Hi all, I realize that I have not blogged in over a year but I have not had much to write about let alone the time to blog with law school. I finally was able to take a vacation to visit some friends in New England and NYC and wanted to report back to tell everyone about the wonderful beer I was able to try. I decided to take a week to digest this trip because I wanted to see what my ultimate take away would be. I miss the wonderful beers, I loved the experience of the breweries and meeting the great staffs…But the one take away that I cannot ignore is that the DC area does not have a brewery that is pushing the creativity of what beer can be in the same way the New England area is.
I know, this seems a little snobby, and I am not saying the breweries here are bad. They just don’t push the art of beer in the same way. I thought about other areas on the east coast. Philly, they have Tired Hands which brings bright interesting hoppy beers and saisons. My old home of NJ, they have Carton which is making wonderful ales and east coast style hoppy beers. The DMV does have some decent breweries but none of them have the consistent quality of the breweries I was able to visit. Once you have the chance to sample beer from a brewery that sets the bar higher for what beer can be, it really does change how you think about the beer around you.
Without further griping, the breweries…
In beer nerd circles, the tale of this wonderful small brewery is well known. Their legend grows every week with their ability to make lovely hop forward beers that taste more like fruit juice than a beer. I was able to convince one of my friends in New Hampshire to meet me in Boston so we could give this brewery a try. An overnight bus and 5 am wakeup calls, crazy traffic on the return trip, and I think it was all absolutely worth it.
Treehouse opens its doors 3 days a week and is open for 13 hours total (7 on Saturday). This availability coupled with the hype of their beers makes for long lines. They do sell cans some times, but the majority of their beer is offered in growlers because they want everyone to drink their beer as freshly as possible. Growlers take time to fill and Treehouse takes the time to clean old growlers before filling, so, don’t plan on a quick trip. My friend and I arrived at Treehouse around 8:30 am because we wanted to get in and out as soon as possible, and we had nothing better to do at 7am. Well, the place was empty, we were too early. So we went to get breakfast because we didn’t want to be the weird guys hanging out before the brewery workers got there. We returned at 10 am, and were 40th in line…..
If you ever get the chance to visit Treehouse and you want your best shot to try everything they have, plan to get there at least an hour early. They are smart and they start taking old growlers and handing out tickets for orders an hour before. The staff was super kind and excited to collect tickets from the first 50 people there. But, we did notice, if you were later than the first 50 tickets….you have to prepare to wait because you enter the brewery and they are going to call the numbers one by one instead of collecting slips from everyone in line. The brewery tweeted out that they called over 250 tickets. They did limit the growlers to 4 per person but you have to assume everyone is getting the full amount and that they may run out of things on their website if they tell you it is limited. They update their site often, and they may have 6 beers on draft and 2 types of cans one week and 3 drafts that are almost gone on another. We got insanely lucky….
They had 5 beers on tap with a reduced limit of 4 growlers, but they INCREASED the number of cans of Julius IPA for sale from 6 to 8. We were out of the brewery by 11:45 and had our arms filled with cans and growlers. They only fill their own growlers so you have to buy them but its worth it. Also, bring coolers. They serve the beer cold and want you to keep it cold up to serving time. We did not do that, but I had a cooler for the cans. I don’t know how true this fact of keeping the beer cold at all times is, but it would have been nice to have a cooler to CARRY everything to the car. You don’t go there and get 1 growler filled, you get every ounce of beer you can. 4 growlers are hard to hold, end of lecture.
Julius: It really begins and ends with this beer. We were so lucky to get a ton of it. This IPA is so hyped up that we could not wait to break into it once we got off the highway. Hype can be a dangerous thing. Reputations can be overblown because of limited supply. When everyone can’t try something, those who can get the beer may overemphasize its quality because they know others can’t get it. This is not one of those cases. This beer pours a hazy hazy orange with pillowy white head. There is an immediate burst of citrus aroma the second the can is breached. The aroma is of peaches, mango, citrus, and tropical fruit. It tastes as good as it smells. Sweetness from the malt really accentuates the fruit flavors in the beer. The beer has a texture and weight when you sip it that makes you think of juice. This beer looks and smells like juice. Then you swallow and it dawns on you…where was the bitterness? I think I sensed it slightly at the end, but the sip was all sweet fruit flavor no overt bitterness. What? How? Why doesn’t everyone do this? Because very few can. The only thing I would say as a form of criticism is the beer is slightly sweet which makes it hard to have more than a couple. Not that we didn’t try to drink more than a couple in one sitting. Really a great beer.
Curiosity 20: This was our favorite beer from Treehouse. The Curiosity series is an ongoing experiment Treehouse does to explore new hops, new malt combinations and to explore different flavor combinations. The beers in the series tend to be one offs that have yet to be rebrewed. This version was a double IPA brewed exclusively with Mosaic hops. Mosaic is my favorite hop. It brings very fruit forward tones with very little bitterness. I recommend everyone needs to try any beer they see with mosaic in it. This beer was light and hugely fruit forward. Tropical fruits and citrus dominated the aroma and palate with some nice bitterness to balance. This really reminded both of us of Heady Topper which is very high praise.
Eureka with Citra and Harmony: Eureka is a blond ale with Citra hops which bring a bright citrus (shocking) flavor to a refreshing base beer. This beer was great to start out with and really would make a great beach beer. Harmony was a softer tropical IPA with some nice citrus and bitter notes. This version was toned down from the last batch. We were able to appreciate it more after the second growler because we drank the first bottle in between double IPAs which really did not do it justice. These were both very good beers.
Trillium is a small brewery in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston which is about a 15 minute walk from Boston’s South Station. I give you this information because I want to impress upon everyone how accessible this brewery is which makes it seem crazy that it was so easy to get their beers. They open their doors 6 days a week and I was able to get in line 45 minutes before they opened on a Monday and walk out in 5 minutes with a case of beer because I was second in line. I went back on Thursday an hour after they opened and was able to pick up one bottle of their newly released batch of Sleeper Street and did not have to wait. I don’t want people to crowd this place, but it is crazy how easy it is to get their wonderful bright beer. I will be stopping at the brewery every single time I go to Boston.
They don’t offer tasters right now, and the tap room has 0 space anyway. So you just go there to get in and get out. Even with the lack of aesthetics, this is my new favorite brewery. I lugged a case of their beer around Boston for over 3 hours and would happily do it again if it meant I could try more of their beer. This brewery is nice because they bottle all of their beers so, if you are visiting, you don’t have to spend extra money on growlers. They vary the limitations on their beer based on how rare it is and how much they have left of it. Generally you can get one full growler of each beer per visit and anywhere from 4-12 750 ml bottles of each of their beers every time you go.
Double-Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale: This was the best beer I tried all trip. It GLOWS bright yellow from all the Citra hops they add to this. It is so bright and the aroma is so intense. If you get the chance to try any of their dry hopped beers, you should. The price should not scare you off. It is a little extra money for a huge boost of flavor and aroma. I prefer this beer to some of the Treehouse beers because they aren’t as sweet. This is just my preference, and I felt I needed to find some hair to split over these breweries. I drank a ton of this beer and I regret that it sheltered the regular Fort Point pale ale because all I wanted was more of the Double Dry hopped version. This beer is so juicy that your mouth starts to water as though you just bit into a fresh piece of tropical fruit or citrus. Lovely drinkable balanced flavorful cup of awesome.
Fort Point Pale Ale: Great tropical fruit forward pale ale. On it’s own, one of the best pale ales I have ever had. It was unfortunate I had this at the same time I had the double dry hopped version because this beer is phenomenal in its own right.
Congress Street IPA: Very nice balance of sweet peach flavors and some nice hints of pine and bitterness. Great combination.
Sleeper Street IPA: Very rich bitterness and some nice hits of pine and lemon peel.
This brewery is located in Brooklyn NYC about a 5 minute walk from the G line of the subway. If I didn’t use google maps, I would most likely have walked right past the nondescript door. The brewery is open 5 days a week, and there was no line there at 2pm on a Saturday. It seems that when a brewery has better hours, they only get huge crowds on release days. Other Half had the best taproom experience of the three breweries because I got to drink at the brewery. They offer cans on certain release dates, but I was not lucky enough to be there for a release. I just decided to drink from the awesome list of 12 hoppy beers they had on tap. They do offer growlers. There did not appear to be any limit at that time, but I know they do try to limit can releases to a case per person. I will not go through all of the beers, I will just highlight a few of my favorites:
Galaxy IPA: This is a series of IPAs the brewery makes where they pick one distinct hop and use a simple malt bill so the drinker gets to drink the beer and experience that hop by itself. Most beers are a blend of hops and it is nice to get a chance to teach your palate about individual hops. This beer had a nice rich peach and passion fruit flavor. It was really unique for me because I have not gotten to try Galaxy on its own. I can see why people go nuts for this hop.
All Green Everything: A Triple IPA. It was soooo drying from all the hops but there was really so much flavor of pine and grapefruit here.
It’s not you, It’s me: A collaboration IPA brewed with Seventh Sun in Tampa (another brewery I plan on visiting). This beer was brewed with lychee which gave it a nice sugary aroma and a great restrained sweetness on the palate.
I would absolutely go back to this brewery. They have some unbelievable hoppy beers and if you go semi early, it seems very easy to get into the small space of their tap room to drink cheap wonderful pints.
And so ends my review of these 3 wonderful breweries. I would not hesitate to visit any of these breweries again. To rank them: 1. Trillium 2. Treehouse 3. Other Half*
*They are the closest to DC and offer a taproom to drink in which is a nice advantage.
Top 3 beers of my trip:
- Double Dry Hopped Fort Point
- Curiosity 20
My top 5 breweries that I have visited
- Tired Hands (Brewpub and Fermentaria)
- Other Half
- Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats (the brewpub only)
Yes, I managed to visit 3 of my top 5 breweries in one trip. I will finish out the summer visiting the Dogfish Head brewpub again. These are all breweries that everyone should visit because they offer so much unique beer every time I go.
Top 5 Breweries That I want to visit:
- Brasserie Cantillion Brouwerij (Belgium)
- Hill Farmstead (Vermont)
- Cigar City (Tampa, FL)
- Avery (Boulder, CO)
- Lawson’s Finest Liquids (Vermont)
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this recap of my trip. Whenever you go on vacation, you should try to see if there is an awesome local brewery in the area you are going. You don’t have to go as crazy as I did but you can still have a great experience trying new beer and seeing how different areas brew.