Rich Kelter has been instrumental in transforming Kappy’s at Wellington Circle into one of Metro North’s premier retailers of craft brews, local or otherwise. Once again, the “package store” hosted a hyper-local tasting event on Sat., March 9th. Nine local brewers were represented, pouring a total of 34 brews. The place was – you guessed it – “hopping”; I was able to snag the last spot in the overflowing parking lot. Though crowded, the event could be navigated with little hassle – the crowd ever polite and eager to hear the brewers and their reps explaining the plethora of styles being presented. The level of creativity, diversity and experimentation in the craft brew scene today is nothing short of amazing. If you’re a fan of craft brews, you already know this; if you’re not, then you should – for this is one of the most dynamic areas in the world of food and beverage today. The brewers on hand for the event were Cambridge Brewing Co. (Cambridge), Enlightenment Ales (Lowell), Idle Hands (Everett), Jack’s Abbey (Framingham), Mayflower Brewing (Plymouth), Mystic Brewing (Boston), Night Shift Brewing (Everett), Pretty Things (Boston) and Slumbrew (Somerville). Though I didn’t sample a brew I didn’t like, some stood out. My short list –
- Like my colleague Katrin, sipping Sancerre amid the retreating snow cover and longing for spring, I too was looking for a seasonal quaff. I found it at Mayflower Brewing – “Spring Hop”, a red ale loaded with hops but with enough malt to keep extreme bitterness at bay. (Disclaimer – I am not a hop-head.) Spree day is just around the corner!
- Though their bottle art is always compelling, the beer itself always seals the deal with Pretty Things. The latest product – “Lovely Saint Winefride” – is an outstanding example of craft brew creativity. Dann Paquette has brewed a “brown” lager – which really isn’t a beer style at all – but which enabled him to create a malty lager. Extremely delicious!
- The only cream ale I’d ever heard of – but hadn’t tasted – was Genesee’s – but that was not what this next beer was. “My Better Half”, a cream ale from Slumbrew, is a perfect mash-up of lager and ale. After the beer is brewed, half is fermented as a lager, half as an ale (different yeasts, different fermentation temperatures) and then blended with outstanding results. Now I know what cream ale can be.
- My number one pick for the event was “Enlightenment Brut”, a totally unique brew from Enlightenment Ales. Brewmaster Ben Howe creates, as he says, “urban farmhouse” beers. “Enlightenment Brut” is a Bière de Champagne, a style not brewed in America. Brewed in the style of a Belgian Strong golden ale, the beer is then treated as champagne, undergoing bottle-conditioning using the traditional mèthode champenois – refermentation, riddling and disgorgement. The result is a beer that tastes like champagne (or is it a champagne that tastes like beer) Either way, I was impressed.
Kappy’s 10 Revere Beach Parkway Medford MA