Drink your way through the state in one night
Photos courtesy of Mike Johnson of Fest Pics
I will admit that I am now undoubtedly biased toward the Mass Brewers Fest, put on by the Massachusetts Brewers Guild. Now in its fourth year and featuring 33 Massachusetts breweries pouring their beers, it was the first beer fest I ever attended, and it’s hard to beat the location—on the World Trade Center Concourse waterfront. The sun sets over the harbor, fest-goers wander around the balcony, sipping the local brews, Instagramming said sunset and local brews, and soaking up the last drops of summer.
If you’re familiar with local beers already, and maybe have even met a brewer or two, then the fest feels like a big party.
There’s no need to rush to get the exclusive beer or the rare tapping—instead you can mosey from booth to booth, chatting with local brewers and fans, and making note of what beers you should look out for the next time you’re at the bar or the liquor store.
And if you’re not so familiar with local beers, it’s the best time to taste them all in one glorious evening.
The highlight, however, is shaping up to be the special collaboration beer. Earlier this month at Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth, Jeb Hollabaugh from Sam Adams, Alex Zielke of Portico, Lee Lord from Watch City Brewing Co., Jay Sullivan of Cambridge Brewing Company, and the Mayflower crew brewed an English Mild. It doesn’t stop there though—about a dozen member breweries took a cask or two back to their home brewery to infuse their own twist, whether it be dry hopping or aging it on wood chips.
Mayflower head brewer Ryan Gwozdz created the base recipe—“something pretty basic, so each brewer could do his own twist on the cask”—and Mayflower will also be pouring the Mild on draft so drinkers can compare between the casks.
Each brewery’s take on the cask hints at the style of their beers.
Sam Adams, for instance, will be aging the Mild on oak chips soaked in Utopias—the rich, boozy ale released once a year.
“Utopias has a nice flavor contribution, but using more of the oak character draws out some of the sweetness,” says Sam Adams’ Boston brewery manager Jennifer Glanville. “There is a group of us here who are really interested in wood aging and barrel aging. I’ve been here for 12 years, and I love single malts and whisky and wood aging, and that’s why I love being part of the barrel aging collection.”
Cambridge Brewing Company plans on taking the classic route. “For us, with a British Mild, we like to keep it relatively classic. We’re going to taste it and determine based on the finished beer,” says lead brewer Jay Sullivan. They’re leaning toward a hop variety like Fuggles, a British hop, or perhaps experimental American varieties on the floral/spicy/earthy side.
The beer also highlights the collaborative nature of the Massachusetts beer scene. Every brewer is quick to enthuse about a beer from a new brewery he or she has tried, or the quality of Massachusetts beers.
“The more people making great beer the better for all of us,” says Glanville. “The quality of brewing is really high in Massachusetts—there are really some fantastic beers out there.”
Consider the Mass Brewers Fest, then, a celebration of that quality beer that’s yours for the tasting.
WORLD TRADE CENTER HEAD HOUSE CONCOURSE
200 SEAPORT BLVD.
6PM-9:30PM/21+/$40, FIRST 500 TICKETS SOLD ARE $35