Boston Beer Works, one of the most popular brewpubs in Massachusetts, is capitalizing on its popularity with its new bottled beers that debuted in stores last month.
You don't have to be a beer geek to know about Boston Beer Works. All you have to be is a Boston sports fan.
Boston Beer Works is one of the most popular brewpubs in Massachusetts, with locations outside of Fenway Park and the TD Garden. It also has locations in Salem and Lowell; called the Salem Beer Works and Lowell Beer Works, respectively.
Boston Beer Works takes advantage of great locations to draw in huge crowds seeking a pre- or post-game beer.
And now, it wants to capitalize on its popularity and hopes the name familiarity translates to big sales at the liquor store. Beer Works beer in bottles debuted in stores the end of December.
Tim Morse, director of brewing operations, said he was hired to oversee the bottling operation. He said right now is the perfect time for Beer Works to bottle its beers.
"We're a known brand, a known quantity," said Morse. "There's a history of being able to grow from a brewpub to bottling -- it has been happening on the West Coast for years. You don't know if it'll work until you get out there. If not now, when? In the last three, four or five years, the craft industry has seen double-digit growth."
Beer Works chose its three most popular beers for the initial release: Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale, Fenway Pale Ale and Boston Red Ale.
"The plan is to get these three out all together, and once we get caught up at the brewery, we hope to start doing seasonals; one each in spring, fall and winter," Morse said.
The hardest decision was the blueberry.
At the brewpubs, when someone orders a blueberry ale, the bartender will put a spoonful of fresh Maine blueberries in the beer to add to the flavor.
But that was not realistic for the bottled version because the blueberries get too soft, Morse said.
Instead, the brewers changed the recipe slightly to give it more body, which helps bring out the blueberry flavor.
The base beer is a golden ale, instead of a wheat beer or light beer that is often used for fruit beers, Morse said.
"If you just use the lowest common denominator beer, it's just not as pleasant," he said. "They can end up being extremely perfumy."
The blueberry ale is not bad. Very aromatic, but the blueberry flavor does not overwhelm. It's a quality version of a blueberry ale.
The recipe for the bottled version of the Fenway Pale Ale was also changed, Morse said.
"We obviously made it hoppier," he said. "We went for the extra pale category. It's got a little more hop character. Basically, to me, it's a rendition of what's being called a West Coast pale ale. It's assertive. The hop character definitely comes through."
The bottled version is a big improvement over the brewpub version. The brewpub version is an average pale, but the hoppier bottled version is something I'd buy again.
The Boston Red Ale's recipe did not change at all from the brewpub version, Morse said.
"It is definitely malty," he said. "Our big secret in that one is the very nice German malts we're buying. I always thought the German brewers walked on water until I realized they've got great malters. This has clean malt character. Close your eyes and you're almost in Germany."
The red ale is tasty and an easy drinking beer. A very solid beer.
Morse said he hopes Beer Works can add more beers to the lineup. Over the years, the various Beer Work brewpubs have compiled more than 120 different beer recipes, and it continually develops more.
One beer it has not bottled yet, despite its popularity, is the Back Bay IPA. Morse said the beer has been so popular, it has had difficulty keeping it on draft at the various locations.
"I'd be surprised if we don't have that in bottles by the end of the year," he said.
Beer Works beers are available at Water Street Wine and Spirits in Framingham, Bacons Wine and Spirits and Uptown Package in Hudson, Marlborough Spirits and Sperry's Liquors in Marlborough, Hickey's Liquors in Milford, Turnpike Food and Liquor in Southborough, D & L Liquors and Gordons Liquors in Waltham and Julio's Liquors in Westborough.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/. This column is the opinion of the writer and not of the newspaper.