It was about time

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One of the first suggestions I received from new friends when I moved to Connecticut from the Midwest in August of 2013 was, “go to Tree House.” Like many other young people who have busy work schedules, I always found a reason to put off taking a quick drive to Massachusetts on an early Saturday to give it a try. This past December I was lucky enough to hitch a ride with a couple friends on a cool, sunny morning, and it was totally worth it.

This place is really a joy. They have set hours that you can find on their website, and you better get there early to line up. You can buy cans of beer as long as they have them, and can get a limited number of growlers. You also can check what’s on tap before you get there. Since it was my first time, I tried two of the beers that are staples, and had been highly recommended to me: Green, and Julius.

Julius is described on Tree House’s website as “freakishly drinkable,” and that’s right on. It smells juicy and almost has a refreshing aroma of the outdoors. When Julius hits your mouth all you taste is wonderful, mango-y fruit. It develops a full, bitter flavor as it rolls down your tongue. The best thing about Julius is that it leaves you with a unique citrus-y after taste, and makes for a light end to a full flavor. Julius floats away gracefully, leaving you wanting to have another big sip every time.

Green looks good at first glance. It appears beautifully golden and cloudy. You can tell before you even take a drink that this is going to be a quality experience. You’ll even read later on that Green gets its name from¬†the initial batch in which, post boil, the wort looked green from so much hop particulate floating around. If you like hops – you’ll like this. Green is full of both American and Australian hops making the bitter, citrus flavor wonderfully unique. It starts with hops, ends with hops, and leaves you full, in case you wanted a meal.

Tree House has a bunch of other wonderful beers you can snatch up assuming you get there in time. Find out more about Tree House on their website, or on Twitter @TreeHouseBrewCo.

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IP…L

IPL

I want to say the conversation I had the most over the holiday break both in person and on facebook is the one where we debate whether or not the craft beer world has gotten over-obsessed with hops, and thus alienated potential members of our community because of our unreasonable obsession with bitterness.

I land in the camp that says brewers brew to serve their audience, and so what if we like hoppy beer? We’re supporting the industry. I would also argue that part of the issue folks have with IPA is the texture, not just the taste.

In the spirit of being solutions-oriented and finding a happy medium for everyone – I thought I’d take a minute to highlight a great choice for all of you out there who want to try some good craft beer, but aren’t quite ready to feel like you’re eating rye bread instead of drinking a smooth, well crafted beer.

Enter the IPL (India Pale Lager).

An IPL or APL is probably going to give you the hop flavor that maybe you don’t think you’re a fan of, but the texture of a lager will make your beer much easier to drink. It goes down more easily, and sits better in your stomach. The IPL is perfect for someone who hasn’t taken to IPAs – I promise at first you won’t even notice all the hops you’re drinking, because it’s just not going to be as coarse as an IPA you’d typically try.

I want to take a minute to talk about two beers you can get here in Hartford where I live. One is the George Jones IPL from City Steam Brewery¬†(pictured above). I write about City Steam pretty often so I’m going to stop here to make sure folks in the neighborhood¬†know it’s there, and say it’s good – try it.

Today I want to talk about Jack’s Abby Brewing, a real gem up in Massachusetts, and basically a champion of Pale Lagers. I’ve had their Kiwi Rising, made with hops from New Zealand (Kiwi Hops not to be confused with actual Kiwi flavor). This is a smooth beer that blends a hoppy and citrus taste perfectly. If you’re in New York, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, this beer is a must have. I bet Jack’s Abby will¬†convince you or your hop hating friends that they can make it in the craft beer world. Jack’s Abby gets all the props for bringing diversity to the hoppy beer world.

You can find Jack’s Abby on twitter @JacksAbby.

If you want to read more thoughts on IPLs, I’ll send you to a couple articles from 2013 in the Washington Post and Burlington Free Press¬†that joined the conversation about how we like our hops.