With Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat Shuvah now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to prep for atonement and sukkah construction. What better way to do both than by enjoying a tasty beverage brewed in New England, either to get fully introspective (this week) or by serving in your sukkah (next week) to ushpizin, both real and imagined.
L’chaim, and gmar tov.
Jack’s Abby: Copper Legend
Channeling your inner Bavarian
If fall for you means nostalgia for Oktoberfests of yore in Bavaria, then you’re going to want a beer that pairs with that emotion…as well as with your pumpkin, squash, and cinnamon-inspired dishes. In general, I don’t love Oktoberfest beers; I find them to be mild, mellow, reddish, malty not hoppy, with a little spice, kind of like a gently upgraded American lager with a hint of harvest. But if you are having people over who want their beer to channel the cornucopia of fall, do them, and do yourself, a solid by grabbing a four-pack of Copper Legend, brewed in Framingham by Jack’s Abby.
Copper Legend pours a lazy reddish gold and drinks free and easy at 5.7% ABV, with a much cleaner and less artificial flavor than its peers as you make your way through it. Its color will remind you of hazy, warm sunshine in early fall, and goes down with a hint of nuttiness and a wafting aroma of delicate caramel and touch of spiciness at the very end. I can’t drink Oktoberfests too quickly, but if I could I’d probably keep this one handy.
Castle Island: Hi-Def
Go big or go home
Castle Island Brewery, located in Norwood, makes a nice, albeit limited, array of accessible beers, which you’ve probably seen thanks to the distinct cannon logo on their 16-ounce cans. Perhaps you’ve experienced their Candlepin, which is a 4.4% session that actually tastes decent, or maybe you’ve had their Keeper IPA (6.5%) or surprising-if-it’s-your-speed Swipe Ripe apricot double IPA (9%).
But new to you (and me) is the Hi-Def IPA, with a big island citrus flavor and a robust hop profile—the brewery cites tangerine, papaya, and mango, but to me it front-loads the papaya, hard, and then descends into grapefruit-mango-melon, in a quite pleasant sequence. No matter what tropical fruits you sniff out, it’s a double IPA that is very smooth and drinkable, and coming in at 8.4%, is far enough under 9% that it won’t be too rough on you the next morning, provided you only have one. Plus the colors on the can are beautiful and look like an alternate jersey for the Celtics. Which you should watch in HD. Do you see what I did there?
Night Shift: Awake
Dark, bittersweet, complicated
It’s not that I’m over IPAs, nor have they jumped the proverbial hoppy shark, but with cooler temperatures beckoning from October, I’m OK with leaving the citrus on the side and diving deep into a brooding, chocolatey porter. Awake, from Night Shift (which you may know thanks to Santilli) goes big with the flavor, as it is brewed with coffee beans, but at 6.7%, it’s well south of the imperial stout you might having lying around that clocks in way higher—I’m looking at you, and I’m ready for you in a few weeks, Warlock.
The experience of drinking this beer starts with the gorgeous can, and continues through the aroma of rich mocha when you crack it open. And for a porter that you think might be heavy, it’s remarkably drinkable. For my money it leads with the coffee taste but evolves into chocolate as you make your way through it, with a soft feel but an aftertaste that might be a touch too hot. But no bother— a combination of coffee, dark chocolate, and beer? That’s my kind of strong and bitter beverage. To totally plagiarize and corrupt one of my all-time favorite quotes that I heard on a memorable desert night on a camel ranch near Masada—I like my coffee beer dark as a desert night, strong like a Bedouin man, and bitter like the years of marriage.
It’s all true except for the marriage part.
Happy 5778—here’s to a sweet and hoppy new year bursting with citrus flavors.
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