Brewery Spotlight: Pizza Boy Brewing

Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Oreos and milk. The food world’s power couples. Arguably, however, one of the prime courtships is fated to be pizza and beer. At Pizza Boy Brewing, they couldn’t agree more.

Offering a wide variety of both glorious fixtures, this 10,000 square foot location is quite the destination and houses both a brewery and a restaurant, Als of Hampden. Serving up so much more than just pizzas, the restaurant menu ensures that no one leaves hungry and the brew menu allows any palate to find hoppiness- I mean, happiness.

This happiness doesn’t just come from the products themselves, but from the people that create them.

“I think the most unique thing about our brewery is- though we do brew MANY IPA’s- our range of styles and unpretentious approach to beer. We enjoy having lots of fun: making fun of ourselves, laughing at the absurdities of the industry (and its patrons at times) and, lately, we’ve been having a blast with our labels and paying homage to some of our favorite things.”

This lighthearted attitude translates very clearly into both the labels and delicious brews inside. For instance, my favorite, their Michael Meyer’s Lemon IPA, is both entertaining in design and delightful in flavor.

Michael Meyers Lemon
How cool is that??

As Terry mentioned, Pizza Boy is known for their astounding array -as well as quality- of IPAs.  Even though IPAs are a style I am still acquiring a taste for myself, every IPA I’ve had from Pizza Boy is wonderful. They are crisp and clean, with an evenness I haven’t found in many of that style. And, of course, that hop bitterness one expects of an IPA. Terry says of Murren River, his current favorite, “it’s a classic West Coast style IPA, my favorite IPA style, and really screams Citra, one of my favorite hops.”

And Pizza Boy has more to offer than just IPAs. For instance, this delectable Belgian style aged with Brett named Whatever, Forever.  Keeping with the common standard, this brew is crisp and clean. It pours similar to a champagne- and there is plenty to celebrate!

Whatever, Forever by Pizza Boy

Even aside from the caliber of the brew, it is obvious that there is passion behind each beer. When asked about his craft beer love story, Terry told me,
“I grew up on Yuengling, not what most people think of craft beer these days, but certainly in the late 80’s to early 90’s it was; they let me know beer could have flavor. Then one day while moving out of an apartment in Ohio another guy was moving in and brought 2 big jugs of liquid in. When I asked him what they were he said ‘homebrew.’ I still didn’t know what he was talking about, then he said ‘it’s beer!’ I was shocked and amazed you could make beer at home so much so that, after I moved, I bought myself my first homebrew kit and the rest is history. It’s a fascinating process that never ceases to amaze me. Brewing is the perfect combination of science and art, how could I not love it?”

 I am far from the only one noticing their passion for the craft, however. Pizza Boy was recently invited to and attended the 2018 BXL BeerFest in Brussels, Belgium. This festival boasts sixty breweries from ten countries and each brewery must meet certain standards to be in attendance.

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Terry says of his adventures at BXL, ” BXL BeerFest was a blast. It was humbling to be invited, to pour my beer in the company of the greats like Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Jester King, and so many more. I also met so many new, talented brewers like Beerbliotek from Sweden, Brauerei J. Kemker from Germany, Boundary Brewing Cooperative in Belfast, and L’Ermitage Nano Brasserie in Belgium. To me, this fest embodied the real spirit of brewing. It was so well organized and everyone was incredibly nice. Food was amazing, as well. It was truly an honor for me to represent myself and Pizza Boy, showcasing our beer to the world.”

Terry and his team exhibit the epitome of the universal theme of the craft beer world: there is a beer for everyone and a place for everyone in the craft beer community.

“As a brewer there’s a LOT of things I wish consumers knew about beer but really it’s all about what YOU like, what YOU enjoy drinking and that’s all that matters. My brewery? The only thing that matters to me is to constantly strive to do better, I want people to trust me and trust our brand, to really know we care about what we’re making…I brew for our local customers. Sure, our beer is distributed statewide and I listen to their wants and needs too, but I see my locals everyday. I try to do my best to brew something for everyone.”

And there truly is something for everyone.

So if you’re lucky enough to get that chance, snag a can or , even better, snag a seat at Pizza Boy!

 

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To learn more about Pizza Boy Brewing, visit:
https://pizzaboybrewing.com

To learn more about BXL BeerFest, visit:
http://www.bxlbeerfest.com

Getting Weird With Beer

“The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.”
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

One of my favorite things about the craft beer community is the acceptance of the strange. While there are always exceptions, for the most part, the community will accept you with open arms (but full hands- let’s be real, we don’t wanna put the beer down.) Beer is a strange discovery as is and can represent and tie together both traditional history and the evolving uniqueness of the world. When it comes to this craft, brewers certainly brew very specific, classical styles and there are certain rules regarding what can pass for a given type. However, there is also more than enough room for having fun and getting crazy by pushing the limits of what could- or should- be possible. In fact, that’s part of the charm. So, today, I’ve picked two of the craziest sounding beers I have found thus far.

Let’s get weird.

 

The Drink-Along: Bozo Beer| Evil Twin Brewing

Bozo Beer by Evil Twin

Evil Twin is one of those breweries that keeps cranking out new, innovative brews and I am obsessed. So, of course, this one drew me in. The name, for starters, issues a challenge that I couldn’t help but accept. And, at 17.2% ABV, it’s quite a sucker punch. It is a Imperial Stout with “molasses, lactose, chocolate, almond, hazelnut, vanilla bean, cinnamon, oak spiral, chili, marshmallow, muscovado sugar, and coffee” which is SO MUCH. Guys- it’s so much. That being said, it was surprisingly easy to pick out notes of almost all of the individual flavors which is impressive, considering just how much they were able to cram into one drink. Thankfully, for my taste, there was far less of a syrupy molasses flavor than I expected, although there were certainly notes. The chocolate and the chili balanced well, also. In fact, no one ingredient overpowered another.  However, it certainly does not taste nearly as boozy as it is, so do drink with discretion. Or share with as many people as there are ingredients.

So now that we’ve established ourselves as dessert-first drinkers, let’s move on to our entree.

The Drink-Along: Out Of The Lunchbox| The Bruery

Out of the Lunchbox by the Bruery

Just in time for back-to-school, we have liquid peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am a sucker for this theme in a beer. This was the subject of one of my first homebrews and I can vouch for how tough it is to make a beer that tastes like not only a sandwich, but one that is so iconic. This is not one you can get “close enough.”

The color, first off, is gorgeous. Definitely can discern “jelly” from this. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the initial taste, as it reminds me of a stout which is not the advertised style nor is it a style I feel works with the intended flavor profile. HOWEVER. The after taste is creepily on the nose. The mouthfeel feels exactly like it would after taking a bite out of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, complete with the bread-y flavor and feel. The sweetness of the berry mimics jelly very well and works with the peanut butter. It is incredibly balanced, although I would prefer more peanut butter. That being said, speaking from experience, even getting this much to come through successfully is a win. Overall, the combination of the flavors and mouthfeel in the aftertaste is incredible enough to eclipse the initial taste, making this a slam dunk in my book despite itself.

As we’ve seen (and tasted,) taking chances can lead to surprisingly fun results. Although not all risks come with rewards, even if you end up looking like a “bozo,” the risks are worth taking. Especially in craft beer. So take the chance to sit with the weird kid at lunch, especially if that kid is a beer and tastes like a sandwich.

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Milkshake Brings All The Beers To The Yard…

I don’t know about you guys, but I have never been one to follow fads. I have never been up on the latest fashions or honestly even cared what was popular. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just never been my thing. That being said, beer trends have fascinated me from the very beginning of my craft beer journey. It is incredible to me that, in an ever-growing world full of endless possibilities, enough people can still come together to agree on a certain style of beer.  We have previously discussed the beer trend of the New England style IPA. Today, however, we will be looking at a new up-and-comer. The Nitro Smoothie/Milkshake beer.

This is one of the coolest styles I’ve seen in awhile for a multitude of reasons. The first is that it is a nitro beer. Nitro being short for, ya know, Nitrogen. Most beers use carbon dioxide, so this is already a bit different. The main reason for using Nitrogen is to cause smaller bubbles so the head seems thicker and creamier. Which leads us to the smoothie part of the beer. Depending on the brewery, I have seen these referred to as milkshake but, more commonly and perhaps more aptly, as smoothie beers. I have seen so many varieties from Stouts to IPAs, but the main things they have in common are they are brewed with lactose (which adds some body and definitely some sweetness) and they typically have smoothie/milkshake flavors, such as mango or vanilla.

The Drink Along: Whipped |  Stillwater Artisanal and Oliver Brewing collaboration

There are actually several different versions of the Whipped collaboration, including an IPA. However, I chose the style that most called to me: Sour Raspberry Nitro Smoothie Ale. (Most are referring to this as Volume 3, I believe.)

Whipped- Stillwater, Oliver 3.jpg

The first thing that caught my eye was the vintage can design which is, frankly, groovy. The second is the instructions. Shake up and then pour. Well, alright. Typically counter-intuitive to most beers, however this actives the nitrogen and doesn’t make nearly the mess it would with other beers.

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Just a little mess.

The head on this beer was gorgeous. Full, thick, and creamy. Make all the inappropriate jokes you want but it was impressive.

Whipped- Stillwater, Oliver 2

The major downside is it came out smelling very much like burnt rubber. I have talked with several people who have tried this and haven’t had this issue so it is definitely just the particular batch. It could come from a couple different issues but I won’t really fall down that rabbit hole.  The main thing is it definitely wasn’t kept cold enough (can instructs to keep ice cold) so I will definitely have to get another one…..for science.

While very off-putting at first, I gave it a chance and let the smell dissipate. And I’ll tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. It certainly has a heavier, denser feel than most sour ales and tastes super creamy, as well. It really lives up to the smoothie descriptor. To be honest, it was so close I half expected to accidentally wind up with a raspberry seed in my teeth. The fruit flavor comes through smoothly and very balanced. Surprisingly, even with the added sweetness, the sour aspects came through as well.

Hands down, I think the two most important things to keep in mind when drinking craft beer are to have both an open mind and a decent amount of bravery. Some batches or even entire beers don’t turn out and can have some…interesting…side effects, like a rubber smell. Admittedly, there is also a level of common sense on when to abandon that particular ship for more more flavorful –  I mean, favorable- seas. But, in this case, my bravery was rewarded. I certainly understand why so many people have become enamored with this style and, if anything, this experience has made me even more curious to see what others are doing. And to even try a different batch of this one.

So la la la la the beers are waiting.

Cheers.