April 2016

Bar Keeper's Friend Cleaning Demo

We have a new friend. It’s a metal cleaner called Bar Keeper’s Friend, and we want you to be friends too!

When you order any item from Craft & Caro that’s made of metal, we are going to include a packet of Bar Keeper’s Friend to help you to keep your new treasure beautiful.

It is with no small amount of consideration that we chose this particular cleaner. We feel aligned with it.

Like many of the brands we carry, Bar Keeper’s Friend is a tried and true American-made product with a long heritage. It has endured not because of slick advertising or corner-cutting, but because it does what it was designed to do, well and consistently.

Bar Keeper’s Friend has earned an organic following based on its performance. It has built a relationship with it’s consumers over years and years. That’s our kind of brand.

Sample packs of Bar Keeper's Friend

This champion of metal was accidentally invented in Indianapolis in 1882. A local chemist noticed his tarnished pots became shiny after cooking rhubarb in them. After some investigation he identified oxalic acid, naturally present in rhubarb, as the responsible compound.

In short time he formulated a recipe for an oxalic acid based powder cleaner. Bar Keeper’s Friend was born. The formula proved to be exceptional as a metal cleaner and polishing agent, safe for use on stainless steel.

The name was trademarked a few years later, after the cleaner gained popularity among local tavern owners who used it to polish the brass rails and tap boxes in their bars.

Old-timey bartender in a bar

Over the years it gained a cult following, as a myriad of other applications for it were discovered. (Check out the Bar Keeper’s Friend website for a long list of uses and their complete story.)

Bar Keeper’s Friend treats copper, brass, bronze, unfinished aluminum, stainless steel, chrome, porcelain, tile, formica, glass, acrylic, stovetops, boats, siding, grills, and more. (It is NOT for use on gold, silver, anodized aluminum, pewter or marble.)

We rounded up our lovingly tarnished Jacob Bromwell copper coasters, to demonstrate what it can do…

How To Polish With Bar Keeper’s Friend

Bar Keeper's Friend laid out for use

Bar Keeper’s Friend is easy to use. 

Wetting a micro-fiber cloth

First throw on some latex gloves to prevent possible skin irritation. Then wet a soft cloth. We recommend microfiber to prevent scratching your precious wares.

Pouring Bar Keeper's Friend onto cloth

Sprinkle some Bar Keeper’s friend onto the cloth.

Polishing a copper ashtray with Bar Keeper's Friend

Then start polishing. Buff in small circles, slowly moving around the item. A bit of elbow grease will help but time is the more important factor. You should notice a difference within 30 seconds. Keep buffing until the item is clean and shiny! It might take a few minutes, so be patient.

Copper Jacob Bromwell coaster polished with Bar Keeper's Friend

Doesn’t that look nice.

You can also make a more concentrated paste of equal parts water and Bar Keeper’s Friend. Use it the same way.

We even dropped our photographer Joe’s Jacob Bromwell money clip into a bowl of Bar Keeper’s Friend and water and it came out like new, no buffing required!

copper Jacob Bromwell Lexington money clip

Just be careful as you increase the concentration, since oxalic acid is mildly corrosive (that’s the idea). Make sure to rinse each item after polishing, to ensure no residue remains on the surface.

A copper Jacob Bromwell coaster being rinsed in a sink

And now the most satisfying moment of any “How-to” cleaning series, the Before and After Shot:

Bar Keeper's Demo-4

Bar Keeper's Demo-84

Cheers 🙂

Filed Under: Jackmauh Tries It
Craft & Caro's 4/20 Collection

Craft & Caro is always there to help equip you for life’s richest occasions. For all the connoisseurs with cause to celebrate this Wednesday, we present our April 20th smoker’s guide. Show your best buds how much you care, with some artfully designed tools of the trade. Are you experienced?

Storage Solutions

Smoking accessories from Craft & Caro

Herb Preserve Jars (1) $8-$20 There is always room for innovation. Herb Preserve has even made a few improvements to the standard glass jar. Theirs feature light-blocking pigmented glass, an airtight sealing lid, and thick, durable construction. Fragrances stay in, light and air stay out. Assorted sizes, designed to work as a set, make this line the most convenient (and discreet) way to tote your buds, whether you’re walking the dog after dinner or spending the week in Joshua Tree.

Pocket Ashtray (2) $48 Tsubota Pearl provides us with a graceful solution to an eternal struggle. The handy pocket ashtray fits easily in your pocket, purse or bag. Pop it out whenever you need it. Prevents messes and unwanted scents on clothing, cars and furniture. Polished chrome, hand wrapped in leather. The classy way to ash.

Bronson Cigarette Case by Jacob Bromwell (3) $198 A beautiful keepsake from one of our favorite heritage brands. Jacob Bromwell has been making fine household goods in America since 1819. This handsome cigarette case is hand soldered from pure copper. Hot-tinned on the inside for a rugged finish. Easily holds a dozen healthy handrolls. Built to last a lifetime, by the company that patented the first flour sifter.

Lighters and Grinders and Buds (Oh my!)

Herb grinders and lighters from Craft & Caro

Space Case Herb Grinder (4) $30-$44 Aircraft grade aluminum, finished with an anodized non-stick titanium coating. Magnetic seal, low-friction teflon gasket. Precision-machined dull-resistant teeth. Yes, we are talking about a grinder. This space-age unit is built to shred smoothly all afternoon. Enjoy a fine, consistent grind for years to come, with a lifetime warranty to back it up.

Sweetleaf Herb Grinder (5) $26-$32 The trusty vintage herb grinder with the patented “peg” design. Made in Canada since Bachman Turner Overdrive was making hits. No tricks here, just simple, solid construction (from polished aluminum) and an iconic design.

Tsubota Pearl Black Satin Lighter (6) $48 Tsubota Pearl, a family-run business, has been designing lighters with expertise since 1952. Over the years they have designed dozens of lighters that embody the term “modern classic.” This satin-finished brass model is sharp. Each component is manufactured with care, for a smooth, reliable performance. Uses clean-burning butane. Light your fire like a pro.

Tsubota Pearl Onyx & Mother of Pearl Checker Lighter (7) $264 Oh Tsubota Pearl, you shouldn’t have. This gorgeous onyx and mother of pearl-finished brass lighter is one of our personal favorites. A precious keepsake for yourself or the special connoisseur in your life.

The Sweet Scent of Discretion

Scented items from Craft & Caro

Wary Meyers Candles (8) $28.50 These funky candles are handmade by artisans John and Linda in coastal Maine. Fun, all-natural scents like Sea Salt & Watermelon and Honey & Cocobolo Wood provide sensuous ambiance all afternoon. Perfect for setting the mood or clearing the air.

Dyer & Jenkins Shelter Spray (9) $20 Ditch the harsh deodorizers. These rustic scents are made from all-natural essential oils. The most convenient way to refresh any dank smelling room, tent, cabin, closet, pillow fort or Chevelle SS. Available in Walden (cedar & balsam fir), Clemens (vanilla & tobacco) and Whitman (peppermint & tea tree). Portable, fast acting and easy to use. Where were these things back in the dorm??

Sonny Marshall Studios Balance Incense Holder (10) $95 Sometimes there is no substitute for a good Nag Champa session. This unique incense burner is handmade from white oak by L.A. woodworker Sonny Marshall. A small brass weight holds your incense of choice, while balancing the fulcrum-mounted ash catcher beneath it. A beautiful zen curio for your desk, meditation shrine or bedroom.

Filed Under: Culture, Events, Gift Guides, Relax
Brothers Artisan Oil Interview by Craft & Caro

Brothers Artisan Oil produces small batch beard grooming and shaving oils by hand. Their product line is 100% natural, made from simple botanical ingredients. All products are made from start to finish by Owen, Baxter, Wiley and Marie Shea in Boston. We caught up them at an exciting moment in their story. Here’s the scoop.


 

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil are setting up their new studio when we arrive. They are a charismatic pair. Owen is tall, broad-shouldered and bearded, the spitting image of a man’s man. Marie is equally striking, with bright eyes and a welcoming smile. You can sense a warm camaraderie between them. If they have been working long hours lately, it is not conveyed by their easy disposition. The studio has a good vibe.

Owen has spent the last few days laying floorboards and hanging shelves. Brand new file cabinets and storage drawers squat neatly underneath the work table that runs the length of one wall. A few thoughtfully chosen family relics and potted herbs accent the work space. Assorted jars, jugs, bottles and beakers adorn the shelves. Some have simple hand written labels like “Argan Oil” and “Jojoba Oil” but many more are yet to be unpacked. Business is about to commence here, in the first dedicated production facility of Brothers Artisan Oil.

Brothers Artisan Oil Workshop shot for Craft & Caro

Brothers is one of the first tenants of a curious new undertaking — Market at Casablanc, a self-described “micro-retail environment for makers.” A dozen small studios (in various stages of assembly on the day of our visit) surround a large common area that will function as a shared retail, gallery and event space.

Located upstairs is Casablanc, a collective of creative professionals including artists, musicians and designers. The collective hosts gallery events and live performances regularly. They have created Market with a similar vision in mind: provide a much-needed cultural and commercial venue for Boston makers.

Characteristic of the craft-made industry, where things are constantly reclaimed, repurposed and renewed, Market at Casablanc resides in an former industrial building in a fringe neighborhood of Boston. The bare walls and floors have been slathered in whitewash, giving the place a rather apropos blankness. In the coming months, local makers and artisans will make these studios their own.

Brothers Artisan Oil for Craft & Caro

For now the tidy Brothers workshop provides a sense of order to the space. It will be a few more days before production here begins. However this is hardly the beginning. Brothers Artisan Oil has already been in production for a year and a half, based in Owen and Marie’s Brookline home. To date, they have sold tens of thousands of units.

That might seem like putting the cart before the horse, but for the Shea family it’s pretty standard. They don’t tend to waste much time sitting around drafting plans. The Sheas are agents of action.


 

Brothers Owen, Baxter and Wiley Shea, along with Owen’s wife, Marie, founded Brothers Artisan Oil in 2014. They came together at the Shea family home on cape Cod that June, when their mother, Meredith, suffered a severe stroke. Half of her brain was affected, leaving her immobile. She couldn’t walk, speak or even swallow. Chances that she would regain her mobility were bleak. In the following months, her fight to recover inspired the Sheas to found a family business.

The boys stood by as Meredith began a long and uncertain road to recovery. While they tended to her, they grew their beards out in a show of solidarity. They could only wait. Owen recalls a “breakthrough moment” that came after the first week. Marie played “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on the stereo one night. To everyone’s surprise, Meredith began to sing along! She sang every word. They took the early sign of progress as a good omen and looked ahead with hope.

Before long, the brothers found a need to tame their burgeoning whiskers. Nothing they found in stores seemed to do the trick. They started mixing beard oils at home. Shaving was not, after all, an option.

Owen’s experience as a cocktail bartender came in handy for blending botanical extracts and essential oils. He began to share their product with friends and regulars at the bar, refining the recipe from their compliments and critiques. Owen cites this early, sincere feedback as crucial to developing the finished product.

Meredith labored in physical therapy through the summer, while the brothers worked on their blends. By September, Meredith had achieved the astounding. She could walk and speak again. The boys had their mother back.

Owen Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil for Craft & Caro

A lot happened in a dizzyingly small amount of time after that. It was clear that Brothers Artisan Oil was making real traction. Owen was working full time as GM of Vintage Restaurant and Lounge in Boston. He continued to develop the product in his free time, and reflect on the experience that had brought the family together. Marie was due to give birth to their first child in November. A new branch of the family was about to sprout and Owen felt it was time for a life change. The timing was right for it.

Owen approached his friends at Ball & Buck, a Boston retailer of American-made craft goods, in September. They encouraged him to present Brothers Artisan Oil at American Field, a major craft goods trade show, in November. Attending would require an unprecedented amount of production and preparation, and Marie was due two weeks before the event date. It was going to be tight.

As fate would have it the baby was two weeks late. It gave them just enough time to prep for the show. Marie was designing labels on their home computer when she went into labor, three days before American Field. Nova, the newest member of the Shea family, was born.

Had Nova been on time, the Sheas might have missed the trade show and their first sale. Birchbox, an online retailer of boutique cosmetics, placed an order for 5,000 units shortly after the trade show. Brothers Artisan Oil was officially in business.

“That really kicked us into gear,” recalls Marie; all they had to do now was traverse a tangle of legal paperwork to certify their business, finish designing their branding and fill the order by hand, in a few short weeks.

Marie Shea and Matt Noonan of Brothers Artisan Oil

They hit the ground running. Owen left the bar and went full time producing Brothers Artisan Oil at home. Marie left her job as an events coordinator at a non-profit a few months later. A former design student at MassArt, she applied her skills to their fledgling brand.

At first, Owen printed labels on his home printer, hanging them from clotheslines in the yard to spray them with waterproofing. Marie, Owen, Baxter, and Wiley all mixed and bottled batch after batch of beard oil, one gallon at a time. Not much has changed.

“There are no machines. We are the machines,” Marie explains. “Everybody does the thing that they really like to do.” Owen and Marie manage day-to-day operations. Baxter manages Boston retail accounts and Wiley helps out filling larger orders (referred to as “Big Pours”).

Sometimes a roster of trusty friends pitch in to help. On the very day of our visit, long-time pal Matt Noonan, the person who first introduced Marie and Owen, is helping them move into the new studio. They are grateful for their support network.

“Our friend Nick Ciocca has been helping out a ton lately,” says Marie. Pals Bob Brown and Dione Mariani accompanied Owen to American Field so Marie could stay home with the baby. 

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil

“It’s important to let people fall into those roles,” explains Owen, who has a seasoned sense for human resources. “We can do a couple hundred bottles in a day without killing ourselves, but 10,000 a month if we have the order.”

The team is still working from handwritten recipes, complete with the requisite coffee stains.

More impressive still is the fact that the Shea family started Brothers Artisan Oil completely out of pocket. No investors, no crowdfunding, no fundraising.

“We’ve made some risky decisions” Marie reflects. “We had to learn to business and adult at the same time. It’s nice to have these [interview] questions, it gives us a chance to reflect on why we’re even doing this because we are doing this.”

When I ask them what their greatest challenge to date has been, Owen echoes Marie — “Starting a business and a family in the same week.” His deadpan response is not hyperbole. It is fact. The Shea family has no need for embellishment.

 


 

Brothers Artisan Oil Three Scents

The notions of risk, enterprise and family are reflected proudly in the Brothers imagery. Owen discovered a set of vintage stamps that suit their story perfectly. A 1920’s series featuring the landing of the Mayflower provided Brothers with three images, one for each scent of beard oil. The stamps depict the Mayflower at sea, the famous landing at Plymouth Rock and the signing of the Mayflower compact.

The ship itself represents the Sheas’ earliest roots, since Meredith traces her family’s heritage back to the Mayflower crossing. The subsequent images — the landing at Plymouth Rock and the forging of New World’s oldest governing document — epitomize the promise of a new beginning, the risk of adventure and the unity of a familial covenant.

Plus, the classic images look sharp perched on a bathroom shelf. “We want it to look like it belongs [in your bathroom], not some flashy gold bottle or something,” says Owen. “We wanted it to be simple and masculine” adds Marie.

Brothers Artisan Oil products displayed for CRaft & caro

The main logo hits even closer to home. You might not catch it at first glance, but that strange shape next to the “BAO” is a bird skull. Half of an Osprey skull, to be specific. Why an Osprey? Because they nest in the trees around the Shea family home on Cape Cod. Why half? To commemorate their mother’s triumph over the force that cast a shadow on half of her brain.


 

Brothers has already expanded their inventory to include a unisex shaving oil, two styling pomades and a grooming kit consisting of a beard oil, a pomade, a wooden beard comb and a carrying pouch. All of their products are made in small batches, from nourishing plant-based oils and extracts, in keeping with Owen’s motto that “a healthy beard comes from healthy skin.” They aren’t stopping there.

“We plan on extending our product line, including more pomades, shaving products and tools, washes, soaps, salves and much more” says Owen. He and Marie both cite the significance of their new space in Market as a catalyst and a source of inspiration.

“There are makers popping up everywhere” says Owen with excitement. “There are Boston brands now.

“You genuinely feel like you’re a part of something, a movement, and you’re making [a living],” says Marie happily. People in the maker world tend to be very supportive of each other. There is a sense of community here that is rare in any retail environment. In some cases brands that might be competitors in the same arena team up instead, to increase their collective reach to consumers.

Brothers Artisan Oil Shaving Kit

The Brothers grooming kit is a clear example of this kind of symbiosis. The Valkyrie Project, based in Boston’s South End, manufactures the canvas curio pouches that Brothers uses for the kit.

The set’s beautiful two-tone wooden combs are purchased from a mysterious woodworker on Cape Cod. He makes each one by hand, one at a time, and claims to be “the only full-time wooden comb maker in America.”

Encounters with such characters is not unusual in this industry, where eccentricity and obsession are driving forces.


 

The Brothers team is excited for 2016. Retail hours for their new Market studio will begin in May. They have plans to appear at several craft trade shows, including Boston Made and American Field.

Their goal for the year is to expand their shelf presence beyond New England. Eventually they want to see Brothers Artisan oil sold in every state. They are already on shelves in ten states, including at half a dozen retailers in Boston alone. Direct retail orders from all over the country come through the website daily.

Just two days before our visit, Brothers received their first order from France. Naturally curious, Owen did a little online sleuthing and discovered, to their great surprise, that Brothers had been featured in an issue of Vogue Paris.

Owen smiles. “Mom was psyched to hear about that.”

“We thought you had to pay for that sort of thing,” says Marie.

The brand’s momentum seems to be taking care of itself.

“We always felt like the Shea Family had a brand already, there were just two things missing, a product and a plan,” explains Owen.

The Shea family finally has their product. Maybe soon they will get a chance to sit down long enough to write out the plan.

Brothers Artisan Oil Banner

Filed Under: Boston, Culture, Groom
11 Fabulous Gift ideas for Mom from Craft & Caro

Craft & Caro strives to be the finest purveyor of gentlemen’s essentials, but many of our fine products are beloved by ladies as well! We put this luxurious Mother’s Day gift guide together for the fashionable mom in your life.

 

The Executive Collection

Executive Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

For the mom who means business.

The Lajoie Shoulder Tote (1) is simple, sharp and gracefully stylish. Laser cut Dutch leather, hand stitched with urban-farmed beeswax twine, gives this bag an elegant precision. A few modest accents add a touch of flair, elevating it from formal work tote to rock-star-chic fashion accessory. Built in Montreal to last a lifetime. $365

A handwritten note is always more heartfelt than a store-bought card. Think outside of the shoebox with Bohemia Correspondence Cards (2)! These colorful greeting cards from Prague are themselves a worthy gift consideration. The sturdy, bordered cardstock with matching tissue-lined envelopes makes versatile stationery for lighthearted hellos, holiday greetings or formal affairs. $32

Now let’s equip that bag with some accessories of its own. We recommend the Schon DSGN #0001 Metal Pen (3), made here in Boston. Solid, stately and classic. Its heft in the hand commands authority, just like Mom. Fabricated from your choice of silver or black aluminum, limited edition brass, bronze or titanium. Rolls Royce not included. $58

One of our Bull & Stash Refillable Notebooks (4) completes the set. A single piece of deliciously soft nubuck leather, hand finished in Italy, forms the jacket of this tough, travel ready notebook. Spine-free and very flexible, this attractive jotter is the professional way to scratch, scribble and brainstorm in the office, on the commute or in the park. Cut in three sizes, including two pocket-sized. $15-$50

 

The Vacation Collection

Vacation Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

Because motherhood is a beach.

The iconic Pendleton Glacier Park 5th Avenue Throw (5) makes a lovely keepsake for any room in the house. Its plush Merino wool is irresistibly soft — perfect for curling up on the couch, laying out on the beach or picnicking in the park. A gift to be enjoyed for years and years. Manufactured in Oregon since the 1860’s. $138

Mom can pack her Pendleton into a Revival Series Boston Bag (6) for her afternoon excursion. This historic design is tastefully executed with rugged canvas, hand-stitched leather and solid brass hardware. All the trappings of a good time can fit into this handy tote. A removable leather shoulder strap makes carrying heavy cargo easy. Buttons up or down for adjustable size, in case Mom’s afternoon off turns into a whole weekend! Proudly designed and made in Boston. (Check out designer Marie Thompson’s recent coverage in The Boston Globe!) $198

No sunny afternoon is complete without a nice cold drink! Owl’s Brew Cocktail Mixers (7) provide a fun and easy way for Mom to enjoy some DIY craft bartending. Made in Vermont from freshly brewed tea, fruit and herbs, each Owl’s Brew comes ready to mix with your spirit of choice. Add ice, give it a stir and you’re done!  Feeling more creative? Give classic cocktails a new twist or experiment with custom recipes! It’s even great on its own, as a refreshing artisanal iced tea. $10-$18

 

The Pamper Collection

Pamper Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

She pampered you. Here’s your chance to pay back the favor with some all-natural items, crafted to delight the senses and soothe the soul.

A standout addition to any culinary library, Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water (8) is filled with enough inspired infusion recipes to last all summer long! Mom will have a blast making her own garlic confit oil, peach bourbon, homemade limoncello and pineapple-mint-coconut water, to name a few. This beautifully illustrated guide even includes secondary food and cocktail recipes incorporating its luscious infusions! Another thing to look forward to next time you’re invited to dinner at Mom’s. $25

No Mother’s Day gift guide would be complete without a scented candle or two. MIZU (9) nails it with their perfectly balanced hand-poured candles. Made with 100% natural soy wax and essential oil blends. Each scent in the Mizuworld Collection captures fragrances from a particular region of the globe, like Lemongrass & Jasmine for Thailand and Fig & Olive for Greece. Yum! Brighten Mom’s world with something extra special. $22.50

Bring a touch of the exotic to Mom’s morning routine! Wary Meyers Soap (10) is beautiful, festive and fragrant. Made with love by a funky pair of interior designers who left New York City for the rocky shores of Maine. Their dazzling all natural soaps sport bold, playful scents like Beachy Coconut, Grapefruit & Clementine, and Cedarwood & Vanilla. A gentle glycerine-based formula makes these soaps soothing and moisturizing, with a luxurious smoothing finish. $14

Thorn & Bloom Artisanal Botanical Perfume (11) redefines high-end fragrance. This premium line of all-natural eau de parfums is hand crafted by certified natural perfumer Jennifer Botto. Natural botanical ingredients create more nuanced and authentic aromatic profiles than conventional perfumes can achieve. Each intricate scent is inspired by Botto’s childhood memories of her family’s farm in upstate New York. A truly precious treasure to share, made just down the road in Somerville, Massachusetts. $65-$199 (Full interview with Jennifer Botto here.)

There you have it, friends. Eleven inspired gifts to help you show your mother just how special she is. The only thing left to figure out is how to out-do yourself next year.

Mother's Day Gift Guide from Craft & Caro

Filed Under: Boston, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work
Spring Beer Review pt. 2

Readers loved our Spring Beer Review so much that we decided to pop another six for you! It was hard work but we survived. Here’s to Spring!

 

Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse
1809 Berliner Weisse

1809 is a re-creation of the unusual Berliner-Weisse style — a refreshing, light-bodied, German wheat ale characterized by a lactic tartness. In fact the recipe includes Lactobacillus, the same bacterial culture used to make yogurt. Berliner Weisse known as a summer treat in many places, but we can’t wait that long.

Pour this hazy straw-colored ale into a tall glass. You’ll find ripe Meyer lemon, hay and fresh grass in the nose. It drinks like a light hefeweizen but with a zingy, lemon yogurt tartness. There’s a subtle creaminess in the mouthfeel that fans of this style find irresistibly satisfying. The wheat body provides soft backing notes of fruit and grain. A great refresher all spring and summer long, especially since this style tends to clock in between three and five percent!

(Pro tip: Can’t find it? Look for White Birch Brewing’s Berliner Weisse in a yellow can! Excellent American version of this brew.)

Freising, GER, 5%

 

Anchor Steam Beer

Anchor Steam Beer

Anchor Brewing’s Steam Beer is the defining example of Steam Beer, one of the only brews with American roots. First brewed in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, this approachable amber lager has the characteristics of an ale. Think of it as the mellow west coast cousin of Sam Adams Boston Lager. Northern Brewer hops, known for their herbal and woody aromas, provide a somewhat gritty but moderate hop profile. Pale and Caramel Malts balance the brew with a toffee sweetness. A strong carbonation keeps this medium-bodied beer light on its toes.

The nose presents hints of caramel and pine but ultimately this is a beer that simply smells like, well, beer! Rightly so. A less sophisticated style than most modern craft brews, Steam Beer was first produced to slake the thirst of tired miners and sailors. Do your part and pop one in the park. A great beer for any Opening Day!

San Francisco, CA, 4.9%

 

Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba

Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba

A gorgeously dry Belgian pale ale. This beer is hopped like an American pale but unmistakably refined like a true Belgian. The nose is fresh, damp, earthy and faintly floral, somewhere between jasmine flowers and roses. The sip is dry, bitter, almost champagne-y. Slight notes of orange peel and wheat flit by. The finish is tightly bitter, with traces of yeast and jasmine flower.

This would make an excellent alternative to some bubbly on a picnic, especially paired with roast chicken or pan-fried fish!

Brussels, BEL, 4.5%

 

Lord Hobo Brewing Hobo Life Session IPA

Lord Hobo Hobo Life Session IPA

Fresh like fiddleheads. Dank notes of raw sourdough consort with herbal and citrus hop aromas in the nose. A Citra dry-hop session provides juicy notes of grapefruit and key lime that pop on the palate, yet the brew remains light and effervescent. A pale biscuit maltiness with tinges of toasted caramel rounds out the sip. The flavor lightens towards the end, finishing clean. Definitely a session IPA but with more flavor than usual, because why not? Another great one for working up to full IPA hoppiness in weeks to come.

Woburn, MA, 4.5%

 

Alpine Brewing Duet IPA

Alpine Duet IPA

Speaking of which, here is an IPA to hit your stride with as the days get warmer. Big aromas of tropical fruits and flowers rise from the glass when you pour this purebred west coast IPA. Bursts of fresh-squeezed tropical fruit (we got grapefruit, mango, sour cherry and green apple!), spruce and even skunky cannabis greet the palate. A caramel malt backbone and bright lemony notes frame the sipping experience. Despite a full orchestra of flavors, this brew still finishes light and clean. All around a graceful and gratifying west coast IPA. Hell yeah.

Alpine, CA, 7%

 

Stone Enjoy By 4.20.16

Stone Enjoy By 4.20.16

Call it art, call it hubris, call it an affront to science. Whatever you call it, Stone’s Enjoy By series is always fun. Each release is a one-time brew of intense magnitude, “brewed specifically NOT to last,” according to Stone. Every super-hopped batch must be enjoyed fresh, hence its name. Enjoy By 4.20.16 is a “devastatingly dank” double IPA brewed with ten strains of luscious hops! Huge waves of ripe tropical fruit are peppered with a piney spice. The palate reels in ecstasy. A broad, honey-sweet malt body manages to balance the load. The brew remains just crisp and dry enough to be way more more drinkable than an Imperial IPA ought to be! Definitely a far out tribute to an already groovy day of the year. Cheers!

Escondido, CA, 9.4%