By the time my friend Mike and I made it to Trillium in Canton, we had been driving for about four and a half hours. It was about three hours from New Jersey to Tree House. We had a quick twenty minutes on the ground waiting for our twelve cans of Haze and Bright Citra and it was back in the car for another hour and a half to Trillium. Facing another three plus hours home, it was nice to take a beer break in the Trillium tasting room in Canton.
My wife gave me strict orders not to come home with any stout. For once, I had to agree with her as my beer cellar is bursting with prized stouts. I would rather spend my cash on a summer’s worth of world class IPA. I still wanted to try a stout and my taste buds couldn’t wait for a pour of Trillium Night and Day with cold brewed coffee.
If you do go to the tasting room in Canton, they allow you a total of 20 ounces and serve their beer in either five ounce or ten ounce portions. You can do the math. I started with a ten ounce pour of El Dorado Cutting Tiles. I had just purchased a case, as well as a couple of growlers of the IPA formerly known as Artaic. I couldn’t wait to have one. I followed Cutting Tiles with my long awaited five ounce pour of Trillium Night and Day with Cold Brewed Coffee from Barrinton Coffee Roasters. It did not disappoint. This stout is amazingly complex with dark roasted coffee, fudge, a hint of dark fruit and cherry. Smooth and velvety mouthfeel. Really hit the spot, amazing stout 96 points.
Back on the road with our combined haul of about nine cases of IPA. Thankfully, they didn’t have any bottles of this stout to go or I would have been in trouble at home.
I’ve been waiting to take this road trip to Trillium and Tree House for some time now. My friend Mike and I got off at 8:30 a.m. and we arrived at Trillium’s Canton facility just before noon. We had a quick couple samples and at least a few quiet moments to plan our purchase. Just a smattering of customers. Between the two of us, we lugged about seven cases back to the car and packed them on ice. After a lunch break at Smash Burger, we were on our way westward to Tree House in Monson, MA. The trip was about an hour and a half from Canton and I’d say we pulled into the lot at about 3:30 p.m. for what was supposed to be a 5:00 p.m. opening.
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Parking is in a few different lots and the brewery has a couple of employees that will point you in the right direction. What was a nice day turned raw, rainy and cold. The anticipation was enough to keep me from complaining.
Shortly before opening, the Tree House staff will pass out growler order cards and an availability sheet (and yes – pencils were available). As you can see the cards are numbered in order and that will come in handy later. My advice is to check their website for the latest growler fill limits so your expectations are in order. Don’t flip out that you can’t buy 4 growlers of one beer. They sell it as fast as they make it and they want to make sure that everyone walks away with something. One more thing, they only fill their own growlers (apparently its a state law). I brought a couple Mike had gotten me on an earlier trip. They will collect the cards once they think the initial line has had a chance to fill out. Again, not a concern as the cards are numbered.
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We were surprised when they opened for sales earlier than expected. I guess they felt pity for us cold and wet wretches. One tip, as you get close to the brewery door, you’ll be asked to keep the single entry/exit door clear. Don’t crowd in, apparently, it’s an ongoing issue.
Your first line is the cans purchase line and they will assume that you want the maximum number of cans. As you can see from the photo below, the can line offers a great view right onto the brewery floor. Today’s limit was three each of Sap, Julius and Doppelgänger. Once you pay for your cans (cash or credit) you’ll need to wait for your growler fill order to come up. They will call your number “deli-style” on a tote board. They seem to pre-fill growlers as they had already gone through the first fifty-five orders when I stepped off the can line. Really an efficient process.
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We were in line by 3:30 and out the door and on our way home by 4:45 – it’s a well-oiled process. Staff was amazingly cheerful, friendly and fun. An outstanding experience. We pulled into my driveway about 12 hours after our journey began.
In retrospect, we could have added New England Brewing on the way home. I was kind of bummed when I learned the next day that they had released Fuzzy Baby Ducks as we drove past the brewery just off the Merritt Parkway. The disappointment was short-lived as we certainly went home with more than a consolation prize. It was a very good beer day.
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Sap Tasting: March 1, 2016 Style: American IPA Beer #: 911 ABV: 7.3%
Certainly not the juice bomb that one might expect from a Tree House IPA but Sap is no slouch in the flavor department. I like that they made something easily unique and identifiable. Sap has lots of grapefruit, juniper and assaulting bitterness. Puckery and dry finish and a pillowy mouthfeel. If you like your IPA scale tipped in favor of bitterness over sweetness – this is your beer. I enjoyed Sap – 93 points. Can was stamped 2/23/16 – 7 days old.
A Doppelgänger is a double of a living person…like if native of China said they were one in a million, they would have a thousand doppelgängers. If this Doppelgänger is a copy of another beer – then I want to find that beer. This may be the best of the three beers pictured above. Dank, resinous, smokey, sharp bitterness, juicy. 97 points.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to try Tree House Brewing’s Double Shot Gracenote Kenya Double Shot Gracenote Kenya Irati- 94 Points This time around, it is just the “regular” double shot. Massively decadent and smooth with espresso, chocolate and vanilla. Double Shot is certainly not run over by roasted grain bitterness found in other stouts. In retrospect, I think I may have short-changed the Gracenote Kenya Irati – but I won’t make the same mistake. Double Note is a solid 95 points in my book.
When you hunt for limited release craft beer, you quickly realize that there will always be something else on the horizon and that you win some and you lose some. I try to be aware of release schedules by monitoring stores and breweries on Facebook and Twitter. My news feed validates my obsession. You cannot keep tabs on all the limited beer releases and sometimes you just miss the boat. These two beers have been on my must try list for some time but I guess it’s just been a few years of lose some rather than win some. Anyway, I made sure that they did not slip my attention this year. Tiramisu Hoo was release first and Cinnamon Roll’d Wake ‘n Bake came out a couple of weeks later.
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert consisting of sponge cake soaked in coffee and brandy (or liqueur) with powdered chocolate and mascarpone cheese. At one time, it was on every Italian restaurant’s menu. Tiramisu Hoo is considered a milk stout because it is brewed with lactose or milk sugar. The addition gives a beer a smooth, creamy feel with some residual sweetness. Add in cocoa nibs, coffee and vanilla and Terrapin has taken aim at replicating the once popular dessert. My impression? They certainly have nailed the flavor. It truly does mimic the dessert. There is one big flaw in that the body is too thin. On the plus side, wonderfully sweet and you can taste the dusty, powdered cocoa. I’ll put Tiramisu Hoo at 93 points.
Cinnamon Roll’d Wake ‘n Bake Tasting: February 11, 2016 Style: Oatmeal Coffee Stout Beer #:893 ABV: 9.4%
On to the other half of my daily double. Fresh off my experience with Tiramisu Hoo, I thought Cinnamon Roll’d W-n-B would replicate the popular glazed pastry. If that’s what they went for, they missed the mark. There is not any sweetness in this beer but it does deliver a solid punch of roasted coffee and subdued cinnamon. A little boozy heat creeps in mid to late palate and that roasted bitterness is a little too intrusive. I would favor Tiramisu Hoo but still put Cinnamon Roll Wake ‘n Bake at a respectable 92 points.
There are just some breweries that do it right. The lines and the distance people travel are a testimony to the quality of their beer. Show me the brewery with a crowd that makes bad beer. By comparison, I have to shake my head at some of the newer breweries in New Jersey and wonder why we can’t have that here (Carton and Kane aside). I don’t know, maybe they aspire to be like Tree House brewing but certainly they haven’t hit the home run beer. If it were me – I’d hand them an IPA from Tree House or Trillium and say “make this” and you’ll be on the map and sell beer as quick as you can make it.
Anyway, my friend Mike made the Trillium and Tree House run in one day and after spending a few hours on line waiting, he returned with a bevy of goodies including a two liter growler of Double Shot Gracenote Kenya Irati. Tree House has done a number of variations on the base stout – Double Shot. This one has the addition of coffee.
Here are the notes from the brewery:
DOUBLE SHOT Gracenote Kenya Irati (American Stout – 7.6% ABV) – We are very excited to partner with our friends from Gracenote Coffee Roasters for this special rendition of Double Shot! The Kenya Irati beans were selected after an exhaustive cupping and blending session, resulting in a well integrated and bright rendition of our favorite coffee beer. We experience flavors and aromas of dark chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, a caramel / brown sugar note, and cardamom-like spice. The mouthfeel here is robust and syrupy, with soft velvety carbonation – a true standout on this batch! It is, in our opinion, the result of what is possible with the careful selection of ingredients and the spirit of true collaboration. We are so excited to share it with you!
I’ll say that this is complex with chalky dark baker’s chocolate and a real mellow coffee flavor. Not as syrupy as they portray but velvety enough to enhance the experience. Smooth with a roasted bitter finish. Really nice I’ll call Double Shot Gracenote Kenya by Tree House a solid 94 points.