What to Expect at Ball Square Wine’s Fourth Annual Beer Fest This Weekend
This Saturday marks Ball Square Fine Wine’s 4th annual beer festival, a free (!!) event that focuses on more obscure beers from the likes of locals like Mystic Brewery and White Birch Brewing. “We wanted a chance for lesser known, better quality beer to have a tasting,” says Jonathan Vargas, beer manager at Ball Square Fine Wines (a 2011 Best of Boston winner in the wine category). “It’s a smaller, high end version of craft events.”
He’ll be showcasing 40 brews from 12 different producers, most of which are either local and have gotten little attention, or just getting off the ground. To encourage attendance, the shop will also be offering a five-to-10 percent discount on brews, depending on the amount of beer purchased. Vargas recommends showing upearly though, because last year’s event drew about 250 people—and the store had to turn away customers. We consulted the shop’s beer buyer, John Drislane, for some deets on the top brewers to look out for.
Mystic Brewery: This local producer brews their beer off-site, and ferments their beer in Chelsea. They specialize in both Cabernet Sauvignon and bourbon barrel fermentation and aging. They will be tasting both the styles at the festival. Must try brew: Barrel Saison—The Saison is bubbly and effervescent, but fermenting in the Cabernet Sauvignon barrel mellows out the fruity, spicy flavors, giving it a red wine taste.
White Birch Brewing: White Birch is known for their unique twist on wild beers. The Hooksett, New Hampshire-based brewery shifts the Belgium style by adding different malts and making it their own, Drislane says. Must try brew: Wild Ale—Dark fruity flavors mixed with oak; medium carbonation.
St. Feuillien Brewery: St. Feuillien is spottily available, and Drislane says he bought up all available beer for the store that he could. The Belgium beer is one of the shop’s specialty items and highest quality pale ale. Must try brew: Grand Cru—Sweet with light fruit, light wine character; high carbonation.
Boulevard Brewing Company: Based in Kansas City, Mo., they did not begin shipping beer to Boston until last September. The company is fairly well distributed, but has a very high quality line, said John Drislane, beer buyer at Ball Square Fine Wines. Must try brew: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale—Floral and citrusy hops; light flavor; 8 percent alcohol content, but well balanced.
(4th annual beer festival, Saturday, March 31, 2 to 5 p.m., Ball Square Fine Wines, 716 Broadway Somerville, 617-623-9500, ballsqfinewines.com)