Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Boston Beer Weekend

On Friday, in an effort to do my small part to support the city of Boston, I declared it Boston Beer Weekend. That is, I decided to only drink beers brewed in and around Boston for the entire weekend.

Of course, I was well aware I could make little difference on my own. At least not anymore. Those folks who organized the Last Half Mile Bar Crawl—while supporting Boston breweries was hardly their point—probably consumed more Sam Adams and Harpoon IPA in their first 15 minutes than the quantity of beer I put down the entire weekend.

But, it's the thought that counts. Right? I suppose it's possible (i.e. doubtful) others followed my lead, but that didn't matter to me. The point is I made an effort.

Of course, there are only three breweries within the actual city limits of Boston and two of them are Samuel Adams and Harpoon. So, I knew right from the start I was going to have to stretch my definition of what constitutes the Boston area a bit.

I kicked off my efforts on Friday with a 25-ounce bottle of Oasis IPA, from Everett's Night Shift Brewing. A Belgian IPA brewed with coriander and cardamom, as well as Cascade hops, it was the combination of coriander and Cascade that intrigued me. Although the spices really dominated this one, and there was minimal evidence of the glorious citrusy nature of my favorite type of hops, both KJ and I really enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars (out of 5) on untappd, although I still think the idea has 4.5-5 star potential.

On Saturday night, I headed to the Red Sox-Astros game at Fenway with my pal DJ, whom I hadn't seen in about two years. Somewhat coincidentally, that was almost as long as the time since my last major league game.

DJ and I met up at Kenmore Square's Lower Depths prior to the game. I got started with a 14-ounce draft of Slumbrew's Rising Sun. Untappd characterizes it as a dampfbier, a Bavarian style I'll admit I've never heard of. Literally translated as "steam beer," the style is quite similar to the California common, to my knowledge the only indigenous American beer style in existence. The main difference between the two styles being the German version is brewed with ale yeast fermented at warm temperatures, while the American version—which would be called steam beer if Anchor Brewing Company hadn't trademarked their flagship brand, Anchor Steam years ago—is fermented with lager yeast at room temperature.

Rising Sun was solid (3.5 stars), although a little on the sweet (but not cloying) side, and my taste leans more towards better balanced brews. Still, I'd call it a fine alternative to wheats and Belgian whites as spring attempts to transition to summer. My next choice, however, was a bit disappointing.

On cask, they had Ipswich IPA dry hopped with Zythos. I've had plenty of Ipswich IPA and have always been a fan of the brewery, so the prospect of a slight variation, and on cask no less, intrigued me. What I got was nothing like what I expected. Up front, it tastes like hard liquor and there's very little evidence of hops in the after-taste. In hindsight, I probably should have asked if I was served the wrong beer, but it was the only one they had on cask and I saw my server pour it. I rated it 2.5 stars, but probably would've gone lower if it didn't grow on me a little by the bottom of the pint.

I stopped after those two, which means I didn't "take advantage" of any of Fenway's newish $9 craft offerings. Fenway probably has a better selection than Yankee Stadium—at least they don't have a stand called a "beer mixology destination"—but both are among the worst in all of MLB.

The game was interesting enough considering the Astros were involved. Here are a few highlights and observations from my perspective:
  • I recognized only four players in Houston's starting lineup: Jose Altuve, Brandon Laird, Chris Carter, Ronnie Cedeno. Both Carlos Pena and Rick Ankiel came off the bench to pinch hit, though.
  • I could swear Stephen Drew's walk-up song was the musical intro to Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road." Later I figured it was probably either a cover of the song or a total ripoff.
  • The Astros are so bad that, although they trailed by only a 5-2 margin in the 7th, I was convinced they had no chance of winning.
  • Daniel Bard made an 8th inning appearance, walking two batters on 9 or 10 pitches and was subsequently pulled.

Finally, during the game DJ asked for my top-five all-time Astros. I couldn't exactly rank them from memory, although the names I rattled off included the first four below, as well as Jose Cruz and Jim Wynn, and a requisite mention of Nolan Ryan and Joe Morgan:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Roy Oswalt
  4. Cesar Cedeno
  5. Lance Berkman
Other suggestions I received when I shared this list on Twitter: Derek Bell and Ken Caminiti. I'm assuming those folks weren't serious.

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