Friday, August 19, 2011

Brewery Tour Stop 2: Blue Hills Brewery

Located in Canton MA, you’ll pass by this place without realizing it. It’s located in a small, easily unnoticed building consisting of 4 or 5 small businesses. Look for the circular brown sign in the middle of the building.

We walked into a fairly dark room that is part tasting room, part office. There’s a small bar, a few stools, a cooler/refrigerator with beers for sale, and some press for the brewery adorning the wall. It doesn’t seem like they do tours here, but that’s no sweat off my back.

Two men stood behind the bar. Both were friendly. One of them sporting a bright, fire-engine red button down shirt with the sleeves ripped off. His accent matched his shirt. Comical. The other guy seemed like the owner.

I heard this place gets busy at times, but there was only a young couple at the bar when we were there. They donned a camera and note book, and handed me their business card, and on the back, written in pencil, was the name of their blog - “Squirrel Farts”. I thought, “Darn! They got the Squirrel Farts moniker before I did”. Not really.

We tasted 4 beers. First was their Wampatuck Wheat. Despite its mediocre score on BA it really hit the spot for me. I expected a serviceable, thirst-quenching summer wheat brew. It was quenching, but also quite flavorful with notes of wheat grass, banana spice, and lemon. I enjoyed it more than I expected. 

Next, we tasted the Watermelon Wampatuck Wheat. The owner mentioned this was their best seller in the summer. I can see how. Throw watermelon flavoring in anything and watch the masses eat it up. I love watermelon as much as the next guy, but this was not for me. The watermelon notes ruined the base beer that I adored moments ago.

The Anti-Matter pale ale was next, which is the second release in the brewery’s single-malt-single-hop series. This one uses Vienna malt and Calypso hops. It’s a golden brew that’s supposed to offer subtle notes of pear and apple peel. I didn’t quite get that. Overall, this brew didn't impress me. My wife liked it, however, and I do like the concept of the series. Try it for yourself and form your own opinion. I see it in bottle shops often.

Lastly was Black Hops. FLASHBACK: I’ve had this beer before. In the wave of all the new “black IPAs” and hoppy black ales that have sprouted over the past year or two, I immediately thought this was a hoppy black ale. Given its name, I think that’s a fair assumption. I remember liking the brew, but noticing that it wasn’t too hoppy at all. The bottle was fresh so I couldn’t blame age on the absence of hops. I just chalked it up as a tasty brew that lacked the abundance of hops I expected for the style.

BACK TO PRESENT: The owner mentions Black Hops isn’t striving to be a “black IPA”, and that it’s actually more of a schwarzbier. OK, that makes a hell of a lot more sense given what I tasted. They should consider renaming it because, NEWS FLASH – all the beer geeks are saying it’s a black IPA and judging it as one. There’s probably been some unfair criticism due to that. Anyway, this SCHWARZBIER is a little sweet, but good. Notes of baker’s chocolate are noticeable as well as subtle notes of Baileys Irish Cream. It drinks more like a sweet porter or stout.

In the end, I recommend the Black Hops and the original Wampatuck Wheat.

Is visiting Blue Hills Brewery a riveting experience? No. But do you like sampling local beer, being able to talk to the owner, and supporting a small, honest craft brewer trying to make a name for itself?

So do I.

Tastings at Blue Hills Brewery:
Friday: 3:30 – 6:30PM
Saturday: 2:00 – 6:00PM

1020 Turnpike Street #3B
Canton, MA 02021

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