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Boston's beer palate is craving craftier brews

Craft beer tastings, brewery tours, sud clubs - it seems Boston is raising the brew bar.

Just as quickly as it came, September is on its way out.

The trees are beginning to burn with those unmistakable fall colors, and the summer's heat is giving way to fresh autumn crispness.

It's easy to fawn over pumpkin spiced coffee and apple picking, but a good number of Bostonians are likely perked up for another reason - Oktoberfest.

The traditional beer holiday begins on Friday, and as Boston's brew-friendly events are announced, it's hard not to notice that the Hub takes its beer seriously.

Many craft beer enthusiasts agree that Boston's beer palate is becoming more refined.

"It's more than just beer. It's people getting more interested in honest food that tastes good and has a story behind it," said Jeff Wharton, co-founder of drinkcraftbeer.com, a website that spotlights local suds and offers instructions on home brewing.

"I think it’s a bigger trend towards more local, artisan, craft-made everything - food and drink products. Craft beer, and spirits, are catching up with that," Wharton said.

Lots of Boston-area beer clubs are going strong, with hundreds of members meeting for tastings and beer-focused discussion.

Chris Parker, owner of Beers in Boston, said that although Boston has been a beer town for quite a while, with Sam Adams and Harpoon among the most popular micro breweries in the county, the city's attitude towards beer has definitely shifted over the past few years.

"It seems that each month there is a new craft beer festival or event, and each month they are selling out," Parker said.

Part of it, he said, has to do with the fact that craft beer popularity is on a sharp incline on the national level.

In August, The Brewers Association released data that shows craft beer is expanding faster than ever in the post-prohibition era. There are now over 2,000 breweries in the U.S., with hundreds in the planning stages.

"Boston is on the forefront of this charge for a few reasons," Parker said. "One being it's reputation and history within the industry, giving it somewhat of a head-start, and the other being it's progressive nature. Bostonians are willing to accept and try new things, so that has definitely helped the surge of craft beer's popularity on the local level."

Metro asked Harpoon's CEO and co-founder, Rich Doyle, his thoughts on why Boston's beer lovers seem to be paying more attention to their suds.

Part of it, Doyle said, has to do with the seemingly endless food pairing possibilities, but it is also about choices.

"I think the great thing about beer is that there is a range you can get... You’ve got such a broad spectrum of bitterness, and body, and malt richness, and aroma. You’ve got so many things to work with, and you can really compliment a wide range of food items," he said.

 
 
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