Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By TOM ATWELL
I bought my first 12-pack of Geary's Summer Ale in cans last week in preparation for a fishing and canoeing trip to the Bethel area.
Geary’s put its Summer Ale in cans with campers and boaters in mind.
That is the just the kind of activity the packaging in cans is aimed at, said company head David Geary.
"I had someone approach me in the store to thank me," Geary said. "He told me, 'Now I can have Geary's on my boat.' He said he had been using beer from another brewer just because it was in cans. 'All summer long, it will be on my boat.' "
Comments like that make Geary think there are new customers to be gained just by offering people the option of cans.
While at the store, I put 12-packs of Geary bottles and cans side by side, and the cans occupied about two-thirds the space of the bottles, which helps in packing.
Geary's Summer is a kolsch based on the beers made in Cologne, Germany, with the pale malts of a lager brewed with ale yeast. It's about 6 percent alcohol, with a malt sweetness at the beginning and a hops bite at the end.
Before the trip to Bethel, Nancy and I had a couple of the beers. It had a slightly stiffer head than I recall from the beer in bottles, but the taste was the same.
There is a reason the beer is so similar to its twin in bottles.
"We actually brew that here with our ingredients, our techniques and everything else," Geary said. "And then we put it in a 200-barrel stainless-steel tank truck, which takes it to the Wachusett brewery in Mansfield, Mass., where it is canned."
Wachusett was founded in 1993 by three students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It started canning beer in 2012 after buying a used canning system capable of putting out 800 cans of beer per minute, according to the company website. That gives the line plenty of time to package beer from other brewers.
The price for the 12-pack of Geary's Summer cans at the Mill Creek Hannaford store was $13.99.
Geary said he is still planning to do a collaboration beer with Wachusett Brewery this fall or winter, but all of the details have not been worked out yet.
I bought a couple of Wachusett beers at The Bier Cellar just to see what the company was doing.
The Green Monsta IPA is a fairly typical American-style IPA at 6 percent alcohol and heavily hopped with Cascade, Amarillo and Centennial hops. This beer is hops-dominant, with some rye adding a bit of mineral taste and the malt in the background.
I liked Larry more. Brewed in collaboration with The Publick House in Sturbridge, Mass., it's described as a drinkable Imperial. But while its IBU (international bittering unit) rating is well above the Green Monsta, it seemed more balanced, and I liked it more. It comes in at 7.5 percent alcohol, which is higher than most beers but fairly low for an Imperial.
In a happy coincidence, when Nancy and I dropped grandchildren Alana and James off at their home in Medford, Mass., in late June, son Zach had some Wachusett Country Pale Ale on hand.
This was simply an easy-drinking pale ale, well balanced with no off-tastes. It's a good session beer at 5.1 percent alcohol.
SHIPYARD announced in a news release that the brewery had won three silver awards in the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition.
The Pugsley Signature Series Smashed Blueberry was honored in the fruit beer category, the Signature Series Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Scottish Ale in the Scottish Ale category, and Old Thumper in the Extra Special Bitter category. The competition included 647 beers in 84 categories.
In an earlier competition in Sacramento, Calif., Shipyard Export -- the company's flagship ale -- won second place in the Light Ale category among 150 beers.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: