7.5% ABV on tap and from a bomber
The east coast gets derided for making mediocre IPAs, “incorrect” IPAs, and perhaps rightly so, but a few weekends ago I stumbled across two New England gems while in Boston. I was ostensibly in town to watch the Yankees rock the Red Sox in front of scads of pink Sawx hatted fans at Fenway, but my #1 (nonverbalized) goal for my traveling party was to actually make my first trip ever over to The Publick House to try their recent and much ballyhooed inspired collaboration with Wachusett.
Located right off the slow-(and-Caucasian)-as-sin T stop in Brookline, The Publick House is a beautifully large bar loaded with mostly Belgian taps and bottles, attentive bartenders, a surprisingly packed and good-looking (non-beer geek, thank god!) crowd, a very solid artisan cheese-laden food menu (the mac and cheese is particularly divine), and plenty of space for quiet contemplation of expensive beers. It surely deserves mention on the short list of the east coast’s best beer bars alongside Blind Tiger and Rattle ‘n’ Hum in NYC, Monks in Philly, and Churchkey and Paradiso in DC.
I was bursting with excitement when I saw the Larry tap, having read much online about this newish and somewhat under the radar release stacking up to the best of the west coast’s IPAs. I’m not sure if that’s completely true, but this is an enormous winner. I’d had a few so-so offerings from Wachusett in the past, and though they were accomplished enough, there was nothing to show me those Massachusetts boys had this kind of greatness in them. Larry has an insanely floral and piny nose and the taste is straight tropical citrus with mild bitterness. A nice underlying hint of sweetness that really ties the beer together like Lebowski’s rug. A mild carbonation and just incredibly juicy, this one goes down quick and easy, I loved every sip of it. This has surely got to be the east coast’s best overall IPA.* I liked it so much I had several glasses and then the next day visited the Publick House’s terrific beer shop next door, PH Provisions, where I loaded up on as many Larry bombers as I could carry. Now I’m fretting where I can possibly get my Larry fix once my stash runs dry. Sure wish this had year round, coastal-wide (length?) distribution.
New England Gandhi-Bot
8.8% ABV canned
The next day I hit up The Publick House’s newest (American) craft venture down the street, American Craft fittingly, because nothing excites me more than spending a beautiful spring day drinking inside a mostly empty dark bar that still smells like the previous nights bacchanalia. There, I noticed a canned beer on the menu and, being semi-fetishistic toward canned craft beer, I ordered the tallboy which greeted me with one of the best and most amusing labels I’ve ever seen. Now I’ve never had anything from Connecticut’s New England Brewing Co. before other than their somewhat overrated and very trademark infringing Imperial Stout Trooper, but after enjoying immensely this beauty, I’m eager to try more of their (canned?) offerings. Gandi-Bot is another splendid “west coastish” IPA loaded with grapefruit and barely even a hint of a malt backbone. Prickly and extremely dry and bitter, a well-hidden 8.8% ABV, I truly enjoyed this beer but felt it just lacked a little something, a little uniqueness, to catapult it into the true masterpiece class. Nevertheless, well worth seeking out.
*OK, if I’m gonna say something so brash then I best try to compile my own list.
1. Smuttynose Finest Kind
2. Clipper City Hop3
3. Dogfish Head 60 Minute
4. Dogfish Head Aprihop
5. Victory Hop Devil
2. Brooklyn Blast
3. Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve
4. Southern Tier Unearthly
5. Smuttynose Big A
Two notes: I didn’t even consider Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute because, even though it’s a masterpiece, it’s a whole ‘nother beast. And, unfortunately, I’ve never had the much-lauded The Alchemist brewpub’s Heady Topper. I would gladly kill for you if you could send me a growler of it.
I’m sure I missed some. What’s your east coast top IPAs list look like?