NorthEast Brewery Tour

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
A buddy of mine put me onto an interesting source, a top-100 brewery tour in the US. The author created an algorithm such that you could drive, using the most economical route (time wise) to visit all of them.

Of course, whose list of top 100 one uses is somewhat individualistic, but if you look at the map here: Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically you'll see that there's an interesting concentration in the northeast:

1666227024537.png


Well. My son recently took a job in Boston; we decided that we'd fly out to visit him, get a rental car, and tour as many breweries as we reasonably could in the week we were there.

It was a fabulous trip. We didn't go for the fall foliage--we went for the beer!--but as it happens the colors were unbelievable.

We managed to visit the following:

1. Tree House Brewing Company
2. Jack's Abby Brewing
3. Maine Beer Company
4. Liquid Riot Bottling Company
5. Gritty McDuffs
6. Rising Tide Brewing Company
7. Allagash Brewing Company
8. Hill Farmstead Brewery
9. The Alchemist
10. Zero Gravity Craft Brewery
11. Burlington Beer Company
12. Trillium Brewing Company

A few comments:

1. This is worth doing if you ever can manage it. We're retired, so that works in our favor. We like beer, I brew it, and so it seemed a reasonable thing to do. My buddy went over 1000 beers rated on RateBeer, so he had a good time, too.

2. Most every place had great offerings. The one that surprised us in a positive way was Rising TIde Brewing in Portland Maine. Brad had a 4-beer flight, and I did as well. We didn't overlap on any of them, and all were excellent. Great bar staff, I'd be there a lot if I lived in Portland.

3. The other one that surprised me was Hill Farmstead. Supposed to be number 1 in the nation according to several ratings, and of those above, I'd have rated it Number 11. Not in the nation, but in the list above. It struck me as a bush-league operation. You had to take gravel-type roads to get there, which would have been just fine if the experience rated it. But no. No indoor restrooms (!), but they did provide two porta-potties. They only had 5 beers on tap. I had three, and none stood out as exceptional. It was a huge letdown.

4. That said, Tree House is beyond exceptional. THE most amazing facility I've ever seen. Perhaps my impression is clouded by being there on a day with temps in the low 60s, little wind, and the colors were changing. Nothing better than enjoying a great beer in an Adirondack chair talking to a local about Tree House, what we might do next, and things in general.

5. My second favorite is probably Maine Brewing Company. It's a little hard to rate them all because we went at different times, the weather was different (see below), they didn't always have much beer (Alchemist is in the midst of renovations and had only two beers available, in cans, which we understood. Yet the place was jammed).

Perhaps Maine Brewing stands out because it had one of the top two beers I've ever drunk: Peeper Ale. A pale ale, and it was beyond amazing. Shockingly so. (BTW, the other in my top two is Assassin from Toppling Goliath, a barrel-aged stout).

Jacks Abby also stood out with the lagers. You don't expect a place to be known for lagers, but theirs were terrific. Yum!

6. I don't expect to learn much on a tour like this--I know how to brew, I have a great setup, the learning curve leveled off a couple years ago. Most breweries and brewers are pretty cagey about what they do and how. BUT....when we went to Zero Gravity I had a pale ale that looked good, called Little Wolf. I didn't even check to see what it had in it, and my first few pulls on it were GREAT. Then I looked at the beer menu and...it has Mosaic Hops in it.

I absolutely HATE Mosaic hops. It is known that how people perceive hops can vary, and it just happens that Mosaic destroys any beer for me. Sort of like how some people taste soapy water when they eat Cilantro. It just doesn't work for me, but I get that others like it.

But Little Wolf was great! So I had to try to track someone down to ask about it. It was Sunday so I wasn't encouraged, but the manager Sydney and another guy who works in the back (name escapes me) told me that they use an enzyme which turns it in to a virtually gluten-free beer. They didn't set out to make it gluten-free--they were trying to adjust the mouthfeel--but it just turned out that way.

Well. The mosaic is dry hopped. Is that why it's not offensive to me? Or is it the enzyme they're using? I don't know, but I do know the next beer I brew will be a pale ale dry-hopped with Mosaic. As they say, Enquiring minds want to know!

7. I mentioned the weather above. One day we hit a lot of rain. We were at the Maine Maritime Museum and there was a heck of a blow that went through. Things finally settled down enough for us to leave and get lunch, then down back to Portland for a visit to Allegash. But it was still raining pretty hard. The place was jammed. We finally found a table under a sort of awning thing, and enjoyed the beers. Funny though, my memories of Allegash are mostly the rain. The beer was fine.

8. Funny but sad thing about the trip; we'd reserved a cabin on Crystal Lake near Gray Maine for 3 days as a home base while we explored the area. Sadly, the owner called us 3 days before we left to inform us the water was out. The water table had dropped below the level of the well pump, so no water. We scrambled to find an alternative, finally getting a Holiday Inn Express in South Portland. I'd had visions of sitting on the deck overlooking the lake at sunset drinking craft beers; alas, maybe another time.

9. We got to Boston on Tuesday morning, left the following Tuesday morning. During those 7 days we put 1121 miles on our rental car. We visited some GREAT breweries, and drank a lot of beer (41 different kinds if memory serves).

A few pics:

Not very often one gets a flight and, when finished, considers just ordering the same thing again. :)

1666229652519.jpeg


I had a guy in Trillium recognize my Third Space shirt; he's from Milwaukee, home of TS.

1666229677588.jpeg


There are few more beautiful settings than we were treated to at Tree House. Interestingly, they had a 3-beer limit, 2 on Fridays and Saturdays. It's not clear why, if it's to limit severe intoxication or simply to get more people through. It was surprising to see people come in to Tree House to buy beer and they needed 2-wheel carts to carry it out, several cases at a time.

1666229692936.jpeg


There were, if memory serves, something like 24 of those big fermenters you see behind us in this pic. I asked how large they are; 250 barrels. Makes my 10-gallon Spike look pitiful. :) They do a business there, and deservedly so.

1666229701976.jpeg
 
OP
OP
mongoose33

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
Addendum:

I've made a Little Wolf "clone." The Zero Gravity website lists the ingredients, but not the exact yeast type nor the ratio or timing of hop additions. So I made up a guess.

I used the enzyme that's supposed to make a beer gluten-free, and dry hopped an ounce of Mosaic.

It's been three weeks since brewing, the beer is carbed. It's.....not bad. I'm not a huge IPA fan, though I like APAs, and this is one. I'm getting some friends who are more of the IPA type to give it a taste test and we'll see.

That said, I just had 3 pints tonite. It's.....nice.
 

day_trippr

Structural Duct Tape Sales Engineer
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
38,888
Reaction score
22,103
Location
Stow, MA
I totally missed this amazing thread and raise a glass to the excellent taste shown in the chosen route :D
Come back anytime!

Cheers! :mug:
 
OP
OP
mongoose33

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
Addendum:

I've made a Little Wolf "clone." The Zero Gravity website lists the ingredients, but not the exact yeast type nor the ratio or timing of hop additions. So I made up a guess.

I used the enzyme that's supposed to make a beer gluten-free, and dry hopped an ounce of Mosaic.

It's been three weeks since brewing, the beer is carbed. It's.....not bad. I'm not a huge IPA fan, though I like APAs, and this is one. I'm getting some friends who are more of the IPA type to give it a taste test and we'll see.

That said, I just had 3 pints tonite. It's.....nice.

Last night I had two beer buddies over to try the Little Wolf "clone." That makes it 4 weeks after brewing. It's best described as an APA, I think.

It's VERY good. I'm pleased. One of my friends felt like it could use just a touch more sweetness; oddly, I'd come to the same conclusion myself. I can't decide if that means to up the crystal malt a bit, or mash at a higher temp. I'm planning to brew it again this weekend, so I'll have to decide by then.

But it's good as is. The other friend felt it was fine how it is; he went home with a half-growler* of it. I can't really say what "it" is, as we tossed around names for it last night and drew no conclusions.

My wife, who is not an IPA fan, had a little; she said it was not bad and interesting which, given her predilection for other beer types, is nearly an endorsement. Her comment was that it's "clean." That's fair. Lots of hop flavor, moderate hop aroma, and the finish is not all that bitter, given the hops in it.

And the Mosaic? Clearly, not including it in the boil was the trick, I think. None of the horrible "mosaic" flavor I get in so many other mosaic'd beers.

*Half growlers are, as you might suspect, 32-ounce containers. I have moved away from 64-ounce growlers to give to people. If you don't finish the full growler, the next day the air admitted to the growler has oxidized it. Reminds me of keg parties back in the day when we used a hand pump to dispense beer. If we had beer left over the next day, it was always spoiled. Darned oxygen!

But a half growler is about 2 2/3 beers equivalent, and even if it's not completely finished in one sitting, it's not that much to have to sacrifice. And if the beer is any good, who wouldn't finish it? :)

I'll post the recipe in a followup post, but I'm not sure how much the process matters for the end result. Might.
 
OP
OP
mongoose33

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
OK, here's the recipe and process:

Single-infusion beer made with mostly Low Oxygen techniques. No sparging. Five gallon batch.

Grain Bill:
9# Maris Otter
2# Munich
1# Crystal 20
12 oz Oats

Hop Bill:
60 Min 4 ML Hop Shot
15 Min 1 oz Citra
15 Min 1 oz Cascade
0 Min 1 oz Citra (after temp had fallen below 170)

15 Min Whirlfloc Tablet
WLP001 with starter. Used yeast nutrient at end of boil.

Strike Water 8 gallons (1 gallon tap, pretty hard water, 7 gallons RO water). 5gr Calcium Chloride, 5gr Epsom Salts, 2gr Gypsum, 1gr BrewtanB, 1 Campden tablet crushed, 2ml Lactic Acid.

Mashed in at 145, raised temp to 155 with RIMS. 75 Min mash, shut recirc down at 30 min, gentle stir, then after 2 minutes to settle, start recirculation. Preboil gravity 1.049

OG 1.056. I used White Labs WLP001 as the yeast. I make a starter about 15 hours before i expect to pitch, oxygenate the starter wort, then on a stir plate. I pitch the entire thing into the beer, which drops the gravity about a point. I like to have that yeast active at pitch.

At pitch, I added a vial of ClarityFerm.

Pitched at 67 degrees, maintained that. I use TILT hydrometers, closed up the Spike CF10 at an indicated gravity of 1.017 so it could self-carbonate. When fermentation appeared to be finished (sunday at 5:30pm), I dry-hopped with 1 ounce of Mosaic. This was using the hop dropper that I run fermentation CO2 through to purge the hops of as much oxygen as I can.

I pitched at 3pm on a Wednesday; Sunday at 10 pm I ran the temp up to 71 to give any remaining yeasties a chance to finish. No remaining obvious activity from yeast so at 8pm on Monday I crashed it to 36 degrees.

Kegged it at 3:30pm on Tuesday, 6 days after brewing. I put it on the gas at serving temp (the fermenter lost pressure due to dry hop residue screwing up the safety valve), and waited. At 3 weeks, it was drinkable. At 4 weeks, it's great.
 

Brooothru

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,341
Reaction score
2,265
Location
Either in the brewery or on the road
Addendum:

I've made a Little Wolf "clone." The Zero Gravity website lists the ingredients, but not the exact yeast type nor the ratio or timing of hop additions. So I made up a guess.

I used the enzyme that's supposed to make a beer gluten-free, and dry hopped an ounce of Mosaic.

It's been three weeks since brewing, the beer is carbed. It's.....not bad. I'm not a huge IPA fan, though I like APAs, and this is one. I'm getting some friends who are more of the IPA type to give it a taste test and we'll see.

That said, I just had 3 pints tonite. It's.....nice.
What's the mystery enzyme? My wife's been gluten-free for some time now, so consequently my "beer safaris" have to include an equal number of wineries just to keep her entertained.
 
OP
OP
mongoose33

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
What's the mystery enzyme? My wife's been gluten-free for some time now, so consequently my "beer safaris" have to include an equal number of wineries just to keep her entertained.

I noted it in the detailed recipe, but here it is. Cost me $3 at my local brew store.

1669345407375.png



I'll add a little more about this in a bit--my granddaughter is calling for my attention. :)
 

Brooothru

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
2,341
Reaction score
2,265
Location
Either in the brewery or on the road
I noted it in the detailed recipe, but here it is. Cost me $3 at my local brew store.

View attachment 792627


I'll add a little more about this in a bit--my granddaughter is calling for my attention. :)
Oh, yes. I've used Clarity Ferm a number of times in the past, though not in the last several years. I had no idea it would reduce gluten. Unfortunately it only reduces to about 20 ppm which is still above the threshold to cause inflammatory issues in some people.

My wife does not have Ciliac's, but is immunocompromised to the point where gluten can trigger painful inflammatory response. Going GF has helped her deal with arthritis and other joint issues, and allows her to stay quite physically active.
 
OP
OP
mongoose33

mongoose33

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
8,115
Reaction score
8,063
Location
Platteville, WI
OK, about ClarityFerm. It's a small vial, you add it to a 5-gallon batch at the beginning of fermentation, along with the yeast. That's it.

ZeroGravity said they did that not for the gluten-free. but for mouthfeel--and it creates an interesting kind of result. My wife described it as "clean." I suppose that's the best description. I do a lot of brewing with Mexican Lager Yeast because I like the crisp finish it produces, but what ClarityFerm does isn't quite that.

"Clean" doesn't mean little flavor--it just produces a beer (in this form, this recipe) that seems to accentuate the flavor and aroma of the hops.

GIve it a try, @Brooothru. It's not going to produce a result that you will find displeasing, at least based on my limited experience. And since it's gluten free (or virtually so), your wife might like it.

As for me, I'm going to do a little experimenting with it. I have an excellent sort of Amber/Bitter beer that right now is terrific. It's malty, full-bodied, and an alcohol content of 6.7 percent. I wonder what ClarityFerm will do for that.

PS: Shoot--we crossed posts on this. I was writing it as you posted yours.
 
Top