Welcome to the Boston Better Beer Bureau, our latest incarnation of the trusty suds reporting we’ve done at DigBoston ever since people referred to beer as suds. Really, we remember the days when we’d spend half our checks on fancy German bottles just so that we could review them, whereas these days breweries from all around New England kindly send us samplers and stay in touch. The BBBB is a new attempt to return that love, all while sharing more news about the innumerable microbreweries and pubs among us. SIGN UP FOR THE FREE BBBB NEWSLETTER HERE.
Sometimes there are fringe benefits to working in journalism. They rarely add up to an acceptable salary, but sometimes they do involve lots of alcohol. Like a recent trip that some of us took to a journalism conference in Florida; in addition to getting us out of the chill for a couple of days, the event and its hosts introduced us to some serious suds worth writing home about. The list of local winners in the Tampa Bay market is long, with Jai Alai by Cigar City Brewing, which is distributed quite widely around Boston these days, right near the top. Otherwise, here are our favorite picks, some of which we understand may sporadically surface in Mass once the snow clears.
Circus City IPA
The folks at Big Top Brewing in Sarasota call this selection a “very rare English style IPA,” bursting with “amazing hop aroma, mesmerized by the vibrant copper hue, and fascinated with it’s [sic] hop flavor balanced with a caramel malt finish.” Aside from the misspelling, it’s actually a damn good description. We didn’t see the beer outside of the can for long enough to ogle the hue, but were quite fascinated by the caramel ending, since that’s a flavor that, at least in the context of beer, we typically associate with dirty draft lines. In this case, however, it really is a welcome surprise, and the perfect tongue treat for a lasting positive impression.
Bimini Twist IPA
We know that the word “serviceable” doesn’t typically come off as complimentary, but that’s nonetheless how we’ll chiefly describe this effort from the talent at Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg, and we mean it in a good way. Sunshine State shores call for something light and tasty to sip through the afternoon, and since we aren’t savages who fall for mass advertising, it’s not like we’re going to tilt Silver Bullets all day. At 7 percent APV, Bimini Twist is definitely stronger than a lot of all-day IPAs, and by its own admission on the side of the can, leans harder on the bitter than the sweet. But if you are an aficionado of sorts on vacation in the region, you’ll definitely want to pack a six of these in your beach cooler.
Big Nose IPA
The gorgeous trippy can for Swamp Head Brewery’s tribute to big schnozzes says “inherently Floridian” near the mouth hole. We’re not sure what that means, but wow oh wow this is a winner. The Big Nose claim is that the stuff’s “created with crystal clear spring water that originates deep in the Okefenokee Swamp” and is “a mystical nectar brewed for hop lovers” with a “rich malt backbone [that] combines with the intense hop flavors to deliver a balanced finish.” That’s hyperbolic but essentially the truth, as this Big Nose selection is a grade A pick, a rare nonfruity number that goes down smoothly. People beyond Florida should hope it finds some major distro, as this is something that could easily become a daily beverage.