Drink This Now: Northfield IPA by Aeronaut Brewing Company
After a summer stint in Allston, Aeronaut Brewing Company cofounders Ronn Friedlander, Daniel Rassi, and Benjamin Holmes have returned their full attention to the Somerville taproom. That means new beers are on the way, including a few cold weather seasonals. And, it means the return of a favorite: This time of year is when they brew their Northfield IPA.
In fact, it’s the only shot they have each year to make it. That’s because the Northfield is wet-hopped. While most beers use hops that are dried or processed, wet hop beers are brewed with cones picked right from the vine. These fresh hops retain more of their natural flavors, but degrade quickly after being harvested. To keep that from happening, breweries like Aeronaut need to act quickly.
“We get these hops the day that they’re plucked off the field at Four Star [Farms],” Holmes says. “Some days, we’ll bring the hops back with us, or when there are a lot of them, we ship them via a refrigerated overnight truck. We brew with them the next morning to ensure no process of decay or aging happens.”
Holmes and his team have brewed the IPA every year since starting up in 2014, using fresh hops from the Northfield farm. Due to the crop’s seasonality, and the short window to harvest them each fall, every batch has had slight variations. This year’s IPA uses exclusively Centennial, though Holmes says past iterations have used additional varieties, like Magnum.
When brewed fresh, wet hop beers can offer a wealth of flavor not present in regular brews. Holmes describes Aeronaut’s take as a classic American IPA that’s a tad malty with an “ephemeral” aroma.
“The wet hop ingredient has this glorious, delicate character,” Holmes says. “In the case of these New England hops, it’s dominantly fruity, [and] somewhat floral.”
Holmes expects the kegs to kick within the next two weeks, so hurry in. But if you miss out on the Northfield IPA, the team just tapped another beer sourced from Four Star Farms. Appropriately named Field Day 2016, this wheat pale ale is brewed with sumac berries gathered from the property. Aeronaut is also kicking off a new sour program in the coming days, which will feature a spontaneously-fermented Berliner weisse, called First Steps on a Sour Planet.
Aeronaut isn’t the only Massachusetts brewery taking advantage of this year’s hop harvest. Cape Ann Brewing Company’s Home Port Pale Ale, brewed with water from the Charles River, is wet hopped with 30 pounds of Cascade hops.
Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-987-4236, aeronautbrewing.com.