Aeronaut Brewing: brewed with curiosity, backed by science

Aeronaut is your neighborhood breweries’ favorite brewery. From the winding Somerville streets stays tucked a Wonka-like building creating delightful suds and fizzy lifting drinks while also supplying love and support for their local townsfolk. While we’ve been friends with the fine people at this establishment, every time we come back we’re enamored by something new. The yet to be perfected hoppy non-alchoholic beer, which had all the bones of something special, to an amazing Czech lager with delightful and refreshing profile. 

We will soon announce another spectacular project in progress, but for now we will start the fall season with Aeronaut as our brewery of the month for September, and they will have a full shelf to showcase their beers at Gordon’s Main, and potentially chainwide. Prost!

1. When Aeronaut was first introduced to market, it was in this very same building with a less focused, more “dream than creation” vibe. Now, we’re sitting just a few years out, this has become a meeting space and innovation space with Everett stepping up for your canning needs. How did we find ourselves in this space, and how did it become the natural progression?

Aeronaut: When Aeronaut was still just an idea, we knew that no matter what we ended up building, it needed to be built in Somerville; this community is teeming with creatives and exudes a sense of togetherness. We wanted to create something that would give back to this extraordinary neighborhood, while seamlessly integrating with it. The space itself was designed to be more than just a taproom–our goal was to establish a space that welcomes all and serves as a pillar of the community. Over the years, we’ve reached enough fans through our beers, events, philanthropy, and mission, to help us grow into our larger footprint at the Cannery. Somerville will always be our first home and continues to be a hub for our Aeronaut family, as well as our R&D facility.

2. The thing that seems to ooze out of the pores of Aeronaut is the mission of “doing good.” With your community, with your employees, for the neighborhood and any person of any background. Was this a mission statement that held water, or has it come naturally from it’s founding ties?

Aeronaut: The idea of being rooted in our community and an active contributor to the neighborhood has most certainly been part of our ethos from the start. We’ve come this far as a direct result of support from folks in our own backyard, so we continue to be grateful and try to find ways to give back.

3. Every time I step into this taproom, there’s something cool, something unique, with some interesting hop blend, or yeast profile, or barrel aging to add qualities to a beer that you may not see often. Does there seem to be immovable boundaries for Aeronaut, or is the driving point of the company to continue to try and make things that others may have not even looked into embracing or attempting before?

Aeronaut: We are “brewed with curiosity and backed by science” after all! Pushing the boundaries of traditional brewing has always been part of our approach. From testing prototype batches and quality assuring large production brews in our lab, to cryogenically storing yeast strains and growing them in-house, we’ve always prioritized an experimental and forward-thinking approach to the brewing process, our ingredients, and more.

4. When you’re on your way out of high school or college, you often get asked what the “plan is for 10 or 15 years, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you guys find yourselves thinking about that at all, and if so, what is Aeronaut in the not so near future?

Aeronaut: Is there even enough space here for a multi-year plan?! 🙂 Jokes aside, we do find ourselves thinking a lot about the future and we hope that it includes more people finding and enjoying Aeronaut beer, continued attendance at our incredible list of events across all three of our locations, and more folks visiting our taprooms. We’re ready to embrace continued growth!

5. Pick your desert island album. (or up to 5).

Aeronaut: Our staff offered quite the range of answers for this one but we narrowed it down to 5 that we felt simply couldn’t be missed:

Renaissance – Beyonce
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Young the Giant – Young the Giant
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Eat A Peach – The Allman Brothers

Matt Bevins • Beer Buyer

Widowmaker Brewing: Cosmic. Brooding. Metal AF

Cosmic. Brooding. Metal as F. There are a lot of things that can be discussed when it comes to the company we keep in Widowmaker, and to be honest, at the end of the day the verbiage may only speak to some of it. In the late Summer, early Fall the dreams of the Lavery family became reality, and I was standing in an undefined taproom, with absolutely zero personality or heavy metal regalia, wondering just what I had signed up for.

As it turns out, the end result was a truly stand out brewery making some amazing beer, highlighting an underappreciated metal and doom rock scene. Their flagship beer offering in Blue Comet has catapulted the brand to a fan favorite locally, with many looking for it more regularly than Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine or Mighty Squirrel’s Cloud Candy. If hoppy beer isn’t your bag, the brand also has a hand in well made lagers, inventive sours, and some next level stouts.

The summer has just started, but it feels like with a new location eyeing an opening in days or possibly weeks in Brighton, this could be the summer of Widowmaker, and our chalices remain ready to be filled. Skal!

1. The cat is out of the bag on the expansion in place, so first off congratulations! With the move to Brighton, a large stack of questions arise. Will the expansion lead to any changing in the way you guys have done your distribution methodology, event planning and hosting or specifications on how the two breweries will coexist and feed harmoniously off each other?

WidowmakerThank you! We are very excited for this opportunity to grow our brand in a way that also allows us to add some capacity while also being able to open a second location to connect with beer lovers in an area that means a lot to us. Our distribution model will not change as far as function is concerned, in the state of Massachusetts we are distributed by Homegrown statewide and that will continue. The added capacity may contribute to the added amounts of liquid that we are able to send into the market, but time will tell on that one. We are looking at Brighton as an R & D facility that will help us scratch some creative itches while also building on what we have created in Braintree. Our goal is to continue to grow our customer experience and expectation of what Widowmaker can be, how that lends itself to distribution we will let time show us.

We are always trying to provide a great customer experience. Braintree has been great for many things, but we are really excited about the flexibility Brighton will give us… For sure in conjunction with our partners from Bone & Bread we see the possibility for private events becoming a much easier package to offer customers where in Braintree there are many services we have to hire out should we hold weddings, corporate meetings, large private gatherings and so on.

2. The world of craft beer is almost dizzying with the effort going into almost incessant barrages of collaboration beers. In relation to that, how is it that you guys are able to do them at a reasonable rate without any eye rollers? From the Earth collaboration, the cheeky Clairvoyant Crown, or the numerous pop-ups and concerts you’ve hosted, it’s clear the collaborations are less lip service than true passion projects.

Widowmaker: 100%… I can’t speak to how it works for others, but I know for Widowmaker there truly needs to be a connection with whoever we decide to collaborate with. Your point about the barrages of collaborations in craft beer has made the consumer weary of what a collaboration truly is. We try to avoid the arranged marriage collab and the wouldn’t it be great to have their logo next to ours collab… if there is an opportunity for us to learn, grow, or showcase another brewer, band, or artist that we have built a connection with that is when we get excited to work on something together.

When I was homebrewing in my basement and when we are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays we were and are listening to the music you hear in the taproom so when you see a collab with Earth or them playing at our taproom that is us doing what we want to do and hoping people are into it. As far as Clairvoyant Clown goes… I mean there is no one cooler in music than Brann Dailor, that dude is down to talk beer, cartoons, music, sports… he is open to all thing’s life brings up… he has opened his house to us and become a real friend… everyone should support everything Brann Dailor does because he puts his all into everything he does and yeah… Mastodon rocks.

3. From the beginning of Widowmaker, the beers always held promise and nuance in spades, but with the movement of Chris to head brewer, the beer as a whole has shined, leading to amazing customer reviews and consistency most local breweries could only hope to achieve. For you guys, what has Chris and the brewing team stepping up as the years have passed meant to Widowmaker as a whole?

Widowmaker: Chis is amazing, he is easily one of the best things that has ever happened to Widowmaker. Chris instantly made me a better brewer and in turn he has always pushed himself to become a better brewer. So, whenever we add someone to the team the first thing we look for is someone who brings a skill that makes our strengths get stronger and our weaknesses become strengths, our goal is to always make the room stronger. That is what happened when we added Chris and with the addition of new employees that’s the blueprint. At the end of the day, it says Widowmaker on the label, we are a collective with a lot of talent that is better when we are all rowing in the same direction.

4. The Devil’s Staircase made its return from hibernation about two weeks ago. The goal of the return seems to put the idea of two year round, readily available options in stores with both Staircase and Blue Comet. What was the onus for pushing Staircase as the low ABV crusher of choice, and does this lead to any other thoughts about “year round, constant distribution beers” being a thing for Widowmaker?

Widowmaker: Well, we sort of had 2 year-round beers in Blue Comet and Ecstasy of Gold. Both are beers we love making, drinking, and sold well for us. We always were explaining the difference between the two and to the average beer drinker/consumer they were seeing similar hops, similar abv, same style, so as Blue Comet began demanding more tank space, we made the call to let Blue Comet win the race and reevaluate what our second consistently available option should be. The Devil’s Staircase kept coming back up, we loved that beer, and it sold really well for us on draft and in cans here at the taproom… we love the idea of a low abv that actually packs the flavor and power of a higher abv beer and no beer in our mind does this better than The Devil’s Staircase.

So, in the end we tapped Arik Roper to create another amazing label for us and in my opinion he knocked it out of the park and we are psyched to see this beer become a staple of Widowmaker just as Blue Comet has!

5. As a company that’s local, there’s a lot of unfortunate lip service and performative acts, but one of the truest things that sets you guys apart is how true and open you are to the local community. With the Brighton space acquisition, many brands would high tail out from their roots. What keeps you guys so invested in giving back, and also maintaining true roots to where you started?

Widowmaker: We are never going to change who we are… There aren’t a lot of people behind the scenes here at Widowmaker and the ones that are there have no interest in pretending to be something they are not. I am sure we rub some people the wrong way and can come across as unpolished at times but who cares… we own and run a brewery and we learned early-on its way more fun if you do it your way so that’s what we are going to do.

6. If you could set up the best music festival, pick one band active and inactive you’d include. Also, an album you can’t stop listening to!

Widowmaker: We already started the best music festival with Hopsmokerfest. I am very excited to keep making that an important thing that continues to grow over time. One active band we would love to host would be a band we are working behind the scenes on something with in Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and non-active I mean it would have to be a band we reference all the time, Black Sabbath.

For the month of July, Gordon’s Brewing will be featuring fresh Widowmaker offerings including the wonderful Polychronic Bloom!

Matt Bevins • Beer Buyer

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Brewery of the Month: Mighty Squirrel – Part 2

Our monthly newsletter aims to highlight the amazing things breweries, cideries (and maybe even a meadery or two), are doing in our local communities, right under our noses.

During our visit to the adult candy store that was Mighty Squirrel, we came to the realization that we had so much content it would truly be an oversight to not share it all with you.

With this in mind, we offer you a Q & A with Adam Leibowitz, sales manager for Mighty Squirrel. The insight gathered from our visit was immense, and we look to continue our quest to uncover the answers to questions not yet asked.

“Mighty Squirrel came onto the scene making their name known extremely quickly as the “what the heck…protein beer?” brewery. Times have changed, and Mighty Squirrel remains poised to break out as the biggest and burliest brewery outside of proper Boston. Naveen Pawar and Henry Manice built the brewery from a dream to a craft destination starting in 2015. Now, you can taste the rainbow of flavors from a hop puncher in Cloud Candy, the double dry hopped dream, a velvety espresso stout in Velvet Moon, or anywhere down the line of European inspired concoctions that are taproom only right on Waverley Oaks Road, here in Waltham, MA.

We got the exclusive opportunity to step into the brewery and ask some questions about how the product goes from production to the pleasure of many local patrons. Please read on!

Let’s profile two beers that both Nick (our web liaison and photographer’s) favorite beer, and my constant go back to, Mango Lassi and Cosmic Distortion.”

Mighty Squirrel – Q & A

1. How exactly did the concept of Mango Lassi come to mind? It’s such a creamy, well refined mango taste, with so few beers similar in taste?

We are big fans of all sorts of sours. Belgian, German, and experimental alike. With sour IPAs, it’s not as simple as just hopping up a sour ale and calling it a day. We feel it’s about finding balance. Myself and our co-founder, Naveen, came up with the idea to base a sour IPA off a traditional Indian beverage, mango lassi. Naveen, having been born and raised in India, wanted to share with the beer community a little taste of home. In his home country of India, mango lassi is a beloved Indian drink- it is made with yogurt, milk, and mango pulp/peach pulp, and sometimes sugar is added to this refreshing beverage.

What we love so much about our Mango Lassi Sour IPA is the middle ground between both tart/sour and expressively hoppy. We are able to achieve this middle ground by introducing lactose sugar. It just adds such a unique element to the beer and allows the imbiber to travel through 3 different and unique profiles in one sip, all coming together for a great experience.

2. With the “lassi” series, has there been any discussion on making this an ongoing showcase of various fruits? It’s much more textured and different than a beer like sour face, so would either become a full fruit exposure?

This is a great question. We had talked about this awhile back when we first released Mango Lassi. However, we’ve been able to touch on this kind of exposure of many fruits with our Smoovy series, which is textured as well. I think what your question is getting at though is more about the combination of lactose and fruit in a sour beer context. And yes, we are open to it…I may just bring it up at our next brew meeting! I’m not sure if we’d release it under the Lassi name or not, but that’s what is so fun about having a 5-barrel system to play on.

3. Did it take a large amount of mistakes and expanding on concepts to finally nail down the recipe for the beer? It’s easily the most requested and quickest sold of any beer not named Cloud Candy around these parts?

Our motto is that if you’re not making mistakes on any new beer then you’re probably settling. We don’t like settling. Rather, we aim to brew a beer that matches exactly what our concept was at the start. If a beer is not quite exceptional in our minds, we would rather not release it than put it in the market or in anyone’s hands. Lucky for us, our brewing and cellaring teams are mad scientists who are obsessed with quality control.

4. Cosmic Distortion really seems like despite being a double dry hopped IPA like Cloud Candy, it almost revels in its extreme flavor, exerting tropical and pungent notes. What do you think really makes these beers two different animals?

You are spot on with this take on Cosmic Distortion. We view it as the grunge album of our catalog. With a higher abv at 8%, we can be bold with the body of this beer. With this increased malt content comes a touch of sweetness as well. This sweetness helps to accentuate the depth and loudness of the hops we use. These are hops that lend themselves more to notes of pineapple and melon which are sweeter fruits than say, starfruit, which is what you will get in the brighter and dryer Cloud Candy.

5. In Cosmic Distortion and all beers produced, especially “pale ale” beers, are they all going directly with the same house yeast, or base recipes to be created, or is the creation of one beer to the next seen as a totally different animal?

Cosmic Distortion, Cloud Candy, and most of our hoppy beers are brewed with the same house yeast. However, as one can see, they all have a unique taste and aroma profile. The reason being is that they all have their own unique ingredients, recipe, and brewing protocols. Each of our hoppy beers has its own unique grain bill, hop profile, mash profile, and dry-hopping protocol. While we have a house yeast for most of our hoppy beers, we don’t confine ourselves within that box. If another yeast strain is called for to create a specific beer we have in mind then we acquire it. For example, we use unique beer style specific yeasts for our Pilsners, Hefeweizens, Imperial Stouts etc.

6. If there was any beer you would think would be the most fun to get canned that has been piloted, what would it be? Or if there is a beer canned currently that you would like to see made as a separate variation on what it is now, what would it be?

Well we have a taproom beer called Mike Czech Pilsner that is a Bohemian Pilsner. It is my absolute favorite and the brewing team really honed this one in. It’s a true gem. It’s hopped just right, crisp and dry-yet not too dry, and it does that thing that a great lager does that is so hard to put into words. It creates a feeling of beer perfection in my mind. I would love to get this or a similar beer on the shelves sometime soon.

Introducing Gordon’s Beer Newsletter & Brewery of the Month: Mighty Squirrel

In with a bang…and out with a whisper. Just a few months back, myself and Gordon’s web fellow Nick (the guy behind the scenes who will be traversing through the beer universe with me) were working hard at a shiny “new”sletter. We dined at high end restaurants with killer tap lists. We talked to proverbial titans of the New England craft beer industry. We shared a piping hot plate of buffalo sprouts from Highland Kitchen with the enigma and brilliance known as Ben Holmes, former head of Aeronaut and current mastermind of FAB (We miss you Ben. Let’s hang soon!)

Then the whisper…the e-newsletter we had planned to unleash as the next puzzle piece of Gordon’s craft beer curation got sidelined as we saw on-premise shuddered down and we held on for dear life to a rollercoaster of beer sale operations.

Throughout this uncertainty, the “bright spot” to all of this is the outpouring of support from local breweries, some amazing one offs being sent out to distribution for the first time, and an amazing consensus push from local breweries towards important causes, impacting our front line workers, supporting our local breweries, and so much more.

We hope as this continues on, and we reach the end of the tunnel, and peek our heads out from the manhole cover, that we appreciate more the convenience and sheer abundance of amazing product that comes through our doors, and the stories behind the craft.

This newsletter will feature a monthly brewery spotlight, including reviews of amazing one off and consistent product lines to try, as well as some “cold ones of the month”, where we feature one beer and one brewery which will hopefully become your new go-to.

Let’s kick things off with one of our favorite local breweries;

Mighty Squirrel – Waltham, MA

Baaz’igar, Double IPA (8.0% ABV) Baaz’igar was the first up to the plate on a sweltering summer day a couple weeks back, paired with a day of wiping brows and mowing lawns. Cracked open, the nose smelled reminiscent of far away southern hemisphere citruses, intertwining well with a very subtle grapefruit backbone. At 8 percent, it hides it’s larger numbered ABV well, as do most of the Mighty Squirrel offerings, dealing blow by blow of bright grapefruit mouthfuls and rounded out extremely well in full, hefty orange, tropical fruit roll ups throughout every sip. This beer is not lacking in flavor, and would be welcomed as a year round offering, although Mighty Squirrel will likely keep us waiting on many of these extremely dialed in one off brews.
Blueberry-Açaí Smoovy, Milkshake IPA (7.5% ABV) This is not your ordinary blueberry flavored beer. On the nose is a hit of blueberry and yogurt covered granola. The blueberry calms down on the palate and the açai bridges the gap between the sweet blueberry flavor and the big IPA. A long smooth finish thanks to the lactose sugar and Madagascar vanilla bean. With each sip you find yourself discovering more hidden flavors like rare gemstones and if you close your eyes you could be fooled into thinking it was a real smoothie!
Velvet Moon, Mocha Stout (7.0% ABV) The first dark beer to make its way out of Mighty Squirrel’s loading docks, the espresso finished delight took its maiden voyage shortly after opening up, and has been a go-to for stout and coffee drinkers alike since then. Atomic Roasters, a local roaster to the neighborhood rolls their coffee beans into the batch. Creamy, but not overbearing, this beer is as refreshing as it is decadent.
Mango Lassi, Sour IPA (7.0% ABV) Sour beers aren’t for everyone, but this might very well be the sour that changes your mind about them. The sour level would be considered mid range in comparison to others, but what it’s not short on is a smattering of fresh mango and peaches. This is the perfect fruit forward beer to help keep us cool, refreshed and our taste buds dancing during this summer heat. Dry hopped and brewed with lactose sugar, this has an incredibly smooth finish that leaves your tongue and cheeks salivating after every mouthful. Do yourself a favor and give this beer a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Cosmic Distortion, Double IPA (8.0% ABV) Double dry hopped and a more frantic fret tapper than smooth r&b singer, Cosmic Distortion revels in the fact it’s a powerful heavy wielding axe swinger than it is something balanced and almost ‘crushable’ like Cloud Candy is known for. Stacked with galaxy and mosaic, this uplifting free spirit rounds out extreme hopping with immense flavor. If you’re more in the mood for a beer that pushes boundaries, Distortion is for you. Tropical fruit flavors, and a soft easy sweetness, however the flavors are less spot on, and more hidden behind a hop charge and a slightly boozed up backbone.
Guavaland, Sour Double IPA (8.0% ABV) Admit one. This sour screams guava but balances perfectly with the IPA backbone. Whilst not incredibly complex, it doesn’t need to be. The simple clean flavors make it incredibly session-able perfect for a hot summer day, especially considering this beer sits at 8%, you wouldn’t know it. You also wouldn’t be able to guess it’s a double IPA as it’s fantastically smooth. You get punch after punch of sour and tart guava flavour. Mighty Squirrel could very well be the king of fruit forward beers.

Going to Mighty Squirrel, and taking in the sheer size of the facility, and the empty yet sprawling vision-points, from the rock wall reaching up to the ceiling to the hidden nooks and crannies where beer is decidedly devised, adjusted, cellared and stored, and then snaking our way back to the three separate tap sites. When life returns back to some sense of normalcy, we look forward to returning to greet the smiling faces of the taproom employees so we can take care of them the way they so effortlessly took care of us.

As we continue to live with the current “norm” of curbside ordering, we can all take a moment to sit back, relax and live in the smooth coffee bolstered fumes of Velvet Moon, or the dry champagne velvet backbone Guavaland delivers, appreciative of the fact that Mighty Squirrel cranks out delectable if none too complex brews.

-Thank you so much to James, Adam, and the Mighty Squirrel team for showing us such hospitality in such uncertain times. In our next two part Brewery spotlight, we are looking forward to once again appealing to those like us with a savoring for suds, and we’ll trek to another New England powerhouse to take some killer photos and chat with their brewing squad.

Gordon’s beer guides, out!