Hop, Vine, and Barrel: Berkley Beer Company

by Matt and Lauren Foster.

Welcome to Hop, Vine, and Barrel. Thanks for stopping by! Can we get you something to drink? Listen, alcohol has been the great lubricator for eons. The Babylonians may have discovered it, the Romans perfected the art of Bacchanalia, the Aztecs and Mayans had their own fermented concoctions, and we have beer, wine, and liquor today. This column will highlight the micro and nano breweries, and possibly wineries, and distilleries throughout the South Shore and South Coast (and beyond, if possible!), to showcase the hard work these people are doing, all in the name of a good drink.  So, what can we get you?

First, if you are new to beer and aren’t sure about the characteristics of various beer styles, and want more information than we provide in this space, we recommend heading over to Beer Advocate’s Beer Styles page.

This week’s column brings us to Berkley Beer Company located in Berkley, Mass. Glenn Barboza founded the brewery in 2012, after working as a drywall installer and plasterer and homebrewing for 10 years.

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Berkley Beer produces two year-round beers (an IPA and a Golden Ale) and a few seasonal offerings including Harvest Ale (available in Autumn), and Coffee Porter (available late-Autumn.)  Watch for the Brewmaster’s Reserve Series inaugural brew: a Belgian tripel, made with honey and aged in rye whiskey barrels from Ryan and Wood Distillery in Gloucester.

Operating as a nanobrewery, Berkley works on a system that brews three barrels (93 gallons, roughly six kegs) at a time.  They brewed 150 barrels in 2013, and are shooting to increase that amount to about 200 in 2014.

They use local ingredients whenever possible.  Grain and hops currently come from Valley Malt in Hadley and Four Star Farms in Northfield.  Future plans bring things even closer to home with the addition of hop plants and their own bees for the honey used in the beer.

While visiting with Glenn at the brewery we sampled the Belgian tripel, straight from the rye whiskey barrel and uncarbonated. It poured a hazy golden. Wildflower honey and the peppery rye whiskey aroma were evident, and the presence of the honey definitely helped tone down the whiskey flavor, which found itself more of a background note.  We can’t wait to taste the finished product!

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Later at home while keeping warm through the snowstorm, we sampled some Berkley IPA and the Coffee Porter.  The Berkley IPA (7.5% ABV) pours orange-gold in color, with a lasting off-white head. It’s well-balanced and citrusy in the aroma and flavor, and features enough bitterness that you know you’re drinking an IPA, but not so much that your tongue is ruined after drinking it.

The porter (6% ABV) pours opaque black, with a thick tan head, this brew showcased a full coffee aroma. Bitter chocolate and a warm roast flavor were present, with the coffee subtle, almost in the background.

If you’d like to try some yourself, you can find Berkley Beer Company’s brews in 22oz “bomber” bottles, or on tap in several locations in eastern Massachusetts. The newest location being Bertucci’s at the Silver City Galleria in Taunton.

That’s last call for today, folks.  Thanks for reading.  We love a good beer conversation!  If you have any questions or comments, throw them down on the page and we are happy to answer and discuss! Drink locally, enjoy responsibly!

Matt and Lauren Foster share a love of a well-crafted beverage (as well as their two children!), and have been exploring the world of beer, wine and cocktails together for nearly 10 years. 

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7 Responses to Hop, Vine, and Barrel: Berkley Beer Company

  1. Beth Marcus says:

    Love the focus on local beer…and the spurt of bones breweries in se ma. Would love to show you around our new faculty..and e old one too…we’re literally moving tanks into the new space today.
    Cheers
    Beth Marcus
    Cape Cod Beer

    • Beth Marcus says:

      Hmm..not sure what word bones was supposed to be…possibly local…maybe new…and then faculty was supposed to be facility…wow..I should go back to bed…

      • We LOVE CCB, and have for years. Matt drank his last bottle of Porto Vino the night the Bruins clinched the Stanley Cup all those years ago, and can’t stop talking about how delicious that beer was!

  2. ogfarmerdave says:

    Hippy Dippy, a new local beer to try, and a new craft beer store (muckeys) to explore. In my opinion, my friends at the mayflower brewery have set the bar high with both the ipa and porter selections… but always willing to try new, local and small. Thanks for this, keep it coming!

  3. LOVE this! Learned about a new brewer, finally understand the beer types and enjoyed the cadence of your fun writing style, thank you Foster’s (actually love that Australian beer too, in a cold can while at the beach!).

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