I visited Cambridge brewing on a previous trip where I tried their hoppy offerings and found them to be solidly old school, (read not particularly interesting). This time I stuck to some other styles but only tried a couple because they don’t serve tasters. The Grisette was pretty average for the style, with notes of biscuit malts and mild fruit.
I also tried the Hendrix, a gin-barrel-aged sour with cucumber. It was an interesting beer and nicely balanced but I didn’t particularly care to drink a full pour of it. Rather than gin I tasted more tequila with some mild oak notes. Word online is that some of their limited-release sours are fantastic but once again I can’t verify that. Based on their offerings on tap, I would suggest a visit to Trillium for sours over Cambridge Brewing.
Lamplighter is about half-mile walk from Cambridge Brewing. They thankfully offered tasters because I only liked two of the four beers I tried. Sadly the taster flights are set and you can’t build your own. I opted for the hoppy flight.
The Watchman, hoppy wheat, was creamy and soft with minimal bitterness and notes of citrus and guava. I could see myself ordering a pint of this one for sure. The Chief Hopper had strong esters on the back and a strong bitter finish. I didn’t care for this one at all. The Lion Eyes Hoppy Brett IPA had a ton of floral hops and brett on the nose with a strong herbal hop character and strong bitter finish. Once again I was reminded I don’t like beers bittered with Azaca hops.
The Double IPA was soft with notes of mango, tropical fruit, and honeydew melon with minimal bitterness. I quite enjoyed this one even if it was a bit sweet. The porter was solidly average with notes of dark fruit and roast with a medium body and dry finish.
Both Lamplighter and Cambridge brewing make solid beer though I would recommend Lamplighter simply because you can order a flight to find out what you enjoy and order that. Lamplighter also had a few beers that were available to-go in cans but that you couldn’t taste. I didn’t try any of those.
Trillium is located a 30 minute drive or an hour by public transit in the area of Canton south of Boston. They also have a shop downtown Boston where you can pick up cans to go but can’t taste anything. They also have a seasonal beer-garden in downtown Boston where you can order some of their beers in an outdoor setting though they have a more limited tap list than the brewery and everything is served as one size of pour in plastic cups. I’m glad I made the trip to the brewery this time because I got to try a larger number of their beers and determine my favorite to decide which cans to buy. The tap room gets quite crowded and thus quite loud from the noise of people and the music.
I started with the Summer Street and Congress Street hazy IPAs. All the various Street beers are brewed similar but with different hop profiles. Summer Street was tasty with strong tropical fruit character including pineapple, medium hop acidity, and a sticky bitter finish The Congress Street was more mellow with less harsh acidity, a bit softer, sporting notes of papaya and mango with some pine bitterness. The Motueka Free Rise, hoppy saison, was earthy and not very hoppy with a dry finish. It was a pretty average saison and not up to the level of Tired Hands. Melchior Street was my favorite of the streets I tried. It had a fantastic mix of pineapple and pine with mild bitterness and acidity. It was the most balanced of the bunch.
Secret Stairs is their 8% alchol stout. It was smoky and roasty with notes of burnt caramel and a medium bitter finish. The Night and Day imperial stout with coffee was quite impressive with notes of mild smoke and caramel that blend nicely with strong acidic coffee. I got little noticeable hint of alcohol in the taste. Mettle is the one beer from the bunch I had before. The double IPA had tons of fruit and citrus notes from the hops with a mild acidic finish. It was soft and delicious. I compared this side by side with Uppercase, which was also quite soft with lots of tropical fruit and citrus with a mild acidic finish. Both double IPAs were quite impressive.
The Raspberry Soak was a pretty basic fruity light alcohol sour with lots of lactic acid and mild raspberry flavor but little complexity. It is pretty standard for the fruited berliner weisse that most breweries serve these days, tart but boring. The Permutation 11, barrel aged sour with peaches, was a delightful mix of soft body, sweet peaches, and mild pepper notes. It was a nice middle ground between the highly acidic style that is quite common and the pure fruit juice style I’ve had from others. I probably would have bought some bottles if they were available for a reasonable price.
Though the price of each 5oz pour was high, ranging from $4-5, it is worth going down at least once so that you can try all the beers they have available. Plus they have air conditioning and keep the area at least cooler than outside. Once you discover your favorites, you can easily pick up cans from the shop in Downtown Boston.
Melchior Street Hazy IPA
Uppercase Hazy Double IPA
Pemutation 11 Peach Sour