The Real McCoy

Dan McCloskey, July 12, 2013

Perhaps the ideal way to spend Father's Day is to take your son to a ballgame. Even better, if your son is as young as mine, is when your wife decides to take both of you to a game. That way, it's kind of the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy the time spent with your boy at the park, but your parental responsibilities are reduced by 50%, or perhaps more, since the outing is intended to be your gift.

That describes my Father's Day this year. Given that we live just south of Boston, heading down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island's McCoy Field was the venue of choice. The Red Sox were on the road, but to be honest, until your kid(s) is(are) old enough to know the difference, I highly recommend the better value and more kid-friendly atmosphere of a minor league game is the way to go.

Despite Boston's reputation as a great craft beer town, my opinion is it's strong in some ways but seriously weak in others. One such weak spot is the fact that typical bars and many other mainstream venues don't generally have much of a selection. Fenway, no doubt, falls into the latter category. Along with Yankee Stadium, it has to rank among the ten worst (and that's probably being generous) major league stadiums for craft beer.*

*Actually I have to admit that's mostly based on past impressions, and I wasn't aware until my wife told me recently there are some decent options on Yawkey Way, Boston's answer to Camden Yards' Eutaw Street. So, until I get a chance to check that scene out, don't hold me to this assessment.

Unless you count the Portland Sea Dogs (two hours away) or perhaps the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (I've never been there), minor league stadiums in reasonable proximity to Boston are no better. If you pull up the PawSox's stadium concessions menu online, you see the logos of Budweiser, Coors and Michelob.

Michelob? Do people still drink Michelob? Not that it's really worth passing judgment on BMC drinkers' choices, but when I was younger, one of my Dad's friends referred to Michelob as "watered-down Budweiser." I suppose, in a way, that was indication there was some hope for him. He didn't necessarily like the smoother beer better. He thought the slightly more bitter one was more like real beer. So, perhaps Budweiser is hoppier than Michelob? I don't really know. But, I do know I've already wasted too many words talking about bad beer, so let's move on.

Regardless of the menu, I was slightly hopeful there would be something better, and on my initial trip to the concession stands to get food for the family, I was proven correct...barely. Blue Moon Belgian White and Smithwick's are better than Bud, Coors and Michelob, but they weren't what I was hoping for. So, I passed.

A couple innings later, though, the wife decided to take our restless son for a walk. I slipped her some cash and asked her to be on the lookout for something interesting. After they were gone, I wished I'd told her I was willing to settle for Blue Moon if absolutely necessary, but that turned out to be a moot point.

The wife returned with something that looked downright lovely in a 16-oz. plastic cup. Not much head to speak of, but you can't really expect a great pour at a ballpark concession stand. The color was a beautiful copper/orange, making it obvious this wasn't one of the aforementioned choices.

I don't love the name of Wachusett's Green Monsta IPA. Not because I'm a Yankees fan, and not because I'm a stickler for correct spelling (both of which I am), but because I don't appreciate the emphasis on piss-poor pronunciation of the English language. Regardless, I wholeheartedly welcomed it on my palette and in my stomach.

Wachusett Brewing Company (founded in 1994) is located in Westminster, Massachusetts, about an hour-and-a-quarter northwest of Boston. Blueberry Ale is basically their signature offering, but I've never tried it because it's just not my thing.

Most of their beers score just slightly above replacement level (0-1.5 BAR) on our leaderboards. That feels about right with respect to Wachusett's signature IPA offering. 

It's a well-balanced ale, with just enough maltiness to qualify as full-bodied, but not so much that it's difficult to drink on a warm pre-summer day. There's just enough hops bite to reinforce that it's an IPA, but not so overpowering that it would appeal only to hopheads.

Wachusett Green Monsta IPA

Appearance: 3.8/5
I can't really hold the aforementioned lack of head against it, considering where it was poured. Consider this a bit of a beer park factor.

Smell: 3.6/5
It's not overwhelmingly aromatic, but has a nice subtle citrusy and floral smell. Not exactly the proper glassware involved here, so there's some park factor applied to this rating as well.

Taste: 3.75/5
Enjoyable, although far from the best of this style.

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5
Solidly carbonated and fairly easy to drink.

Overall: 3.65/5
Not quite over the monster, but not one of those wall grazers that would be an out in any other park.