As my time in Boston draws to a close, I look forward to casting my craft beer net of exploration out to other places in the great state of Massachusetts to see what it has to offer. For my last night in Boston, I want to indulge in another great seafood meal and then head to a place where I can get a decent selection of local and regional taps.
Since my friend, Chris, hasn’t been to the North End yet, that is where we set our course. I have to show him the off-the-beaten-path marvel that is Bova’s Bakery. Mike’s Pastry is more well-known, and rightfully so, it is a Boston institution. However, I think that Bova’s quality is a step up from Mike’s and that is why tonight will be my second stop there in 3 days. Since it is going to be a while until we eat dinner, I grab 2 cannolis for the walkabout through the North End.
As we are walking around, we come upon something right out of a Martin Scorsese film. There is a police brass band, a statue of what looks to be the Virgin Mary with money affixed to it, and a group of people crowded around watching. Surrounding the statue and carrying it into a church, there are people that definitely look like you would not want to cross them or look at them funny.
As I’m taking out my camera, Chris says to me, “If they get offended that you are photographing this and come over here, I don’t know you.” Did I mention it is nice to have friends along for fun travel experiences. Hopefully they understand that I am documenting this experience purely for my own vacation memories and not a RICO trial. After the excitement dies down, we have another go at Neptune Oyster for some delicious scallops and oysters. After dinner we are thirsty, so we transition to the next part of our evening.
Lower Depths Tap Room
We set our course for The Lower Depths Tap Room, which is highly recommended by several locals. To me, the mark of a good beer bar is friendly service and knowledgeable bartenders and The Lower Depths has both along with a rotating, well-curated tap list; lots of local stuff along with a few regional specialties. I could tell that this was going to be a good experience.
We are one of two parties there and it was kind of slow for a Sunday night. However, I am not lamenting this because it means that we get to chat with the bartender about the bar and local beer scene. She is incredibly knowledgable and gives us some other craft beer suggestions. I order a Genesee because of its historical place in East Coast beer lore and am happy to see that it is a decent lager. Nothing special in regards to malt or hops, but an easy drinking beer that is a step or two above some of the other macro beers. I also appreciate the fact that those aforementioned macro beers are nowhere to be seen on this taplist.
From the Genesee, it is onto a Cranberry Berliner Weisse from Jack’s Abbey; what a great beer for summer! This Berliner Weisse is crisp and slightly tart, and is greatly enhanced by the cranberry flavor. The Cranberry Berliner Weisse really whets my appetite for my upcoming trip to Jack’s Abbey because it is a really well-crafted beer. I am sad to say that I am not going to have an endless amount of time to travel in Massachusetts. I want to try something from the Berkshire Brewing Co. and a Dean’s Beans Coffeehouse Porter sounds perfect. Thankfully, it has a rich and robust roasted malt and coffee aroma. The sweetness smoothes out the edges making it balanced and quaffable. The night was drawing to a close and tomorrow I had to be on the road. We call it a night and head back to the hotel.
The next day marks the end of the conference. Time to start my outward bound jaunt through the East Coast. I say goodbye to Chris and hello to my rental car, a teal Nissan Versa. My hope is that this will allow me to hold my own on the highways with all the infamous Massachusetts drivers. My hope is that the term “Masshole” is not something that rings true for every person with a license and a right foot.
Trillium Brewing Company
My first beer stop of the day is in Canton, MA, to Trillium Brewing Company’s new production and tasting facility. Trillium is a craft beer darling in Massachusetts known for their ingenuity and balanced beers. This would also be my first encounter with the regional style that has everyone’s brewing bags in a bunch, the East Coast IPA.
What is an East Coast IPA, you ask? I have no clue. For all I know, this ballyhooed style comes served with a hop punch from Chuck Norris that sends you into a time warp.
Trillium is in an office/industrial complex. Other than the sign on the side of the building, there’s no clue that there is a brewery here. That all changes when I walk in the door. The tell-tale aroma of malted barley is in the air and the spartan feel of the taproom with its sharp angles and wooden timbers tell me that I am in the right place.
They offer a taproom draft list that changes daily. Andrea, one of the bartenders working, is helpful in answering all my questions about the beer and taproom. The mission behind Trillium Brewing Company is all about balance between work, family, and friends. That philosophy is illustrated by the trillium flower, which is symmetrical with its petals.
Trillium’s Boston location opened in 2013 and this production facility opened in December of 2015. The Boston location does not have a liquor license and as a result, cannot give samples of their beer. However, patrons can purchase bottles and growlers at the Boston location. Trillium’s Canton location limits the amount of beer a patron can have (20 oz. per person daily). This allows for someone traveling to at least be able to try a few of their beers.
East Coast IPA
Today’s beers range from a Launch Pale Ale at 5.5% all the way to an Outside The Lines Imperial Stout at 12.7%. I choose the taproom exclusive beer, Congress Street IPA as my first dip in the Trillium pond of brewing excellence. When Andrea handed me my first 5 oz. pour, I mistakenly thought she had given me the wrong beer because it looks nothing like any IPA I have ever seen. The tulip glass looked like it was filled with foamy Tropicana. I thought the golden and cloudy glass of beer she handed me was a Hefeweizen rather than an IPA. Andrea assured me that it is the Congress St. IPA and I take whiff.
Sweet fancy moses. The hop aroma of this beer is astronomically pleasant. A mixture of tropical and citrus fruits along with pine are pummeling my olfactory senses with a pleasing concentration of hoppy delight. These sensory signals are prepping my palate for an onslaught of hops; I batten down my palate’s hatches and steel myself for the onslaught of hoppiness.
As I raise the tulip glass up to my lips, the head of the beer breaches the shield wall of my mouth. The sensory experience pleases and perplexes me. My tongue is not splitting in half, but rather, is energized by the juicy and fruity array of peaches, oranges, and other tropical fruits. There is no assertive hop resin to coat my tongue and disallow me to discern more flavors. The hop presence gives way to a nice malt balance in the form of a nice biscuit flavor. True artistry in flavor and smell is playing out right in front of me. This is the East Coast IPA in all its glory. Big aromas of floral, fruity, piney notes that make this a balanced and artistic fruity cornucopia of hop perfection. Brewed deftly, the Congress Street IPA cements itself into my memory banks as a tremendously unique tasting experience.
I proceed onto the Sleeper Street IPA. This IPA is brighter with a lot more citrus in it. It finishes much dryer than the Congress St. IPA. Then I move to the Sunshower Super Saison. What a glorious glass of aromas and mouthfeel thanks to the pilsner and wheat malt bill! I finished up with the Secret Stairs Boston Stout and it is roasty and nutty. It is not too sweet and provides a smooth mouthfeel. The stout finishes dry thanks to the bitter cocoa and coffee notes.
I am in awe of this place. I now understand why they limit their quantities and win awards. Visiting Trillium Brewing Company has been a transformative education to my palate. I truly believe that until you try the East Coast IPA, you will not truly grasp the essence of it. It is on to Framingham, MA to check into my first Airbnb. Trillium is absolutely worth the trip and I encourage all of you to get to their facility in Canton, MA. I doubt my words even come close to illustrating what craft beer perfection you are in for. You can also purchase cans, growlers, and bottles at the Canton location in case you want to bring their wonderful craft beers home with you.
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