There’s a reason the whole country’s hooked on New England IPAs
Living in New England, it’s rare that a week goes by without someone putting me onto a mesmerizing beer that I have never tried before (needless to say, I hang at several bars and with people who drink). Sometimes they are new to the market, while other times they’ve been around and somehow dodged my radar. On July 4 weekend, for example, an old friend put me on to Outermost IPA by Hog Island Beer Co.; clean, crisp, and delicious, I’ll be moving it into my regular rotation, yet it managed to evade me for two years.
In any case, it’s been a killer year for beer around here. As one metric, no less than six Mass companies scored trophies at the recent US Open Beer Championship—Wormtown Brewery, Wachusett Brewing Company, Harpoon Brewery, Castle Island Brewing Co., and Braintree’s Widowmaker Brewing, whose silver award-winning Greenbush, a New England pale ale, is the first on our list of beers that we love so far this year (even if they came out a little before 2019). Here are the others.
Rec. League APA (Harpoon Brewery, Boston)
The session to extend all sessions, Rec. League is definitely something that I never thought could possibly exist—3.8% ABV beer that I actually like drinking. It’s satisfying despite its light weight, and at 120 calories is fit for the weight watchers among us. Finally, I might be able to get my mom to quit drinking Michelob Ultra. The possibilities are endless; while I’m too old to promote binge drinking, I could be game to go head to head and can for can if anybody wants to start a rec league of their own.
Don’t Worry IPA (Wormtown Brewery, Worcester)
While Wormtown’s signature Be Hoppy is that perfect mix of clever pun and delicious hop punch, Don’t Worry packs less of a bite than its taller and slightly shadier brother. That’s not a knock for me and it should not be for you either, though; these silver bullets aren’t for the hop-wary. At 5.8% ABV, Don’t Worry is the perfect halfway bitter solution for day-drinking all summer long and way into the fall, a sweet tongue shower longtime fans of Wormtown’s flagship will begin to worship in short time if they haven’t already.
Curiosity Fifty Seven American Imperial IPA (Tree House Brewing Company, Charlton)
It’s obviously cruel and unfair to include a beer that was brewed only once and that I was fortunate enough to encounter. Something like a fruity mead spun by the gods themselves, you’d want to sip this nectar for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. As Tree House out in Charlton steadily becomes a place where brew aficionados make regular pilgrimages, almost everything it drops is worthy of applause; of all its brilliant beers, though, the Curiosity series stands out.
Hopheads Guide to the Galaxy New England IPA (Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA)
A 7% ABV triumph for the serious beer drinker who wants it all, CBC’s Hopheads Guide to the Galaxy is smooth but rugged, simultaneously simple and complex. There’s citrus bursting out of every sip, but I would go so far as to recommend it to hopheads who are not particularly crazy about juicy treats. There is enough action bouncing around this universe to tickle virtually any palate.
Citra Brau pilsner (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Framingham)
Do me a favor. Do you a favor. Do us all a favor, and stick your nose right up to your can of Citra Brau after you crack it. Better yet, wait 20 or so seconds. It’s a metaphor made for your nostrils—you can tell there’s something sweet, even special tickling your senses, and unlike with the kinds of heavy in-your-grill IPAs that we tend to love in these pages, there’s nothing even close to bitter or offensive in this craft ringer from Jack’s Abby. The scent parallels the taste, which is all-around spectacular.
Crop Circles New England IPA (Night Shift Brewing, Everett)
Crop Circles is for people who have been downing Night Shift staples such as Whirlpool and Mosaic, and who need some change without wandering too far off of the reservation. I’m so satisfied with this selection that I hate to reach in ascertaining what exactly makes it sing—it’s probably not the best testament to Crop Circle’s subtle brilliance, but the most impressive thing about this beer may actually be what it is not: not too pretentious, nor too light, hazy, or sweet, it’s balanced magic in a Goddamn can.
Insert Hip-Hop Reference There New England IPA (Trillium + Monkish)
Have you been lucky enough to put your lips on this 10% banger? An all-Citra triple IPA that beer geeks are chatting about and ordinary sippers are also appreciating, Insert is a holy grail of sorts, not just for its pedigree and baseline expectations, but also for the way it’s executed. One of those high-alcohol numbers that dances all over your taste buds before ruining your day, it’s worth hunting down any last drops that may still be out there.