This week in Friday Froth we're going to toss back a beer in the middle of a trend, a new creation in an old style, and some brewery news which leads us to an aged beer.
And now, as another James May say, the nyeewws:
I recently was among the first few dozen civilians to ever see the inside of Two Roads' new mixed fermentation secondary brewery, Area 2. First announced in 2016, this new on-site facility in Stratford will focus on sour, barrel aged, and wild ales - all the little organisms bursting with possibility, and voted most likely to make your wine or Bud Light drinking friends say "This is beer?!?" All those lovely livelies which produce wild beers will be kept quarantined in Area 2 after it opens, where they will be raised in immense wooden barrel fermenters called "foudres," sleep in all manner of other barrels, and eventually be served in a 120-person second floor tasting room overlooking trees and wetlands.
Visitors to Area 2 late this fall can drink indoors, on several outdoor decks on the second level and rooftop, or farther afield on an elevated walkway which will be built above wetlands pruned of non-native plant species. Indoors, Area 2 will have a professional kitchen and events room under the tasting room.
What kind of beers can you expect? Brewmaster Phil Markowski literally wrote the book on farmhouse ales, so I'd expect saisons, along with sour variants of other styles (i.e. Zero 2 Sixty sour IPA), and more production of beers like Hexotic Tropical Lambic.
Lambics are spontaneously fermented ales dating back to a time before people knew what fermentation was. Beer would be cooled in huge metal pans called coolships, where the local naturally occurring yeasts and flora in the air would settle into the wort and begin converting the maltose into sweet, sweet alcohol. Area 2 will have an open air, wooden topped coolship built into one of the outdoor decks for exactly this purpose. The current tasting room at Two Roads currently offers cellar (really vault) aged beers for on site consumption, so keep an eye out for Hexotic for both a look forwards and back.
A bit dark for a lambic after spending around two years in oak barrels, Hexotic pours headless under a sweet, powerfully acidic aroma. It springs its claws on you with the first sip, tart and fizzy, and quickly releases to become smoother as the fruit emerges. Six fruits were used to make Hexotic, but the mango, guava, and passion fruit in particular breathe themselves onto the tongue. Hexotic avoids being syrupy, for all its tropical nature, and overbalances slightly to the acidic side. Check it out.
If all that sounds like a bit much to you, look for YEESH! from Kent Falls brewing. This pilsner is approachable and suitable for beer nerds as well as people who don't care and just want a beer, dammit! YEESH! pours a slightly hazy yellow which almost looks gold in incandescent light, with a head that piles up in fizzing bubbles. It's a pils, but most similar in style to old world kellerbiers which were lagered in cellars or caves unbunged and open to cold, dry air, then bottled unfiltered. The malt in Yeesh! has been fully realized, resulting in a light, exceptionally easy drinking body, striated with new world lemony, earthy hops, the whole experience finishing yeasty and dry. The four pint can pack YEESH! is sold by is... insufficient to slake the thirst the first sip slashes onto the mind. Get eight of them, just to be sure.
The horde senses you and follows, implacable. They clamor beyond the walls, scratching at the doors, and banging on the windows. The sun rises and falls, yet they remain - waiting, watching. A window on an upper floor seems out of their reach; you risk opening it a crack, press your mouth to the breach....
"YES, WE'RE GETTING TO THE HAZY IPA!"
Here it is, an Actually Good Hazy IPA. There are many examples of the style which are simply force fed hop pellets like a foie gras goose and then dumped half finished into growlers and onto beards, but this is the other kind. Singlecut Softly Spoken Magic Spells is both an ode to one of the single greatest albums in music history, and a damn fine hazy double IPA. 'Spells pours a murky orange under a thin head which leaves a good ring, and gives off a big, sweet orange juice aroma detectable from a yard away, and underlain by a touch of vanilla. It is, in a word, appetizing. The hops contribute a smooth, oily dankness to both the mouthfeel and flavor, livened up with a bit of prickly carbonation. My notes say "low IBUs, probably close to 40," but the technical bitterness level (130?!) is simply hidden behind the lupulin and the sizeable 8.6% ABV.
Singlecut Beersmiths Softly Spoken Magic Spells is singularly delicious. It is easy to notice half a pint has disappeared into hyperspace before you realize it has left. It is a fine, fine IPA.
See you out there.