Jack's Abby in Framingham has been making German lagers with an American twist for a little over a year now. The region has fallen in love with Hoponius Union, an IPL (India Pale Lager) that combines great, floral hop character and drinkability. Hoponius was one of Steve Greenlee's favorite beers, and it's become one of mine.
Jack's Abby brews other beers, too, and I got to try one this week. Red Tape Lager was brewed as a pilot batch for the brewery and is now in production. As it says on the bottle, it's so-named because "navigating the labyrinth of brewery licensing isn't easy." If you've ever applied for a Boston neighborhood parking permit, you know the feeling.
The beer pours a beautiful amber with a big, off-white head. Red Tape Lager is not an IPL, but there are some floral notes in the nose thanks to Noble German hops. Bread is still the predominant scent, but there's balance here.
The balance is in the flavor as well. Malty caramel flavors jump out first, but the mouthfeel is somewhat clean. Glacier hops are used for bittering and provide a nice contrast to the roasted notes. At 25 IBUs, this is not a hoppy beer, but the hops keep the beer from feeling too sweet.
As with all of Jack's Abby's beers, this one is hard to classify. It's a good use of both German and American techniques, and it's a nice beer. Jack's Abby continues to churn out affordable beer: this half-liter bottle cost me just $3.25.