During Boston Beer Week the BeerAdvocate sponsored tours and jousts at many a favorite watering hole. Speciality brews were released to make the rounds of the Boston beer scene. One beer social was held at the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain. Guests were allowed to sample ten out of fifteen speciality brews being offered at the taps. Outstanding food on biodegradable bamboo plates prepared by Fork Lifts of Somerville was at hand to stave off the hungeries as we sampled the choice inebriates. Some of the fare from Fork Lifts included pork rolls, felafel, and sausage bratwursts in beer mustard made with one of the beers on tap.

The first beer I tried was Speciality 129. It was piney and uses Japanese kusu to add a grapefruit note. White Water IPA was smokier than I expected. The hop character and smokey note was a great combination with the pulled pork sandwich. The Cherry Wheat on tap was not as Robotussiney as I remembered from the bottle and quite drinkable, but not my favorite as it has a bit too much syrupy fruit for my palate. Alpine Spring, easily found at “the packie” this year, is not quite an IPA and not quite a White Wheat. It’s kind of an unfiltered IPA with pronounced citrus notes, and was very good with the felafel. Fork Lifts felafel was tasty, to be sure, but without yogurt sauce, one needed something to wash it down, and Alpine Spring fit the belch nicely. The meaty goodness of the pulled pork needed a stronger beer to pair with and Griffin’s Bow worked nicely.
Griffin’s Bow, OMG – if you can get this on tap, go for it – it is awesome. So much better than from the bottle, and I believe it’s because of the “beer gas.” Griffin’s Bow is a barley wine – a very strong beer that can be casked for years as it ages. An American barley wine differs in hop character from its English ancestor in that the typical English version is more well rounded and lower in alcohol. In the case of Griffin’s Bow a product called “beer gas” was used that apparently makes quite a difference in the character of the brew. Beer gas has nitrogen that brings out the caramel notes and toffee. The nitrogen plays differently on the palate than plain old carbon dioxide, bringing out the sweet notes. Chemistry class has never tasted so good.

Sam Adams Brewery

Of the others that I tried, Brick Red was good, normal, and mellow and a little watery so refreshing. Grumpy Monk was bitter and grassy and had quite a kick, but with the warmth of an IPA, so I’m not sure why that monk is grumpy. It’s a good beer. The Rochbier was bonfire aged. Very sweet and smokey and paired well with the sausage bratwursts. Norse Legend was surprisingly well rounded and even toned. It is the only Sahti I’ve ever had, so I had nothing to compare it to. That said, it has notes of juniper, raisin, and peat, and has a complex palette. Woodsy and salty at the same time. It was very drinkable. Pour up a horn for reading the Poetic Edda’s by firelight, watching the new television series Vikings or playing Skyrim.
Towards the end of the event, Jim Koch came out without a lot of fanfare and stood by the brew kettles to pick the raffle winners. He offered up a small speech and talked about how 29 years ago the Boston Wort Processors Brew Club started the beer revolution. Boston is the envy of the beer drinking world in the US, he said. I don’t know if I agree with that, but I do think Boston knows how to serve a fine brew.