Saturday, February 23, 2013

Douche Check 2013: Tree House Brewing Co.

As some of you might recall, I wrote a lovely little missive about Tree House Brewing Co. back in July of last year. A bit over half a year later, demand has forced them to upgrade from a very shiny little set up to something much larger and much shinier. Bartenders at the world-class Armsby Abbey have been heard plugging them. Hell, the dudes are such rockstars parking for the party that is a regular Saturday at the brewery got the cops called in at one point. So as a private service, I decided to swing through a few hours before the first major storm since Nemo and check if Dean, Damien, Nate, that guy whose name I will never remember, Maxine's Mom, or Lauren started making it easy to be a cynical douche yet.

The barn was more crowded than the average Metal Thursday at Ralph's in Worcester. Dean announced that some confusing regulation came down from a governing body and there would be no samples as it might possibly be illegal. Fills were taking an hour+ to complete. I had to defuse a near fist fight over parking in the driveway with mockery. The non-MC types were clearly wearied by an intense brew day. Yet, people were happy as all hell to be there. It was as though the knowledge they were getting Tree House beer over rode all the usual pettiness and snide hipsterism that makes me pretty okay with not being active in the craft beer scene anymore. At least until they went outside and saw the parking situation. Then they'd come back in, notice the wood stove, have some presumably tasty salsa, and snuggle in contentedly. Even the guy who'd driven down from CT at the behest of his son seemingly because the kid couldn't wait in line himself was in good spirits.

Of course, none of that would matter if the change of equipment impacted the beers or the guys decided to pay for expansion by downgrading ingredient quality. I'd love to analyze in detail but  they weren't doing samples and That's What She Said is a Milk Stout which I avoid due to issues with lactic sugars and I forgot my 750ml to grab some Dirty Water (a. k. a. MY PRECIOUSSSSS even if Nate insists that isn't Gollum on the label art) for reference. So all I can go on is 64 fluid ounces of Julius.
My previous experience with this one was so fantastic I dropped an extra $6.00 and bought the official Tree House glass. Something I love to do with a good IPA is inhale deeply as I take my first swallow. It makes the hops pop to the forefront more. While there are glasses with space for my schnoz in the house, they (GASP) go through the dishwasher and are used for things other than beer! With Flower Power or Double Trouble, I'm fine spending ten minutes scrubbing then sanitizing with my mead making supplies. But Julius? This mother deserves a virgin vessel untouched by clingy detergents or food residue.
In my head, I've been hyping this beer as at least equal to the (admittedly few) Vermont IPAs I've met. Despite being unable to get a drop since July, I knew in my heart of hearts that this delightfully drinkable little juice bomb would easily be worth the two six packs of damned impressive IPAs I'd give up in its name. What makes it hardest to be a cynical douche about Tree House is the fact that I really didn't over hype this beer. It is fucking fantastic. Maybe it's the Folk Metal talking but I find myself thinking that the guy who tries to make me feel like a charlatan for not making pilgrimages to Burlington, VT once a month should be put to the sword. That first sip thing I mentioned where I inhale deeply? 1/4 of the way through my second glass I'm still doing it because drawing every possible iota of delight out of Julius should be mandatory.

How un-cynical was I made by all of this? Here's the label for my first mead. I spent two months fussing over this thing, hours researching, and dropped cash I didn't have on equipment. It's named Dean in honor of the M. C. of Tree House and even includes a pun based on his profession. If this seems a lame way to close, I had honestly hoped anyone reading this had half a lick of sense, stopped reading, and was on their way to Tree House by now. If not, this song is for you.

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