Boston Beer Company
Sam Adams came to the Growler & Gill, showing off its craft beer street cred rather than its mass market lager and light. Some people pooh pooh Sam Adams as “not really a craft beer” but these offerings show that they haven’t lost that part of their heritage.
A Double/Imperial IPA, new in their Rebel “family” along with the sessionable Rebel Rider and the original Rebel IPA. It’s intended to be an east coast contrast to the big west coast IPA, emphasizing aroma and flavor hops over bittering hops. Pours clear amber with a white head. The nose gives tropical hops over malt and toasted bread. The flavor is a balance of fruity hops and malt along with effervescence. Finish is much more balanced than I would expect from the 85 IBU. No heat despite 8.4% ABV. A nice balanced, strong IPA.
This is basically a dessert beer, making kind of an odd segue from the double IPA. However, the other beers are so heavy that it’s hard to fit an IPA into the sequence. This is a lager brewed on cocoa nibs. It pours straight black with a caramel-tan head which leaves great lacing. The aroma isn’t as strong as I might expect, but delivers chocolate and malt and chocolate malt. The flavor is sweet and toward the milkshake end of the spectrum, though not as much as Shake Porter. The finish continues the flavor with a tiny bit of hops. 5.8% ABV, 11 IBU
This is a Gingerbread Imperial Stout, a great cold-weather brew, and Boston has certainly had enough snow for it (what is it, eight feet?) It’s dark brown with a nice brief head. The nose and flavor lead with ginger and then nutmeg and other mulling spices come through. Dark malts give a lot of backbone, and they mention a bit of wheat in the grain bill. The hops are standard English, East Kent Golding and Fuggles, kept very much in check. Here’s a brew to savor in a snifter or tulip by the fireplace . . . if only I had a fireplace. 9% ABV, 25 IBU
Black Harbor Stout
Apparently a one-off, aged in Utopia barrels and gaining aromas of oaky vanilla and almost a bourbon impression. Pours black with an off-white head. The flavor gives coffee, chocolate, and a zing of black pepper on the end. The mouth feel is thinner than most Imperial Stouts, but that means it’s easier drinking. However, it packs a punch at 11% ABV but the alcohol heat is moderate. It will be nice if they bring this around again.
It’s a full-bore Doppelbock, a very rich and malty lager that could come from the Belgian-German border. Pours reddish-brown with a generous head (mind the pour or you’ll have generous foam on the bar) which thoroughly laces the glass. This starts with molasses and toast on a very malty nose, then the flavor gives caramel and bread, with a bit of hop dryness to contrast with the sweet flavor. 9.5% ABV, 25 IBU