Mark’s sister Michelle got us all a brew session at Hopsters in Newton, MA for Christmas. We tried some of the beers they brew themselves while we were brewing and waiting.
Newtonian – 7.4%
Medium body IPA with a piney hop flavor. Not that hoppy or that bitter, a little bit lacking it seemed.
Newton Corner Porter – 7%
Megan said it was delicious. Robust, not that chocolately, with some subtle dark fruit notes. Mark likes this as well, robust, light in body with a smooth, clean finish.
Comet Citra – 5.5%
Not that hoppy for a citra IPA. They describe it as having ‘subtle tropical notes and grapefruit’, but these tropical fruit notes were very, very subtle. This was kind of lacking overall flavor, low hop flavor, not very bitter, very subtle fruit notes. This was significantly lower in alcohol than the other ipa’s.
Sour Vacation – 3.5%
A tart beer with a lemon flavor. Mark liked it, Megan thought it was just ok, maybe it was the lemon flavor, she wonders if it would have been better served with a lime.
Leaf Blower – 5%
Maureen ordered this, said ‘yup, it’s a beer’. It was described as a ‘clean, crisp, light american ale’, Mark’s agree’s.
Ship of Fools – 6.3%
More hoppy, more flavor, more bitterness than the other 2 IPA’s. A little bit of a juicy hop flavor, not that much, but more. Jason and Mark agreed it was the best of the IPA’s, Jason said more identifiable hop flavors.
They have a few guest taps as well:
ABC Ginger Libation – 8.7%
Everyone liked this, Maureen and Michelle got glasses of it so we all tried it. It was fairly sweet with a good ginger flavor, light in body. Does not taste like it is 8.7%. Maureen thought it was delicious.
Citizen Cider – Dirty Mayor – 6.9%
Pretty good ginger cider, not as sweet as the ABC Ginger Libation.
They offer all sorts of food, too. We got a Buffalo Chicken Dip while
we were waiting for the mash to boil.
We decided to brew the German Hefeweizen beer. We figured that is a style of beer all 5 of us would like. We ordered our first round of beers, and shortly after that met up with our brewing guide.
We started out in the ingredients room where he gave us an overview of what we would be doing, and to gather the ingredients we needed.
This is the Liquid Malt Extract. It is basically the wort, pre-made. If we were to make the beer from the beginning, called all grain brewing, that would take all day. That is the way Hopsters makes the beers they serve, and the way most breweries make their beer. In order to make it more time efficient, they have the extract for us to use. We are basically just skipping the first time consuming step.
We learned a little bit about hops, got to smell them, and pick out which ones we wanted to use, on the recommendation of our brewer. We only used an ounce of hops for bittering near the beginning and an ounce of hops near the end of the boil for aromatics. There is not very much hops in a german hefeweizen.
We went with one traditional choice of the Saaz hops for bittering. We decided to go with Cascade hops for the late addition aromatic hop, on the recommendation of Mark. Mark wanted to mix up the recipe, just a little. The brewer recommended that we use the Cascade as the aromatic hop, so that’s what we did.
Megan added the Liquid Malt Extract while Michelle slowly stirred it in.
After the Liquid Malt Extract and Saaz hops were added it had to boil for 1 hour. We grabbed a few seats near the bar and got some more beers, and Buffalo Chicken Dip.
The final stir after we added the Cascade hop pellets.
Sanitizing the bag with Iodine so we could transfer our beer into the plastic keg.
Michelle had to sanitize her hands, too, before poking the bag funnel into the keg.
Our beer passed through a small cooling system as it was being transferred into the keg.
There is our beer!
Jason starting out the bottling session.
Bottles sanitized and drying.
Push the middle lever down, it puts the sealer top down over the bottle.
Michelle holding the lever on the right down for 2 seconds, it fills the bottle with CO2.
Michelle filling the bottle up, hold the lever on the left down until the bottle
is filled almost to the top, leave about and inch of space.
Mark helping Michelle figure out where the beer level is, sometimes
its hard to see, the beer foams up as it starts to fill.
Our beer! You can upload a jpg file to the website and they print out labels for you. Make sure you send it at least a week before you are going in to bottle. Mark made this custom label for us in Photoshop.
The beer turned out pretty good and the process was fun. However, we have 2 major complaints. There is not enough room, anywhere in this place. There was no room at the bar or tables while we were brewing, the brewing area was pretty cramped, and so was the bottling area, there was no room at all. We would have loved it if they had put aside seats for those brewing. We would have ordered more, and wouldn’t have had a few seats stolen when we got up to perform a step.
The other issue was they sell just about all their beers for $8 each. That’s too much for every beer to be that price, maybe 1 or 2, but not all of them. We only had 1 beer each when we went back for our bottling session, then went somewhere else to drink.
Tuesday – Friday: 4:00 pm -12:00 am
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am
You can schedule your brewing and bottling sessions online at their website, or
check them out on Facebook for the most up to date info.