Touring one of the Cape's new Craft Beer Excursions!
I don’t like fruity beers, and I particularly dislike blueberry-flavored beers. So, when Barnstable Brewing Opens a New Window. owner and co-founder Peter Conner announced we’d be sampling the company’s blueberry ale, I was not as enthusiastic as I was for the IPA.
However, my honor and duty as a blogger compelled me to try it. Picking up the 10-ounce tasting glass, I breathed in the lightly colored ale and was surprised. The scent was delicate and floral. If the refreshing and crisp draft were a perfume, it would be called, “Sophisticate” or “Eden.”
After tasting it, I still don’t like blueberry beer — as a category. However, if you were throwing a party and I was rummaging through the cooler and you had a can, I’d drink it. Going from avoiding-at-all-costs to voluntarily imbibing is a big deal. It’s also the primary goal of Leslie and Retired Chief Master Sergeant Karen Cozza, founders of Cape Cod’s new TapTastings Craft Brew Excursions Opens a New Window. .
Specifically, the couple want people who join their guided beer tastings to expand their palates. Attendees are encouraged to keep their minds open, learn to better identify the flavor profiles that they enjoy, and narrow-in on the ones that they don’t. Unlike typical brewery tours, which can often resemble a bar crawl, TapTastings, offers something closer to a “wine tasting” experience. It’s an activity for people who love beer and people who just like to know things. If you were the kid in class who raised their hand first, this is a great activity for you.
Leaving the Hyannis-based brewery, I had a better understanding of the International Bitterness Unit (IBU), enjoyed a savory pastry pocket from Centerville Pie Company, Opens a New Window. and was pretty pumped for the next stop.
As Karen drove us to the next location in South Dennis, we were given handouts highlighting different hops. Munching on the pretzels and homemade beer mustard included in our swag bags, we began strategizing the different brews we would try at Devil’s Purse. I’m not sure if Leslie’s previous experience as a school teacher had any influence on the group, but there was definitely a buzzy, happy fieldtrip energy in the van as we headed to our second stop.
Upon arriving, we sampled the outfit’s flagship brew, the Handline Kolsch. Mildly hopped, dry with a bit of lemon zest, it’s great for pairing with a meal. After learning the history of the brew, (Did you know that Kolsch is like Champagne and that you aren’t really supposed to call it Kolsch, outside of the European Union? Luckily, Devil's Purse isn't in the E.U. so, it's all good!) we were encouraged choose our own adventure with up to three 5-ounce samples.
Since I was the designated driver, I only chose two official samples, but I did snag some sips of a few others. Again, I went rogue and chose a very fruity beer, the Shiso Berry Ale. Deep raspberry in color, this American wild ale had a tart forward flavor with a sweet fruity finish. It reminded me of Kombucha, which I very deeply love. I don’t know if I could drink multiple in a night, but one followed by something like the Pollock IPA or Chisel Lord Brett would be the right plan of attack for me.
As “Barley” the brew van headed back to our initial meeting spot in Hyannis, we played a mashup of Mad Libs and Apples to Apples with a beer slant. There was a true spirit of friendly competition in the air as we vied for a highly coveted TapTastings t-shirt.
Throughout the afternoon, I got to know TapTastings enthusiastic crew and amiable attendees. What's more, owners Leslie and Karen are such genuinely nice people, I might be scheming on how to get them to adopt me as their niece. When we gathered for our group picture, I felt like I had found a few new friends I could hang out with on my next visit to the Cape.
One of my favorite aspects of the TapTastings' experience is that it’s customizable. My friend Kara who joined the tour with me and I felt like two breweries was plenty. Although, if I were attending a bachelorette party or a reunion, a third stop would make TapTastings our main event for the day. If you're looking for an activity that is low-key, but structured, there are single brewery excursions as well.
As a sidenote: It’s important to note that most Cape-based breweries are small and don’t have the staff available to provide in-depth explanations about their drafts. TapTastings helps bridge that gap. With at least three more breweries opening on Cape Cod in near future, I could join TapTastings again and try all new places.
The Takeaway: Rain or shine, TapTastings is genuinely fun way to spend your afternoon.
Julianne, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce blogger on this story, received a complimentary TapTastings excursion for the purpose of writing this blog, although the opinions and insights are her own.