How I started the weekend with Massachusetts beer

Now that Labor Day weekend is nearly over, I’m just barely awake enough to sort out my notes on how I started it: the Mass Brewers Fest Friday night. I was looking forward to it, as we seem to be entering a period when new brewers are popping up all over the place. Some are even causing a ruckus. But mostly I was hoping to find a few casks.

The weather was perfect for an open-air beer festival. Good thing, too, considering what it was like just a week earlier. Even though we were outside, the din of a few thousand beer drinkers under the concrete roof was deafening. The lines in the covered hall stretched all the way across so that tails mingled with heads. Once you came out to where the food and the music were, you had a great view of the city and the sky.

Harpoon is easy to find on tap around Boston, but not so much cask. This is a shame as their beer is usually really nice. To this festival, they brought their Belgian Pale Ale dry-hopped with Willamette. Cloudy, but tasty with a fruity, appley quality.

Amherst Brewing Company brought a Raspberry Wedding Witte. An interesting raspberry wheat beer, but too sour for me.

I loved the first sample I had from Northampton Brewery of their Chaos Pale Ale dry-hopped with Northern Brewer. It had that delightful creamy quality of  an easy-drinking cask-conditioned beer that had me coming back for more. But nothing else measured up.

So my favorite casks came from Jack’s Abby, a new brewer that started up this year. They brought two pins of the Saxon Sons Pilsner, one with Saaz hops, one with Amarillo. The pilsner base tasted of wildflower honey and toasted white bready malt. I tasted cut straw with a hint of sweet corn in the Saaz. The one with Amarillo tasted a bit spicy.

So not only did I find some casks,  I found some lagers I liked. I call that a successful expedition.