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December Beer Share

IMAG0301_1_1Joy to the World, your beer share is here. This month, I hope you enjoy not only drinking (and sharing!) December’s selections, but hearing the
stories and knowledge spoken by our local brewers. I’m sharing my meet-the-brewer interviews by podcast: Scan any QR code below or type the URL
into a browser, and play a podcast for friends while you sip one of this month’s selections. Afterwards, stir up conversation about the joy of craft beer. Hear from Ed Stebbins, founder and brewmaster at Gritty McDuff’s in Portland, Maine: “It’s a joy being a brewer. You get to know a lot of your customers and develop great relationships with the people who drink your beer.” Listen to Bill Herlicka, founder and brewer at White Birch, who tells of the origin of the Tavern Ale, beginning with the 18th century tradition of dropping a raw egg into your stein and stirring with a hot fire poker. We have quite the representation of style this month, including an IPA from my home state of Delaware, a smoked beer or rauchbier from New Hampshire, a dry Irish stout from Maine, and a Vermont cider (yes, we’re breaking the rules of a Beer Share), but this cider is brewed with hops!May you find joy in sharing these beers with friends and developing your relationships with the people who enjoy (and make) beer in New England. Cheers!

Full Nelson, Citizen Cider, Burlington, VT (220 miles from Jamaica Plain)
We’re leading off this month with the rising star Citizen Cider and their Full Nelson, an off-dry cider of Vermont apples dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. I’ll leave most of what there is to say about this month’s selection to Chris Nelson, Citizen Cider co-founder and co-owner, who spoke to me
about the joy he finds in making cider, the tradition of brewing cider with hops, and the science of cider making and how it relates to craft brewing or wine making. What didn’t make the podcase was Chris’s commentary on sourcing fruit, which has had a significant effect in raising the price of local fruit used for
cider. Growers have been “getting nothing for cider fruit for so long in Vermont.” Similar to the work of Equal Exchange in working directly with small coffee growers to increase the price gotten for their harvest, Citizen is having a similar effect on the economics of local agriculture. Citizen Cider purchases fruit within
150 miles of Middlebury, Vermont, where all the fruit is pressed. As makers of hard cider, Citizen likens its product more to the English tradition, ciders that are off-dry and verstatile with food — all kinds!

75 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Milton, DE (408 miles from JP)
I’ve taken great liberties this month: one, by including a cider; two, by reaching outside of New England with the inclusion of Dogfish Head. This is the second time in two years that I’ve taken us to Delaware. I don’t feel badly about it: 75 Minute is another great offering from a craft brewery that inspires the entrepeneur and craft beer advocate in all of us. Dogfish often uses adjuncts such as raisins, honey, or in the case of the bottle-conditioned 75 Minute, maple syrup from owner/brewer Sam Caglione’s family’s farm in Montague, MA. The most popular offerings from Dogfish Head include the brewery’s 60- as well as 90- and 120-minute IPA’s, each of which refer to the number of minutes that hops are continuously added to the kettle. 75 Minute is made from a blend of 60- and 90-minute, batches of beer are brewed separately, then combined. Post-fermentation, the beers are blended, then maple syrup is added just before bottling. The result is a deliciously sweet, velvety beer of hazy, light-orange complexion with floral and citrus aromas. In this example of secondary fermentation, the maple syrup ferments out in the bottle to contribute added complexity, body and finer bubbles, making this larger brew of 7.5% alcohol easier to digest.

No interview with Sam Caglione here, but do check out his book, Brewing Up a Business, available from BPL.

Tavern Ale, White Birch Brewing, Hookset, NH (74 miles from Jamaica Plain)
While some breweries set out by cloning what‘s popular in the market, not White Birch Brewing: Bill  Herlicka brews what he likes — not what necessarily “sells.” That said, White Birch is among our more popular breweries here at City Feed, which says something about our customers: You have a soft spot for
small-batch, bottle-conditioned beers. We are told that City Feed is one of Boston’s top retailers in Boston by volume. From Bill Herlicka, “Thank you.” In regards to scale and notoriety, White Birch is on the smaller end of the spectrum. Bill started by brewing 20 barrels (or 600 gallons) at a time; at that rate, he would need to brew 4000 batches (or eleven batches a day, seven days a week) to equal the over twenty-five million bottles’ worth of beer that Dogfish produces annually. Together, it’s the Dogfish Heads and White Birches of the East Coast that provide such variety of method, philosophy and style.

Check out these links below to hear from Bill himself about his brewery’s history, the beer, and the future of White Birch. Don’t miss Bill’s story on the Tavern Ale!

Black Fly Stout, Gritty McDuff’s, Portland, ME (112 miles from Jamaica Plain)
Many customers have come to City Feed looking for a “local Guiness.” While most would say that there is nothing like a Guiness, we can still feel good about offering Black Fly Stout as a local alternative. Black Fly is brewed as an Irish Stout, which says of itself that it is a dry, dark beer made with roasted barley
(as opposed to malted barley), which adds the coffee and roasted notes associated with the stout style. With Black Fly Stout, we present to you a sessionable ale of lower alcohol (4.1%) that I find most pleasing in the evening after dinner, with dessert, or by itself to enjoy by the fire. Noteworthy: Gritty’s Black Fly is ranked as “World Class” by the Alström Brothers at Beer Advocate. We think you’ll agree!

I caught up with Ed Stebbins, the founder and brewmaster at Gritty’s. Listen up!

City Feed Pickled Green Tomatoes, RI Harvest Kitchen, Providence, RI (103 miles from JP)
These are the same pickled green tomatoes that we use in our famous “Farmer’s Lunch” sandwich. If you’d like to try it at home, put together on bread (we recommend a hardy white or multi-grain), 3-4 slices of pickled green tomato, thick-sliced sharp cheddar cheese, 3-4 slices of Granny Smith apple, mayo, grain mustard and red leaf lettuce. Enjoy!

The Decmeber newsletter has been prepared & written by Craig Panzer. If you have any questions about this month’s share, anything you’ve always wanted to know but have been too afraid to ask, send us an email ( and we’ll do our best to provide the info you’re looking for!

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