Photo: socolandscape, Twitter
Last fall, Russell killed Buzzards Bay and gave birth to Just Beer. "It was time to get back in the studio and do something fresh," Russell says of his modern, Stars and Stripes brews. There's Moby D, a gentle, aromatic American ale. The juicy, wheaty Golden Flounder gets its citric edge via whole-leaf Cascade hops stuffed in a hop back. Big Mamie Battleship is a burly brown ale, concocted with seven malts and lots of American hops.
"It's forcing us to relearn our approach to raw materials," Russell explains of his experiments.
Besides ingredients, another departure from the Buzzards Bay era is DIY distribution. Since no distributor takes a cut, Just Beer can sell for rock-bottom prices. During Drive-Thru Brew Saturdays, anyone can drive to the brewery's back door, honk and buy a case for $14.99. "Most people would be very surprised how little it costs to brew beer," Russell says.
So what beer should you buy? Simple: the Horseneck Golden IPA. Russell's inaugural IPA is made with Cascade hops hailing from Washington's Segal Ranch. The hops' terroir -- the characteristics that soil and climate bestow agricultural products -- helps Horseneck stand apart from the IPA pack. The ale pours like hazy sunshine, its scent recalling lemons dunked in heavy cream. Horseneck slides down smooth and easy (a mild 5.9 percent ABV), with a piney, grassy bitterness that curls around the back of your tongue.
Anyone up for a road trip to Westport this weekend? I want a case or, at these prices, four.*
What's your favorite low-cost craft beer? Spill it in the comments.
Joshua M. Bernstein has written about brews, bars and booze for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Imbibe Magazine and The New York Times. He is currently writing a beer book for Sterling Publishing, to be published in 2011.
*Note: Sadly, Horseneck is sold out until September 9, when a new batch should be ready.