Ah NERAX, old friend. We had a great time this year at NERAX! The new digs at the American Legion Hall down near Union Square were pretty nice. A little larger, not quite as crowded, and a little bit of parking to be had in the lot outside. Altho, come on Somerville, was there a special on one way street signs at the public works fair?
The New England Real Ale Exhibition celebrated its sweet 16 this year, and if you didn't get over there yesterday for one of the two Saturday sessions, you've missed it. I went over on Friday night after work and sampled a few of the ales. Prices were again the same as last year. $15 advance ticket same at the door but less waiting, for the first time with a $5 deposit for a glass. I grabbed my favorite 20 ounce Imperial Nonic glass, and sipped quarter pints. The glass is silkscreened with the NERAX logo on one side, and the Harpoon logo on the other, and marked for quarter and half pints along the side. Half pints were $2.00.
At 6:19, about 10 minutes after we got inside, some poor devil dropped his glass, with general shouts and groans of commiseration from the entire room. Oof, its a hard world brother. yeah, I wrote the time down in my notes, cuz I can.
NERAX reported on Friday night thusly: "You could walk right in to be greeted by 61 beers and ciders, 37 American and 24 British." Red Bones barbeque was also on hand with he sandwiches. I had the pulled pork. My notes are sketchier this year, as I was having a great time blabbing, but here are the beers I tried:
Summer Ale - Geary's, Portland, Maine (ABV 6%)
I went right for the Geary's when I saw it because I love their ale, and always had it when I stayed on the beach in Maine. I didn't like this one as much because of the wheat, which I'm not a fan of. It has a beautiful butterscotch gold color, a mild aroma and almost no head, just a few stray bubbles at the edge of the glass. An even bitterness and a sourdough bread dough hint wafting from deep in the glass as I drank. There was a clean, bitter finish that ended on that wheat taint that I'm not so fond of. One sip of Stew's first choice hurried me to the end so that I could try:
Finest Kind - Smuttynose, Portsmouth New Hampshire (ABV 6.9%)
I didn't recognize the name of this IPA, but a quick search made it clear that this is simply Smuttynose IPA. You know the one with the two old duffers on the label. DEEP grapefruity hoppiness on the nose, medium yellow color and a light, bubbly head. Mouth-filling, eye-popping citrus hops that smolder in the mouth for days. This beer is unfiltered, but was well settled when tapped. If there weren't so many more to try, I would have stopped right here.
Cwrw Tri - Cerddin Brewery, Bridgend, Wales (ABV 4.5%)
It was time to head over seas. I can write it, but I can't say it: Cwrw Tri has a bright, brown bread color and a thick, airy head with bread and cranberry aromas on the nose. I have to say, drinking quarter pints means lost of room in the glass for the nose. Medium body brew with bright fruity highlights, refreshing tangy caramel sweetness, and a super-clean finish with satisfying lingering of hop bitters and smoke. While I blabbed, I let the last sip sit in the glass and warm up. Not wanting to miss a drop, and drank it down and was surprised with pleasant coffee flavor. Nice trick!
Flagraiser IPA - Somerville Brewing Co. (Slumbrew), Somerville, Massachusetts (ABV 7.5%)
Good ol' Slumerville! This was the strongest ale I had Friday night. Flagraiser is dedicated to the January 1, 1776 raising of the flag on Prospect Hill, and is decidedly American: big and bold. Kickass hop bitterness of biting limeskins. Almost too much. Almost. I thought I'd had the citrusy hopped up beer of the night with the Smuttynose, but no. This one had a lasting bitterness in the mouth, but surprisingly balanced with a background maltiness.
Explorer - Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk, England (ABV 3.7%)
Fresh oranges on the nose! with eggy batter notes. A mouth-filling softness, that is both vibrant and taunt with slight bitterness. Very smooth. Tropical fruit flavors and a pale, blond, wispy head. I also got some tart watermelon flavor toward the end. Lots going on in this, my last brew of the evening! What a way to finish things; another great night at the NERAX.
Thanks to American Legion Post 388 for putting us up. See you all next year!
Click here for my NERAX 2011 post
Click here for my NERAX 2010 post