Bitter is Better at Trillium Brewing Company

This past weekend we traveled to Boston, MA for Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th birthday party. On our way up north, we enjoyed a great pit stop at Two Roads Brewing Co. in Connecticut. Our second pit stop before reaching our AirBnB in East Boston was Trillium Brewing Company in Canton, MA, about 20-30 minutes outside of Boston. We had heard a great deal about Trillium lately but haven’t seen much of their product down here in PA. We were excited to experience their brewery and beers and finally felt like we can be  part of the popular kids in school. Trillium is a relative newcomer to the craft beer world, having established themselves in 2013 at their original Fort Point neighborhood location in South Boston. Since then, they opened their large brewing facility and taproom in Canton, with the Fort Point location currently focused more on bottle distribution and piloting small batch beers. However, they have plans to expand the Fort Point location to include a restaurant and brewery set to open in 2018.

Upon arrival, we were impressed by the size and busyness of the Canton location. The parking lot was filled beyond capacity — we ended up parked a block away on a side street. Expecting a long wait to get our beers, we were surprised to see that we could walk right up to the bar and order straight away. We’re still not certain where they put all of those people parked outside, but we are definitely not complaining about it. The facility is divided, with the right side serving as the taproom and the left for purchases of growlers, crowlers, and beer-to-go. The building was modern with rustic elements, including old barrels for seating. It is dog friendly, so if you love bringing your pooch on your brewery visits, this is a great place to go. The brewing area is to the side of the taproom, offering a commanding presence from their huge steel tanks — it is quite an operation. They had a wide selection of beers, with the hoppy New England varieties the most prominent along with a few darker beers and some funky sour options. We tried two IPAs – the Farnsworth Street IPA and Heavy Mettle Double IPA, two pale ales – the Double Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale and the Launch Beer Pale Ale, and the PM Dawn American Stout with Cold Brew Coffee. We were blown away by the hoppiness of their IPAs — incredibly full flavor and massively bitter with loads of citrus. They really pay homage to the New England hop-forward tradition! Our favorites of the hop varieties were the Farnsworth Street IPA and the Launch Beer — we found them to be well balanced and refreshing. We grabbed a four-pack of the Launch Beer to share with our family, and it was very well received. The PM Dawn stout was also delicious; the cold-press coffee was a prominent flavor and provided a refreshing change of pace from the hoppy beers. However, we’d recommend having the stout BEFORE the hoppy beers, as the bitterness of the IPAs can dampen the taste of the stout. All in all, Trillium is very hip, very hoppy, and a great place to experience true New England-style beers.

Have you been to Trillium before? Let us know in the comments! Check out our other brewery reviews here.

Cheers!

Bethany and Mike

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Two Pints Takes the Road Less Traveled

img_0542This past weekend we found ourselves trekking up to New England once again, though this time heading to Boston for the weekend to celebrate Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th (!) birthday. It wouldn’t be a Two Pints trip without a smattering of brewery visits interspersed with family time. One of our favorite past times is seeking out local breweries in areas we pass through on our way to our various destinations — it helps break up long drives and gives us an opportunity to visit breweries we may not otherwise get to see. We were excited to see that Two Roads Brewing Co, located in Stratford, CT, was just a few minutes off Route 95 north, about a third of the way through the state and just under three hours from the Lehigh Valley. Looking back over our extensive Instagram collection, we were surprised by how many Two Roads beers we have enjoyed and shared – they have been consistently solid with top-notch flavors.

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The brewery itself did not disappoint! It is housed in the former Baird press manufacturing building which was erected in 1911. The brewery makes great use of the space, stylishly blending a modern, open-air taproom overlooking the brewing area while maintaining the historic feel of the original building. The large, rectangular bar sits in the center of the taproom with seating on all sides, surrounded by some smaller tables spaced throughout. The taproom creates a jovial inviting atmosphere perfect for enjoying their beer. Speaking of beer, we didn’t have a beer we didn’t like from the ten we sampled in our flights. We tried most of the year-round options, including their best-selling Honeyspot Road IPA, Worker’s Comp Saison, Road2Ruin Double IPA, and the Nitro Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout — out of this group, the Double IPA and the Coffee Stout were our favorites. It’s not east to find a perfectly balanced double IPA that doesn’t leave you feeling punched in the mouth by hops, but is bitter enough to leave you craving your next sip; however, Two Roads has absolutely mastered that art in the Road2Ruin.  The coffee stout was also a delight — strong and flavorful cold-brew taste with a clean finish, perfect for the chilly weather.  We also imbibed some of their more limited releases.  img_0540-1We were impressed by the Miles 2 Go, an unfiltered pale ale brewed using decoction mashing, an intensive multi-step mash process thought to be the best method to fully release the malt flavors. The labor paid off in this beer, as it had an incredibly full flavor of hops as well as the sweeter malt taste — it was far more complex and interesting in taste than your standard pale ale. We love our history, so it is exciting when brewers pay homage to old methods of the craft. We also sampled a pilot release beer, the Field Yield Pale Ale. This beer was brewed with fresh citrus and floral-forward hops grown and harvested from the brewery’s own hopyard. It is described as having “fresh and hoppy effervescence,” which is accurate — the freshness of the hops give it a bright, bursting, yet light bitterness with clear notes of citrus and grapefruit.

All in all, we were downright bummed to have to leave Two Roads to continue on our journey. It is a fantastic brewery to visit with a great vibe and even better beers. Excitingly, Two Roads recently broke ground on Area Two Experimental Brewing which will be built adjacent to the current brewery and will feature Brett, sour, and spirit-based beers. It is set to open in Fall of 2018, so keep an eye out for their new releases.

Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews of Trillium Brewing, Downeast Cider, and Harpoon Brewing! Check out other brewery reviews here.

Cheers!

Bethany and Mike

Plan a Beercation to Vermont and Maine

Hey, Lehigh Valley! Looking to take a beer-inspired vacation in Vermont and Maine? We have a plan for you to make the most of your trip, including where to stay, what to do, and of course, what to drink. We took a trip a couple weeks ago and whittled down our adventure to the perfect plan for a 5-7 day beercation in beautiful New England, home to the best of the ubiquitous NE-style IPA. If you time it right, you can also get some great hiking and fall foliage in, or you can hit the slopes at one of the many nearby ski resorts. Here’s your itinerary:

Day 1: Hit the road and head up to Woodstock, VT. Look for a historic New England-style bed and breakfast, a local ski resort, or even one of many campgrounds in the area. If you have enough time,  you’ll be able to hit some breweries on your way north. Newburgh Brewing Company and Keegan Ales are just a few minutes off 87, as well as a flurry of other breweries in New York State. Choose your pit stops wisely since you have to get back in your car and drive a few more hours. Don’t drink and drive, kids.

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Enjoying the Rock Art Brewing’s Ridge Runner at the top of Mt. Ascutney

Day 2: Enjoy the village of Woodstock! Woodstock is quaint, historic, and full of New England charm with a heavy dollop of artsy, free-range organic pottery types. They are also home to a noteworthy beer store that has lots of unique finds and a load of local Vermont beers – Woodstock Hops and Barley.  Once you’re stocked up on beer, cruise over to Mt. Ascutney and either hike the full climb or drive up the mountain and hike the 1 mile to the summit and observation tower for stunning 360 degree views. If you are interested in museums, the Billings Farm & Museum offers history on Vermont’s rural life, with farming demos and livestock. After your exercise and/or education, Head over to Harpoon Brewery Riverbend,, which is about 20 minutes southeast of Woodstock.

95f416ea-f7cd-46db-a8e5-5cb0c61beb7a-1This is an outpost from Harpoon’s main gig in Boston, MA. It sits right along the Connecticut River at the border of VT and NH. It is delightfully quiet and low-key during the mid-week, off-season time and has excellent beers and delicious house-made soft pretzels (mmmmbeercheese). Head back to Woodstock for dinner at Worthy Kitchen which focuses on farm food and craft beer. We sipped on some local New England beers and Vermont hard cider while munching on poutine and wings.

 

Another Vermont brew at the Quechee Gorge

Day 3: Head east and visit the Quechee Gorge, which sits along the Connecticut River at the divide between Vermont and New Hampshire. Pull over and walk onto the bridge that spans the gorge for a beautiful (and slightly terrifying) photo opportunity. The Quechee Gorge Village is adorably kitschy (and it’s fun to say “kitschy Quechee”) and houses a Cabot cheese store (yum!), alpaca store (with live alpacas you can pet), bakery, souvenir shops, and most importantly, Vermont Spirits distillery. We were impressed by the distillery’s unique gins and spirits infused with Vermont maple syrup and honey. Once you get your fill of kitsch, cruise a bit farther east to River Roost Brewery, which is a small brewery with free (!) samples of 4-5 beers on tap. They had a great selection of NE IPAs when we visited. They don’t pour full pints, but across the road at Big Fatty’s BBQ, you can grab a pint and some amazing barbecue – we recommend the brisket mac ‘n’ cheese.

Day 4: Time to make your way over to Ogunquit, Maine. We found a great bed and breakfast in the oldest building in Ogunquit and had a wonderful stay – Black Boar Inn. Heading east through New Hampshire, you can make a pit stop or two at some fantastic breweries on the way. Don’t miss Henniker Brewing Co. which was one of our favorites of the trip.  It is tucked away in rural NH and we loved its friendly staff, cozy and comfortable vibe, and delicious brews. You can also find a number of breweries in Manchester, NH — however note that many of them don’t open until 4pm, so you’ll have to time your visits accordingly. Once you’re settled into your room in Ogunquit, you can ditch your car and get around the town and beach on foot. It has a stunning walking path right along the water that takes you through Ogunquit and up to Perkins Cove, where you can find the ultimate lobster roll for a classic Maine meal.

Day 5: Depending on the length of your stay and willingness to drive around Maine, one option would be to spend the day in Ogunquit and enjoy the boutique shops, restaurants, and ice cream shops while relaxing on the beach. Another option would be to make the 50-minute drive up to Portland, ME, which is one of the meccas of craft beer in New England. There are loads of them — you could spend a whole weekend there and not run out of breweries to sample.  Prior to heading into Portland, we had chatted with some locals about their favorite breweries to visit in Portland, and Bissell Brothers was mentioned quite a bit. One local said that it will probably be mobbed, as it is the “hot brewery” this year. Portland apparently has one brewery every year that all the cool kids go to, and this is the year of Bissell. Well, sometimes we want to feel like cool kids, so we planned our first stop to be Bissell Brothers. We arrived five minutes after they opened, walked in the door, and immediately walked back out. It was a big, airy space that was positively swarming with customers. If you’re up for a long wait and crowds to get a killer pint, it may be worth it. We didn’t want to spend half the day waiting in line so instead headed into Old Portland. We grabbed a lobster melt (so good) at Eastender and imbibed from their small but mighty list of Maine brews, finally getting a pint of Bissell Brothers (it was delicious) and an IPA from Maine Beer Company (also delicious). We then made our way to Liquid Riot Bottling Co. in Old Portland along the waterfront and nabbed seats that overlook the wharf. They had an awesome DIPA – the Beer Has No Name (+1 for Game of Thrones reference) that went down perfectly with a bowl of New England mussels and cockels. You may run into signs for Sebago Brewing Company — this would be one to skip. It was impersonal and felt like the Applebee’s of craft beer, housed in a Comfort Suites in Portland. Driving home from Portland we’d recommend two pit stops – one for lobster rolls, and another at Barreled Souls Brewing Co.. We loved the atmosphere at Barreled Souls — cozy, dark interior and a lawn area outside with Adirondack chairs and cornhole. They boasted some of the most unique beers we saw on the trip, with lots of funky sours and barrel-aged monsters.  Finish up your evening with artisanal pizza and craft beer at Cornerstone, a walk on the gorgeous Ogunquit beach at sunset, and some hilarity at the local piano bar.

Day 6: Try to quell your state of depression when realizing it is time to head home after such an idyllic beercation. Heading back down to PA, you can make one or two more pit stops at breweries in NH. We visited the largest brewery of the trip, Smuttynose Brewing Company. It’s a great choice to stop if you are in the area and interested in checking out a larger production system and a range of high quality beers (and lots of cute merch with the Smuttynose seal logo). They have a great on-site restaurant which is perfect for lunch. If you have more time, you can also visit the fishing village town of Portsmouth, which is home to a few craft breweries and a lovely waterfront. Five hours later, you’ll arrive back in the Valley, ready to brag to your friends about your amazing beercation.

This trip is easily adjusted for length of stay/activities/time of year. We can’t wait to visit the area again, especially Portland, ME to check out more of their craft beer scene. Thinking of having your own NE beercation? Tell us about it below!

Local beer and beautiful beach. What more do you need?