Monday, May 27, 2013

Brewery Tour #20 - Mystic Brewery

Our last trip brought us to the bowels of Everett MA, visiting the creative suds from Night Shift Brewing, and the Belgian-inspired offerings from Idle Hands Craft Ales. If you’re apprehensive to visit that creepy area, there’s now another reason to go. Just 5 minutes away, in Chelsea, Mystic Brewing opened their doors to the public this past winter. Suddenly, within a 5 mile radius, you now have a mini beer tour at your fingertips.

Despite only recently opening their brewery’s doors to the public, Mystic has been selling beer close to two years now. Well, “brewery” isn’t the best word. Because there isn’t one on site. What they have is best referred to as a fermentorium. They brew wort (the first stage of brewing) offsite at another location, then truck it back to their abode in Chelsea to ferment, blend, and so on.

Centuries ago, brewers fermented beer by letting liquid from strained grains sit in barrels and open vats because there was a “mystical” ingredient, invisible to the naked eye, which magically brought the liquid to life. Commonly known today as yeast, it is this mystical ingredient – not the nearby river – that drives the meaning behind Mystic Brewery’s name. And yeast is also what makes the brewers at Mystic giddy.

You see, owners Bryan Greenhagen and his wife, Emily are both MIT-trained fermentation scientists. Isolating, cultivating, propagating, and otherwise toying with yeast strains is their passion. They’ll isolate a yeast strain from local plums, cranberries, blueberries from Maine, or from the surrounding air and land.

How’s it working for them? After tasting our fair share of their concoctions at the brewery, I’d say swimmingly. And “swimming” is also the appropriate word to describe how we felt as we left the brewery. The samples they provide are some of the most generous we’ve come across. Many seem well over the usual two ounces. And at our time of visit, they had approximately nine beers for sampling, most of which hover at or above 7% ABV. Be sure you have some food in your belly before you go. We didn’t, and it made the situation a bit funny.

As for the beers, Mysitc primarily makes saisons. And you’ll notice an assuring level of consistency across all of them. At the time of our visit, four out of the nine beers were saisons. A fifth saison was listed but had recently run dry. Two of the nine beers are “brewery-only” and not sold in stores. Those two available to us were both low-ABV session beers; one a “table” saison, and the other a “half IPA”. Both competed for top highlights of our visit.

The other beers consisted of “Three Cranes”, a cranberry saison; “An Dreoilin”, a winter saison; “Vinland One”, a tart wild ale using native yeast; “Saison Renaud”, their flagship pilsner-based saison; “Descendant”, a Belgian-style porter with molasses; “Lord Falconer”, an oatmeal stout; and “Day of Doom,” a 12% Belgian quad. 

The only misstep for my tastes was Day of Doom, as it lacked the necessary complexity expected in authentic Belgian quads. However, given that only one of the nine beers disappointed me is a testament to the consistent quality Mystic offers.

A tasting flight here is free. But, on Saturday at 1:00pm, pay just $6 and get: 1) a beautiful Mystic-branded goblet to take home, 2) a tour of the facility 3) a guided tour of the beers on tap and, 4) a contribution to local charities.

Mystic’s tasting room is one of the coolest tasting rooms around. It’s large and simple, but with a beautiful rustic look. Many elements are made of repurposed wood from a nearby scrap yard. The old world abbey-like wall tapestries, and the doors that look as if they came off the set of Lord of the Rings all add to the room’s coolness factor. Top it off with ample parking right on site and a vibe that practically invites you to hang out. Mystic Brewery is a must visit.

Mystic Brewery
174 Williams St.
Chelsea, Massachusetts, 02150
phone: (617) 800-9023

Tasting Room hours with free tasting flights:
Thursday 3:00 - 7:00 PM
Fridays 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Saturdays 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM