The Dog Days of Summer, Or; Where to Bring Your Favorite Growler

I'm going to start this whole thing off with a rather unpopular opinion - the Fourth of July is not the start of summer - it is the midpoint of summer...and friends, we are well past that midpoint.

Boston in the summer is great for a wide range of activities. You can take a trip to the Harbor Islands, squeeze your beach chair between spike ball games in Southie, get a sunburn while "tanning" on the Greenway, spend $16.00 on a ticket and $42.00 on beer at Fenway, and much more. But here at Hops and Stops we have two main ingredients for the perfect summer day - great beer and a great dog [not a hot dog, though a good ballpark frank does hit the spot].

Beers and dogs - while visibly different - can also be quite similar. They both bring people together. We always appreciate their presence, but tend to have our favorites. While one can be carried in a growler, the other, when carried, may become a growler. Finally - if you happen to have more than six of either, you're probably a pain in the ass to be around.

Some of you may have noticed that the Hops and Stops team has grown in recent months. Kevin - Hops and Stops' better-looking, less-punctual co-founder - recently welcomed Rudy - a Fox Red Lab - to the crew.

Rudy.JPG

Though we have to wait until Rudy is 3 years old - 21 in dog years - for him to join a tour with Hops and Stops, we've already scoped out our favorite breweries and brew-gardens where we can bring along our four-legged friend.

  • The American Fresh Beer Garden by Slumbrew is an open-air brew-garden experience that is welcome to dogs. Come swing by after a nice shopping trip or on a walk through the new developments at Assembly Row
  • Mystic Brewery has an indoor space that is pup-friendly. Keep an eye on your dog as you sit back and enjoy cold brew and delicious pours, while playing giant Jenga or the Bimini Ring Game
  • Trillium's new brew-garden is a puppy playground. Situated right on the Greenway, the Trillium brew-garden is hopping Wednesday to Sunday - if you haven't been there yet, I honestly don't know what you are waiting for.
  • If the weather is right, the Bone Up front porch is open for well-behaved dogs coming along for a relaxing day with their best friends. Who doesn't love a pup-porch.
  • The Night Shift patio is dog friendly and they run Pups and Pints every so often
  • Dorchester Brewing Company is always dog friendly on their porch and also runs Puppy Yappy Hour throughout the brewery to benefit Big Fluffy Dog Rescue every few weeks
  • Lord Hobo in Woburn has an indoor, dog-friendly space
  • Cambridge Brewing Company's outdoor patio is convenient and dog-friendly
  • If you're up for a road trip, feel free to bring your pup to Far From the Tree, Red Hook, Stoneface, Allagash, and more!

With temperatures dipping into the mid-50s yesterday, the team at Hops and Stops is here to remind you that the warmth that comes out in Boston for our 10-week summer is a fleeting thing that must be held and cherished. Now don't get me wrong - hanging inside at one of our favorite breweries under a cool fan or A/C is a dream on the days when it is simply too hot to be outside. But - when you take the time to think about the eight months of certain cold we'll be hit with again come October - we feel it is our solemn duty to remind you all to get up and drink outside (or inside at some dog-friendly spot!). 

We hope to see you out there. If you're lucky, you may run into Rudy or another pupper during your next day out at the brewery.

Welcoming A Summer of Sours

With a quick glance around any taproom, one can easily tell that sours and fruited ales are becoming more and more common across Boston and across the country. From puckered faces and squinty-eyed first sips to refreshing sounds of lips smacking in the liquid goodness of a well crafted brew, there's something about sours that makes the experience of drinking even more special. 

With the Fourth of July ever so recently in our rear-view, there is no denying that we are truly in the heart of the Boston summer. We've seen the Tall Ships grace our harbors, we have Shakespeare in the Common bringing Romeo and Juliet to the masses, and we have twenty-five innovative breweries bringing their best sours to the 'We're Funk'd Festival' this Sunday in Walpole. 

Though thousands cried out against the loss of Harpoon's Big Squeeze (a shandy, we know, but a hell of a sour one) this year, a quick hop across to some of the local area breweries proves there is a host of sour and fruited ales for those of us looking for a crisp, refreshing alternative this summer. Night Shift has its Harborside, Aeronaut has its Passionfruit Sour Planet, Slumbrew has Gose Resolution,  Garde La Pêche, and Gose The Destroyer, Idle Hands has a new variety of its rotating Kill Your Idles (Tropical), and many more sour and fruited pours are sure to come. 

Writing this with one of Idle Hands' Kill Your Idles: Tropical in hand, I'm happy to see the rise of the sour in our local breweries. If you're in need of a good sour and want to share notes on some of Boston's local breweries, sign up for an upcoming tour with Hops and Stops - we look forward to seeing you soon!

 

NERAX and Melrose BEER + BITES

As Boston struggles to push away the cold and accept that it is actually spring, the Boston Craft community has events lined up throughout the week to keep us motivated while the weather makes up its mind.

NERAX 2017

With sessions running every day until Saturday, NERAX – the New England Real Ale Exhibition – offers attendees a unique opportunity to enjoy a wide selection of rarely seen, award-winning cask ales.

NERAX 2017 offers a mix of both UK and US-based “Real Ales” – top-fermented beers (including those that are cask conditioned) served by gravity or by a hand-pump.

Although advance tickets sales are closed, the event website notes that you can purchase tickets at the door for any of the upcoming sessions.

Event website: http://nerax.org/wp_nerax/nerax/

MELROSE BEER + BITES

Now in its second year, the BEER + BITES local craft brew tasting will be held at Memorial Hall in Melrose this Saturday. Although the evening session is already sold out, there are still a number of tickets available online for the afternoon session (2-5PM).

While attendees will feel great drinking and meeting with representatives from 16 local area breweries and cideries, they’ll feel even better knowing that a portion of all ticket sales go the Melrose Memorial Hall Restoration Fund. For $40.00, you can sip and enjoy an unlimited number of sample pours from local breweries, including Bone Up, Mighty Squirrel, Bent Water, and many others.

Event website: http://www.melrosebeerandbites.com/tickets-and-info.html

Top O' the M̶o̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ Weekend to Ya

While St. Patrick’s Day is officially March 17th, it seems that enterprising event planners around the country (and especially in the Boston area) have magically turned the entire month of March into a green-tinted, beer-fueled party. If you’ve been out and about in Boston since the start of the month, you might be worried that the best of the St. Patrick’s events are already behind us – but fear not – there are a host of events coming up in the next four days that will help justify the closet full of green you’ve been waiting to wear all season.

Kicking off the weekend, stop by Lamplighter for some delicious beers as well as an Irish Food Pop-up from 5PM – 9PM tonight. Longfellows Cambridge will be supplying Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Mashed Potatoes.

Aeronaut is hosting “For the Love of Ireland” - a HUGE event on both Friday and Saturday. The event will include Irish Music, Irish Dancers, Irish Singers, Irish Theater, a sneak-peak at the upcoming Irish Film Festival, the release of “1916” (an Irish Stout), and an auction in support of the Irish International Immigrant Center.

From 6-9PM on Friday, Mystic Brewery will have vegetarian shepherd's pie-flavored pierogi’s at the taproom in Chelsea.

Bone Up Brewery is open regular hours all weekend. While there aren’t any specific St. Patrick’s Day events, you can always throw down a couple glasses of “Green Smoothie” – an experimental, hop stew IPA – and keep in the colorful theme alive.

On Friday night, Slumbrew will be hosting its "Second Annual Flogging Molly Listening Party" with free Irish Beer Soda Bread and other food specials. Additionally, if you’re out by Assembly Row, check out Slumbrew’s recommended DIY Assembly Row Pub Crawl, and end your night with The Buzz, who will be Shamrocking the night away during a free show at the American Fresh Brewhouse on Friday night.

Nightshift has some special events set up for Friday evening, including Irish-inspired food from Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers (Irish Burgers, Irish Stew, Corned Beef, and Colcannon Egg Rolls) and music from the Irish American Police Officers Association Pipes & Drums and a set from Sam Reid & the Riot Act.

On Saturday, Dorchester Brewing Company will be releasing Savin Stout – an Irish dry Stout, served on Nitro. In the middle of the afternoon, they’ll have Irish-inspired food options from the folks at Revelry Food Truck and a live music from The Ivy Leaf.

On Sunday, be sure to pick up your favorite four-pack, six-pack, crowler, or growler and head to that party at your co-worker’s girlfriend’s college roommate’s cousin’s house for the annual Southie St. Patrick’s Parade, starting at 1PM.

Fully Embracing Feb-Brew-Ary

February has been wild – we’ve seen both blizzard conditions and a taste of Spring all in a matter of weeks – snowing us in one day, while letting this year’s Boston Marathoners get out in shorts for their "long runs" the next.

Meanwhile, the Boston craft beer scene has been a whirlwind as well. Despite the worst of this month’s weather, nearly all of Boston’s breweries were open and operating throughout the storms – from tap rooms to local beer sellers, the snow did little to limit imbibing and production.

Events were in full force as well – February kicked off with Extreme Beer Fest in the Seaport, showcasing 250 beers from over 70 brewers during the event, and inspired a number of local events, such as the Other Half Brewing and Trillium tap takeover at Row 34. The annual Boston Globe Travel Show also featured a Craft Beer Pavilion, showcasing several regional offerings, including Aeronaut, Bantam, Bent Water, and more.

After the smashing success of the limited release #ThanksObama in January, Slumbrew made waves with the return of “My Better Half Imperial Cream Ale” and the announcement of their newest location - the American Fresh Brewhouse at Assembly Row.

In Everett, Bone Up released nearly a half-dozen new brews, including Chance – a dark, sweet Milk Stout with a smooth taste and a slight “zip” from chipotle and black peppercorns.

Speaking of Everett and Milk Stouts, Night Shift powered through the snowstorms this month with an crowded tap room thanks in part to the release of “Cow Tipper”, a sweet, smooth stout brewed with Chocolate and Lactose. At 6.0%, “Cow Tipper” is an especially drinkable Milk Stout perfect for a winter evening by the fireplace or as an "anytime" dessert beer.

With March around the corner, keep your eyes open for the inevitable St. Patrick's Day events across the city, plus the New England Real Ale eXhibitions (specializing in cask-conditioned ale) beginning on March 29th.

With new releases announced almost weekly, there’s never a bad time to jump on a tour with Hops and Stops to see what’s new on tap at Boston’s breweries and cider houses.

Announcing Hops and Stops

Hello Boston-

After weeks of planning and hundreds of conversations with all of you, the team at Hops and Stops is incredibly excited to officially announce the launch of our Boston-area tours. Our first trip will be on Saturday, March 11, and we hope to have you along for the ride. Our regularly scheduled Saturday tours are running every morning, afternoon, and evening, including stops at nine unique locations throughout the day.

As Hops and Stops continues to grow, we look forward to connecting with all of Boston's best breweries, cider houses, and distilleries. 

If you have any questions about Hops and Stops, please email us at info@hopsandstopsboston.com.

Keep your eyes open for our launch party, coming in the next few days!

We look forward to touring with you soon.

Kevin and Tim