North Shore Sips: Beer for Every Palate

Newburyport Brewing Co.

Choosing what kind of beer you like can be a lot like choosing wine. Beer can be floral, fruity, fizzy, or bitter. I have gravitated toward Belgian brews—those refreshing effervescent and fruity spicy notes of farmhouse ales being among my favorites.

These days, there is likely to be something to suit every palate near at hand, since most Americans now live within 10 miles of a craft brewer. One of two breweries less than a mile from my office is Newburyport Brewing Co. It's celebrating its first anniversary this spring, concluding a year in which it was the seventh fastest growing craft brewer in the country. They offer three flagship brews and a rotating selection of whatever is exciting to the brewmaster under their 1635 series—a nod to when Newburyport was settled.

All the beers are well made, fresh, and of high quality, but my personal favorite is the Plum Island Belgian White. Highly carbonated to finish crisp and clean, it is refreshing and floral, with a pleasing nose of citrus and coriander.

Currently on tap from the 1635 series is the Double IPA, which resulted from a happy accident that occurred when double the normal amount of grain was poured from the silo. Fermenting away the sugars from that much grain gave the brew a higher alcohol content than the brewery’s strongest Green Head IPA, which weighs in at 7.2 percent alcohol. The result is mellower than I would have expected, with a sherry or barley-wine nose and a fruity, weighty palate. Co-founder Bill Fisher says it is the first beer they’ve produced that will age well due to the triple hops used to offset the grain. Fingers crossed, it may make a reappearance for the brewery’s second anniversary.

Meanwhile, however, the brewery is introducing a beer specially made for its hometown, and in a dual celebration of their first anniversary and the Port City’s 250th this year. Crafted in conjunction with the beer devotees who run The Grog, the name and beer itself are top secret until the unveiling on May 31, when Mayor Donna Holaday will pour the first pint. But Chris Webb, the brewery’s other founder says it’s an English ale-style “session” beer—a trendy term for a brew lower in alcohol than many of the heavy-hitters that have become popular of late, so-called because you can drink several in a session.


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