Through my meetings with the Pink Boots Society and Women in Beer I’ve gotten to know several people in the Cambridge MA beer scene, including Megan O’Leary Parisi, lead brewer at the Cambridge Brewing Company (Hi Megan!). 

Last Saturday they celebrated their twentieth year in the brewing business by hosting a party that featured more than 30 of their beers (including aged, casked and rare offerings) along with special menu items, live entertainment and a beer garden setup outside. I heard about a couple of their beers (including one made with peppercorns….) and decided that I had to go down to celebrate with them.
The place was already hopping when I got down there around six but I was quickly seated inside for dinner. I spent several minutes contemplating my choices on the beer menu before ordering a sampler of three different brews and a vegetarian mufaletta sandwich. Before I could blink, the beer and food arrived. The three brews that I tried were the Sgt. Pepper, YouEnjoyMyStout and L’Amour Du Jour. 
L’Amour Du Jour (which, in french means “Love of the day”) was described on the menu as an herbal beer brewed with lavender, orange peel and jasmine. Since it was the lightest of the three I decided it should go first. It was a clear golden amber in color, with a head that stuck around as I drank it. The smell is of flowers, and spice, almost like potpourri. The taste is spicy with a little citrus, and the lavender comes in at the end, sliding down your throat as you drink it. The orange peel is subtle, and makes it a really crisp (and not overwhelmingly sweet) brew. My friend Caitlyn says she could drink these all day, and I’d have to agree. This one is 4.7% ABV.

Next up, the much talked about Sgt. Pepper, a saison brewed with four different types of peppercorns. A Saison is a traditional style of ale originating in Belgium, but usually isn’t very high in alcohol. Some sources I’ve looked up have said that it was brewed in the spring to last through the winter. Either way, a regular saison is a crispy refreshing beer that isn’t too heavy, which is probably the perfect canvas for the peppercorns to dance around. This one was a cloudy amber, and smelled like pepper with some hoppiness. This actually tingles your lips as you drink it, and is very interesting. It ends up being almost savory, and went terrifically well with the bitter greens of my salad. It is also far and away better and different from the chipotle or jalapeno pepper beers I’ve had – the peppercorns add a totally different flavor and feeling. This does “bite” your throat a little but it is awesome in sips. A great find, I only wish that one was around more regularly. At 6% ABV this one hit the spot.
The final beer that I ordered with dinner was called YouEnjoyMyStout (no spaces between the words) and was a barrel aged imperial stout brewed in 2006. I am a huge fan of aged stouts, and this one did not disappoint. It was black, with an off-white head. The smell was of raisins, candy and sweet chocolaty malts. Wow! A hard hit of deep malts on the taste. Its brandy like, with lots of raisin tastes. Warming as its consumed (probably because of the 10.5% ABV) and absolutely delicious. Bravo!
After dinner we stepped out to the beer garden and courtyard. It was a beautiful, breezy spring night, perfect for conversing over beer and listening to music. Throughout the evening I also sampled The Colonel – a “barrel-aged 18th century style vatted sour porter” which tasted a little bit like sour cherries or a flat Dr. Pepper combined with alcohol. Very interesting, quite yummy, and nearly impossible to describe! It had the thickness of a porter, the sourness of a lambic and the smell of raisins and antiquity. Mike described it as “awesome in liquid form” and I’ll have to take that description as good enough!

Eventually a thunderstorm roared through, but none of us were deterred, staying long into the evening listening to music and finding places to stand or sit under the tents or inside the restaurant. 
It was a great night. I tried beers there that are not normally on tap because I thought I might not see them again anytime soon – but their regular beers are ones that also shouldn’t be missed.