer finishes damp. Is that a thing? This is not my favorite IPA. Better to seek out an old standby from either brewery.