New Bedford

New Bedford, on the south coast of Massachusetts was once one of the most important whaling ports in the world, along with Nantucket. Herman Melville lived and worked in New Bedford, and wrote the novel Moby Dick in the early 1850s. When whaling died out, the town industry turned to textiles and fishing. They… have a whaling museum. That’s about all I know about N’Bedfid (the New England accent pronounces “ford” as “fid,” as in Chelmsfid, Bedfid and Medfid.)

It’s a New Englandy fishing town.

Lady Friend and I parked downtown after our brewery and winery tours, we checked out the Whaling Museum, which was very cool, thanks to a free pass from my coworker. When they kicked us out at 5pm, we set off looking for a good local brewpub or bar for adult beverages and some grub. While wandering down Purchase Street, I noticed a sign for wine tastings. We went in, and it turned out to be a place called Travessia Urban Winery.

Yeah, I didn’t know what an “urban winery” was either. Turns out, they buy local/regional grapes, to blend and ferment them at their facility/storefront in downtown New Bedford. Lady Friend sported me the $3 for the tasting (listed as $5 on the website), and we got three wines: vidal blanc, rosé, and pinot noir.

I didn’t take notes, but my impressions were that the blanc was kind of pear-y and dry, the rosé was GROSS (sour, almost vinegar mouth pucker) and the pinot noir had a lot of cranberry taste to it, almost as if they had cut the wine with Ocean Spray. I actually dumped the rest of my glass of rosé, since it was so bad, before Lady Friend could stop me. She didn’t mind it and would have had my share. Oops. Ironically, the rosé was their “special” wine, and they wouldn’t tell Lady Friend what grapes were in it, saying it was a “proprietary blend, and the only secret they have.” I love when places do that, as if we’re going to go off and make our own wine with their confidential recipe. Lame.

So to get the taste of wine and arrogance out of my mouth, we headed to our original destination, the Pour Farm Tavern. Reviews on Yelp seemed favorable, and once I saw the chalkboard sign out front boasting “twenty-four ice cold draft beers” I got excited. There’s no way that 24 drafts are going to be all macrobrews. It was about 5:15, and the place was empty, so we sat at the bar. I took a look at the beer list, and started to get tingly. All the right names: Bear Republic, Founders, 21st Amendment, Lagunitas, Firestone Walker, Full Sail… wow. A couple of those, like Firestone Walker and 21st Amendment, have only been making their way to the east coast over the past year or two, so to see them on draft is a big deal. However, if you’re a beer-hole like I am, you find yourself in a difficult situation. Despite the fantastic offerings, I had already tried most of the stuff currently on draft, and I wanted something I had never tasted before. Lady Friend had no such problem, and started right away with a 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat, which I had tried a sip of at Irish Lad’s last beer night. I didn’t like it so much, but Irish Lad, and now Lady Friend, both thought it was good. I LOVED 21st’s (canned) IPA that Irish Lad had snagged for me last winter.

Finally, after ordering food, I made my choice: a Rapscallion Blessing American Amber Ale, 8% abv. A fruity and slightly malty nose. Taste was malt sweet with a mild bitter. Wheaty taste up front, followed by malt smoothness. It was a good ale. By this time, Lady Friend had already moved on to a Heavy Seas “Red Sky at Night” saison/farmhouse ale, which she found too sweet. I didn’t think it had quite the “earthy” flavors that a farmhouse ale normally would. She finished with a Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale, wanting something a bit less sweet, and seemed satisfied. I went with a half pour of Left Hand’s Milk Stout, 6% abv, with a roasted and vanilla sweet aroma. The taste was roasted, smooth and creamy, like coffee with CREAM, not milk, and a slight hint of bitter spice from the roast. Almost like ice cream. Delicious, and perfect for an after-dinner treat without being syrupy sweet or filling.

The Pour Farm was perfect. When we first sat down, the bartender and I struck up a dialogue and discussed various craft beers. She enjoyed Harpoon’s Rye IPA which we all hated on our last beer night, and gave me a sample to try to change my mind. No dice, chica. I’m sorry I didn’t catch her name, but she was very knowledgeable and friendly, and poured us a couple samples before we made our choices. Unfortunately, her shift ended, and we got stuck with a pair of bartenders who clearly didn’t want to be there. How do you tip in that situation? Do you leave a bigger tip for the first bartender, or does it go to the one who enters the check?

Other than the gratuity dilemma, the food was great, and beer selection VERY impressive. Our first bartender was incredibly helpful, and knew what she was talking about (aside from liking the Harpoon Rye… ugh). With a solid meal in the gullet, it was time for the next target: Rose Alley Ale House.

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