Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta

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Look at any crowd-sourced list of top beers in the world, and you'll basically find an accounting of the best Double IPAs and Russian Imperial Stouts in the world. On Beer Advocate, you have to get to Fou' Foune at #15 before you reach something that's not a DIPA or RIS. Ratebeer isn't quite as bad, with only 7 imperial stouts in the top 10. The commonality here is high alcohol, which generally means intensity, which generally makes more of an impression than a delicate, nuanced pilsener or something. Heck, I'm as guilty as anyone, and the A level archives of this blog are littered with high alcohol brews (though I do seem to have at least a little more variation in terms of style, even if there are plenty of DIPAs and Imperial Stouts). This is a drastic simplification for effect, of course, but the point is that beer nerds love them some high alcohol brews.

Which is why it's kinda funny that Lost Nation doesn't really make any of those. They're from Vermont, so they do have some hoppy beers, but they tend to be lower alcohol IPAs like Lost Galaxy (which I'd probably term a straight up Americal Pale Ale, but still), clocking in at 4.8% ABV. Their flagship Gose hits the same ABV. Indeed, their highest ABV beer is the one we're reviewing today, Lamoille Bretta, with a whopping 6% ABV. And yet, it's a beautiful, flavorful beer, and while it might seem like Lost Nation is bucking a trend, it's also something of a beer nerd trend. Session IPAs are all over the place these days (again, they're kinda just APAs, but still) and Gose's soaring popularity partly due to it's easy drinking nature. Once Americans realized how much they could annoy their British friends by claiming that a 4.6% ABV beer was a session beer, it just took off even further. But seriously, it turns out that not every beer has to melt your face, and more and more people have been coming around to that notion. Revolutionary, I know.

Anywho, this is Lost Nation's straight up Saison Lamoille that has been dosed with Brettanomyces and it's a pretty damn good attempt:

Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta

Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta - Cork nearly took off my hand, I hadn't even finished undoing the cage when it exploded out of the bottle. Was worried about a gusher, but no, thankfully all was fine. Pours a nice yellow gold color with several fingers of fluffy, large bubbled head that sticks around for quite a while (I could see this coming and poured extra slow, so as to prevent a glass consisting mostly of head). Smells beautiful, starts off with dusty, musty farmhouse funk, with some more traditional spicy Belgian yeast, followed by a nice fruity kick. Taste hits that musty farmhouse funk early on, some earthiness, Belgian yeast spice, followed by some more fruity esters coming out to play, lightly tart fruit. Not hugely funky, but a well balanced amount. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, crisp, and very dry. Light to medium bodied, just enough to offset the massive amounts of carbonation. Overall, this is pretty special stuff, an improvement over the base, and something I need to try again. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a charente glass on 6/26/15. Bottle: 441 - B5.

This has been my favorite Lost Nation beer yet, and there's sadly only one remaining (and even more sad, I already drank it! I will get to it soon enough). I'm excited to return there and purchase more of their gloriously low ABV beer (also, apparently some proper glassware, as they keep informing me on twitter).

Foley Brothers Fair Maiden

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Most of the attention of the Vermont beer scene is laser focused on Heady Topper, Lawson's, and Hill Farmstead. For the most part, this attention is well deserved, but it also means that a lot of other Vermont beers fly under the radar. The goal of Vermont Beer Roulette, wherein I purchase beers I've never heard of, is to unearth some of these hidden gems. It's happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again. Foley Brothers is a brewery discovered in the original Operation Cheddar, and I really enjoyed their Native Brown Ale. Their Native IPA, not quite as much, but I still had high hopes for Fair Maiden, their new(ish?) Double IPA.

Alas, despite being generally well received, it's not a beer that I connected with, though it's certainly possible that I got an older bottle (the bottle had no freshness dates on it that I could find). It wasn't terrible or anything, just disappointing. I do think that at least part of the reason some of the other VT IPAs are so well regarded is that they are almost always consumed fresh, usually absurdly so. Given that I saw this on multiple shelves all over the state, I have to wonder how long it sat there... Well, let's take a closer look.

Foley Brothers Fair Maiden

Foley Brothers Fair Maiden Double IPA - Pours a golden color, almost orange, with a finger of white head. Smells sugary sweet, with some citrus and pine hops in play, some biscuity malt too. It's a nice nose at first, but it doesn't last. Taste is also pretty sweet, lots of crystal malt character, citrus and pine hops, a little smack of bitterness in the finish. As it warms, the sweetness rises and the hop character falls off. I suspect this is showing some age (not a ton, but enough to impact the beer). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and a little sticky, getting stickier as it warms (a 12 ounce bottle may have fared better in this review). Overall, it's a straightforward DIPA, but it doesn't compare to the VT competition (and it's probably similar to a gazillion other things). It's a decent enough pour, but not something worth going nuts over. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.2% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/27/15.

I guess they can't all be winners. I may be induced to take another flyer on Foley Bros stuff in the future, but at this point, I may look to further explore some other breweries...

Trillium Vicinity

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The one brewery visit during Operation Chowder was Trillium, in downtown Boston, after which we stopped next door at a neat little oyster bar and beer purveyor called Row34. They have a pretty solid tap list, so obviously they cozied up to their neighbors for some exclusive suds. It turns out that, as Trillium describes it, their "walk-the-kegs-across-the-alley proximity" is quite convenient. To celebrate Row34's one year anniversary last fall, Trillium brewed a hopped up Double IPA called Vicinity (get it?) I have it on good authority that it's hopped primarily with Galaxy, though Citra and Columbus play a supporting role. It proved popular enough that they made it again and bottled it. Near as I can tell, this bottle is actually from the third batch, so it must be really popular. After tasting it, I believe I have found some support for this hypothesis, but I'll say further observations are required (i.e. I want moar!)

Trillium Vicinity

Trillium Vicinity Double IPA - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of white, fluffy head. Smells amazing, huge citrus aromas, mangoes and tropical fruit galore, sweet, almost candied fruit, just a fabulous nose. Taste is a little more dank than the nose would have you believe, lots of fruity citrus and resinous pine, some crystal malt providing a nice background and caramel interplay with the piney hops, nice dry bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, and a little dry. Overall, this is a fantastic little number with a breathtaking nose (seeing a theme here with Trillium and aroma) and a rockin body. Er, that sounded hotter than intended, but then, well, yeah. It's pretty hot (in a metaphorical sense, not in a boozy or spicy sense, jeeze, what's wrong with me, how am I still writing here, do people even read these tasting notes, I don't think they do, I'm using a lot of commas here when they should really be periods but I'm pretty sure no one's reading so why should I care, the beer's really good, you should try it if you get the chance. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/19/15. Bottled: 5/19/15.

So basically, if you find yourself in Boston, head over to Congress street, wait in line to get some growlers of Trillium beer, then stop in at Row34 for some refreshments. You will be a happy camper.

Jack's Abby Framinghammer(s)

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One of the unexpected treasures secured during Operation Cheddar III was a trio of Jack's Abby beers I never thought I'd see just sitting on a shelf. We're fans of Jack's Abby here at Kaedrin, if only because they force us to reconsider our prejudice against lagers (something I've been working on of late). Oh yeah, and their beer is actually quite good, and often not just in a It's good... for a lager way. They actually just started sending some beer down Philly way, gauging interest for a full blown distribution push once additional capacity comes on line at their brewery (fingers crossed that we met whatever swanky criteria they were expecting), but this line of Baltic Porters were scarce (if they shewed up here at all, I don't really remember) and I never got a taste.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the base beer and several barrel aged variants sitting on a shelf in VT. What makes these suckers special? Well, Baltic Porters are an interesting style, something of a hybrid between a Russian Imperial Stout and Porter, these were quite popular along the ports of the Baltic Sea. According to Jack's Abby, while the original British brews were ales, the Baltic breweries tended to make lagers. Yeast wasn't particularly well understood at the time, so they just used their familiar lager yeast to make a big, bold porter, and that's what Jack's Abby (primarily lager brewers) is doing here. Come to think of it, I don't know of any other commercial brewery doing such sorcery, so good on them. I've had a few Baltic Porters in my day, but they always seem to suffer in comparison to RIS in my mind.

That being said, my interest was piqued when I spied the barrel aged versions, one straight up, and the other including an addition of vanilla. There was also a coffee BA version, but I left that for those enterprising VT beer nerds with more of a taste for coffee than I. Rumor has it that the original batch of these suckers were aged in Weller Antique barrels (a fine bourbon on the endangered species list because everyone calls them Pappy substitutes - stop doing that guys!), though who knows if this most recent batch carries the same provenance? I decided to make a night of it and drink all three back to back, perhaps not my wisest decision ever, but given that I've practically been drowning in IPAs and saisons of late, I thought this would be a welcome respite from hops and farmhouse funk (Not that I don't appreciate those amazing beers, just that it's good to change things up from time to time). So how good are Baltic Porters brewed with lager yeast? Pretty damn good, if you ask me:

Jacks Abby Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Framinghammer - Pours a very deep, dark brown, almost black color with a finger of light brown head that sticks around a while. Smells of roasted malts, cocoa, molasses, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. Taste starts off very sweet, bits of caramel and vanilla up front, molasses and lots of cocoa in the middle, and hints of hoppy, bitter roast towards the finish. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, but smooth and a little rich, a full bodied sipper, to be sure, but well attenuated, even if it remains heavy (as it should be). Overall, my kind of Baltic porter, sweet with hints of roast, complex but approachable, very well done. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/20/15. Bottled: 2.3.15

Jacks Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer - Looks pretty much the same as the others, very dark brown, almost black, much less head and retention. Smell is more focused on carmamel and boozy bourbon, some of the cocoa and roast in the background. Taste is all rich caramel and bourbon, with some cocoa and roast for good measure. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, less than the base but more than the vanilla. Full bodied sipper, slightly boozy. Overall, a rock solid barrel aged beer, nice improvement over the base, complex and delicious. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 6/20/15. Bottled: 3.23.15 (I think, it got a wee bit smudged)

Jacks Abby Vanilla Barrel Aged Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Vanilla Barrel Aged Framinghammer - Looks just about the same as the base, very dark brown, almost black, slightly less head and less retention too. Smell is more focused on the caramel and vanilla than the regular or BA, and some bourbon makes an appearance as well, with the underlying cocoa and roast taking a back seat. The taste hits that rich caramel pretty hard and there's an explosion of vanilla soon after the start, very sweet, hints of roast and cocoa, but they're definitely overwhelmed by bourbon, oak, and heaping helpings of vanilla in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, still silky smooth, less carbonated (but still appropriate) and a little sticky, boozy feel as well. Overall, a nice improvement over the base, and my kinda BA porter. I'm actually finding it difficult to gauge this against the regular BA version though A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter glass on 6/20/15. Bottled: 3.26.15 (I think, it got a wee bit smudged)

Also worth noting that I did get a chance to try both the Cocoa-Nut Barrel Aged Framinghammer and Peanut Butter & Jelly Barrel Aged Framinghammer at ACBF during Operation Chowder. Tiny little samples, for sure, so it's hard to compare, but they were also excellent (and one of the highlights of the fest for me). I also snagged a bottle of Saxonator, their dopplebock and another style I'm not terribly up to speed on, so we'll probably get to that at some point this summer as well.

Switchback Citra-Pils

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I won't lie. Lagers have never really been my thing. Maybe it's because I drank entirely too much fizzy yellow stuff in my misbegotten youth and mass-produced adjunct lagers just ruined the flavor profile for me. However, we're capricious and whimsical here at Kaedrin, and as a result, I've had a couple of great experiences with lagers in the past month or so. Experience the first: At a local beeratorium, I tasked some friends with purchasing me a beer and not telling me anything about it. I made a pitstop, and when I came back, they gave me a glass filled with pale liquid. I sniffed it and immediately pegged it as a lager... but it turned out to be Captain's Kolsch (not technically a lager, but it certainly shares a flavor profile) and I genuinely enjoyed it (may review it sometime, but don't hold your breath). Experience the second was a glorious pint of Pivovar Kout Koutská 12° Dvanáctka from Operation Chowder. I mean, I'm not completely abandoning my typical rotation of Saison/IPA/Stout in favor of lagers and Kolsches, but it's nice to change things up every once in a while and get out of your comfort zone.

To that end, when in Vermont for Operation Cheddar III: Cheddar Harder, I took a flier on this Pilsener (or is it a Keller Bier? The label sez both!? Gah!) from Vermont stalwarts Switchback brewing. It starts off as a pretty typical Pilsener; lots of pale malt and Saaz hops. The curve ball here is that after the traditional 6 week lagering period (i.e. cold conditioning after fermentation), Switchback dry hopped with Citra and more Saaz. The result is a nice little compromise between an IPA and Pilsener, well worth checking out if you get the chance, even if it won't make you fall down and see God.

Switchback Citra-Pils

Switchback Citra-Pils - Pours a gorgeous, clear, almost radiant yellow gold color with a finger of fluffy white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells of clean, grassy, hay-like hops with plenty of citrus making itself known. As it warms, more of the typical Saaz herbal and spicy hop notes come through too. Taste starts off very clean, with just a hint of hops that intensifies through the finish, where you get some more traditional lager-like character and some hop bitterness. Taste is more Saaz than Citra, lots of spicy and herbal notes, but there's enough Citra to make it feel like I'm not drinking anything close to a typical adjunct lager. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied up front and thinning out in the backend, certainly quaffable stuff. Overall, I really enjouyed this beer and am glad I made the stretch. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 6/19/15. No date on bottle, but it was first sold in May 2015, so this was reasonably fresh.

I enjoyed this more than their normal flagship Switchback Ale, and would love to check out more from these folks. Perhaps we'll snag something during the imminent Operation Cheddar IV: Smoked Cheddar.

Lost Nation Gose

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Can it be that I've never actually reviewed a Gose? Or is it that I was just too lazy to actually add the category and that's why I can't find it? It's pretty obviously the latter, but in my defense, they've only been in posts like beer clup recaps or epic Tired Hands roundups. All of which is to say that Gose is the new hotness and while I've had a few in my day, I've been woefully neglectful of this trendy style.

So what's the big deal? Well, it seems like some old-timey German rebels gave the finger to Johnny Reinheitsgebot* and brewed a wheat beer with added salt and coriander, inoculated the abomination with lactobacillus (though I'm guessing this was more of a spontaneous fermentation than an addition, at least in the early days of brewing), and targeted the 4-5% ABV range. To my heretical American palate, it feels related to something like a Berliner Weisse or Grätzer, and it also seems like the style appeared out of nowhere in the past couple years. Indeed, it had been laboring under obscurity for several decades and has only recently seen a revival, both in Germany and elsewhere. Like, say, Vermont!

This example comes to us from our new friends at Lost Nation brewing, and it appears to be their flagship beer, which is a pretty good indicator that the revival of Gose is in full swing...

Lost Nation Gose

Lost Nation Gose - Pours a pale yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells a little brackish and spicy, hints of fruity esters. Taste has that same brackish quality, slightly salty, a little bit of spice, coriander, maybe hints of clove, and a nice slightly lemony tartness. Mouthfeel is where it's at, well carbonated, light bodied, quaffable, refreshing, pleasantly salty. Overall, it's a perfect summer beer on a really hot night, crisp and refreshing, tasty but not ridiculously overpowering. I didn't really pair this with anything, but I imagine it going well with seafood, crabs, perhaps especially oysters... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/12/15. Canned: 05/23/15. Can also sez: IT'S A TRAP, whatever that means (batch code?)

Man, I regret not getting more cans of this (I split the 4 pick with two other people, and only got this one lonely can). Anywho, I've finally added the category to the blog, and I think you can expect to see a few more of these in the coming months... Indeed, I've even got another Lost Nation variant that I had a taste of before... look for a review soon enough! And maybe my next trip to Lost Nation will yield more yummy goodies.

* Supposedly there was some sort of exception for "regional specialties" and it could also be that something about the water used for the beer gave it the salty character. Or something. Johnny Reinheitsgebot must not have been as bloodthirsty as previously assumed.

June Beer Club

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Beer club was tonight! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and fun. Astute observers will notice that we skipped the month of May, which primarily came down to laziness and the fact that a couple of key attendees were embarking on Operation Cheddar/Chowder. That said, our triumphant return was quite the success, good attendance, great beer, and some rather fine sushi.

June Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each are below. As usual, these are mostly from memory because I'm not a total dick and was socializing at the time, so take these impressions with a gigantic nugget of salt or something. Here goes, in order of drinking, not necessarily how they appear in the photo:

  • Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA - This must be the gazillionth time this has made an appearance at beer club, but it made for a nice warm up beer for the folks who arrived early. B+
  • Evil Genius Shut Up, Meg! - Evil Genius is this weird brewery that seems to always be mentioned as a PA brewery, yet they brew all their stuff in Connecticut. Also, almost all of their beers have pup culture reference names, such as this obvious reference to Family Guy. It's a pretty straightforward Belgian farmhouse ale or saison with a hint of hoppy goodness added in for character. Nothing particularly special and suffers in comparison to much better executed examples of the style (which we'll get to in a moment). B
  • Troegs / Appalachian / Pizza Boy (717) Collaboration - Slightly more interesting than Shut Up, Meg!, this one had a similar feel, but it was a little more tart and hoppy focused. Still not going to light the world on fire, but it was decent enough. B
  • Jester King Das Wunderkind! Saison - Ah, now this is more like it. A beer that shares certain characteristics with the above two beers, but is wholly better. It's a funky saison with a light tartness and a nice dry hopped citrus nose. Really pleasant and refreshing, a great summer beer. I really should try to track down more Jester King! B+
  • Hill Farmstead Dorothy - I'm not sure what precipitated this run on hoppy farmhouse ales, but this is certainly the high point in the style (at least, with tonight's entries) and represents a wonderful balance between spicy saison and citrusy hops. Really a beautiful beer that I will most certainly be revisiting in more detail soon enough! A-
  • Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip Of Sunshine - Hey, didn't I just write about this? Of course I did. A-
  • Scotchy, Scotchy, Scotch, Get In My Belly - A friend's homebrew, and it's a fantastic little Scotch ale aged on Scotch soaked oak chips. Really nice Scotch wiskey flavor, but not overpowering the malt backbone, which has a nice caramel and toffee character, accentuated by the Scotch and hint of oak. I've yet to have a homebrew that really gets at the really great barrel character, but this is still quite nice! B+
  • Rock Art Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale - An interesting contrast to the previous beer, a little darker and with more barrel character, but with substantially more carbonation that almost ruins the beer. I'm pretty sensitive to carbonation issues, and that usually means something being undercarbonated, but in the case of a Scotch ale, I usually expect something smooth and rich, and this was effervescent and not quite as rich as it could have been. Certainly not bad at all, but a bit of a disappointment. B
  • Fiddlehead Tejas Marron - Yup, another VT beer I recently reviewed, it perhaps does not fare so well in a tasting scenario as it does on its own, but it's still quite nice. B+
  • Forest & Main Paradisaeidae - Alright fine, it's another beer I recently reviewed, but it's a really good one worth sharing.B+
  • Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA - Yet another beer we'd had before at beer club, and one I do not particularly care for. My feelings have not changed at all, and if anything, I'm less forgiving of this beer than I was last time. I must not be that big of a fan of jasmine... C
  • Shiner Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout - Man, this thing has an absolutely amazing nose. Lots of chocolate brownie character, really sublime. Alas, the taste doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the nose, lots of chocolate, but really thin, almost watery, very disappointing. An imperialized version of this might work wonders, but we're left with something in the middle of the road. B
And that just about covers it. Another successful beer club, and I'm already looking forward to next month's edition...

Of the holy triumvirate of Vermont breweries, Lawson's Finest Liquids seems to be the most difficult to find. The past couple years, I've been lucky enough to snag a few bottles of Double Sunshine IPA, a truly fantastic and highly sought after Double IPA. I can't really complain about that, but I'm also a novelty whore and I really wanted to try more of their wares. During the latest Operation Cheddar, I managed to get a taste of Super Session IPA #2 (and maybe another variant in that series, though I'm not sure which one), which was welcome. At ACBF, I managed about 5 ounces of their beer, including a truly glorious taste of Triple Sunshine, and some decent Rhubarb Basil Saison too. But 1-2 ounce tasters don't really satisfy, not like the snickers of beer (which I guess in this context means a full pour, bottles, or cans. Alright fine, it was a poor analogy and I don't even particularly care for Snickers. I'm more of a Twix man. What were we talking about?)

Recently though, it looks like Lawson's has established a flagship beer, a Double IPA called Sip of Sunshine that is planned to be available year-round. Yes, they really seem to enjoy drinking sunshine at Lawson's. To make this possible, Sean Lawson travels to Connecticut once a month to brew a very large batch at Two Roads brewing, packaging them in handsome 16 ounce cans for good measure. These seem to be much more widely available than anything else I've seen, and while I only picked up two 4 packs during my recent trip, I could have probably bought a full case if I wanted to. This is excellent news, though I'm really hoping that my triumphant return to Vermont in early July means I'll be able to snag a different bottle from Lawson's. Otherwise, I might just have to settle for more Sip of Sunshine. The horror!

Lawsons Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine

Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip Of Sunshine - Pours a mostly clear golden orange color with a finger of creamy white head. Smells fantastic, sugary sweet citrus, fruit, and some resinous pine. Taste is very sweet, some crystal malt hanging around, but the dank, citrusy hops are the real star here, some pine and bitterness emerging in the finish. Feels a little more dank and resinous than Heady, but it's not a pine bomb either. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, hints of sticky resin but not at all boozy, drinking like a lighter ABV beer. Overall, it's not Double Sunshine, but it's up there and certainly contends. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/12/15. Canned: 05/06/15.

Fingers crossed that I can find some other variety of Lawson's on the forthcoming Vermont trip, but I certainly won't complain about scoring more of this stuff.

Trillium Double Feature

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This brewery is named after the Trillium, a perennial flowering plant native to North America. Translating to "three parted lily", it is often associated with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (because of its three flowers as part of one plant) and perhaps due to its early medicinal use among Native Americans, some think it symbolizes American durability and balance. The Boston homebrewer-turned-pro JC Tetreault (Interestingly, his blog from homebrewing days is still online) thinks it symbolizes what he's attempting to achieve with his brewery.

I had the great fortune of stopping in at their brewery during Operation Chowder to pick up some bottles. It's a neat little place, located in Boston proper, they appear to have crammed a lot into a rather small space (including what appear to be quite a few barrels, which is pretty exciting). The retail shop is really only for selling bottles and growlers (apparently in their early days, they would serve beer there, but as their popularity waxes, they have to keep that line moving), and I was happy to snag a handful of such. They recently announced plans to open a new, larger facility, so here's to hoping these beers become more plentiful.

What we're covering today is Congress Street IPA (guess what street the brewery is located on?), which appears to be a Columbus and Galaxy hopped wonder. Then we've got a "Super Saison" dry hopped with Centennial hops called Sunshower. Both are music to my earballs, so let's dive in:

Trillium Congress Street IPA

Trillium Congress Street IPA - Pours a murky, cloudy light yellow color with a finger of white head (very in line with the Hill Farmsteads and Tired Hands IPAs of the world). Smells intensely of tropical fruit hops (Mosaic up in here? Nope, apparently that's Galaxy hops), almost like mango juice or something like that, a superb, amazing nose. Taste has a sweetness up front that quickly transitions to citrusy, fruity hops, less juicy than the nose would imply, a little dry bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, and refreshing, more highly attenuated and dry than expected, but really quite quaffable. Overall, rock solid IPA and it's holding its own despite my attempt to drown myself in hoppy Vermont beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/6/15. Bottled: 05/26/15.

Trillium Centennial Dry Hopped Sunshower

Trillium Centennial Dry Hopped Sunshower - Pours a mostly clear straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of peppery saison yeast, clove, coriander, with big floral notes and hints of citrus. Once again, the nose on this is absolutely beautiful and I could sniff this stuff all night. Taste follows the nose, lots of spicy saison yeast, pepper, and clove, hints of citrus peeking in towards the middle. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, lower medium bodied, smooth. Feels much lighter than an 8.5% ABV saison. Overall, this is very nice stuff. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/6/15. Bottled: 05/26/15.

Well that's quite a nice first impression. I have bottles of Vicinity Double IPA (which will almost certainly be consumed this weekend) and Trillium Saison (which may wait a bit, but will surely not be long for this world). And it's a place I will most certainly have to return to again someday (and maybe finally get some lunch/dinner at Row 34, as that place looks amazing).

Lost Galaxy

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During previous sorties into Vermont, I liked to play a little game I called Vermont Beer Roulette* wherein I would grab bottles of beer from a Vermont brewery that I'd never heard of before and try them out. This is how I discovered obscure breweries like Switchback, Foley Brothers, Bent Hill, and Crop Bistro.

So far, the most eye-opening random discovery of Operation Cheddar III: Cheddar Harder has been Lost Nation. The founders got their start at Von Trapp Brewing, then set out on their own with Lost Nation in 2012, releasing their first beers in 2013. They focus on "lesser known European beer styles" like Gose (a beer we'll get to soon enough!), but this is Vermont we're talking about here, so they have some hoppy offerings as well. This is a 4.8% Session IPA (a style I will forever call American Pale Ale) brewed with wheat and presumably hopped generously with Aussie Galaxy hops. I get the impression these are limited cans only available at the brewery, hence the nifty but clearly improvised can labels (Alchemist did something similar with early batches of Focal Banger), let's go in for a closer look:

Lost Nation Lost Galaxy

Lost Nation Lost Galaxy - Pours a very pale, clear yellow color with a finger of fluffy whitehead. Smells strongly of citrus hops with perhaps a note of slight spice to it, those nose certainly makes a nice first impression. Taste starts with those citrus hops, moving into a light spice (not belgian/saison spicy or anything like that, but something light and earthy) and a biting bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is very light bodied, almost watery (in, like, a good way), well carbonated, and quaffable. Should have sprung for more cans of this (I elected to split a 4 pack of this and the Gose with friends), as it's quite drillable. Overall, it's a great little session beer, light but tasty. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 6/7/15. Canned on 5/22/15. Can also sez: HEY MAN, presumably another batch code or perhaps they're just saying hi.

I am fortunate enough to have several other rather exciting beers on deck from Lost Nation and have indeed already cracked open my lonely can of Gose and taken some notes (which I may or may not get to this week - I'm behind on reviews for some unfathomable reason). I will most assuredly be returning to Lost Nation on the next Operation Cheddar trip, which may be happening sooner rather than later...

* A variant on my earlier game, Belgian Beer Roulette, where I simply find a Belgian beer I never heard of before and try it out.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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