By latest count, there are roughly 3 trillion little breweries dotting the map of the United States. Being small, they can afford to ignore the common denominator and create unique, idiosyncratic beers. Cambridge Brewing Company (aka CBC) and Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (AKA just Pretty Things) both locally produce interesting and delicious fare. And they do it in their own way. All the following brews come in 22 oz bottles.
Cambridge Brewing Company
CBC began as a brew pub, in 1989, and contunes, at 1 Kendall Sq., bldg 100. It was Boston’s first brew pub, and one of the first in the nation. That point can be corrected a bit, since in the old days, pubs and inns often created their own brews. Prohibition, that huge roadblock in the development of quality American wine and beers, ended that. So Americans have had to relearn. Enjoy the renaissance!
CBC’s focus remains on creating brews for the restaurant. The brewery can experiment with small batches, and discover what patrons want. CBC’s extensive line up of bottled beers reflects the favorites, all varied and delicious. The following are some of the highlights.
Audacity of Hops ($7.99)
Not everyone likes hops but those that do like it big time. For sure, Audacity has hops up to here, but dark and caramel malts help ease the impact. The palate is not scourged but freshened by the interplay of grass, flower, pine, and spice notes with the rounded savor of the malts. Breweries nowadays love to make statements like “A delicious fistfight of flavors” but, you know, that seems like an apt description.
Tripel Threat ($9.99)
A Belgian-style abbey beer, it is strong as get out, but we cannot leave it at that. The rich malty flavors and aroma enjoy the subtle addition of roasted coriander. Noted by the other Michael Jackson as the first Tripel brewed in this country, this outstanding dinner beer has won many awards. Serve in a wine glass to capture its full delight.
Bannatyne Scotch Ale ($6.99)
Another malty treat. CBC caramelized the wort to give this beer a sweetly dark molasses note. Hearty, warming, and satisfying, and a great après ski or snow shoveling reward.
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project
The team of Dann Paquette and Martha Holley-Paquette might say Pretty Things is a rags to rags story but indeed the brewery is coming along fine. They just want to make beer in their own way. That they do, and finely crafted.
Dann and Martha own no equipment but rather rent facilities, not an uncommon practice in the craft beer world. Unless you can keep tanks full all the time, you are just sitting on capital. Pretty Things wants their resources to go into making and selling their unique beers.
Prior to Pretty Things Dann worked at Ipswich Brewing Company, Pilgrim Brewery, Mill City Brewing Company, John Harvard’s Brew House, North East Brewing Company, The Haverhill Brewery, and Daleside Brewery in Yorkshire. So he has street cred. Martha’s from England, so she didn’t need to learn about great beer.
A big, strong, warming ale. Beer recipes can be surprising. Here, the idea of smoking malt with rosemary sounds unique. The beer tastes full, rich, and complex. A fine cool weather beer.
Dry and bitter with a complement of UK hops. This is a stylistically leaner, more quenching bitter, more English in style than most from this country. Authentic tasting, even, in the best (rather than beer snob) sense.
An abbey-style beer with four malts, including chocolate and oat. The Belgian model scales large, but in a way that meets food well. A mild sweetness, more like a vinous fruitiness, makes a savory complement to meals.
Sam Adams has already released Alpine Spring Ale. Is this canny marketing or do they know that we’re having no winter locally this year?