introducing dreamtime & golden city: two distinct New England ipas

Who would have guessed that turbid IPAs would be the cutting edge of beer in 2017? It wasn’t long ago that brewers competed for the clearest, delicate ales and lagers, but now, many craft connoisseurs will turn their noses at any IPA they don’t have to chew before swallowing. Down The Road might have a reputation for brewing more traditional beers, but you don’t just sit on the sidelines during an IPA revolution.

To that end, we are proud to introduce two fresh New England IPAs to our portfolio: Golden City and Dreamtime. These two beers share many similarities with our popular spring release, Queequeg’s Revenge New England IPA. All three clock in at 7% and pour hazy with a tantalizingly smooth mouthfeel, but the similarities stop there.

Golden City should appeal to the juice-lovers out there; we threw pounds upon pounds of El Dorado and Bru-1 hops at every stage of the brewing process, and the results are next-effing-level. This juicebomb explodes with pineapple, cantaloupe and peach undercut with just enough bitterness to make the flavors pop. Hit up our new Beer Finder to locate some Golden City near you!

Dreamtime takes those tropical, pineapple notes and pivots over to herbs, pine and flowers via two Australian hops: Vic Secret and Ella. The combination is complex, and drinkers will have to go deep to isolate the aroma/flavor notes. Still, the beer is as drinkable as they come, and you should check out the rest of the ingredients over on our Beer Page to learn more.

Even though both of our new NEIPAs are a bit experimental, these two hop-smoothies stick to the basics of good beer-making– no backsweetening or hop extracts here, nor are we spiking the beer with fruit concentrate or artificial flavorings. We’re just making some killer giggle juice that’s best enjoyed fresh and in the company of good friends.

 

Mandy Pleshaw
Hops, Haze and Homogeneity

There's no denying it - New England IPAs are more than a fad. With brewers across the world dabbling in the murky arts of aggressive dry hopping, it's safe to say that this turbid brew has truly come into its own. Their appearances range from slightly hazy to downright milkshakey, but there's one thing that truly sets the NEIPA apart from the rest of the field: hop treatment.

Setting the Stage

Historically, hops were used as much as a preservative as a flavorant. The alpha acids present in all strains of hops are useful for helping to stave off bacterial infection in beer, but over time, people came to crave that hoppy taste. Over on the West Coast of the United States, brewers have been amping up their hops for a while now, but for most connoisseurs of the West Coast style, IBUs are king. These beers feature high doses of alpha acids, greatly accentuating the bitter qualities of the hops. What has come to be known as the New England IPA is just as hoppy as a West Coast IPA, but because of differences in the brewing process, the final product is significantly less bitter. Through whirlpooling and dry hopping, brewers are able to extract the essence of the hops without adding all that bitterness.

Juicy and Fruity

From homebrewers to large scale commercial breweries, most NEIPAs are juicy, fruity and hazy. The haze comes from a combination of hop particulate and protein haze left over from the grain bills. The juicy and fruity qualities come partly from the yeast, but mostly from the hops. However, here's where we run into a bit of a problem. If everyone's versions of this new style need to hit these metrics, then homogeneity may be an issue. Hops like Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra are great for getting those big, juicy notes, but with so many people brewing with the same ingredients, it all starts to meld together.

Breaking From the Pack

So if a brewery wanted to make a NEIPA while standing out from the crowd with some fresh ingredients, getting away from the three most trendy hops in the industry would probably be a good start. All over the world, there are agricultural geniuses who are constantly working on new strains of hops, and with aromatic qualities like "juicy" and "citrusy" in such high demand, it should come as no surprise that there are alternatives out there. For instance, Idaho #7, a hop Down The Road uses in its Seventh Star IPA, is a beautiful example of a new, experimental strain. It manifests crazy flavors and aromas ranging from melon to strawberry and even pineapple! Other strains worth checking out are Motueka, a New Zealand hop that carries a zesty lime aroma, and Pacifica, which brings a unique marmalade and floral aspect to the table, both of which we decided to use in our latest release - Queequeg's Revenge New England IPA.  

So what's the harm in a little experimentation?

Mandy Pleshaw
Feyborn Berliner Weisse Mit Schuss

As sour beers become more popular in America, Berliner Weisse is experiencing a renaissance. Only a few years ago, this relatively obscure German style was relegated to the most esoteric import shelves. Today, demand for cheek-puckering beer has led to a heightened interest in the style, and Down the Road is happy to oblige.

Berliner Mit Schuss.

At its base, Berliner Weisse is a low ABV, golden wheat that is more sour than most wild ales and less sour than lambics. To contribute additional character, Berliner Weisse is often enjoyed "mit schuss," meaning "with sauce." In Germany, several herbal and fruit-based flavorings are used to add variety to the popular sour beer. The most popular of these flavors are raspberry (Himbeer) and Woodruff  or Waldmeister, which is a green, herbal decoction.

Inspired by the schuss tradition, we imbue each batch of Down the Road's Feyborn with a different flavor. Our first version of Feyborn Berliner Weisse, released summer 2016, featured a massive blast of blackberries, and the juicy, sun-ripened fruit perfectly captured the season in which it was brewed. Our December 2016 batch of Feyborn features wild, tart cherries, which should provide an interesting point of contrast to the heavy, dark seasonal beers that are popular in the winter. Then, in summer 2017, we brewed the Strawberry Rhubarb Feyborn as a departure from the more traditional schuss flavors, but we think it was a risk well worth taking. 

Schuss in a Can!

At Down the Road, we place a premium on tradition. Whenever possible, we try to promote styles from the old world. However, we also love innovation - subtle tweaks made possible by new technology, improved processes and novel ingredients. That's why we use lab-grade saison yeast in our Fee des Fleurs Saison instead of spontaneous fermentation. Similarly, it's why we whirlpool our hops instead of boiling them. When we decided to brew a Berliner Weisse mit schuss, we knew we would have to break with tradition a little bit. In Germany, the schuss is poured into the beer immediately before serving, allowing one tap to service a wide range of tastes. We briefly considered attaching some kind of cup of schuss to our Feyborn cans, and we even messed with the idea of having a packet inside the can that would automatically release its contents when you crack the top. However, both of those designs proved to be rather over-engineered. Instead, we opted to add the schuss directly to the beer before packaging but after fermentation to ensure the fruit remains fresh and flavorful, so embrace your inner wild child, and party with the Feyborn!

Mandy Pleshaw
Introducing The White Hart Helles

Lower your arrow, good hunter. That is no common hart for game or sport. Such a pristine coat, boreal and pure, as if sunlight radiated from within. This is a sign from the gods! The White Hart presents itself to you with a message of good fortune if you are wise enough to hear it. Take heed; follow the divine beast, wherever it shall lead, and see what blessings await you.

Legends and Myths

Historically, many Germanic cultures considered white stags to be signs from the gods. The appearance of a white hart in Arthurian legend was meant to signal the beginning of a holy quest, while the Celts believed they were divine beings worthy of protection. The legendary founding fathers of Hungary, Hunor and Magor, are said to have discovered their nation by following a white stag. The symbolism of this stunning creature continues to influence modern day legends, with the white hart appearing as a guardian "Patronus" spell in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.

White Hart Helles

White Hart is our take on a traditional German Helles. Literally translating to "Light," Helles is a straw-colored lager with clean maltiness, subtle hops and a refreshingly dry finish. However, unlike traditional Helles, White Hart is brewed with Huell Melon hops to contribute a soft, fruity complexity that evokes honeydew melons and fresh strawberries. White Hart invites you to stray from the well-trodden paths of common summer beers and follow the game trail to places both secret and magical. Will you heed the call?

Becky Schrumm
About the Artist Nikki Rossignol

Since its inception, Down the Road Brewery has bee interested in the traditional folklore, classical literature and fairy tales. We have woven many disparate characters together to tell the story of our beer. From the Pukwudgie to Undine and the Changeling Child to Baba Yaga, we have conjured up quite the motley crew of mythical monsters and legendary personas, but we couldn’t have done it without our illustrator, Nikki Rossignol.

Nikki lives in in Montana with her husband and daughter as well as a pet cat and a dingo. Nikki draws endless inspiration from this vast landscape of endless plains and dramatic mountains. The land is both home and muse for Nikki, but it is not the sole font of her inspiration – much of what she paints comes from her dreams. “I am a lucid dreamer, and with practice I have learned to absorb the content I wish to dream about prior to falling asleep.  I dream in vivid color, and I have trained myself to remember dreams in nearly complete detail.  Many of my personal works are, in fact, replicated scenes from dreams.”

The Artist, Dreaming

Nikki began painting as a young girl. Her grandmother, a talented painter herself, taught Nikki about oil paint when she was only 10 years old. Although she loves the heavy, gestural qualities of oil, it was in water colors that she truly found her voice. Growing up, Nikki traveled constantly – for school, for work, for pleasure, but she always wanted to bring her art supplies with her. Oil paints are cumbersome and messy, so she resorted to packing watercolors for her journeys. Though difficult to learn, she soon came to love the flowing, impressionistic style of watercolor. When asked about her paint of choice, Nikki explained:

“I have a deep affection for the honesty of pure paint in the presence of loose water.  To be successful in watercolor is to be in alliance with the properties of the medium; water, paper, air, gravity, and color.  It is a mysteriously harmonious collaboration that I find most present in watercolor.  I add another element in inking after the paint has dried (or before such as the “Seventh Star” label which is a technique to bleed color into a nebula).  This line-work inking overlaid upon watercolor derived from the Golden Age of Illustration (1880’s – 1920’s) and was utilized by fairytale artists such as Kay Nielsen,  Andrew Lang, Arthur Rackham and John Bauer.”

Once Upon A Time

Even before coming to Down the Road, Nikki had a penchant for classical fairy tales. In fact, her drawing of the Pukwudgie, which we used on our first beer label, was the catalyst that drew us together in the first place. When asked about her interest in fairy tales and illustration, Nikki explained:

“I have known from the very beginning that I was going to illustrate, simply because I always have.  I would illustrate the unillustrated scenes from my Grandfather’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales as early as 8 years old. My work has always been attached to a deeper narrative.  Stories have habitually submerged themselves in my subconscious and, across a great expanse of reading, I have found myself most drawn to folklore.  The archetypes of myths and folktales appear in my paintings like apparitions from another plane of existence.  They are so immensely ingrained in my being that they take a large role in how I view (and in how I paint) subjects of both reality and fantasy.”

But her favorite mythical creature?

“The Norse Jörmungandr, or World Serpent, is wrapped around the world and in constant motion of devouring his own tail.  This is my favorite mythical creature mainly because of the richness of the symbology.  The Jörmungandr represents not only chaos (as an offspring of Loki) but, in devouring itself, encompasses the earth as a simultaneously protective and destructive force, which is known in Norse tradition as the Ragnarok Cycle.”

A true artist, inspired, original and utterly mad, Down The Road is incredibly lucky to know such a talented individual.

If you want to see more of Nikki Rossignol’s incredible artwork, check her out on Facebook.

Mandy Pleshaw
Dreaming of the Pleiades: The Story of the Seventh Star

“Have I told you of my one true love? The shining beauty who guides me through the darkness?” said the sailor to his mate.

“Nay friend. Be her bosoms heavy and hair flaxen?”

“Nothing so base. She is of the Pleiades, one of the seven daughters of Atlas, a rare and beautiful queen of the night sky and beacon of hope to those riding the waves on the open ocean.”

“I’m afraid your love is doomed, good fool, for you speak of the stars as if they are women. Might as well invite the moon to dinner!”

“Look to the sky and count. How many stars see you in the constellation? Six. For one of the Seven has already left her celestial sorority for a mortal man. Fair Merope, youngest of the sisters, fell in love with earthbound Sisyphus, and bore him seven sons. My will is set and my heart is pure. I shall win my love and pluck her from the heavens like a ripe grape.”

“And this Seventh Star? Where has she gone?”

“To Hades, with her beloved Sisyphus, my friend. And so shall my celestial wife when I depart this mortal coil.”

Our Seventh Star IPA is a ripe, fruity brew that features the elusive Idaho Experimental #7 hop. This new contender boasts bright notes of melon, grape and strawberry, which we offset against a light swirl of Azaca hops, allowing for just a splash of tropical fruit. Like the Seventh Sister of the Pleiades, this divine IPA straddles the gulf between heaven and earth to deliver a truly cosmic experience.

Mandy Pleshaw
A Deeper Look At Our New Undine Double IPA

Undine rises from the great abyssal gulfs of the briney deep, her piscean tail sinuous as she sets her dead gaze on our docile shores. Yet despite her lack of a soul, the story of Undine is not a horror -– it is a tragic romance. You see, unlike most monsters, Undine is aware of her soullessness and desires nothing more than to become human. She stalks our shores not as a foe, though her ire can be deadly to those her spurn her. Instead, she calls out to those with ears to hear her, searching desperately for a human whose love will grant her an immortal soul.

The Search for A Soul

How does her story end? That all depends on who is telling it. Some say that Undine found her eternal mate, a dashing prince who fell in love with the mermaid at first blush. According to these yarns, Undine shed her tail to become a human woman and the two lived happily ever after, yet not all renditions of her tale end so nicely. Some believe that Undine married a fisherman who said he would love her until the end of time, but shortly after their wedding, the fisherman ran off with another woman. Devastated, the vengeful Undine stole her former husband’s breath, leading to his agonizing demise. Other storytellers say Undine never met her true love, or he died before they married. Instead of a “happily ever after,” the heartbroken and world-weary Undine transformed into a burbling stream. On certain nights, passersby can still hear her sorrowful song as the springwater runs like tears from the earth.

Alluring Hops, Tantalizing Depth

Our Undine Double IPA is named after this queen of the depths. Its rich bouquet of tropical fruit and citrus reflects the complex nature of its namesake. This is a big, bold beer with a commanding presence, and while it may not be able to sing to you, the alluring aroma of Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic hops will seduce beer aficionados far and wide.

Mandy Pleshaw