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Author: Jeff

Hudson Single Malt Whiskey

Hudson Single Malt Whiskey is made from 100% whole grain malted barley,  then it is aged in heavily charred new Missouri white oak barrels,  aged under 4 years and bottled at 92 proof.  All though it shares the same grain bill as Scotch, American rules require new oak barrels be used for every batch.  Unlike Irish and Scotch whiskeys that reuse whiskey barrels.  The new charred oak barrels give a bolder and woody flavor showing a rich amber color with notes of vanilla, caramel and finishing with a hint of spice.  Made at Tuthilltown Gristmill in Gardener New York, Hudson Whiskeys are some of the finest I have sampled and they were given the Best Artisan Distiller Award in 2010.  Enjoy straight or add a drop of water.  This is a must try American Single Malt.


It’s here! Jr Johnson’s Midnight Moonshine in mason jars.  Made from American corn and triple distilled for a smooth and clean finish.  Choose from three kinds of shine, original, apple pie and strawberry.  Use it to create and infuse your own cocktails or just drink it straight the way Jr Johnson intended.  My favorite is moonshine and lemonade.  Fill a glass with ice than add 1 and a half shots of the original shine and top off with homemade lemonade.  You can also create some moonshine jello shots.  All three styles retail for $21.99 and are available in both Acton and Marlboro Locations.

Why is the Spencer Abbey so special?

First off, as always, a little history lesson.  The term Abbey is derived from the word Abbot which is the title given to the head of a Monastery.  The term Abbey Ale simply refers to a beer made in a Monastic tradition.  Some of these monasteries were of the Trappist order from La Trappe, France.  Trappist monasteries have their foundation in the Benedictine tradition of manual labor and self-sufficiency, which still holds true to this day.  Many of these Trappist monasteries had or built breweries to feed themselves and their local communities.  After all beer is liquid bread.

Flash forward to today.  There are only ten active Trappist breweries in the world.  One of which is St. Josephs Abbey is Spencer Massachusetts.  To qualify as a Trappist beer it must meet several criteria.  The beer must be brewed within the walls of the monastery.  Benedictine lifestyle tradition must take precedence over brewing.  The brewery must not be a profit making venture.  Profits from the brewing may only be used to maintain the Benedictine Trappist lifestyle and the brewery.  All other profits must be given to charity.  The beer must be brewed by or overseen by monks.  The beer must also be brewed to the highest Trappist standards.  All these criteria are overseen by the International Trappist Association or ITA.

So what does this all mean?  The St. Josephs abbey was founded in 1950 and despite it’s relative youth the “Spencer Abbey” beer is steeped in 400 years of artisan brewing tradition.  One thing to remember when you are sipping the last drops of golden, fruity, yeasty deliciousness from the bottom of you glass, you can rest assured that the locals communities in and around Spencer Massachusetts will be benefiting from your pleasure and not some faceless mega beer company that only care about their share holders.

That, in my opinion, is why the Spencer Abbey beer is so special.


-Jeff Smith

Hops:In a nutshell, why it’s in beer.

The first documented use of Hops(Humulus Lupulus) as a flavoring agent was in the 11th century in Europe.  However, Hop cultivation can be traced back to the 8th century in China.  Like gunpowder and pasta, Hop cultivation migrated west via missionaries and trade.  Hops were not the primary bittering agent used to flavor beer in those early days.  Gruit, which is a bitter mixture of herbs and spices, was most often used to bitter and flavor beer in lieu of Hops.  During the 13th century taxes were levied against Gruit so brewers began using Hops as a way to get around paying the taxes.  Thus the “modern” beer was born(hops, water, malt, and yeast).

Hops are a robust, almost invasive, climbing plant.  Seedless female Hops are the desirable type used in brewing today.  Hops prefer moist temperate climates like Germany, England, and the Pacific Northwest.  This also explains the importance of those places in beer culture.

Hops do several things for beer: they add flavor, yum, and act as a antibacterial stabilizing agent that aids in fermentation.  Hops have two primary acids in them: Alpha and Beta.  Alpha acids mitigate and inhibit the fermenting beer from bacterial infection while enhancing the bitterness of the beer.  Beta Acids do not effect the flavor as much as they enhance the aroma/nose of the beer.  That’s why Hop forward beers, if not a majority of beer styles, often have several varieties of Hops in them.  Some varieties of hops are high alpha and low beta or low alpha and high beta and everywhere in between.  Varying the quantities and varieties of Hops used in brewing ultimately effects the IBU’s(International Bitterness Units or bitterness), pallet, and aroma.  Brewing is just like cooking or baking.  Finding the harmony between ingredients is the true mastery of the trade craft.

In a nutshell, this is why Hops are in Beer.


-Jeff Smith