Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cambridge Brewing Company: A Tasting and Tour

Cambridge Brewing Company: A Tasting and Tour

by Sarah Kasten

Last Saturday, a group of us gathered at Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square for a tasting and tour led by CBC head brewer Megan Parisi. She and fellow CBC brewer, Jay Sullivan , gave us through a full introduction to the art of brewing and a tasting of CBC's diverse beers. We walked through CBC's brewing facilities, learning all about how this brewery makes and stores its many varieties. A great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. Here are some highlights:

-Megan showed us three malts that they use in varying combinations to create a variety of beers: Regatta Golden, a light, crisp Kolsch-style beer, the cararmel-like Cambridge Amber ale, and the Charles River Porter loved by the coffee fiends among us. Malts can add a range of flavors and colors to the finished beer. The malts are all created from the same raw grains (usually barley, but sometimes wheat or oats) and then roasted. The different flavors and colors the different types of malts are created entirely by the temperature and length of the roasting process. Megan was keen to highlight that brewing really is about taking a raw agricultural product and turning it into something entirely new. CBC works closely with its suppliers to maintain consistency through growing seasons and sources, adjusting their own recipes in some cases in order to stay true to their well-known beers.

-CBC was started 22 years ago, before the model of the brew-pub had become popular in the U.S. Not knowing whether the restaurant would be a success or not, the main brewing kettle was stationed in the center of the dining room. The gas burners and the kettle of steaming wort generate so much heat that CBC's brewers are up at the crack of dawn to brew so that the dining room has cooled down by the time the restaurant opens for lunch.

-When asked about current brewing trends, Megan and Jay were thoughtful in their responses The industry has definitely benefited from a surge in consumer interest in microbreweries. On the one hand, this has led to some consolidation in the industry as large beverage corporations seek to expand their market share. On the other hand, the brewers named several examples of start-up breweries in Massachusetts alone, noting a trend towards nano-breweries, who typically produce just one or two barrels at a time. Either way, it seems like an exciting time for beer in America with high-quality beers becoming increasingly available to consumers and a new generation of producers striking out on their own!

Thanks to Cambridge Brewing Company for hosting the event! Check out their website for more information about their beers:

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