A New Englander’s Guide to Midwest Beer
While there’s new Massachusetts beer to sip every day, we humbly suggest occasionally turning your attention to some of the sips hitting shelves and draft lines near you from regions beyond New England—even from the Midwest. No, we’re not talking about the sought-after whales from breweries like Indiana’s 3 Floyds and Bell’s in Michigan, whose brews are borderline unattainable in New England. But a peppery saison from Kansas City, a single-hop Belgian pale ale series from Chicagoland, and more are all worthy of your next pint.
Below is a practical introduction to Midwest beer for the perennial Bostonian, to help make your drinking excursions a little less local next time.
Tank 7 by Boulevard Brewing Company
The Kansas City, Missouri, brewery’s flagship is named for the finicky fermenter that wrought the beer’s existence. In the ensuing six years, the 8.5 percent ABV farmhouse ale has made moves toward the East Coast, particularly in the past year, when it’s been found at places like Pastoral in Fort Point, and Lulu’s Allston. Tank 7 is making retail appearances in large format bottles and 12-ounce four-packs with more frequency too, so check Boulevard’s beer finder to find out where to get this peppery and grapefruit-y saison.
Scotty Karate by Dark Horse Brewing Company
Just shy of 10 percent ABV, this Michigan-based Scotch ale is a stealthy beer that will kick you into submission if you’re not careful. It’s dark in color and has a nutty, malt-forward sweetness, matched by a subtle alcoholic backbone. But there’s more complexity than that: think smoky, and even toffee flavors. Scotty is a wee bit hard to find around here, but it’s shown up at bars like the Ginger Man in the Financial District, so give Dark Horse’s beer locater a try and keep an eye out for it.
Jungle Boogie by Marz Community Brewing Company
Sleek branding and a whimsical name are only part of the charm of this Chicago-made beer. Jungle Boogie is a pale wheat ale brewed with rooibos tea making it a slightly fruity, exotic-yet-crushable alternative to an IPA. The beer is often available in 16-ounce cans at stores like Craft Beer Cellar, and the juice has found its way to the draft lines at Lord Hobo, Row 34, and Loyal Nine in the past month. We hear a peach variety is in the works, so watch Marz’s Twitter for Boston-area updates.
Cidergeist by Rhinegeist Brewery
This Cincinnati, Ohio, brewery has had its share of quality beers come out the door, including Truth IPA, which Boston-area drinkers can get their hands on when Rhinegeist expands distribution here late in September. But it’s the cider with a similar moniker that’s been gaining traction so far. The Cidergeist series launched around here in February, with a semi-dry variety, a dry-hopped offering, and even a “Bubbles” blend, cider mixed with cranberry juice. Cans tend to be easier to locate, but don’t rule out draft: Hugh O’Neill’s in Malden and Bukowski Tavern have had it.
Punk Rock for Rich Kids by Solemn Oath Brewery
Yeah, it’s another beer from Illinois. This Belgian pale ale blends malty sweetness and faint spices together so well. Each batch is brewed exclusively with one hop (the latest uses Nugget) for a varyingly bitter, fruity, or dry finish. Good luck finding it in stores ’round these parts at the moment (though Solemn Oath is ramping up distribution), but Punk Rock for Rich Kids been on draft at bars like Brewers Fork in Charlestown and Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville.