7.21.2009

The Local Food Report: you might need one

On a summer afternoon when you are home in Maine with your mom and your sister and your father, you might need a beer.
You especially might need one on an afternoon when you have spent the morning at Staples buying cheap resume kits for their smooth ivory paper and finding just the right 11" by 15" watercolor paper for the paper cutter and thanking Mike for calling the Portland store to order six extra ten-packs of envelopes for UPS delivery the next day. Your sister and your father, who have spent the afternoon driving to the city to buy fancy sheet paper and swearing at the Deskjet might also need a one. And your mother, who might usually just split a beer with you or your father or your sister—she will need a whole one, maybe even two. Opening your own print shop can make these sorts of things necessary, you see.

Of course, there are plenty of other good excuses to drink a beer on an afternoon like this. There's the way the yard smells in July, like raspberries and moss and wet wildflowers, or the fact that the sun managed to come out in time for the evening view, or maybe the worry that you still haven't booked a band, or the view out your parents' back window when the tide is low.

Really, there are very few days without a whole heap of good excuses to drink a beer. Which is why we are so lucky to have our very own brewery in Hyannis, right here in our sandy backyard.

Beth and Todd Marcus opened Cape Cod Beer about five years ago, back when Beth's office was in the basement of their house and the brewery was on Main Street. (It has since grown in a big, big way and moved to Phinney's Lane, where Todd, Beth, and their crew can offer tours, do paperwork, and work in the office all at the same time. Imagine that.) Before there was a Cape Cod Beer, Todd was brewing up ales for Long Trail in Vermont and Sunday River Brewing Co. in Maine and two Hyannis companies. Once upon a time, way back in 1995, he was gainfully employeed as an engineer, but that didn't last long. He went to one brewer's conference—just one!—and that was it.

The thing about beer that got him was the way the chemistry came together—the way that you could combine the same four ingredients—malt, water, hops, and yeast—into endless riffs on the same theme. He loved the way that the air temperature or the drying time or the grain could produce a beer with caramel undertones, or chocolate, or maybe even spice. And the way that yeast had such a handy by-product! I mean really, who else churns out alcohol and CO2 in perfect proportions as they eat?

These days, Cape Cod Beer is brewing two year-round beers: Cape Cod Red and Cape Cod IPA. These are the ones you'll find on tap at restaurants like Mac's Shack and the Flying Fish and Blackfish, where I work. Then there are their seasonal brews: Porter and Old Man Winter and Stellwagen Stout for the off season, and a bright, Bavarian style summer wheat ale for this time of year. Really, it's pretty amazing the variety we have with strictly on-Cape beers.

Of course, going home is nice, too. I'm not going to mention a certain W-word again here today, but there's a brewery just over the bridge in Topsham where we'll be having an event on a Friday evening in November, and another one in Portland that will be providing a certain quantity of kegs and brown bottles filled with a maple oat brew in a big, white tent the next day.

Speaking of which, I had better get back to work.

If you're looking for more info on microbreweries in Massachussets, there's a good list over here. And as for pairing wine with food, well, I recommend marching right down to Cape Cod Beer and talking with Beth and Todd yourself, but if that's a bit out of the way for today, why don't you go on over here instead.

10 comments :

Beth said...

We woke late this morning in a bit of a haze after several hours of demolition derby and other indulgences at the Barnstable County Fair...so we missed your first show...but hope to catch it later today. Thanks for the kind words. We LOVE what you do! Keep up the good work!
Beth (& Todd) Marcus

Alison said...

That settles it! I'm going in for a tour...and taste... YUM. :)

Julie said...

I just stumbled upon your blog, and I LOVE it! Can't wait to read more!!!

Elspeth said...

Beth, I love what YOU do. So I guess the feeling is mutual.

And Allison, yes. Get yourself on over there asap. I myself am partial to the Cape Cod Red, so I'll be interested to hear what you think is best.

Julie, I'm so glad! It is always nice to have a new face around here, particularly such an enthusiastic one.

All the best,
Elspeth

Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wayne said...

My daughter stumbled on your site and showed it to me and I love it. We used to get farm fresh eggs from Jane and Paul's Farm in Norfolk before moving to CC and are at a loss to find some nearby to Yarmouth Port, hopefully something closer than Orleans. I do enjoy the CCB Red and need to try the Stellwagon Stout.

Stacey said...

We looooove stopping in at Cape Cod Beer every chance we get! They even have an adorable pup named Brewer :-)

Elspeth said...

Hi Wayne:

I'm glad you found us! For eggs, you might try heading over to the Hyannis market on Wednesday mornings. Even if no one has them there, they'll know where to go in your area.

And Stacey, I am equally enamored of Brewer. It's hard not to melt for a face like that!

All the best,
Elspeth

Anonymous said...

Good coverage of the brewery - Cape Cod beer is a true gem on the Cape, a real treat for a beer lover. Though the Red was distributed most widely, initially, the very tasty Summer brew has now found its way into bars all over the Cape. The Summer is a wheat beer brewed in traditional Bavarian style and is the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot summer day. I'm looking forward to switching to the IPA, my favorite, as we approach Fall. When the weather cools off, the IPA will be my official beer of choice.
As for visiting the brewery, I have made several treks there to bring friends, spread the word and to make significant purchases for the many summer parties we have had. Ultimately, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed about the different experiences there. The tasting "bar" is an awkward setup. There is little option but to do tiny samplings of the current trio of beers on tap in whatever order the server determines. The descriptions of each brew were informative and complete. When it came time to purchase the beer, I felt more like an imposition than an appreciated customer. Forget trying to get a keg of the good stuff in any size – 1/6 barrel (“soda keg”), 1/4 barrel (“pony keg”) or 1/2 barrel – a lecture on why they can’t spare a barrel and why restaurants come first is sure to follow. I realize this is still a small operation but the experience should be as good as the beer…and…well, the beer is excellent, I’ll leave it at that. So, without rambling, I have to suggest that you give Cisco brewers in Nantucket a shot for an experience that is sure to delight.
At Cisco, the experience is well paired with great brews. We have been visiting Cisco for many years, during which time the brewery’s distribution has grown considerably. What has not changed is the fun, laid-back atmosphere around the brewery. We were just there this past week and ran into Kevin Spacey there, amongst what must have been another 100+ people sitting outside and sampling the many great beers on tap. Whale’s tale might be the most widely distributed but you would be missing out if you don’t try the Indie Pale Ale, or more appropriate in August heat, Grey Lady (Witbier style), Summer of Lager, and the list goes on… The late afternoon (post beach) crowd is usually a good, fun-loving, mixed-age crowd of beer lovers, enjoying the live music that quite often accompanies afternoon tastings. So…give Cisco a try, I think you’ll find a excellent beer and an excellent experience…

Elspeth said...

Anonymous:

Thank you for the very thorough run down! I will be sure to stop by Cisco next time I am on Nantucket...hopefully sometime this fall. And if you've been on any great tours in Maine, I'd love to know about those, too.

All the best,
Elspeth

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