(Update 1/25/13, see below)
Jabby Brau is the fourth offering from Jack’s Abby in Framingham, MA that I have tried. The first I had tried was the Hoponius Union, which blew me away. A big (6.7%) lager that is hopped like an IPA (65 IBU), with plenty of late hop additions that give a big hop aroma and flavor profile. The woman working at Merrimac Liquors, who is always talking craft beer, described Jabby Brau as a smaller version of the Hoponius Union. Cool. I could go for that!
Unfortunately, that description has messed with my expectations. Unlike Hoponius Union, Jabby Brau is a session beer, at 4.5% ABV. I like that. Figured I’d still get a bit hop aroma and flavor, just at a lesser amount, to coincide with the lower ABV. However, while there is hop aroma and flavor compared to a typical German lager, it was in no way “American-ized” in the way the Hoponius Union is.
I believe the 4-pack of 0.5L bottles was about $12. The volume of beer is similar to a 6-pack of 11.25 oz bottles. While I enjoyed the beer, I don’t know that this style really calls for the price. There are plenty of American Pale Lagers out there that I can enjoy for less money.
Another Jacks’ Abby offering I saw and would still like to try is their R.I.P.A (Rye India Pale Lager). A 5.7% hopped up American pale lager with rye (I love rye in beer!) It’s in at 65 IBUs, with lots of American hops (Sorachi Ace, Columbus, Cascade, and Amarillo) and 35% rye! Very intriguing.
I was out at a dinner with folks from work this week (extremely rare that I stay in the city after work these days). Went to Sel de la Terre near the Prudential. they had an excellent, albeit not terribly long, craft beer menu, focusing on some local breweries, including Jack’s Abby. I ordered the Hoponius Union. The waitress warned that they may be out of it, so I gave Maine Peeper Ale as a back-up. What arrives? A draft (neither of the beers I ordered were on tap, just the .5L bottles)… “Here’s the Jabby Brau” she explained as she placed it before me. Hell, no big deal, not going to cause a stir. Well, it really hit the spot. Can’t say it was any more fresh than the bottle I had (although I assume it was), but it’s delicious crisp flavor and hop presence really hit the spot. Plus, knowing I was driving later, the session lager couldn’t hurt. I had scallops and it really went well with the dinner. Sometimes it’s expectations, surroundings, food, the people.. who knows. I do believe with this beer, the comparison to the Hoponius Union when I first bought it was what lead to a lackluster review. The Jabby Brau is clean, crisp, and delicious. Not crazy American-ized hops.. but clearly more of a hop presence than the Reinheitsgebot would approve!