On the way home from our weekend hiking expedition, my wife and I stopped by the Element Brewing Company in Millers Falls, MA. I’ve had a big hit and an equally big miss with their beers on here, but there was no way we were going to pass up stopping by here since they were directly on our way home and have a special place in our hearts due to their gluten free offerings. It was apparently meant to be.
The brewery is located at an intersection in a quiet corner of town, though I suspect that description likely describes most corners of Millers Falls. You walk into a shop area where they have merchandise and bottles for sale. Beyond that out of sight is the brewing area in the back, which you can also peek at from the street. Most important for purposes here, there are a few barstools set up in a tasting area in the back corner of the shop where you can get small samples of some of the brewery’s core offerings and order growler fills.
There were four samples pouring the day we came in. Starting things off was Extra Special Oak. This is something I’d been interested in trying despite my disappointment in the lavender version earlier this year. While I did like this version of their Strong Ale more, it still quite wasn’t my thing. I think is largely due to a huge oak taste that takes over the beer almost from the start. There are some nice hints of vanilla and sweet malts going on in here somewhere, and the beer does have a nice mouthfeel going down, it’s just too dominated by oak for my tastes.
Sample number two was Red Giant, an intriguing middle ground between a more traditional Amber Ale and a Red IPA. This one I really enjoyed. The hop presences is only mild to moderate but yet it somehow it manages to stand out. There are also some good caramel malts going on in here with a few other intricacies I couldn’t quite put my finger in the sample I had. I did bring home a bottle for more research, so hopefully I will be able to track those elusive tastes down.
Up next was Dark Element, another beer that didn’t quite fit nicely into a single category. It poured like a typical black ale but the taste was simultaneously a little bit malty, a little bit sweet, and a little bit hoppy. It was very smooth and easy to drink. I’d come across this before at beer festivals but don’t think I really appreciated the subtleties of its taste before. Another very nice beer.
Last up was the Plasma IPA. It is billed as Saki IPA and is certified gluten free. This is one of my wife’s favorites and she was excited to be able to try it at the source. At 9.3% ABV, this beer is an absolute monster amongst the field of gluten free beers out there, but it is also decidedly one of the best and something that even drinkers without gluten sensitivities should try out. It has an assertive resiny/citrus hop profile upfront that stands out in a good way, like it should in a hop forward DIPA. The finish is bubbly with a nice dry, rice alcohol flavor that really does bring to mind drinking saki. Needless to say, we came home with a growler of this.
The night before at the People’s Pint, we also tried out Tachyon, their other saki IPA, that at 5.2% this pretty much a smaller version of Plasma. The hops aren’t quite as intense but the dry saki finish was still there. The verdict on this was that it was also good, but not quite as good as its bigger brother. I only got a sip of this one but am inclined to agree. It does have a friendly $5 per 500 ml bottle though.
All in all, we were very happy we stopped by this brewery on our way home. They had some really unique and interesting beers to offer, to say nothing of them being one of the few places putting out really solid gluten free options. I was seriously considering picking up some more of their limited series bottles while I was there, but at $15-$25 for some of them they were just a bit too pricy for my current circumstances. With the exception of the Extra Special Oak (which I might have seen coming in retrospect)I really did like everything I tried from them this weekend and was quite pleased with the purchases we made. The server was super nice, laid back, and informative on a variety of topics ranging from the certification process for brewing gluten free beer, the local wild goat population, and colonial era massacres. To get all that and be able to share a (good!) beer with my gluten free wife? Awesome. Very cool way to end our weekend journey.