Otter Creek Brewing Company is something of an anomaly.
…and I’ll tell you why.
Otter Creek is part of the old guard when it comes to Vermont breweries. Lawrence Miller founded the company, back in the early ‘90s. Now he’s chief of Health Care Reform. Yes, in this great state, a drinker can grow to make pivotal decisions about how we obtain basic healthcare.
Freedom and Unity, indeed
Anyway, Miller brewed, largely by himself, for a decade, surprisingly sailing through the collapse of many breweries in the late ‘90s. That is, until Morgan Wolaver—of Wolaver’s Organic Ales—bought him out in 2002. Oh, and they made such fine and natural beers, like big-eyed masturbatory King Harvest songs. Bucolic brews named “Copper Ale” and “Stovepipe Porter” were romantic and keen, and well, pretty boring, but the Brewery made consistently good brews over the decade.
Then came the onslaught of beer-hipsterdom stemming from the artisanal and craft movement of the mid-to-late 2000s and all of the entitled pricks yoked to it. The brewery ultimately suffered, as a result. Wolaver’s reign would eventually end in 2010, when a private equity firm, Fulham and Co., acquired the company via its subsidiary, Long Trail Brewing Company. Literally, at this point, you’re the furthest from relevance and cool as possible. You’d think, any attempt of reinvention would surely result in not only embarrassment, but also the certain demise of the sick man of brewing in the VT craft brew culture.
Enter Mike Gerhart.
“Brewmaster Mike” joined in 2008, leaving a position at Dogfish Head to infuse the withered Otter Creek with fresh blood, just like Lance Armstrong. However, instead of being reprimanded by Oprah, Otter Creek somehow saw some success out of their reimaging. Full of stoner tropes, Otter Creek abandoned their rustic roots and broke out the wah-wah pedal. Seriously, you cannot find a Facebook post not making a reference to weed, weed culture, or flat out being stoned. It’s fucking weird. It’s like reading those posts by that one uncle who never grew up, who manages to maintain an affinity for Cheech and Chong and Star Wars at the age of 45. It’s hard to believe the hipsters eat this shit up, but indeed, they do. To an extent, it’s hard to blame them. This tongue-in-cheek rebranding obviously comes as a gamble, potentially discomfiting the brand’s older, loyal clientele. It’s hard to show up to that company party with a six pack of “Joint Custody” not expecting to get some questions about why the VW bus on the label is billowing with smoke.
Seriously, it is hard to take this beer seriously, but I’m willing to try. The beer is a collaboration with
Massachusetts’ own, Jack’s Abby Brewing. The beer is described as a “nouveau pilsner”
Or whatever the hell that means
Knowing full well they’re grasping at an attempt to be cutting edge, I take their nomenclature with an
ever so small pinch of salt.
While it has a inch of white head on the beer, it recedes quickly. It pours a bright yellow with hints of
earthy amber. It’s slightly hazy. At first sniff, there’s pineapple and apricot. White grapes then begin to
emerge. These are grapes similar to what you’d find in a Riesling. There is also apparent stone fruit detected, which I’d
describe as unripe peach. Then, I get a nice burst of lemon and pepper. Finally, an ever so slight ripe banana tickles my
eeney-weeny widdle nosey-wosey on the back end.
Very much so, do I get dried apricot in the taste. I get bitter orange peel, biscuit malt character and
essentially what I can only describe as mango fruit leather at the end.
Right off the bat, I notice that the mouth feel is a little thicker than one would expect from a lager. Also,
you do get a slightly oily, dry finish from the hops, I expect. It is, however, otherwise crisp.
Do I recommend this beer? Yes. I think it’s certainly worth a try. While it’s much more expensive than
any other Otter Creek beers available in six-packs, it is only around for a limited time (supposedly)– but
you can find it all across New England (and some mid-Atlantic states).
I don’t know.
I guess if Dr. Dre can do it…
*8.3 out of 10*
Once, after graduating from college
I went to a party thrown by a few alumni on the North side of town
Flights of stairs
Crooked and stained
I approached the surprisingly unvandalized door hanging on its hinges
The bed in the living room
For one’s viewing
Of the beer pong game currently in
I use ‘pleasure’ and ‘progress’ in quotations because we happened to be sipping, that night, on
Miller High Life,
Was an insult to both pleasure and a testament against our
Languidly, we toasted
Our lives of menial employment
*3.5 out of 10*
It was an early Thanksgiving. The weather was an unseasonably warm 49 degrees—teeming with that kind of “how are you enjoying this heat wave” bullshit that you’d elicit from a passerby when you couldn’t care less about the fucking weather.
“Oh, I know, right?” You ask, not answering the question. You smile, somewhat through your teeth, forcing your arm down at your side in a somewhat Strangelovian manner, restraining the throbbing urge to flip this guy the fuck off. Feet squirming as you plodge upon the frosty ground, teeth grinding. You ask yourself—like you do, year after year—“why the fuck do I live here? What am I doing with my life? This place is practically showing me the door. It doesn’t want me here.”
Leaning to my side, practically collapsing upon the dining room table, the second (or was it third) helping of mashed potatoes was settling upon the bottommost recesses of my stomach, hammering against my pyloric sphincter in the most Gothic manner. The fucking Fall of Rome was reenacting itself in my gut as I sat there dazed, listening to my grandmother drone on about whom else she knew who died recently.
“Her husband was a firefighter, years ago…
He lives alone now…
Losing his mind
And his brother, did you hear?”
Right, he died too.
“Who else is dead, grandma?”
Now is the winter of my uncontent.
Public radio blared through the speakers as I sped my way back home. Folksy stories about decline, quiet, quaint mediocrity and resignation in a frozen Minnesotan shithole lulled me into semi-conscious stupor.
At this point, I’m about to go straight Royal Tenenbaums on this shit and calmly fling this fucking sedan into Lake Arrowhead. Just straight up cock the wheel to the left and launch myself into oblivion.
Yeah, I know that didn’t happen in the movie.
Who’s telling the story here?
It’s called creative license.
So, anyway, after I ran all those people off the highway and caused a 54-car-pileup in middle of the main road, the whole town caught on fire and pretty much everybody died except for that one guy who people thought was crazy, holed up in a bunker, snickering to himself, eating his toenail clippings.
Yeah, it was pretty weird.
Winter is a hard season to adjust to though, aside from the mass destruction of whole villages, there’s also the snow, the cold, and the shorter days.
Needless to say, it’s fucking depressing.
That’s why I have to give credit to Jack’s Abby Brewing, who went out of their way to Kiwi Rising, a Double India Pale Lager with such a sunny disposition.
I mean think about it; Framingham must suck right now too.
Talk about escapism!
No, don’t change the subject; I’m talking about beer here
So, like it’s summer in New Zealand, right?
Pretty perfect timing, Jack’s Abby.
Did you plan that?
You think you’re sooooo fucking cool.
Seriously though, it’s sunshine in a bottle.
Except without the deadly radiation. (Ok, whatever, I’m running out of material)
So, what’s the significance of this bottle of beer? Well for one, it’s stupid hoppy.
Like four pounds of hops a barrel.
I mean this beer is being ridiculous right now.
We’re talking “four kettle hop additions, whole leaf hops in the hop back, and multiple dry hop additions.”
Like, Brazzers level.
As in, you’re gonna need a shower after this level of hop fornication.
It’s 105 IBU of
…and we’re not just talking hops here. We’re talking kiwi hops, which just sounds dope as hell. Turns out, they taste nothing like kiwis. First, that pissed me off, Jack’s Abby. I was furious, but then I realized that I was pretty much just drinking Heady Topper lager, which I guess is ok.
The color: honey gold to sunflower, not much lacing– Very little carbonation visible—it looks like mead… but it isn’t.
…and it smells like vacation too. There are big citrus notes on the nose, along with some other tropical fruits. There’s a residual sweetness as well (because obviously you can smell sweetness—just work with me here)—like an orange marmalade. Finally, there’s some slight pine.
It made me want to parade my fat
Around the beach
Looking for a cool crowd, with which to play
…and when I scare everyone off, I’d go bungee jumping instead.
And did I dive into this beer. Again, there is citrus first on the tongue. Following are strong, biscuit and bread notes—light, crisp malts, like a nice rustic, country loaf, very dry. Pine and botanical flavors linger after swallowing. It’s slightly spicy—very similar to that of a fine gin. By that, I suppose I mean somewhat akin to juniper… and then there’s mango at the end. The feeling in the mouth is rather sticky, with a dry finish. I feel it could be slightly more effervescent, but it is certainly not a detractor.
It’s a damn fine beer.
This is a beer for those who seek to escape from the cold. It’s a beer for those who dream of golden shores, sprawling hills, and mountains that lunge towards the sky. Think of the breathtaking views from the Lord of the Rings movies. That’s this beer—splendid, somewhat sordidly beautiful. You feel guilty partaking of something like this.
*9.3 out of 10*
Boston Lager is a gentle suggestion that some folks out there still fondly appreciate the “mystery” of scramble porn.
In 1984, while we were plagued with Orwellian symptoms of the apocalypse (see: Reaganomics, power ballads and the Smurfs), Jim Koch was resurrecting an old recipe from the late gilded age. The necromancer he was, Samuel Adams Boston Lager came to be the flagship brew of the Boston Beer Company, setting a popular precedent and a face to the then emerging craft beer scene.
It was revolutionary,
It was daring,
It wasn’t yellow.
Boston Lager is a rather sessionable Vienna lager at 4.9% ABV. You can slug back three or four as guiltlessly as being able to beat the crap out of your 10-year old cousin because he challenged you to a wrestling match.
You crush the can
Like you crush his sternum
(Does Sam Adams even can?)
Boston Lager is a tribute to the George Thorogood midlife crises out there fueled by Maxim magazine back issues and Laconia Bike Week.
Boston Lager: the Tom Brady of the of the beer world—the kind of “eh, we get it”—kind of beer.
Know what I mean?
You know what I mean.
I don’t think I know what I mean…
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
Inch of head, white to off white, it laces perfectly on the glass.
It’s like a G.D. Olympic free-skier, or something.
Amber to tangerine in color, with hints of ruby red, it is vivaciously carbonated and most definitely filtered.
Blah blah blah—
The aroma is faint. It has this bitchy, crackery, light bread crust kind of thing going for it. There’s this loose German hop spiciness on the nose, like an accent. It’s slightly lemony, in the sense of a lemony kitchen cleaner.
Could I get away with saying, “medium orange and slight roasty chocolate”?
I’m saying it anyway.
So, it tastes like toffee. That’s pretty clear. It has that supermarket-store-bought light wheat bread kind of grainy flavor.
When I was young I used to fascinate myself with the idea of staying overnight at a grocery store. Eating everything I wanted, I would engorge myself until I passed out, covered in sweat and vomit.
They’d have to wheel me out in a stretcher to have my stomach pumped
My parents would be deemed ill fit to raise me
I’d live in a wayward foster home
and pick up a nervous tick
and a dependency on Eggo waffles
bouncing from house
until my tuberculosis
got the best of me
my dying breath
Right in the middle of the mouth, it gets slightly metallic.
There is that sweet, salty, soapy, chewy,
quality in every Sam Adams beer, which I am assuming must be a work of the yeast itself.
It has an almost umami quality to it.
I know what umami is.
It’s rare, elusive, and hard to describe
Like the female orgasm
There’s a delightfully light, noble-hopped, lemony finish.
The feeling upon the tongue shoots right down the middle. It sticks around for a moment, and slides down easy. It’s thicker than water, thinner than juice. (GOD, I fucking love juice) The carbonation washes down well, and it ends dry and clean.
I don’t know—
People quibble over Boston Lager like it’s some poseur in the craft beer scene. Sure, it’s kind of like the front man gone solo after a successful music career. You have a sort of acknowledged respect for their work, given their pedigree, but you rather feel bad for them.
I feel bad for you, Morrissey.
Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a bit more than that. Sure, there are tons and tons of better beers that have come about since this beer’s conception. Sure, this beer is kind of the nearest thing to the macro-lagers of our day.
that’s kind of the point.
You bring me a handful of beer geeks—true beer enthusiasts—and you tell them to tell me what their gateway drug was?
I’m telling you, if they say anything besides “Boston Lager,” they’re either too cool or a fuckin’ liar.
I guarantee it.
*8.0 out of 10*
(No Eggo waffles were harmed or consumed in the making of this review)