Notch Brewing Company in Salem, Massachusetts is perhaps best known as a brewer of session beers. Fervent advocates of lower ABV offerings, the brewers at Notch, led by long-time industry veteran Chris Lohring and brewer Brienne Allan, brew a diverse range of beers styles that mostly all clock in under 5% ABV.

Everything from world-class Czech lagers to an Irish Stout to hop forward low ABV pale ales and IPAs. These folks crush it, and the beers are (well) crushable, served by the half- and full-liter in a beautiful Biergarten on the waterfront in downtown Salem. 

Once a year, however, they brew a dopplebock—one of their few offerings that is definitively non-sessionable (although, we certainly tried). Löggerhead, named apparently for the iron poker that is traditionally heated by fire and thrust into a mug of strong, dark, German lager, clocks in at 7.5% ABV.  This year, Notch decided that brewing the beer was enough of a reason to throw a party, so they did.  And, it was one… hell… of a party. 

The inaugural Starkbierfest at Notch was quite simply a perfect day.  A lovely German-polka band entertained the crowd, there was traditional fare from Karl’s Sausage to go alongside the beers, and Notch poured half-liter after half-liter of their dopplebock for smiling beer drinkers who would invariably wander outside into the light falling snow to warm up their mug with a poke of the Löggerhead.