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Cape Ann

June 10, 2011

We’ve made the Cape Ann Brewing Company our craft brewery of the month, and recently I was invited out to Gloucester to check out their brew pub. Located right on the water, alongside the docks of one of America’s oldest seaports, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to grab a beer.

I met TJ Peckham and Tom Ryan, two friends who grew up in the area and now handle the sales and day-to-day brewing operations at Cape Ann. TJ told me about how he had spent time as a fisherman in the Bering Sea, but returned to the area to pursue a passion for brewing. It made perfect sense then to learn that Cape Ann donates regularly to the Northeast Seafood Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the long-term health of fishery resources, fishing communities and the fishing industry. From the way they talked about their beers and the process of making them, it’s obvious that Tom and TJ are the kinds of brewers that like to push the envelope to keep beer interesting for the rest of us, and it shows.

I’ve been familiar with Cape Ann’s Fisherman’s line of beers for a while now. Their seasonal Pumpkin Stout is probably my favorite pumpkin beer to date, as it’s one of the few that doesn’t taste like someone jammed a pumpkin pie into a bottle. (Interesting sidenote: apparently they have several cases of Pumpkin Stout left over from last year which they plan on aging into a small batch of Imperial Pumpkin Stout. I don’t know what to do with this information, I just know that it’s awesome). I also like their award-winning Fisherman’s Ale, a German Kolsch-style ale at 5% abv. It’s light-tasting and clean with a bready sweetness (think cornbread) and a touch of bitter hops at the end, making it a great warm weather beer. They recently released a solid Bavarian-style wheat ale with hints of banana, clove, and lemon, and a subtle, witbier-like yeastiness at the end, another good summer brew.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Fisherman’s, their beer menu at the brewpub defied my expectations. They had  a saison on tap brewed with strawberry and rhubarb that was incredible, a clean and fresh-tasting beer that managed to be fruity and flavorful without being cloying (as many fruit beers tend to be). Their Greenhorn Double IPA was another standout, brewed with coveted Simcoe hops for a hoppy beast of a beer at 9% abv, with a great grapefruit bitterness and subtle flavors of tropical fruit. My hands-down favorite though was their Fisherman’s Pick Ale, a strange yet irresistible brew made with cucumbers. It apparently started as a homebrew, but was so good that they decided to put it on tap, and it’s easy to see why. At 6% abv, it’s a light-bodied ale with a clear golden color, and the cucumbers give it a refreshing flavor profile of melon with some slight sourness and a crisp finish. I had no idea that cucumbers and beer would complement each other so well, but then again that’s probably why I’m not a brewer.

I was lucky enough to visit the brewpub on a night where Tom  and TJ were bottling a small batch of beer for a friend’s wedding, and they were nice enough to let me sample it. It was a pineapple hefeweizen brewed with smoked malts that they dubbed Pineapple Express, and it was just as good as it sounds. Having tried it, I wonder now why pineapple hasn’t topped blueberry or watermelon as a go-to flavor for beer, but maybe (hopefully) that will change. I also got to see their Beermobile, a converted, green VW bus with a built-in kegerator and two taps that come out the side. Why all breweries don’t have one of these is a mystery.

Visiting the Cape Ann brew pub was a lot of fun, and I definitely plan on going back soon. If you’re from the Gloucester area, or even if you’re not and feel like road-tripping it, you won’t be disappointed. From their surprisingly excellent food (you can check out their current menu on their website) to the exceptional beer menu and a perfect location, it’s right up there among the best brew pubs you’re likely to find in Massachusetts. I have a new respect for Fisherman’s and the people behind Cape Ann, and from what I understand we can expect some great things from them in the future.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Catie Hubley permalink
    June 10, 2011 1:48 pm

    Sounds like you are discussing different flavored salads!! I love it!

  2. Jonathan Maher permalink
    June 13, 2011 9:44 am

    Interesting how they used cucumbers in their Fishermans Pick Ale. As odd as it sounds, it seems like it would be good. I’ll need to check that out.

    • June 14, 2011 1:55 pm

      I tagged along with Deron that evening…it was easily my favorite beer of the night. I’m planning a trip down soon specifically to get a few growlers of Pick Ale for myself (if my boyfriend is lucky enough, I may share a few sips!)

  3. Chris Martin permalink
    June 14, 2011 10:14 am

    The Pumpkin Stout is easily one of the best pumpkin beers ever. I’d love a chance to try the strawberry-rhubarb saison, any chance their bottling it?

    • June 14, 2011 2:27 pm

      I think they mentioned that they’re gonna bottle it in the near future (don’t quote me on that though). Either way, it’s definitely worth it to try it at the brew pub!

  4. Paul B permalink
    June 14, 2011 3:41 pm

    Looks like a little road trip is required! I’ve only had the Ale but some of the others, particularly the Pick Ale, sound great. It’s always nice to find a place that has stuff on draft that’s otherwise unfindable.

  5. Paul B permalink
    July 1, 2011 10:20 am

    Made it to Cape Ann last weekend! Got to try the IPA and the double IPA. Both were well constructed beers. The bar itself is a big, open room with windows facing the harbor. We sat outside on the deck and ate Portuguese Fish Stew and a killer sausage sandwich while imbibing. Thanks for the tip!

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