When it comes to brewing beer, you have to start somewhere. Many I know were gifted a brewing kit by a relative or had an individual curiosity to give it a try. Most were either sucked into the brewing beer vortex hard after their first batch or thought it was too messy and too much work. Today’s Seven Question Beer Sunday guests most likely fell into this hobby as aforementioned. Welcome to the Merrimac Valley Homebrew Club.
The MVHBC is located, as well as its members, in the northeast corner of MA and the southern side of NH, known geographically as the Merrimac Valley. As you will soon see, their professions are all over the map. Brewing beer has no pedigree. All that is required is love, passion, and patience! As Charlie Papazian once said, “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew“.
Scrolling thru the MVHBC website or Instagram account will display the obvious pictures of homebrew pics and beer brewing events. As a new home brewer myself, there are always takeaways with the homebrewing content or comments. Learning opportunities can be had even if it is at the peril of someone who made errors with their homebrew batch.
The club also has its own podcast called Strike Mash Boil. I’ve listened to several episodes, they are informative as they are fun. They take brewing beer seriously but not too seriously, which is the perfect blend of content for a podcast so go give it a listen.
When I reached out to ask if they would be interested to play SQBS, they jumped on the opportunity. I was handed a lot of very interesting and a few contrasting responses. You can defiantly tell this group has a lot of fun! I’ll leave you with this teaser…Pizza beer, Acorn ale, and bugs in my beer! Ready? GO!!!
Hope everyone has a happy and safe Memorial Weekend!
Cheers my beer friends 🍻
- What is your name and location, club role, and day job?
Marco – Littleton, MA, President, Director of Asset Strategy and Development
Nick – Ayer, MA, Vice President, Scientific Program Manager
Phil – Tewksbury, Secretary, Systems Engineering Manager
TJ – Dracut, MA, Competition Coordinator, Structural Engineer
Pat – Plaistow, NH, Webmaster, Marketing
Shawn – Hudson, NH, Club Member, Aerospace industry
Dana – Dracut, MA, Club Member, Taxes
Joe – Everett, MA, Club Member, Firefighter
Aaron – Brookline, NH, Club Member, Software engineer
Matt – Wakefield MA, Club Member, Telecom Industry
Aron – Billerica, MA, Club Member, Financial planner, and educator
Douglas – Tewksbury MA, Club Member, Web Developer
Michael – Westford, MA, Club Member, Medical Device Sales
Chris – NH, Club Member, Produce Manager, and Cellarman
John – Haverhill, MA, Club Member, Beer Sales/Distribution
- Where can we find you on the socials including Untapp’d?
All can be found at linktr.ee/smb_mvhbc
1 – Best gateway beer to introduce to your non-beer drinking friend and why?
Marco – Proper German pils….full of flavor, approachable, and easy to put down
Nick – Sam Adams, simple, clean lager.
Phil – These days it’d probably be some kind of fruited milkshake sour, but back in the day Harpoon UFO Raspberry seemed to be the popular beer for people who didn’t like beer.
TJ – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It was what got me into craft beer. It is the perfect amount of crisp bitterness that keeps your thirst up, and the malt flavor is so balanced with the piney and citrusy hop flavor.
Pat – Notch Session Pils – nice and light, low alcohol percentage. Extremely fresh.
Shawn – Probably Allagash White.
Dana – Helles – when It’s made good It’s so easily drinkable.
Joe – Allagash White – easy drinking, light, smooth, great orange and spice flavors make it ultra-drinkable.
Aaron – Weissbier, usually hefeweizen. It’s refreshing and complex and is approachable.
Matt – Kolsch – Light, easy drinking, balanced, not too hoppy but with more flavor than the typical macro beer.
Aron – Probably a Vienna lager. Tastes like beer, and you can’t get simpler and cleaner than a Vienna.
Douglas – Browns and Reds. Sweeter and less intimidating flavor-wise.
Michael – Newcastle Brown Ale – Low bitterness, a little sweet and highly quaffable.
Chris – Melody Maker by Wandering Soul. Light Sessionable NEIPA.
John – Sam 76/Wicked Easy…nice & light and a good amount of flavor.
2 – Which style of beer do you prefer: Dunkel or Marzen, and why?
Marco – Marzen….simply because it’s celebrated during my favorite time of year. I like the taste of them equally.
Nick – Marzen, crushable, reminds me of fall, great combo of toasted malt flavors.
Phil – Give me both and by the Litre! German Lagers are some of the world’s best day drinking beers.
TJ – Marzen. I feel when done right the moderate hop bitterness balances out the beer without the hop flavor so that the malt favors still shine.
Pat – Marzen due to pilsner malt.
Shawn – I love Marzen. The rich malt complexity and a touch of sweetness.
Dana – Marzen, because If I starting going towards dark beers I want it DARK!
Joe – Marzen, I’m a fan of lighter German-style lagers that highlight caramel malts vs a darker maltier lager.
Aaron – Marzen. I prefer more of the sweetness in Marzen.
Matt – Marzen, I think I haven’t had enough Dunkels to properly compare my preference to the two.
Aron – Dunkel. I love the velvety richness.
Douglas – Dunkel, just personal preference. Lower abv on average and has tons of malty greatness.
Michael – Dunkel. I enjoy the richness of the Munich malt and balanced bitterness making an easy quaffer by the liter. I prefer a Festbier over a Marzen.
Chris – Dunkel. I like the toasty malt flavor, and it’s not something you come across regularly.
John – Marzen, probably just conditioning from all the Octoberfest beers each Fall.
3 – Tell us about the most odd but interesting tasting beer you ever had?
Marco – Pizza beer…had a member of our club brew one and it legit felt like drinking pizza.
Nick – Pizza beer, beer made with tomatoes and oregano, quite delicious.
Phil – One of our Club Members, Dana, brewed a Pizza Beer with tomatoes and oregano that tasted just like Pizza. We took that beer to the National Homebrew Convention in Providence a few years ago and served it at one of the tasting sessions and people could not get enough of that beer. It was so strange and bizarre drinking a beer that tasted like a Pizza.
TJ – Dogfish Heads Raisin beers from 14 years ago or so. I feel like at the time they were so out there, but became one of my go-to beers because they were so nicely done.
Pat – Carrot cake beer. Was actually pretty decent given the funfetti taste.
Shawn – Dana’s pizza beer.
Dana – The Rougue Voo doo donut travesty. If by interesting you mean tasting like crap.
Joe – Down the Road Brewing (now defunct) Sam Sam The Pickle Man – Berliner Weisse blended with fresh pickle juice.
Aaron – Imperial sour with hibiscus, coffee, and chocolate at the Pure Project Brewery.
Matt – Oyster Stout!
Aron – Russian imperial stout with a moose head thrown into the mash. For reasons.
Douglas – Acorn ale. A beer that was brewed with acorns harvested from a friend’s backyard. Nutty and malty. I really hope I can have more someday.
Michael – Pizza beer brewed by Dana. Saison with oregano and tomato, but it worked.
Chris – Off the top of my head, the pizza beer brewed by a club member.
John – Nothing I can think of off the top of my head, but that’s because I’ve never tried Dana’s famous Pizza Beer!
4 – Communal tables at a brewery…Love ’em? Hate ‘em and why? (sans a COVID world)
Marco – A proper brewery experience is around a communal table. Most beer folk are freakin cool people.
Nick – No preference.
Phil – I’m for it. It’s a very European thing to have communal tables that encourages people to open up and be social. I don’t know how well we American’s would take to that sort of forced social interaction with strangers, but I don’t have a problem with them.
TJ – I love them, but I am also that guy that loves to travel alone and doesn’t hesitate to start a conversation with an unfamiliar person just to learn from their life stories.
Pat – Hate ’em. I go to breweries to drink beer with my friends not strangers. I’m sure they are nice, but, our Saturdays are tough to come by.
Shawn – I like them.
Dana – Hate ’em. If I wanted to sit with you at a brewery I would have went with you.
Joe – Love ’em. I love talking to other people about why they are visiting, what they’re drinking, and socializing with other beer lovers.
Aaron – Meh. No real opinion one way or the other.
Matt – Yes, it encourages conversation over the common love of beer.
Aron – Love ’em. Community tables are fun!
Douglas – Love them! Beer is one of the first social networks. You can sit down and enjoy a beer with a stranger and start the conversation with that beer in hand. Many times you end up meeting some amazing people. Miss those days and can’t wait until it is safe to have a pint with a stranger or friend again.
Michael – Love them. Love the experience in Germany and nothing worse than drinking alone with your cell phone. People should socialize when enjoying beer.
Chris – I don’t mind them. It’s fun to converse with other beer drinkers. If I had the choice I wouldn’t sit at them often. I like a more low-key atmosphere.
John – Hate them to a certain degree. Usually, if I’m at a brewery, I’m there to hang out with my friends. The exception for me seems to be breweries in Vermont for some reason. Looking forward to going back to Lawson’s when things open back up.
5 – Any beer or brewery-related tattoos and if none, would you get one?
Marco – No….not a fanboy of any brand.
Nick – None, but would consider something interesting.
Phil – Nope and Nope.
TJ – No, and not a beer brand, but maybe a symbolic tattoo that tied to a style or historical beer event.
Pat – None, and no plans to get one.
Shawn – None at the moment. But, absolutely would.
Dana – No and no.
Joe – I have an appointment in June for my first tattoo, which is going to be a hop bine going down my right forearm.
Aaron – None yet, but planning a barley and hops tattoo.
Matt – not yet, I’m a homebrewer so I’ve thought if getting one of the primary 4 ingredients
Aron – Nope.
Douglas – None, but I wouldn’t say no to having specific ingredients or equipment being tattooed on my arm.
Michael – None- no tats for me.
Chris – no, and no
John – None, but I do have a sketch for one that I may get in the future.
6 – Ever have Pliny the Elder from Russian River? If yes, what did you think?
Marco – Yes…great but blind pig is better.
Nick – Yes, delicious, one of the best examples of west coast IPA style.
Phil – Yes. To me, it’s the definitive West Coast IPA. I’ve had it on draft head to head with Heady Topper and this may be blasphemous to say in New England, but I liked Pliny more.
TJ – Yes- It is a great beer. It was worth the trade at the time for heady topper’s first bottle release many moons ago. Always try to find more when in CA.
Pat – No, unfortunately.
Shawn – Yes. Classic.
Dana – Yes, it was okay.
Joe – I’ve been able to get my hands on it a few times. It’s definitely one of the best IPA’s in the world.
Aaron – No
Matt – Yes, very great beer, a classic example of west coast influence in hoppy beers. I live in MA so I’ve only had it a couple times. I’d love to try it again.
Aron – Nope.
Douglas – No, I do want to though.
Michael – Yes, always brought back by friends. Always love it, but as time has gone by, it seems less exceptional to me. Palate shift?
Chris – Never tried it, but have always wanted to. I hear great things.
John – Yes, it’s a great beer. Pliny and Heady Topper helped get me into IPAs. Just be careful saying that in front of some people.
7 – Would you rather sit inside or outside the brewery (any time of the year) and why?
Marco – Definitely prefer outside…I’m a nature boy….but I live in New England…I’ll take the fire inside before freezing my bits off.
Nick – Outside as long as it’s not too hot.
Phil – After being cooped up indoors all winter long, I definitely prefer to sit outside in the Spring/Summer/Fall. I hope the COVID-driven push for more outdoor seating sticks around during the warmer months in a post-COVID world.
TJ – Outside if away from equipment, it’s nice out and not on a main [street] because I just love nature and natural sounds. I don’t even mind a few bugs in my beer.
Pat – Outside, always. Cooler the weather the better! Definitely in the minority there.
Shawn – So long as I’m warm I don’t care. Inside during winter, in the sun in summer
Dana – Varies, but usually inside. I don’t like to hang out in the sun.
Joe – Inside. I’m not a fan of the sun’s UV rays skunking my beer in a matter of minutes. This is a constant battle I have with my wife who always wants to be outside.
Aaron – Outside if the weather is nice.
Matt – Outside, I love the fresh air and atmosphere compared to inside, brewery or not.
Aron – Inside during the winter because it is cold, outside during the summer because I love to be outside!
Douglas – Outside, I enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Plus sometimes if it is dog friendly, my brew dog Marley loves to join me.
Michael – Outside. I love Biergartens in good weather.
Chris – Outside in the warmer months, I’m an outdoorsy person. But I enjoy sitting indoors in the winter as long as it’s a more quiet atmosphere.
John – Outside for the most part, especially if there is a nice view. Pretty hard to beat the view from the back deck at Von Trapp.
Look for these future responses from the following for SQBS soon…
Part 43 – Could be you?
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Thanks for reading and have a great day!