As the 17th of March ushers in our annual drunken donnybrook, let’s not forget that the Lenten restrictions allow for drinking and eating on this holiest of days, the Feast of Saint Patrick, and that he shall not be celebrated in vain as such. So tipple we will, but instead of stout and green beer, may it be a new locally brewed ale, along with an also local and perennial favorite lager, both in—surprise!—green cans!
Castle Island / Keeper / New Age India Pale Ale (ABV 6.5%)
Born amongst the seeds of Catholic dissent—wait, no. That’s not true. Let’s start over: birthed from the seeds of some dude who knew what he wanted and took the time to create it, Castle Island Brewing Company in Norwood, Mass, opened in 2015 to little fanfare but a whole lot of buzz, and it just might be the best beer you’ve never tried—yet. When that finally happens, start with the Keeper New Age IPA in the tall green 16-oz. cans, and you’ll immediately realize this isn’t some contract swill. Founded by Adam Romanow, a Southie hoodlum, brew guru, and head criminal at Castle Island, the plan was simple: assemble some of the best local craft minds around, create amazingly simple but decidedly unique offerings, and only brew great beer. With Keeper, they’ve absolutely done that. A nice clean finish, not too hoppy but noticeable and incredibly drinkable at 6.5% ABV. This isn’t your fly-by-night gang of hops; these guys are for real, their beer is fucking amazing, and you don’t need to wait in line for hours to enjoy it.
Notch Brewing Company / Session Pils / Czech Style Lager (ABV 4.0%)
Hands down, this is my go-to sauce, and while I make note of their beers whenever I can, I’ve yet to talk specifically about this brew, the people and story behind it, and why it belongs in everyone’s fridge. Founded in 2010 by Chris Lohring, Notch Brewing Company set out to be the first all-session beer brewery in the country, possibly the world. Six years later and you’d be hard pressed to find a brewer who hasn’t jumped on the session bandwagon with at least one low-alcohol brew, while Notch continues to churn out ever more exciting and new session beers to fall in love with. While the definition is much maligned and occasionally argued over, Lohring stuck with a 4.5% ABV lid for all his beers, and he’s been true to his word ever since. Of all his beers, the Session Pils speaks to this commitment the most. Super crisp, and full of flavor and complexity without being chewy or boring, the Pils goes well with just about everything, anytime, anywhere. It never weighs you down, and true to its form, it allows you to enjoy plenty of pints without feeling mule-kicked come closing time. While I’m not exactly opposed to big beers, the ability to savor and sip this beer, one can after another, creates a much more enjoyable experience from start to finish.