I hate saisons. They are pretentious, bitter, lacking in creative flavors, and my least favorite beer. I’ve yet to find one I actually like. At least I did before I visited Worcester’s newest craft brewery, Redemption Rock.
Located on Shrewsbury Street inside the old Coca-Cola building, the taproom is open and inviting. Each wall is unique. Floral wallpaper lines the retail area, wood paneling leads you to the bar, and a large mural, in the style of a Sailor Jerry tattoo, dominates the common area. It’s what industrial spaces might have looked like were hipsters the workforce of the Industrial Revolution.
Hipster, a cliched and potentially off-putting term, is the best way to describe the varying aspects of Redemption Rock’s business. It’s worth noting that the atmosphere here isn’t that of the snotty, loner hipsters who think they invented flannel, vinyl, and typewriters. No, Redemption Rock’s vibe is that of the community hipster; those who care deeply about their town and the people in it. This type of entrepreneur has been flocking to Worcester over the past decade and has given us some of the city’s best businesses.
Redemption Rock is a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation. This means that the owners are permitted to prioritize social and environmental impacts in their corporate decision making. In this respect, the brewery’s main focuses are natural conservation, community building, and fair wages. Because the company prides itself on paying employees a living wage, tipping is not expected or encouraged. It is a personal choice. Many European countries, like Italy and France, adopted a similar mindset, one which I personally think should be practiced more here in the United States. Any tips left at Redemption Rock are donated to a specified non-profit that align with the company’s values.
But what of the beer? Unfortunately, it’s not spectacular. The War Castle New England IPA is dominated by hops, overpowering any citrus, and the Blackstone Irish Dry Stout is like drinking a liquified brick, while the Elfe blonde ale is refreshing but lacks flavor. However, The Birds, a red saison, is a masterpiece. The start is a hit of peppery cloves on the palate which then transforms into banana toast slathered in caramel on the finish. It is the farthest thing from a traditional saison you can find, which is why I love it so much.
Redemption Rock states in its mission that it brews “beer for the people.” They are not out to please “hardcore beer nerds.” It’s an admirable sentiment, but one that needs more than one good beer to back it up. Still, this is only one beer lover’s opinion. Go and check out Redemption Rock for yourselves. They’re definitely worth a try.