When Mike Loconto (@neighbeers) and I started to plan our event tonight at Stoddard’s, we wanted to put together a lineup of brewers that were hard to access outside of the Boston area. We wanted to focus on beers made by people whose tap handles you weren’t accustomed to seeing around the Hub. This was important to us. It was most important, though, to find brewers that we liked as people. Matt Menard at the Norton-based Bog Iron Brewing fits both of these roles. Bog Iron will feature Stinger IPA, an India Pale Ale brewed with honey, at Stoddard’s tonight during the Beer Bloggers’ Tap Takeover.
Matt Osgood: What was the inspiration/story behind Stinger IPA?
Matt Menard: I believe it’s a well established defacto rule that in the brewing community, every brewery has to have an IPA. With the popularity of IPAs right now, not having one is almost a brewing faux pas. There are a few breweries that can get away with being IPA-less, but for the most part every brewery has an IPA in their lineup. Even fellow nanobrewery Night Shift Brewing, who didn’t have an IPA in the lineup initially, finally gave in to consumer demand and just recently brewed their first IPA.
When we were designing the beers for our initial lineup, we knew we wanted to have an IPA, but with the brewing landscape littered with IPA’s of all kinds, we had to find something that would set ours apart. Brian was the first to suggest using honey as a fermentable ingredient to enable us to cut back on the malts a bit and push the hops forward. This turned out to be a great idea and after a so many test batches that I actually lost count, we finally landed on a recipe that we were really happy with.
What can you tell us about the recipe for the beer?
The recipe for the Stinger, like all of our recipes, is very simple. It’s basically just good water, some pale and crystal malts, honey, lottsa hops, and a nice clean ale yeast. The honey ferments almost completely out, so there is very little residual sugars left behind and as a result the beer dries out quite a bit and the mouthfeel can be a bit thin. The crystal malts, in addition to adding a bit of color, bring back some of the body that is lost by using honey.
The result, however, is a beer that doesn’t have a big malty backbone, but rather showcases the hops. Speaking of hops, there are is no shortage of them in the Stinger.
Rather than going straight for the super dank fruity hops, we decided to stick with some traditional hops and try to replicate the dankness that hops like Simcoe and Citra bring to the party, but with Cascade, Columbus, Summit, and Magnum. I think we’ve done a good job and we’re really happy with the beer.
What kind of food would you pair this beer with?
Personally, I’ll drink the Stinger with any meal. However, I’d have to say my favorite food group to pair with it is anything barbecued.
What is Bog Iron’s story?
What message are you trying to send with your beers? The story behind Bog Iron? I don’t think I could put it any better than Brian did on the About Us page of our website: “Brian, Frank, and Matt were buddies from a local homebrew club,the South Shore Brew Club. Like 98.1 percent of all homebrewers, they started daydreaming about owning a brewery, putting in long hours, and making very little to no money for their efforts. Well … that sort of scenario sounded too good to pass up and the three began investigating what it would actually take to launch the whole thing. Thirteen to fourteen months later and three times the budget we had expected, bingo … Bog Iron Brewing is ready to roll out beers to the public.”
In the end, I think we’re just trying to make beers that people like to drink, because honestly, are we really trying to do much more than exactly that?
Where do you think craft beer fits in with the “buy local” movement? Do you see craft beer’s place in this community as a permanent spot or temporary?
I don’t think craft beer is any different than locally grown and harvested products. Beer brewed in small batches with a focus on quality and freshness is a perfect fit for the “buy local” movement. I firmly believe that craft beer has found a home within the locavore community.
Matt Osgood runs the beer website Review Brews.