The final installment of our Maine brewery adventure happened on our return home with a quick pit stop at Bissell …
Our second stop along Industrial Way was Allagash Brewing Company, one of my favorite “classic” craft beer breweries. Founded back in 1995, they’ve been consistently serving up some of the best Belgian-inspired brews the New England area has to offer. Picking up the beer was super easy, after ordering from the road the no contact curbside pickup only took a few minutes. We did, however, linger in the parking for a little bit longer than that to pick up a pair of delicious lobster rolls from the Bite into Maine food truck that frequents the brewery.
My first beer out the gate from them was their iconic Allagash White. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one since it’s been listed here before, but if you’re not familiar with this one do yourself a favor and try it out. Checking in at 5.2%, this Witbier is easy drinking with light notes of orange peel, coriander, and wheat. It has been a long time goto of mine, so we picked up a 12 pack to stock the fridge with. It was definitely a good decision.
Beer number two was North Sky, a new to me 7.5% Belgian stout. It poured a dark brown/black looking body topped by a thin off-white head. Taste-wise it offered creamy, light roasted notes throughout with hints of dark fruit sweetness on the finish. The beer had low carbonation and a super smooth body that made it really easy to sit back with and enjoy both outdoors and in. I was a big fan of this one and enjoyed a few of these under the stars.
My third and final beer from Allagash was, well, one I’m not ready to share yet. It’s not something I really need to hype by being all secretive or anything, let’s just say that the time is not yet right. Before I get to that one, though, I do have one more brewery experience to share at the end of the week.
It feels like it’s been ages since my last visit to a new brewery, but here we go again! To celebrate our 10th Anniversary my wife and I made our way up to Isleboro, Maine last week to socially distance at a guest house on a beautiful seaside estate. Along the way there and back we stopped off at a few breweries that, combined with some much needed time off, got me back in that blogging feeling.
Our first stop on the way up was along Portland’s legendary Industrial Way, the current (and former) location of many of Maine’s most popular breweries. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and the brewery corridor was pretty active, but fortunately the various establishments and their patrons looked to take distancing and mask wearing seriously. While we didn’t have time to visit all the breweries clustered together (funny how a child and a pandemic can change your priorities), I did manage to assemble a nice collection of brews to enjoy during our stay on the island.
For today’s post I am going to first report on the new (to me) place we visited, Definitive Brewing Company. It opened up in 2017 which was a good two-plus years after our last visit to the area but occupied some familiar territory across the street from Allagash Brewing Company. Though I only purchased beer to go, they did look to have some nice outdoor beneath tents they had set up in the front and rear of the lot. I side stepped all this, however, for the side pickup window to collect the cans I pre-ordered from the road.
My first taste of the brewery was an 8.3% NEIPA called Particles. It poured to a hazy, dark yellow body with a fluffy layer of foam across the top and gave some huge tropical aromas on the way into the glass. Taste wise it offered up some nice tropical and kiwi notes upfront and finished with an assertive, hazy bitterness highlighted by hints of lemon. Overall it was a solid example of the style that I enjoyed drinking. I could easily see someone giving this higher lower marks depending upon what they look for in their NEIPAs.
My second brew from them was a 7.2% dessert stout appropriately named Stuffed. Officially labeled as a double milk stout, the beer was conditioned atop “chocolate sandwich cookies” and certainly drank as such. It poured thick and in the glass had a black colored body topped by a thin tannish head that was quick to dissipate. It smelled chocolately and slightly sweet and tasted of thick cream and chocolate upfront, a doughy cookie middle, and a light roasted chocolate finish. Its medium-plus body carried the big flavors well and managed to not be so thick that it made finishing the beer a chore. I would definitely recommend this as tasty and satisfying dessert stout, though I really can’t imagine drinking more than one in a sitting.
My third and final brew from Definitive was Bass Reflex, a 7.0% DDH NEIPA hopped with Citra, Cascade, and El Dorado. It came out of the can to reveal a cloudy pineapple-juice colored body topped by a foamy white head that left distinct lacing on the glass as the beverage went on. It had some big tropical aromas that carried through to the opening taste before arriving at a hazy, resinous bitterness on the end. The body was standard for the style and had a pleasant fluffy feeling that I really enjoyed for reasons I can’t fully explain. I really liked this one and found it very on point for the style.
And that wraps up things for today. Later on this week I’ll take a quick look at the second brewery we hit up. Stay healthy my friends!
Taking advantage of an absolutely beautiful day last weekend, I made a stop at Night Shift Brewing Company for the first time in quite awhile. I’ll admit that it still feels a bit weird going into public these days, but the brewery and staff did an excellent job keeping people distanced while serving up food and beer in their outdoor patio space.
Brewery: Night Shift Brewing Company (Everett, MA)
Style: Milkshake IPA
Description: I couldn’t find a full description, but this was a milkshake IPA brewed with lactose, strawberries, and peaches.
Appearance: Cloudy orangish/grapefruit juice color with wisps of white head
Smell: Faint tart berries and mild bitterness.
Taste: Initially a bit on the tart side, but that was replaced quickly by sweetness blending both the strawberry and peach ingredients. The middle of the sip mixed in a bit of creaminess and pale malt while the finish reintroduced a touch of berry and a mild to moderate bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Smooth medium body with roughly moderate carbonation.
Hype: None that I was aware of, I just really liked the name.
Overall: I liked it. I can be hit or miss on this style but this one appealed to me. It had a nice mix of sweet, tart, and bitter notes to keep it interesting throughout.
This may seem like quite the statement after my previous post, but I have truly saved my best Texas beer experience for last. Feeling a bit adventurous, I took a 20 minute Uber ride out to downtown Garland, TX to check out Intrinsic Smokehouse and Brewery. I found this place through the magic of the internet, but one of my coworkers the next day expressed their love for the place as well.
This place was so amazing, I’m not even sure where to start! Walking in the front door immediately enters you into brewing heaven. There were some assorted knickknacks off to the left followed quickly by a stack of barrels, a cooler full of beer to go, and finally the bar counter. Beyond that lay a bunch of wooden tables and benches before ultimately arriving at the BBQ serving counter in the very back. The old brick walls allowed the place to maintain it’s old warehouse feel and the colorful, funky art adorning them added a bit of fun. It seemed like there was something cool in every corner of this place and if it was a bit less crowded I would have loved to wander around taking it all. Unbeknownst to me until my final beer, the double doors across from the bar lead to an indoor patio of sorts. It had the same warehouse vibe (though a bit less finished) and featured large windows upfront.
My first order of business upon arriving was procuring food so my first destination was to the BBQ counter in the back. Everything looked great, but I finally decided upon a two meat combo featuring pulled pork and brisket along with slow cooked greens (with bacon!) and coleslaw. It was all delicious, but the stars of the plate where the brisket and the greens. The flavorful, crispy edges and tender insides were exactly what I was looking for and the bit of spice on the greens was complimented perfectly the presence of bacon.
And now, finally, we arrive at the beer. My first brew of the evening, Texas Shake (shown below with dinner), was probably my favorite of the trip. A 6.7% “Milkshake” IPA brewed with lactose and local peaches. It had a glowing, pale yellow body and an insane nose full of apricot and peach aromas. The taste matched the smell, and the added lactose gave this a creamy smooth fruitiness that had this living up to the “shake” name more than any other beer if this style I have tried thus far. This was the beer of the trip for me and I have no regrets about having two of these!
Beer number two was their 7.8% Barrel Aged Donut Milk Stout. Aged in bourbon barrels, it poured to deep, dark brown/black body and smelled of dark malts and barrel notes. The taste was equally impressive, with sweetness upfront reminiscent of molasses and chocolate sitting atop a doughy malt base. It finished with a very well developed barrel presence and some sweet heat. The thick mouthfeel held the flavors perfectly, making this another fantastic brew!
My final unique beer of the evening was a 9.3% DIPA named Chubby Unicorn. It poured to a surprisingly non-hazy yellowish/gold body and had a big, fruity nose that almost rivaled that of Texas Shake. This brew, however, while starting out sweet with a citrusy/tropical blend, it also had a moderate biscuity malt backbone and some slight toasty notes before ending with a piney/earthy bitterness. I liked this one, but for me it lacked the “wow” factor of the previous beers.
And that’s about where I wrapped up my evening. This place without any doubt or reservation gets my absolute highest recommendations. If you’re in the area (even remotely) find a way to get yourself in here. Between the food, the beer, and the atmosphere I promise you won’t be disappointed! For some bonus content, I’ll throw in a couple more of my favorite pictures from this visit below:
Another installment in my weekend adventure series, this journey took place over the Labor Day weekend on a random afternoon drive up Route 1. We were hungry and in search of a destination when we happened upon Throwback Brewery, and the adjacent Hobbs Farm property, up in North Hampton, New Hampshire.
While this wasn’t necessarily our plan for the day, we sure were happy to wind up here. It was a beautiful day and their outdoor patio offered plenty of comfortable seating and a relaxing view of the farmland. I was also really amused by the bobbleheads the servers used to reference the tables (my wife happened to seat us at the Jason Momoa/Aquaman table). After placing our food and drink orders, we made note of the small stage that doubled as an out of the way play area for the children in attendance. I thought this was a nice touch, given that the place was a family-friendly destination, in that it gave the kids a contained, well supervised space in which to play together and have fun. It was quite a joy to see how much fun our son was having!
But I digress. Let’s talk beer! My wife and I each started out with a flight to get a feel for the place. Mine started out with She Sells Seashells (had to get ordering that one of the way early!), 4.7% salted blonde ale that featured an easy drinking blend of sweet light malt, resinous hops, and just a hint of the aforementioned salt. Beer number two was a 6.4% Red IPA called Hopstruck that I couldn’t help but be intrigued by given my fondness for the style. It looked the part with a reddish-amber body and featured the requisite caramel malt opening and pine resin finish. Being somewhat particular about my Red IPAs, I do think it could have used a touch more malt upfront, but on the whole I found it rather satisfying. I followed it up with the 4.9% Hog Happy Hefeweizen, which I liked. It had a nice straw colored body and easy drinking taste featuring the expected blend of banana, clove, and slightly spicy yeast made this a nice diversion from hops for a bit. Rounding out my flight was perhaps the most intriguing item on the menu: Gin and Juice (2019). An 8.2% gin barrel aged version of Hopstruck, this featured prominent notes of tart cherry and juniper atop a subtle hint of the beer’s original profile. While I liked it and thought it was very well executed, I do think that a full pour probably would have been a bit too much.
What ended up being both of our favorite beers of the day, though, came from my wife’s flight. Designated Playlist 05:02 and checking in at 6.3%, this tasty IPA poured to a light orange body and boasted a delightful taste profile featuring dank bitterness, sweet malts, and citrus rind. We both ended enjoyed this one so much that we finished our day with a pair of full pours!
And that wraps up a successful afternoon. The whole family had an excellent time here and we will certainly be on the lookout for opportunities to come back. The beer was very good and we loved how kid-friendly the place was. It was a nice touch that allowed us the luxury of spending a relaxed afternoon outside with our food and drinks.
And now it’s time to catch up on some of the more enjoyable brews I came across during the last month or so. This next post takes us back to a rather memorable pit stop the family made on our way down to New Jersey last month.
That stop, of course, happened to be at a brewery; specifically the New England Brewing Company, conveniently located in Woodbridge, CT at roughly the halfway point in our drive and the place where we just so happened to start hitting traffic. It had been a place of interest to me for some time now on account of its well regarded and awesomely named brews like Fuzzy Baby Ducks and Imperial Stout Trooper. Only the first of those was pouring that day, but we were nonetheless very excited about our impending visit, even to the point of making up stories about the beers and carrying on about the joys of ducks while waiting in traffic!
The brewery is located in a warehouse building hidden behind a car dealership. We were a bit confused by this situation and almost turned around, but fortunately my (perhaps somewhat dubious) faith in Google Maps and some well placed signage got us there without incident. Their custom car sitting out front helped a bit too! Walk inside and you’re greeted by an ordering station just inside the door with some benches and seating off to the right. There are also some shelves against one of the walls that boast an impressive stash of games and books, including, to our delight, children’s stories! Since it was a really nice day and we had a toddler in tow, we opted, however, to sit out on the patio after procuring our beverages and reading materials. While not particularly scenic, it was still nice to be outside and between books our son had a blast watching some of the staff load up a delivery truck using a forklift.
Our first beer of the day obviously had to be the much discussed Fuzzy Baby Ducks. I don’t think it quite lived up to the otherworldly hype that we had built up around it in the car, but it most certainly did not disappoint either! I’d say that the fact that beer withstood our highly unrealistic expectations says a lot about how good it actually is. Pictured above alongside our son’s first book of the day, this 6.2% IPA poured to a cloudy orangish-yellow body beneath a persistent foam head and had an inviting aroma of citrus and sticky hops. Taste-wise, it began with a nice blend of mango and citrus sweetness resting stop a soft pale malt backbone before closing with a smooth, moderate level of bitterness. As for the mouthfeel, it had a moderately carbonated medium body that left a soft, fluffy feeling on the palate. This last point was particularly important for my wife. I think no matter how good it tasted she would not have been happy if it didn’t feel like a fluffy duck at the end!
For round two, my wife and I went in slightly different directions. She ordered their flagship Sea Hag IPA (6.2%) and enjoyed that immensely. Indeed I did as well but could not manage to steal enough sips to give it a proper review. All I’ll say here is that it offered a nice mix of sweet malts and hops that was right up my alley! My beer of choice was the almost equally amazing G-Bot. This 8.8% IPA poured to an orangish-amber body and featured a sweet, pulpy aroma. Similarly, the taste offered up plenty of citrus notes to start, followed by a nice dank, resinous bitterness on the end. The mouthfeel was right in line for the style. Overall, this made for our third excellent brew of the day!
And then it was time once again to hit the road. Between the books, the beer, and the chance to relax we all had an excellent time here! The beers certainly lived up to our heightened expectations and we also really appreciated how family friendly the atmosphere was (bonus points for the aforementioned children’s books!). Definitely check this place out! It’s on the list next time we head down to New Jersey or find ourselves in the area.
We found ourselves out in Worcester, MA this past weekend for a baby shower and a trip to the EcoTarium for our son. Before heading home, however, my advance scouting and found yet another family-friendly brewery to check out. Bonus points for them serving food as well!
Greater Good is located on an industrial stretch in Worcester with, thankfully, a rather ample parking lot. Just make sure to keep an eye out for signs as the turn-in was kind of hard to see from the road when approaching from the side of the brewery that didn’t have their signage on it. On the way inside we passed through a small outdoor seating area that looked tempting, but at the time of our visit was way too sunny for our party. That ended up being just as well, considering how much fun the place was inside. It was quite spacious and had a cool finished warehouse vibe with plenty of seating and a performance area for live music. It also featured the requisite board games and arcade machines to keep kids of all ages entertained as well as some random other toys (more on that later). Beyond the obvious, a big part of what made this such an alluring stop for us was that the taproom also serves food in the form of amazing looking pressed sandwiches. They run about $11-12 each and are pretty generous in size. They’re also every bit as good as they look on the menu and highly recommended.
Moving on to the beer, Greater Good boasts to be “America’s First All Imperial Brewery” and had a draft list that, with few exceptions, matched that assertion. We weren’t really feeling flights that day, so my wife and I each had a couple of full pours. I started my afternoon off with Pink is the New Black, a 6.0% Cascadian Dark Ale brewed in conjunction with the Pink Boots Society to promote and encourage women in the beer industry. It boasted a fantastically smooth blend of piney hops, light roasted malt, and a slight notes of citrus fruit and chocolate that I really enjoyed. It had certainly been awhile since I last had a good “black IPA” and this one definitely delivered just that. My second and final beer of the visit was Good Night Moon, an 11% Imperial Porter that was chocolate milk goodness in a glass. It had silky smooth and creamy body and featured plenty of creamy chocolate notes atop a fairly moderate amount of roasted coffee. This was the consensus favorite of the day, so much so that cans came home with us. If you see this, try this.
My wife went in a different direction with her choices, opting for a pair of NEIPAs named Shine On (8.4%) and PULP DADDY (8%). While I don’t have any notes to share on these, both were given very positive endorsements, though the edge went to Shine On. From my brief tastes, however, I can say that both of these beers are sure to please fans of the style, offering plenty of dangerously drinkable juicy deliciousness.
As a final note, I can’t end this post without mentioning the brewery’s unofficial mascot, Creepy Baby (see above). My wife found it under a table while grabbing some coloring pages for our son and proceeded to carry it back to our table, holding it by the shirt. To our amusement, it was lifelike enough to horrify everyone she passed by. There was literally even a dog that had been resting under a nearby table that looked freaked out! Fortunately, after everyone did a double take and realized that 1) the doll was fake, and 2) we’re not horrible people that manhandle babies across taprooms a good laugh was had by all!
In case you weren’t aware, June is Pride Month! To help kick the festivities off in style, Everett’s Bone Up Brewing Company unveiled a new beer and merch this past weekend to help raise money for the folks at GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders).
Beer Name: P.R.I.D.E.
Brewery: Bone Up Brewing Company (Everett, MA)
Style: Pale Ale
Description: A specially brewed pale ale featuring Pacifica, Rakau, Idaho 7, El Dorado, and Empire hops. More specs here.
Appearance: Juice-like, orange and gold body with a thin layer of white foam across the top.
Smell: Light citrus and pale malts.
Taste: It had a smooth light orange, melon, and citrus rind sweetness that sat atop a subtle base of pale/biscuity malt. There was a mild bitterness on the end with a touch more sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Soft, roughly medium body with fairly light carbonation.
Hype: As a testament to their belief in this cause, the brewery definitely made sure their social media followers knew this hitting the taps. I don’t know about any additional hype necessarily, but people did seem pretty enthusiastic about this.
Overall: Fresh, easy drinking, and very refreshing. It had a nice sweetness and mouthfeel that made it the perfect beer to sit outside with on a warm day. Happy Pride you all!
Another spot that we visited over the holiday weekend was Mayflower Brewing Company based out of Plymouth, MA. A long-time favorite of mine, I have been interested in visiting their taproom for awhile now, but it never managed to work out the times we were in the area. Seems like my luck in this regard finally changed!
The taproom is located in a commercial/industrial park a few exits north of the historic downtown part of Plymouth. While the surrounding area might have been much to talk about (think sterile, corporate green space), the interior of the taproom was quite nice. Bright and featuring walls of beautifully repurposed wood, it was split roughly in half between a more traditional bar and tap area and an additional seating section with long benches, extra seating, and space for playing various board games.
Upon arrival I was very happy to discover that they had a very full draft list going that day with more than a dozen beers pouring. Unable to decide between revising some old favorites and trying out new things, my wife and I split a pair of flights to get a little bit of (almost) everything. In the interest of time and space I’m not going to run through them all, but instead touch upon a few I found particularly noteworthy.
Ships & Salsa (Vienna Lager, 6.0%): Probably the biggest surprise of the day, this beer started us off on a very high note. Brewed with flaked a maize and a “massive” amount of agave syrup, this beer had a nice malty sweetness accentuated by a very slight bit of citrus zest. We imagined it pairing quite nicely with Mexican food
Waggle Dance (Farmhouse Ale, 6.0%): Brewed with wildflower honey, it had a sweet, light funkiness followed by a touch of peppery yeast and honey. I really, really enjoyed this one.
Boomerang (Pale Ale, 6.0%): Featuring a light, clean malt base followed by a moderate amount of fruity Australian hops, this easy drinking pale ale was a refreshing treat on hot day.
Nitro Coffee Porter: Delivering that silky smooth nitro feel, this one had some excellent notes of rich malts, chocolate, and roasted coffee. I couldn’t have asked for a better beer to end the tasting with.
As honorable mentions, past review beers X and Leather Bound Books were drinking as good as ever and definitely come recommend as well should you come across them.
At that is where I’ll wrap up our visit. The beer was excellent, the bartender was super friendly, and the taproom itself was very nice, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that they would benefit from a more interesting location (easier said than done I’m sure). It is exciting to note, however, that they will be operating a beer garden in the nearby Pinehills community, effective May 30th, that looks like an amazingly beautiful spot. Depending on our summer plans we may need to check that out as well!