It may surprise you to discover that Trillium, known to you and on the street as a perennial plant genus distinguished by its tri-bract design (I know my kids won’t shut up about it), also happens to be an excellent up-and-coming brewer wetting the britches of beer nerds across the country. Mentioned in the same breath as other New England brew houses like Tree House, Bissell Brothers, and Night Shift, Trillium has made a name for it’s anti-clarity beers that thrive in the trade groups with anyone passing through their Boston Bay locations (Fort Point and the recently opened Canton facility) to post covetous pictures of their beer-bottled haul.
I can now count myself in this group, having traded for a stash of bottles in mid-2015 only to have another windfall thanks to my dad’s in-person stop on a vacation up the East Coast. I took up the herculean task of drinking a mass of Trillium’s finest, writing up detailed tasting notes on each for one great big info dump. While there are some notable absences, including several top Trillium street IPAs, I got to try a variety of Trillium’s offerings, some multiple times.
As most people will probably need to trade for these, I commented on the the trade-worthiness of each. This is biased to my palate obviously, so if silky wheat and fruity, citrus hop-bodied IPAs aren’t your thing, you can pass on my recommendation to give away that do-nothing toddler for a case of Melcher Street. You can always make more kids, but few can make good beer. (Note: DBR does not recommend you do this.)
Sooo, rather than prattle on like I already have, here are some quick shots on the six beers I’ve had in the order that I preferred them. Low beer first, working up to the beer worth cashing in the kiddos.
Brewery: Ballast Point
Cost: $5 (10oz)
Glassware: Water Goblet (Tulip)
Availability: Variable Times
Purchased@: Friendly Greek
Quick Take: This is a west coast beer specifically made to satisfy the bitter is better crowd. If your idea of a great IPA is honeyed Chillwave or Hopslam, stay far away. But if bitter grapefruit is your thing, meet your new beer king. For me, it takes one of my favorite drinking IPAs and turns it into a one note bore of bitter grapefruit peel that lacks the juicy grapefruit I crave.
Brewery: Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (RIS)
Cost: ???? (12oz)
Availability: Various Times
Purchased@: Beer Trade Extra
Quick Take: Dark Apparition is in a different class of RIS, being a drinker instead of an intense sipper. It isn’t battling for the top spot in my RIS-loving heart, but I would gladly buy a case to get me through those fall evenings without hesitation. Dark Apparition is simply delicious and another reminder of why I love dark beers.
Quick Take: The drinkability of One Claw is strong, making for a great session beer that is full of flavor and rides the line between overindulgence and a watery bore. This beer is a success because of the toasty rye and biscuity finish that makes you want to go back for more, but an appreciation of mild dank is a must. This may not be bold enough for some, but an easy recommendation for me as a go-to session beer.
My trip to one of the rising stars in the craft beer world, Tired Hands, actually begins at a small Greek restaurant and bottle shop on the outskirts of Lancaster. I have an hour to kill, tumbler of Dirt Wolf in hand, shifting between the humming malt liquor coolers and the shelves of craft beer I’ve picked through ten times over. I wait with the other beer geeks and hipsters to score one of 24 available bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout, wondering when the beer is going to be distributed as the chaotic blob of beer-ites grows bigger.
This is like every other big beer release I go to, full of beer nerds like myself that talk about how the exclusivity and hype surrounding beer releases is bullshit while actively participating in them. The irony is not lost on me, but I tell myself I’m above it because I’ll jump through whatever hoops and pay for the privilege once. Yeah…
While milling about, getting a gauge of what beer styles people are into and who can outdo each other for ultimate beer cred, I think someone claiming to have a Samichlaus from the early 90’s may take the cake, I end up talking to a young twenty something and a grizzled beer veteran. Both separately mention that the best brewery in the area, nay in all of PA and possibly beyond, is Tired Hands.
I heard of it, knew it was about an hour away from me, but never considered making the trip. I have a nice conversation about the brewery for the next hour, staying far past the buying time. I left there with a bottle of BCB Coffee Stout and a burning determination to drink the crap out of some Tired Hands. Less than a month later, I choose to skip one of my favorite annual food and beer expos (next year PA Flavor, next year) for a trip to the Tired Hands pub in Ardmore, Philadelphia.