Farmer Willie’s Ginger Beer

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Recently I was at Wequassett for Foolproof Brewing and I was placed right in between a Cape Cod Great White Rum, and a series of unmarked, brown bottles that reminded me of homebrew. Now, I don’t drink hard alcohol so I was a little disheartened to be at the rum cocktail table, however when I found out the mysterious brown bottles contained alcoholic ginger beer, I was in for a night of next level dark and stormys.

But what was this alcoholic ginger beer only available on my part of Cape Cod? How had I never heard of it? Enter Farmer Willie’s, the new libation in town. Based out of a Cape Cod kitchen way out in Truro by the wrist of the Cape, farmer Willie Fenichel began home-brewing alcoholic ginger beer, which he shared at local beaches and soon became a cult sensation. Co-founders Nico and Max got ready to share his ginger beer with the masses, and Farmer Willie’s began.

The water in Truro is good for lots of things, sharks, erosion, surfing, but unfortunately not for brewing. So Farmer Willie’s is brewed in collaboration with Downeast Cider in Charlestown, MA. After raising over $20,000 on Kickstarter to get off the ground and purchase cold storage and a delivery van so they can roll out 30,000 cans for summer, the beer is available at locations all over the Mid-Lower Cape from farmers markets to liquor stores. My choice location would be Cranberry Liquors in Harwichport, because if you’re the type person who is chasing down craft ginger beer, you probably also like to chase down craft beer, and they have the best selection in this part of the Cape.

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And now onto the beer itself:

Made with ginger, lemons, and something secret, this beer pours a very pale straw color, it sort of looks like a cloudy ginger ale. The smell of ginger is the first thing you notice, it;s a very sweet and earthy smell.

It tastes like a solid ginger beer, not to fizzy, not to sweet, only the kicker with this one is that it has alcohol in it. Aside from a slight warming sensation, the alcohol doesn’t impede the taste at all which would make this a great addition to dark and stormys, or, if you’re like me, to drink a cold glass of this with a sprig of mint, while chilling on a hammock.

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162. Berkshire Brewing Cabin Fever Ale

BBC Cabin Fever2Commercial Description: A well-balanced, medium-bodied ale brewed to sustain you over the long New England winter. Its rich malt profile is reminiscent of an English Pale Ale, while the spicy and fruity hop finish, from German Tettnang hops, gives it a warming and welcoming feeling to bring you back in from the cold. Copper-amber in color, this offering is available all winter long.

I left this beer sitting for a while and when I returned to it, the head was still there, leaving ample lacing on the glass; creamy, off-white and well-formed. It poured an amber/brown with copper highlights. Overall, just a very fresh, nice-looking beer with great clarity.

BBC Cabin Fever3The nose is full of that rich and flowery Tettnang hop presence, followed by some soft, bready malts with a light toffee sweetness. On first sip, before even really noticing any of the flavors, the first thing I reacted too was how nice this beer is on the palate; very creamy and soft, but still has a bit of weight to it.

The taste matches the aroma in almost every way – toasted bread, light caramel, as well as a touch of fruit and spice, almost like a cinnamon quality. The earthy hop flavor is apparent and is in nice contrast to the soft and bready maltiness. At 6.3%, there is no discernable alcohol presence. Cabin Fever finishes slightly dry, with flavors that linger.

BBC Cabin FeverI wish this was a bad-idea of a beer; one where you lose interest immediately because the flavors are confused and counterproductive, only so I could relate it to the movie Cabin Fever. Eli Roth, grumble grumble. But I can’t. It’s a well put together, very drinkable beer, but for me, lacks the qualities that would make it a stand-out winter warmer. If anything, I see this being a go-to year round beer, rather than a seasonal. Though if you’re looking for a winter beer that’s not an overly-spiced, imperial malt bomb, then this might be the beer for you.

161. Night Shift Harborside

Let’s talk a bit about what exactly a Gose is since I think the style still has a bit of mystery surrounding it, and has only just made it into the BJCP guidelines last year.

A gose, pronounced like it rhymes with “rose”, with an “uh” at the end, is a sour and salty wheat ale brewed with coriander and, back in its heyday, salted water. The beer’s 1,000 year-old history takes it back to the German city of Leipzig, the capital city of Saxony in what became the former East Germany.  The name Gose comes from the river Gose, which flows through the town of Goslar, part of Lower Saxony and a former brewing center. It’s assumed that the original source of a Gose’s saltiness came from the naturally saline water from the mineral-rich aquifers around Goslar that fed the Goslar brewhouses.

To make it brief – Goslar declined, brewing moved to Leipzig where it flourished, World War II, Berlin Wall, bread-making > beer-making, wall came down, Gose came back.
Originally, gose got it’s sour quality from spontaneous fermentation from bacteria like Lactobacillus, or with the later addition of lactic acid. Today’s American brewers use a multitude of souring methods, from wild yeasts, to sour mashes, and sometimes with the addition of lemon juice or other types of citrus.

Moving along, I only just visited Everett’s Night Shift Brewing for the first time this past fall with a big group of drunk girls (~*BACHELORETTE PARTY*~). It reminded me a lot of the Brooklyn Brewery experience, which I love. Unassuming industrial building, exposed beams, large family style tables, with a huge variety of sample beers pouring and available bottles; just one big party.

This is the beer that stood out the most to me that day – Harborside, a 5.1% gose-style ale brewed with Island Creek oysters and coriander. The brewery teamed up with Duxbury’s renowned Island Creek Oysters, adding hundreds of fresh oysters to the boiling wort, to create this tart, salty, citrusy celebration of the ocean side.

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A huge head billows up upon pouring, but then immediately settles down to a wisp of nothing. In the glass, Harborside shines a bright and golden-yellow with noticeable carbonation and a bit of haze.

The nose is reminiscent of those candied fruit rinds that my friends make fun of me for enjoying, calling it old person candy. A tart citrus aroma weaves itself amongst, well, I don’t know how else to say it, but a meaty, wharf-like smell; full of umami and not unpleasant in the slightest. It smells complex and delicious. This beer has such a tart, lemon citrus flavor; it’s like sucking on some Warheads that have been soaking in Limoncello. It’s crisp and cutting, but rounded out with a sweet/savory oyster finish. It has an almost buttery quality, like an oaked Chardonnay, with a high minerality and a light funk. These flavors are very jarring on their own, but in this beer, everything  ties together really nice.

The carbonation is bright and spritzy and even with the tartness, it’s overall very thirst-quenching – such a fun beer!

153. Grey Sail Stargazer Imperial Stout

Grey Sail Stargazer Stout

Thanks to Joe for this bottle of Stargazer Stout. This is a 2012 bottle, but I’ve seen it around a few liquor stores across Rhode Island – off the top of my head, Nikki’s in North Providence, if anyone’s interested.

This beer seriously looks like fryer grease poured out from one of those restaurants that you swear you’ll never eat at again because of food poisoning that one time, but it’s so cheap and it’s right there, so you end up going, later on cursing Guy Fieri for making every divey pizza joint seem like the Ritz Carlton of Flavortown, but they’re not and sometimes you’re better off with a frozen box of T.G.I. Fridays potato skins- but I digress. This beer is dark and thick and oily-looking, but in the best way. I don’t know why it’s called Stargazer, because this beast is like staring into a black hole.

Commercial Description: “Our limited-release Imperial Stout was brewed with nine different malts and Northern Brewer, Willamette, and Saaz hops, resulting in hints of rich cacao, roasted coffee and dark fruit. Several months of bottle-aging give this one-off a silky smooth finish.”

The nose is fantastic—over-ripe dark fruit, molasses, chocolate and the taste is insane. Wave after wave of semi-bitter chocolate, balanced perfectly with a good amount of roast and light char- probably due to the age, the hops and any strong coffee notes fall to the back while the dark fruits and chocolate really shine. The 9.7% alcohol is very well-hidden under a silky body. Finishes slightly dry.

I would not hesitate to pick up this gem if you can find it.

Grey Sail Brewing of RI
63 Canal Street
Westerly, RI, 02891

109. Cody Brewing Hypnotic Tonic

Cody Brewing Hypnotic Tonic

I’ll be honest. I’m not sold on the whole Bye-Bye-Miss-American-Pie-Summer-of-Love-Hendrix-Experience bottle art. But then I considered Cody Brewing. Every time I’ve met them, either at festivals or tastings, they have been so enthusiastic/passionate about the beer their company is putting out, it’s inspiring. They have a solid year-round selection, plus eclectic seasonal/limited offerings; a carrot cake porter, for crying out loud. Thus, I gave the Hypnotic Tonic a chance.

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94. TwoGirls’ Best Beers of 2012

It’s that time of the year to do a little looking-back-fondly and pick out the brews we’ve enjoyed the most. Let’s have a look.

Kristie’s List:

1. Lunch – Maine Beer Co.

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One of my favorite beers, not just of this year, but in general. Best hop/malt balance you’ll find anywhere. Our Review

2. Racer X Double IPA – Bear Republic

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This is a hop-heavy beer that doesn’t lack in any area. It’s really got a bit of everything and is incredibly drinkable for an 8.3% beer.

3. Interlude – Allagash

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Fermented with Belgian farmhouse yeast AND a house strain of Brettanomyces, Interlude is then aged in merlot barrels to create a fantastic beer with wine characteristics.

4. Chocolate Stout – Rogue

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A drinkable, yet big beer that tastes like melted milt chocolate. Amazing.

5. Black Chocolate Stout – Brooklyn Brewery

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Dry, roasty, and sweet, this stout is a complex beauty. Our Review.

Ashleigh’s List:
1. Brown Shugga Lagunitas Brewing Company-

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

I never wrote about this one because when I drink it I just want to enjoy it, but it’s certainly my favorite hands down. So sweet, and such a high ABV, so I can’t drink as much as I’d want to.

2.2Xmas Southern Tier

This beer rivals Mad Elf for Christmas in a Bottle, but surpasses it just slightly. Already looking forwards to next holiday season so I can have more. Our Review

3. Nitro Milk Stout Left Hand Brewing
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Nitro Milk Stout

Nitro Milk Stout

I’m not a huge stout drinker, but this stout has made me cross over. Look at that subtle off-white head. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has vanilla in it! Our review (first video one!)

4.Fire and Brimstone Cambridge Brewing Company
This beer was brewed just for the pumpkin fest at CBC, but it still makes the list despite not being available in a bottle anywhere. It was one of the most complex and spicy beers I have ever had, and I would love to find something similar. Our review here.

5. Delirium Noël Brouwerij Huygh

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This beer is my favorite one of the year, unfortunately my review of it is sitting in drafts. It’s very complex flavor wise; toffee, spices, yeasts with a bite, fruits, candy sugar. It’s good because you don’t know what comes next.