June 12, 2011

Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Brewing Company's Collaborative Groove #1

Inside the CBC tasting room.
As a thank you gift to volunteers, the American Craft Beer Festival organizers treated us to a 'Beer-unch' at Cambridge Brewing Company, located just outside of Boston near the campus of MIT.  CBC joined forces with another brewery and an urban winery from San Francisco to create their 'Collaborative Groove #1.'  The teamwork paid off and produced something unlike I'd ever had before.

This was a pale ale made with Citra hops and gruit, a term for a mixture of herbs that was used for flavoring beer before the common use of hops.  It had a peachy aroma, cloudy orange color, not much head, and a slight piney taste of hops.  There was also something very familiar about this beer, but it took several sips to realize that it tasted like sangria.  Sure enough, this beer was aged in wine barrels to give it a very unique flavor.

A couple of CBC's specialty brews, La Saisonniere
and the Charles River Porter.
More and more, craft breweries are expanding the definition of beer.  While the Germans have a law requiring them to stick exclusively to water, grains, hops, and yeast, it has become common in the States to see beers made with just about everything under the sun (Dogfish Head is a pioneer in this respect).  Aging beer in wine or liquor barrels is also becoming popular.  Of course it's a hotly debated topic among brewers, but as far as I'm concerned, if you can do it as well as Cambridge Brewing Company does, I'm all for it.

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