A wonderful start to the weekend…

My brother in law (and sister in law) is in town for a long weekend so I took Friday off to show him a little bit about the New England Beer scene. Obviously, he asked about Portsmouth Brewery since he had heard so much about Kate the Great. No KtG but we had a couple tasty beers (Murphy’s Law Red, Black Cat Stout, etc) and some well prepared food. I had a bratwurst burger and some chili. Rob has curried mussels and clam chowder. After the trip to a few other shops in the area, we headed down to an industry session of NERAX. For those who don’t know, NERAX stands for New England Real Ale Exhibition. Real Ale or Cask Ale is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned (including secondary fermentation) and served from a cask without adding carbon dioxide. For beer geeks like myself and Rob, NERAX is awesome. NERAX for industry folks is even better. Lots of great beer was pouring, the British Consul General made a humorous toast, and Mike Labbe put together a presentation for the group on how to run your own cask festival. The most moving part of session and for those in attendance was a toast to the late Jeff Charnick. Jeff, the brewmaster at the former Commonwealth Brewery, recently passed away unexpectedly and had sent a ripple around the New England Beer scene and the real ale movement. Being somewhat new to the craft beer scene and the close nit group of brewers that surrounds it, I was moved by the emotion of those who worked for or with Jeff over the years (Commonwealth was Boston’s first brew pub). The toast by Tod Mott with bottles of Kate the Great that he had brought has a touching tribute to Jeff’s influence.

During the session, I was able to sample some fine cask beers including those listed below.

Stone Pale Dry Hopped w/ Hallertau Saphir
Smuttynose Summer Weizen
Rogue Dry Hopped Brutal IPA
Portsmouth Whipper Snapper /AKA American mild
Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale
Salopian Oracle
Wye Valley HPA
Lang Brau Amber Maerzen (Germany)

After the session, Rob and I went to Red Bones with Paul, Kate, and Buddah Davis (of Prodigal Brewing). Tasty BBQ and another beer or two to wind down a great day. I didn’t realize how much I missed BBQ from Redbones. Its been probably 10+ years since I last made it (back when my friends and I would skip afternoon class to get all you can eat lunch BBQ). It was nice to have a few hours of freedom to enjoy my day off and spend time with Rob.

All in all, it made for a wonderful start to a great weekend with my extended family.

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