Wachusett Brewing Company — one of Massachusetts’s most unsung breweries — was founded by three pals who all attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Ned LaFortune, Kevin Buckler and Peter Quinn eventually gave up their careers as engineers and biologists, and opened up the brewery in Westminster, MA, back in 1993. Today, they have over a dozen employees and upwards of a dozen brands, and their beer is retailed and poured at hundreds of locations throughout Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
In our opinion, one of their most underrated brews is their India Pale Ale (IPA). In the past, we’ve been criticized about our comments on IPAs in New England, but we still agree that the region doesn’t have enough examples of its own and that the vast majority of worthy hoppy beers available in the Boston area are domestic imports from the west. So in a market flooded with IPAs, where does Wachusett stand? Let’s find out.
Bright golden in color with a touch of haze. Thanks to the hops, it’s crowned with a creamy foam head at least two fingers deep. Nose is soft but full of floral hop notes, fresh malt, slight herbal resins, and fruity undertones. Smooth up front and a bit coarse in the back, with a medium mouthfeel and a slightly chewy consistency. Crisp, with a smack of earthy and woody bitterness and tight carbonation. Some hop oils with touches of resin, grass, citric acid and citrus fruit pith; floral, too. A solid malty base is sweet with a hint of caramel and fruity suggestions of skin-on apples. Finish is dry with an aspirin edge.
While hardcore hopheads may deem this beer to be yet another average, ho-hum IPA, Wachusett IPA is actually a damn solid American IPA. It’s bitter and aggressive at times and full of complex flavors, but it remains balanced and interesting throughout, making it far more approachable than many of the American IPAs that seem to have Double IPA envy. Our only wish is that more Boston bars and stores would carry this IPA fresh.
Weighing in at 5.6 percent alcohol by volume, this brew can be found in 12-ounce bottles and on draft at select locations, as well as in 64-ounce growlers at the brewery. Speaking of the brewery, they do condensed tours Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5pm and full tours on Saturdays. Plan a road trip, bring some growlers home and let us know what you think.