Posts Tagged ‘wheat’

Review: Bully Boy White Whiskey

Finally, we come to the the final installment of my Bully Boy product line reviews. That is, until their aged stuff has finished properly aging. Which is taking FOR-EV-ERRRR.

Sidebar: if you can find a way to either accelerate or restrict the aging process, then either alcohol producers or Baby Boomers will pay you uncountable fortunes.

I think this rather improves the Boston skyline.

Bully Boy produces a wheat-based, white whiskey, two unusual characteristics that are becoming more popular in the industry. With white (clear) unaged whiskies popping up on shelves labeled as “white dog,” “white lightning,” or even straight-up “moonshine,” Bully Boy takes the trend and adds a bit more craft to the process. Like their vodka, the use of regionally-sourced wheat earns the whiskey a USDA Organic stamp, and an entirely different flavor from most other brands, which tend to use corn more than wheat, rye, or barley.

To be legally labeled as whiskey, rather than “unaged wheat spirit,” you have to age it. Bully Boy ages theirs for eight hours. Yup. Eight. That’s it. They started off with a full 24 hours, but wound up with more of the barrel’s smokey char flavor than desired. Despite the raw, alcohol burn of the young whiskey, this one clocks in at a standard 80 proof, 40% abv.

Time for a sample.

Nose: A bit hot in the nose. Some mild acetone, but with a sweetness lurking underneath. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it sugary, but there’s a very dry, honey candy behind the booze. It’s like the missing link between the vodka’s “wet granite” (couldn’t resist) neutral spirit, and the rum’s molasses sugar wonderland. Being a wheat-based spirit, I’m picking up a lot of banana as well, much like a Belgian beer, though lacking the clove spice that often goes with it. There’s an herbal essence (try the body wash!) reminiscent of Irish poteen, though a side-by-side comparison with both my Bunratty and Knockeen Hills emphasizes the alcoholic nose of the Bully Boy.

Taste: Neat, at room temperature. Hot on the tongue, then evaporates cleanly, leaving behind flavors of dry wheat grasses and a mildly antiseptic vodka-like cleanliness. There’s quite a bit of that dry honey again, and even a bit of dry wild herbs, like a very subdued poteen.

Let’s put it in a cocktail and see what happens. Since last week’s Rule 37 was the scotch whisky based Affinity cocktail, I though I’d give it a try with the Bully Boy. The original recipe of equal parts spirit, sweet vermouth and dry vermouth with Angostura bitters tasted much more vermouthy than the scotch version of the drink. The more delicate Bully Boy is washed away in a tipple where even the Angostura makes its presence know in the middle ground. As I suspected, when using a spirit less powerful than a Big Scotch, the recipe needs some tweaking. So tweak I did, arriving at this recipe, which I suppose I’d have to call “An Affinity for Bully Boy.”

An Affinity for Bully Boy
Original recipe on right, updated variation on left.

– 1 1/2 oz Bully Boy Whiskey
– 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
– 3/4 oz dry vermouth
– 1 dash orange bitters

STIR in an ice-filled mixing glass and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish necessary, though a flamed orange peel would likely do wonders.

First off, it’s more of a pale orange than the normal Affinity, and the recipe is closer to a Perfect Manhattan, though not quite there yet. Notes of orange mingle with the Bully Boy’s hot nose, though a bit of the banana wheat eases through.

The taste is very orange-bitter forward, with the vermouth syrup gluing in a dry whiskey element. A bit more on the tart side (I was likely a tad overzealous with the bitters) but very smooth overall, with the fiery whiskey tempered down to a warming glow. It’s much more pleasant this way, though there’s not a terribly strong flavor from the spirit. Rather it mixes in layers with the vermouths and bitters as a lovely complex dance; your tongue constantly tries to decide what it’s tasting at any particular time, as a lovely warmth builds from the spirit. In the aftertaste, that honey poteen flavor of the whiskey loiters at the sides of the tongue, seemingly not in any hurry to be on its way.

It’s a bit like DayQuil, though in a complimentary way. I wonder if a cherry bitter version would taste like NyQuil? A splash of absinthe would in theory yield a green NyQuil licorice flavor, but really, what kind of psychopath likes the GREEN NyQuil? I originally made this with two dashes of orange bitters, but amended the recipe to half that amount, which should be sufficient to add the orange element without overpowering the drink. Still, this concoction allows you to experience the whiskey’s character while toning down the alcoholic burn. The flavor really shines through in the aftertaste, after the vermouth has eased away.

If I had to do it again, I’d likely just make a White Manhattan with it, which indeed was my original plan, though that wouldn’t be nearly as adventurous. See the risks I take for you people?

So, what’s the conclusion? Well, it’s Bully Boy, so you know it’s got the right attitude behind it, and it’s a well-crafted spirit. I’m not as much of a fan of a) wheat flavors or b) unaged, young whiskey, and the Bully Boy is based on both of those. Drinking it neat is not my preference, though a splash of water does WONDERS to tame the alcohol and release more of the flavors. However, I think this makes an EXCELLENT mixer. I have tried it in other cocktails not listed here, and the unique flavors of the spirit really do some interesting things in a White Manhattan (white whiskey, dry vermouth, orange bitters), or even a simple whiskey sour. The trick with this particular whiskey is finding recipes that allow the flavors to shine through without being overpowered by the other ingredients. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a delicate whiskey, but it is more subdued than the big bourbons and ryes I’m used to. There are many recipe suggestions listed on their website, most created by local bartenders, who have welcomed a new, locally-produced spirit.

There is an aged version of the whiskey that is… still aging. The first batch has been going since last spring (along with some rum) and I’m DYING to try it. In theory, the barrel aging will tone down some of the fresh-off-the-still alcohol heat and add another layer of smokey vanilla flavors to the wheat fruit, which I think will make it a much more pleasing spirit to sip neat.

If I haven’t convinced you to track down these spirits yet, then I don’t know what else I can do. Get out there and buy some local, handcrafted liquor. That’s an unusual enough situation in itself, but trust me, these are especially tasty. Throw away your Bacardi and put the Bully Boy Rum on your shelf. It’s worlds apart. Add the White Whiskey to your collection of ryes, bourbons, and Scotches. Don’t have a whiskey collection? Well, why not? Start one. If you’re one of those silly vodka drinkers, don’t waste your money on advertising. That’s what you’re really buying when you order Grey Goose like a numbskull. Have you seen any Bully Boy billboards around? Nope. That’s how you know it’s worth buying.

If you live in, around, or anywhere near Boston, you need to try these spirits.

Do it for the Bully Boys.
Do it for Boston.
Do it for AMERICA.

Do it because I told you to.

For our Bully Boy rum review click here: Bully Boy Rum
For our Bully Boy vodka review click here: Bully Boy Vodka
For our Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey review click here: Bully Boy ASW
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along.
Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Mil-wacky in March, Part 3: Great Lakes Distillery

Yet another travel series that I never seem to finish. This one tells the tales of our Milwaukee adventures in late March of 2012. We went there to do some serious drinking. Oh, and also Trevtastic got married. Yeah, some girl actually married that boy. But still, it was a good excuse to show the Lady Friend the various drinking landmarks of Milwaukee, so that’s what we did. Wistful wanderings in Wisco. Part 1 is here.
Yah dere hey.

Here we go.

This is one of the reasons I wanted the Lady Friend to come to Milwaukee.

Well, this and Trev’s wedding.

But this is also awesome.

Great Lakes Distillery. Yes, they make booze in there.

I think I visit here every time I come to Milwaukee. It used to be that you’d enter around the back, right into the warehouse portion of the building, where the actual distillery is set up, but these days they’ve got a brand spankin’ new retail shop and tasting room up front. It’s pretty snazzy. Still, on larger tours, the “old” tasting room down on the production floor is used. We entered the new tasting room, and thankfully the paint-and-drywall smell had faded since my last visit, though there was a mural still in progress. The Lady Friend and I sidled up to the bar and ordered a cocktail. GLD highly encourages having a cocktail along on the tour. It helps you pay attention. Since the Kinnickinnic Whiskey was back in stock (they were completely drained last time) I led off with a simple Whiskey Sour. I have no idea what the Lady Friend went with, though I suspect it had grapefruit juice. There are a number of cocktails available across most of their spirit lineup for about $5-$7 if I recall, though they might make you one off-menu if you’re super nice and they know how to make it. Michael led off as our tour guide this time, and the Lady Friend and I, along with one older couple, grabbed our drinks and headed down the stairs to the production floor.

I hate saying “this is where the magic happens” but a lot of good stuff is born here.

First, the history. GLD was officially started back in 2004 by a video-tech guy named, well, Guy. Guy Rehorst. He realized that there were NO distilleries in the state of Wisconsin, so he started his own. Due to licensing, permits, and just building the place, it took until October of 2006 to get their first bottle out the door (it was vodka). Since GLD began, eight more distilleries have sprung up in Wisconsin, with eleven more on the way. The craft distillery market is starting the same sort of building boom that craft beer had about 10-15 years ago, and currently they’re growing at the rate of about one new distillery in the US every month. By 2015, it’s projected that there will be 500 distilleries in the country, which means like craft beer, there’s going to be a lot more choices on the shelves. Which is awesome.

Distilling itself is fairly simple. You take, well, ANYTHING that ferments, and boil it. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so the alcohol turns to vapor. Then you cool and condense it back down into a liquid, and you’ve got booze. Probably some pretty rough and firey stuff, but still booze. As Michael said “A child could do it. It’s also a felony.” Depending on what you make, there are at least a few rules in place. Vodka must be distilled at a minimum of 95% abv (right out of the still… it gets diluted down to usually about 40% abv/ 80 proof). Whiskey must be made from 100% cereal grain (wheat, rye, barley, corn… you get the picture). Brandy must be made from 100% fermented fruit (usually grapes, but also apple, pear, peach, cherry… lots of choices). Gin must have juniper berries in it somewhere. Rum must be made from 100% sugar cane (cane sugar or molasses).

Once you’ve got your spirit, sometimes you need to age it. For that you need a bonded warehouse, as described in my Ryan & Wood Distillery post. The government technically owns this part of your distillery, and you have to pay them excise tax when you take liquor out of there. It costs GLD about $3 per bottle to take their own liquor out of the warehouse to sell. This factors in to “you get what you pay for” when it comes to cheap booze. If a bottle of cheap vodka costs $6, you know $3 is automatically going towards the government for excise tax. Another $1 goes to distribution costs, another $1 to the retailer, and prob about $1.50 for the cost of the bottle. What’s left for the cost of actual ingredients? (Actually, in this scenario, it adds up to -50 cents.) The point is, a lot of smaller, craft distilleries have higher prices due to better ingredients, among other overhead costs, and the government always gets their cut.

Now that we know how to make booze (and pay the government to make it nice and legal) it was time to go taste the stuff. Since there were only four of us in the tour, we went back upstairs to one of the tables in the tasting room. Michael went through each spirit, and we got a pour in a nice little Glencairn tasting glass, a very classy touch. We tasted the year-round spirits, though there are several smaller batches produced, including a unique Pumpkin Spirit, made from Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager, and a line of brandies (Grappa, Kirschwasser, Pear/ Eau-de-vie, and Apple).

Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka Red Wheat Vodka
Nose: Sweetish. Medium heat in the nose. Very neutral.
Taste: Medium heat in the taste. Good mouthfeel with decent smoothness. Neutral and pleasing.

Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Citrus & Honey Vodka Flavored Vodka
I hesitate to call this “flavored vodka” due to the mess of cotton candy, blue raspberry, whipped cream, and other silly flavored vodkas out there. This one is made with actual lemons (the distillery staff gets to zest endless piles of lemons by hand) and Wisconsin-sourced honey. GLD actually distills the flavors together, rather than simply adding them to the spirit. No sugar is added after distillation.
Nose: Lemon Pledge and honey sweet. Very aromatic.
Taste: A tad hot, but perfectly nice. Sickly lemon, like cleaning fluid. Not overly sweet.

Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin “Milwaukee Gin”
GLD thinks that their gin doesn’t fit into either the London Dry or Dutch Genever categories, and calls it simply “Milwaukee Gin.” They use a very mild juniper berry, and add cinnamon, anise seed, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, Saigon cassis, cardamon into their botanical mix. Then the twist: sweet basil, and Wisconsin ginseng. I think it’s an excellent gin. You can read more about my thoughts here.
Nose: Mild pine, sweet spruce. Sugary pine smell, with a mildly hot nose.
Taste: Sweet pine, with spiciness. Very nice. Has a little zing to it, but in an interesting way.

Kinnickinnic Whiskey Blended Whiskey
The Ojibwe word “Kinnickinnic” means “mixed” or “blended” usually referring to tobacco, but in this case is a blended whiskey made from a straight bourbon, and a 4-year-old malt whiskey produced at the distillery. They were out of this on my last visit, but Guy was incredibly gracious and got his last bottle out of his car to give us a taste. Since then, they bottled another batch, so I got another taste this time around.
Nose: Hot alcohol on the nose (it’s 86 proof and unfiltered). Mild sweet bourbon lingers below the heat.
Taste: Hot, with a slight spice. Rye? Smooth vanilla from the aging. Very Scotch-like, but lighter like an Irish whiskey.

Roaring Dan’s Rum Maple Rum
All rums need a pirate mascot, and GLD’s is no exception. “Roaring” Dan Seavey was a pirate on the Great Lakes with all kinds of adventurous shenanigans. The color varies batch-to-batch, as it’s a single barrel product (they don’t mix the barrels together). Wisconsin-sourced maple syrup used, and bottled at 90 proof. This was the first bottle I bought from GLD.
Nose: Sweet, sugar maple. Hot in the nose. Sugar cookies.
Taste: Warm burn, then sweet maple washes over. Finishes hot and alcoholic, which keeps it from getting overly-sweet. Yum.

Amerique 1912 Absinthe
GLD is one of the few domestic distilleries I can think of that makes an absinthe. I won’t get into the troubled history of the spirit here, but it was banned in the US in 1912 for various reasons, and has started to make a comeback with legalizations and the cocktail craze. It’s an interesting liquor, with a crazy story, and GLD makes two versions: Verte (green) and Rouge (red). I brought back a bottle of the Rouge after this trip.
Absinthe Verte (diluted with water, no added sugar)
All-natural color from chlorophyll.
Nose: Licorice. Black Twizzlers. The Lady Friend recalls Good n’ Plenty. A lingering sweetness.
Taste: Very pleasant. Anise taste, but drinkable after the louche. Very light alcohol kick.
Absinthe Rouge (diluted with water, no added sugar)
All-natural color from hibiscus.
Nose: Sambuca-like anise aroma. Hot alcohol, but with much more sweetness.
Taste: Licorice, but much sweeter. Almost a touch spicy. Very nice, if you like licorice (I don’t). Very drinkable even if you don’t particularly like anise flavor. It impressed me enough to buy a bottle.

Guy had suggested that we try their new Apple Brandy, though it wasn’t on the tasting. We went over to the bar and Michael totally hooked us up with a sample.
Apple Brandy
Made from 100% Wisconsin-sourced Heirloom apples. Spends 3 years in aged bourbon barrels so that GLD can “put bold flavors in cups.” Well said.
Nose: HOT alcohol nose with a tart apple aroma.
Taste: HOT. Sweet apple, obviously, but complex. There are layers of both sweet and tart that flow underneath. But this is one of the more alcoholic tasting of the spirits. Still, quite tasty. The Lady Friend even bought a bottle of it.

Then he made us a Jack Rose! And yes, GLD does make their own grenadine. I asked. The drink nosed a bit hot, more so than a Laird’s applejack version, but had an amazing flavor. Very apple-y, with a tart cider start, sweet sugary mid and tasty clean apple finish. Wonderful.

Retail area where you can buy bottles and bottles of awesomeness.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting at the bar, sipping cocktails, and chatting with owner Guy Rehorst, whom I had met on my last visit. He’s a really nice guy, and will tell you basically anything you could want to know about the distillery, or just the industry in general. I’ve been a big fan of the spirits he’s made for the past several years, and make it a point to stop by every time I’m in town. It’s great to see a craft distillery making some great products. I like a lot of variety with my drinking, and largely gloss over the big brands, as I do with beer. Instead of Bud/ Miller/ Coors, the liquor industry has Pernod Ricard, Bacardi, and Diageo. Heavy hitters. The good news? GLD is in the works to enter the Massachusetts market, and hopes to be in Boston-area shelves by the end of the year. Keep an eye out for some more tasty choices. Highly recommended.

Mayflower Brewery

Mini road trip! This weekend’s adventure was a trek down Route 3 to Plymouth, MA, for a tour of the Mayflower Brewery and some bar-hopping in downtown Plymouth. One of my former coworkers lives down there, and is always up for shenanigans in town, though I’m fond of saying that Plymouth is a 45 minute drive from everywhere. The Lady Friend and I had been to Mayflower for their open house back in May, and got to sample the full range of beers then. However, we’re always up for a repeat performance, and this time I’d get to document it properly.

Actually nicer than most brewery locations.

We met up with the coworker, Tresstastic, and her boyfriend at her apartment, and pounded a quick Sam Octoberfest before heading over the the brewery, meeting up with two other friends. Mayflower, like most breweries, is located in an industrial park. It’s hard to spot, so keep an eye out for the delivery trucks parked next to the building. As soon as I walked in the door, the Man Behind the Bar asked “Hey… Man with the Camera… are you from somewhere important?” No, but I like to pretend. Then, the girl working there said “Hey… I recognize you…” Yup. Getting recognized at breweries. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. Like the liquor store near my apartment that stopped carding me long ago. It’s nice, but probably not a good sign for the future of my liver.

There is a bit of a story to that one. Back in May when LF and I were at the Open House, we hung around the bar area towards the end and chatted with the staff, one of which was the girl working this weekend, Sarah. She swore I had been there before, even though I had never been to Mayflower. Apparently I have a doppleganger, because she insisted it was me, or someone who looked exactly like me that had been in there about two weeks before. I made some comment about having to hunt him down because THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. Anyway, apparently either I made an impression, or my doppleganger is still lurking about Mayflower Brewery, since Sarah remembered meeting me before.

Like most breweries now, Mayflower has a tasting room/retail area front, including some bar tables and small seating area, while the actual brewery lies down a small hallway into the back warehouse section. We were pretty much the only ones in the place, which made it nice and casual for our tour. Before beginning, we started with a beer. “Can’t take a tour without a beer in your hand,” remarked Man Behind the Bar, as he poured a sample of the Golden Ale for each of us. We headed into the back, and Sarah started the tour.

This is where rainbows and dreams are born.

The usual: blah blah blah, beer beer beer. Mix grain with water and hops, boil it up, add yeast, and let it sit and ferment. Here’s some of the interesting bits about Mayflower: the founder, Drew, is a 10th generation descendant of a man named John Alden, who was the cooper (barrelmaker) on the Mayflower. Yes, that one. Why is that important? Well, the cooper was responsible for building and maintaining all the barrels stowed on the ship during the voyage. Yeah, those weren’t water barrels either… they were full of beer. Water wasn’t very clean in those days, and most people drank healthy, nourishing and refreshing beer all day long. Even kids. Especially kids. Gin wouldn’t become the drink of choice until a bit later. Anyway, the story goes that the Mayflower was destined for Virginia, but ran into Cape Cod instead, and decided to land because they were out of beer. Not finding any suitable fresh water (it was pretty stagnant on the Cape) they set off again and landed in Plymouth, where they found an adequate supply of fresh water, which is the same source used to make Mayflower Brewing’s beers today. The founder, Drew, got tired of being retired, and started up Mayflower in 2007 which is currently a 2,000bbl facility. Pretty good for a four-year-old place.

So, we poked around and gawked at their grist mill, mash tun, fermenters and runoff buckets bubbling happily with C02-and-wort foam released from the top of the fermenters. Bubbling gunk means fermentation, and fermentation means alcohol! Go little yeasties, go! As usual, I was snapping pics for the duration leading Sarah to chide “What ARE you taking pictures of?” However, the first time I pointed the lens in her general direction, she jumped as if scalded with boiling hot mag-ma. The main room is all one unit where the fermentation tanks take center stage. Some time ago, Mayflower expanded into the next room where their shiny new Italian-made bottler lurks. It’s a two or three person operation and will bottle both 12 oz bottles and 22 oz bombers. Mayflower has 15 employees, including a couple of delivery drivers. The brewery cranks out four year-round beers and one rotating seasonal, plus a few elusive experimental bottles of their Thanksgiving beer, which changes every year.

Ciao Italia! A working bottler! Kind of need someplace to put all that beer.

That’s enough touring… time for TASTING.

We congregated back in the front room and lined up at the bar. Taps were pulled, and mighty beer plunged forth. Mayflower gives you some decently generous samples, in the 4-5oz range served in mini-pint tasting glasses. They serve lightest to darkest, and everything is deliciously free. Free beer always tastes better. Especially when it’s fresh.

Golden Ale
We started off with the Golden Ale to sip during the tour. Mine didn’t make it past the grist mill.
Nose: Light, with a bit of malty cereal sweetness
Taste: Mild hop with a nice malt balance. Light and refreshing. Almost lager-like.

Pale Ale
Now, I first had this back in May at the Open House. I’d had the IPA many times before, and enjoyed it, but tasting the pale ale was my real flash-of-lightning “A-HA” moment. The trick is, in many breweries, the pale ale doesn’t really have much presence, and the IPA is a real hop bomb. There’s no similarity. With Mayflower, the pale ale tastes like a lighter version of the IPA. You can really taste the progression from one to the next. I had never experienced that before, and it was wonderful.
Nose: A mild hoppy nose. Definite aroma, but not too strong.
Taste: Deliciously hoppy bitter. Mayflower leans towards the English style ales, with a more bitter hop, but their brews are very well-balanced.

India Pale Ale
I’ve had this many many times, but still not as often as I should. Harpoon usually wins my purchase for a local IPA due to the convenience and price, but I really do need to make an effort to buy Mayflower more often. I’m not saying it’s better, but, well, yeah, it’s better.
Nose: Sweet, tree fruit. It reminded Lady Friend of a Citra hop, though not as strong. They use a combination of Nugget, Simcoe, Amarillo and Glacier hops, with the Simcoe and Amarillo in particular adding citrus aromas.
Taste: Yum. Bitter hop up front, malt sweet rushes in with a sweet clean slight fruitness, then leaves a dry hop bitterness lingering. So. Good.

Autumn Wheat (Seasonal)
This is the, well, autumn seasonal. LF and I had the Summer Rye back in May, and this is described as an American Dark Wheat beer. Interesting. Also of note: the next seasonal will be an Oatmeal Stout. We’ll have to visit again in winter.
Nose: Very roasted and malty. Don’t really get any of the yeasty/ wheaty banana smells as in a Belgian Wit.
Taste: Roasted bitter. Malted sweetness. There’s a slight nuttiness, due to the roast, but a rounder sweetness from the wheat. Very nice. Again, not overpowering, and well-balanced.

A great Porter. Lady Friend liked it so much after our trip in May that she’s purchased it several times since. This is a girl who about 10 months ago preferred Coors Light.
Nose: Coffee bitter. Not much sweetness.
Taste: Roasted. Bitter roast. I’m not a coffee fan, but I’ll drink this. If you ARE a coffee drinker, you’ll love this. There’s not a whole lot of chocolate in there, but there is a touch.

While chitchatting with Sarah and The Man Behind the Bar, I eventually found out that his name was Mike, and he also has a blog, cunningly titled “The Best Beer Blog.” And here I am stuck with “Squirrel Farts.” Shucks. We discussed the hassles and happiness of writing blogs about alcohol, and I showed him the magical scam of free business cards. Finally, the rest of the group grouped and grew restless, and they dragged me away. We dropped the car back at the apartment and cabbed it over to the Main Street Grill in downtown Plymouth for dinner, where the Lady Friend waited way too long for some turkey tips (they were comped) and I scored a 22oz “Main Street Brew” for a paltry $3.50. She had something Octobery with a sugared rim. After the foodening, a quick saunter around the corner brought us to the British Beer Company. This was a goal of mine for some lovely imported brews (I was obliged to take a draught of Fuller’s London Pride pale ale, or, as it’s ordered in London, a “Pint ‘o Pride”) and cozy leather wingback chairs in their upstairs lounge. Too comfortable in fact, since the group lost its momentum, and we all decided that the adventure was flickering out. No matter; the trip was a rousing success, and even ended with some ice cream for the Lady Friend and I before returning to the Bastion of Beer, Squirrel Farts Headquarters.

There’s a Brewery in Them Thar Blue Hills

Ok. So I’ll admit that the cocktail end of these ramblings have turned mostly beer-centric with many brewery/ brewpub tours n’ tastings.

But I’m running this show, and beer is tasty, so here’s another brewery tour.

Another glittering brewery frontage.

Blue Hills Brewery is located in Canton, MA near the Blue Hills, which is 7,000 acres of conservation and recreation land, including the Great Blue Hill, which the Native Americans called “Massachusett.” Very handy. Anyway, when you’re going to the brewery, heads up: it’s in a small industrial strip, and we drove right past it, despite the use of a GPS. Apparently, they HAD a sign that they put out on tasting days, but the town wanted to charge them a fee each time it was displayed. Nice.

This is the current sign. Enlarged to show texture.

Once we found the brewery in the illustrious “Canton Tech Centre,” we went in for a tasting, which is held 2-6p on Saturdays. The average crowd is typically anywhere from 25 to 100 visitors, and when the Lady Friend and I arrived there were several people finishing up. We hung back a few minutes before settling into their newly-vacated seats at the small bar. The owner/brewer, Andris Veidis, was pouring from bombers, so we started right in.

Shhhh little ones…. I’m not going to hurt you.
I’m just going to DRINK you.

Wampatuck Wheat
Nose: Wheat, with a slight lemony tinge.
Taste: Clean, refreshing taste with a touch of banana wheat. Nice, but not my fav.

Watermelon Wheat
Nose: Candy. Sweet bubble gum.
Taste: Fruity, overly sweet. Not syrupy, but “watermelon flavor” fake taste. Bitter, slightly stale finish. Ew. Andris didn’t seem too thrilled about this one either. I don’t think it was his idea.

Antimatter (Experimental “Smash” beer)
The Antimatter recipe changes, based on the whims of the brewer, and is considered their experimental beer. I remember trying the first batch and not thinking much of it. This second batch uses a single malt, Vienna, and a single hop, Calypso. I remarked that I had never heard of Calypso hops, and Andris replied “Me either.” Apparently it’s about 2-3 years old, a somewhat new hybrid including Nugget, with a fruity citrus flavoring, and a 12-13% alpha acid. His hop hookup had a surplus, so Andris decided to give it a try for a “smash” beer, which in the brewing world means “Single MAlt, Single Hop.”
Nose: Fruity, fresh aroma
Taste: Slight hop bitter undertone. Mouthwatering and refreshing. Very nice, a good session drink. I wasn’t impressed with the original Antimatter, but this new batch is great.

Black Hops black IPA
A black hoppy ale in the style of a swarzbier, but not a lager. The bittering comes from the roasted malt, not the hops.
Nose: Malty sweet with a slight roast
Taste: Starts malty, slides to a roast, bitter finish. Very tasty, and very nice.

Imperial Red IPA (9% abv)
Ok, this is where we get silly. Andris took the malt bill from his red ale, normally brewed around St. Patty’s, and his regular Pub Draft IPA, and mashed them together. Then he threw in a whole bunch of Summits Golding and Liberty hops (30lbs of hops per 15 barrel batch) and left them unsupervised, like junior high school kids playing Seven Minutes in Heaven. Like hormone-intoxicated teenagers, they fumbled awkwardly for awhile, but came out all smiles with a great story.
This nosed with a sweet, tree fruit aroma.
Taste: Well, my notes just say “Wow.” Fruity tree fruit, like peach and apple. Mouthwatering fruit, as a Citra hop, with no red ale copper/metallic bite. Does NOT taste like a 9% brew. VERY GOOD.

I was blown away by the Imperial Red IPA. It was not at all what I was expecting, and was fantastic. I snagged a bomber for $7 at the brewery store (retail $9+) and Andris hooked me up with a pint glass as well. The only beer currently brewed that we didn’t try was the Pub Draft IPA, easily found around the South Shore, which I’ve had several times. It’s a nicely hopped easy-going IPA, that clocks in around $4 for a 22oz bomber. Apparently there are six-packs of the IPA and the Antimatter available, but the rest are sold only in bombers or kegs.

I had been chatting with Andris throughout the tasting, and apparently asked the right questions, since he was very forthcoming with answers. They typically brew certain beers on certain days to keep the schedule going, for example wheat on Monday, IPA on Tuesday and the black ale every other week. The Antimatter experiments sneak in whenever there’s time and space on the production line, though Blue Hills just added two fermenters just to keep up with current demand. Coastal Extreme Brewing Company of Newport, RI contacted Blue Hills looking to contract some brewing space, but there’s no space to be had.

I asked if I could poke around in the back where the actual brewing equipment was set up, and it was no problem. Andris started brewing back in the early ’90s, and worked for a time at Harpoon Brewery before going out to San Diego for some further brewer education. His background includes a lot of construction and fabrication of brewing equipment, so he was able to set up most of Blue Hills’ paraphernalia himself, which is quite a task. Their production was 1400 barrels in 2010, and now with seven tanks (four fermenters and three conditioners) they’re looking at 2500bbls for their 2011 target.

Blue Hills is self-distributed, and operate under the farmer-brewer license. At the time of my visit, there was a big kerfuffle in the brewing industry about the requirements of the farmer-brewer license, and small operations like Blue Hills would be forced out of business if rulings didn’t swing their way. I asked about this, and Andris said it had been on the books for hundreds of years, but only became relevent in the past 35 years or so (when craft brewing became legalized). He wasn’t sure if it was the state, or the distributors pushing the enforcement of rules that would close most local breweries. The distributors have a hand in this because the farmer-brewer license allows for self-distribution, transporting product from brewer to point of sale, skipping the distributing company in the three-tier system. When asked what would happen to Blue Hills if the regulations were strictly enforced, Andris shrugged and said he’d “party for a couple months until they shut us down.”

Blue Hills was great. A local, craft brewery with plenty of experience behind them, as well as a solid product. They’re very reasonably priced in stores, and easy to find, at least in the South Shore. If you see a bomber of the Imperial Red IPA, snag it… it was the winner of the bunch, in my opinion. Very drinkable, lots of flavor, and you’d never realize it was a 9%. It’s most popular in November. They do rotate seasonal beers, and their Oktoberfest lager started brewing in July. It’ll ferment for a couple of weeks, start to be filtered and bottled around Aug 21st, and be in stores at the end of that week.

Go get some.

Upta Potlind, Paht 7: Bray’s Brew Pub

This is Part Seven of an ongoing series chronicling the Maine Beercation of late July, 2011. To start at Part One, click here.


Following a day of tours and tastings including Gritty McDuff’s, Allagash, The Maine Beer Company, the Great Lost Bear, Sebago Brewpub, and Novare Res, I awoke rather reluctantly Saturday morning with a case of the beer flu. Bacchus’s revenge. Morning fog, cropsick, crapulence. Suffering from intemperance. Not eager to start the day.

Eventually, I rallied enough to gingerly coax some Hatorade, that Lady Friend had graciously procured from the nearby Shaw’s, into the depths of my gullet. Baby steps, baby steps. But, we had an itinerary to keep, and after passing a rather interesting sign proclaiming an imminent invasion of little people, the first stop of the day was Bray’s Brew Pub in Naples, up Route 302, next to Sebago Lake (apparently there is a “Lake Sebago” in New York State).

Sebago looks like this.

Bray’s Brew Pub claims to be only about 30 minutes from Portland, but if you’re heading up Rt 302 in the summah be aware that it’s the ONE road to the lakes region, and every yahoo in Cumberland County is going boating. Bray’s is located at the intersection where Rt 35 forks off of Roosevelt Trail/Rt 302/Rt 35/Rt 11. Seriously, Maine? Anyway, if you’re goin’ up dere from Potlind, it’ll be on the left, and it looks nothing like a brewpub. It looks like an old farmhouse, mostly because it IS an old farmhouse.

Not pictured: helpful exterior shot.
I wasn’t really functioning at peak efficiency at the time.

This place was pretty cool. Seriously… picture an old-timey farmhouse, and put a bar in it.

Little Alehouse on the Prairie.

We sat down to lunch, and ordered a flight of beers to share. I was able to keep down some Pepsi (gotta get that caffeine and sugar boost going), water, and a taste of each beer. Lady Friend took up the duty of finishing off the wounded soldiers. I managed to eat one (1) french fry, and that was enough. When I get hungover, the LAST thing in the world I want is food. Others go the opposite way, like my Milwaukee mate ‘Tastic, who demolished a breakfast burrito the size of a terrier after a night of drinking, along with a Bloody Mary that was more garnish than drink.

Seriously. It’s not a “drink” if it’s mostly solid foods.

When I’m hungover, my stomach and I need some time apart. We go our separate ways and meet up after about 10 hours when my appetite returns, and we reacquaint, stronger than before. Sometimes in a relationship, you have to know when to just back off, and spend some quality time away from each other. As such, I have never been able to follow the “hair of the dog” technique, but was able to do some mild tastings of the brews that Bray’s produced. They had five pours of roughly 4-5oz, and we started sipping, one of us with much less enthusiasm than usual (this guy).

Taste order was right-to-left.

Irish Red Ale
Nose: Malty, slight copper.
Taste: Smooth & creamy. Malty, grain. Slight bitter finish, but not metallic. Very nice.

440 Blues Brew (blueberry)
Nose: Slight farmy aroma, with fruit.
Taste: Fruity, then malt, then slight bitter. Fine, but not a ton of flavor.

Old Church Pale Ale
Nose: Hoppy floral.
Taste: Hop start with malty sweetness. Well-balance. Nice.

Baa Baa Black Wheat (stout?)
Nose: Bitter coffee roast
Taste: Bitter coffee roast. Not much sweetness.

Muddy River Bog Brown (brown ale)
Nose: Weak, malt aroma
Taste: Malty, but cereal sweet.

Nothing was bad, but nothing jumped out at me. I suspect my palate was also not entirely up to snuff, but there really weren’t any surprises in this batch. However, they also do offer a 50+ bottle list, which was very nice. Sadly, the family behind us (apparently from central NH, as overheard from the patriarch’s vociferous boasting of the infinite differences between the superior glory of the NH lakes region versus the squalor of ME) did not partake of the wonders offered, choosing a Bud Light and a Michelob. At a brewpub. Sigh.

Hmm… bring me your finest, coldest, low-calorie, pasteurized, cut-with-30% rice,
St. Louis pale lager, and be quick about it, my good man.

Yes, Budweiser is brewed with up to 30% rice, taking the place of things like barley. You know, to get rid of that pesky “beer” flavor. Ick.

Bray’s also has an outdoor Bier Garden section, with tented seating, an outdoor bar, and a stage, which was put to use shortly after we arrived. A large group of bikers began walking in, including a number of police bike units. Their department patches gave away their origins, with several from Portland, Lewiston and one from Old Orchard Beach, some 50 miles away. As near as I can tell, it was some sort of memorial ride, and the bikers mostly wandered out to the bier garden where a classic rock band had started dishing out the best ear poison from BÖC, BTO and REO (Speedwagon, in case there was some confusion). It was time to go.

Don’t fear the Reaper.

This was our last beer stop in Maine. The next destination was a winery called Blacksmith’s, where Lady Friend did a tasting, and was quite impressed. I tried some local cream soda (lovely) and a very nice hard cider, made in the British style: not too sweet. We were the only ones in the place, and chatted with the bartender, Brandon (Brendon?). He sympathized with my plight, and offered his own remedy: chug a bottle of chocolate milk. He insisted that the milk gives your stomach a nice, creamy coating and helps you feel better. I retorted that everything in a radius around me would be quickly and violently coated with said milk if I attempted that cure. But it was another interesting tidbit to file away.

We had intended to drive up to Lewiston and tour Baxter Brewing Company, a canned craft brewery, (apparently New England’s first all-canned), but the distance and the enthusiasm level led us to abandon that plan and head south to visit friends in North Berwick for dinner. On the way, we pulled off at a small beach on the lake to dip our feet. Brandon had suggested diving in to help clear my head, but given the lack of appropriate swim attire, and the long car ride home, wading would have to do. It was quite nice, and was another checkmark on our Maine-approved activities, followed up by blueberry picking with the Maine friends, a lovely dinner of grilled chicken, corn on the cob and potatos (my appetite had returned by then), and a post-meal walk with Casey Sage, the golden retriever. Back into the car as night fell for the drive back to Boston, my own lovely bed, and a refrigerator now stocked with a plethora of souvenir brews, waiting to be tasted.

Upta Potlind, Paht 2: Allagash

This is Part Two of an ongoing series chronicling the Maine Beercation of late July, 2011. To start at Part One, click here.

Aaaaaaaaallagash-y where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet
When the beer isn’t made from barley graaaaaain

Yikes. Enough of that.

Allagash is a wheaty kind of place, producing pretty much only Belgian wit styles. Apparently, they were one of the first in the US to really start making Belgians back in the mid-90s, and they’ve been doing pretty good ever since. They’re all over the place in ME, and not hard to find in other New England states, though some of their more exclusive bottles might be less common. I remember seeing many of their premium bottles on the list at American Flatbread in Burlington, VT. They’ve got a decently large facility in an industrial park on the outskirts of Portland, complete with hop vines out front, which I’ve started to look for at breweries.

Unlike most tours, we started with the tasting, which our tour guide, Kate, promised would make the actual tour more fun. They were currently finishing up construction on their retail/ tasting room, so there was a bit of drywall and paint reek wafting through the air. The space looked like it was expanded to be a decent size, with a cool bar that appeared to be constructed from old barn rafters. I imagine they get some rather large tours, as there were probably about 20 people in our group, and it seemed like a low-key day. There were four beers to sample:

White Ale
A Belgian Witbier, 5% abv. Spiced with Curaçao orange peel, coriander and a “secret spice.” This is their flagship beer and accounts for 80% of production. It’s distributed in 16 states, and DC, with California being the biggest market. Allagash uses bottle conditioning, so there is still active yeast in the bottle, creating the cloudy appearance (you’re supposed to invert the bottle and swirl the yeast around to mix it evenly before pouring). It smells and tastes like a Belgian. Wheaty, banana. Next.

Tripel Ale
A Belgian Abbey/Trappist Tripel “celebration” style ale. 9% abv, but doesn’t taste it. Honey undertones, but dry. Again, wheaty, banana. Move along.

Ok, now we’re talking. This was unusual. They take the Tripel, and age it in Jim Beam Bourbon barrels for 6-12 weeks (it averages eight weeks). What you get is an 11% abv syrupy, smokey, bourbon taste along with the wheat. Yow. It was very interesting, but a bit too bourbony for me (I like bourbon, but this was a strange flavor). I think I’d need to sample more before making a verdict, but this was certainly intriguing.

Fluxus ’11
French-style farmhouse ale, 8% abv. Brewed every year in July for the anniversary of the brewery’s first beer sale in 1995. This is a “bier-de-garde” as it is aged and conditioned (or “guarded”) for six weeks. I was expecting something much more… let’s say “earthy,” from this farmhouse ale. They tend to be a bit on the bovine-deuce side in aroma and underlying tastes. This one, however, was built as a malt showcase, and certainly succeeds. They were aiming for “malty, but not too sweet,” and definitely hit the mark. I found it to be quite tasty, with just a hint of that Belgian wheatiness, but without an overpowering malt syrup as in a barleywine. This one is part of their “Tribute” series of beers, of which $1 of the sale of each bottle goes towards a charitable organization in Maine. Which makes me wonder if the bottle costs $1 more than it should. Yes, I’m a terrible person.

Tour time! Now that we had a healthy dose of 5%-11% wheaty Belgian bubble bearers, we donned our OSHA-approved, State of Maine issued occular protection apparatuses. Safeten up!

Pictured left, in resting mode, and right, in active deployment.

We were warned that we’d be entering a working brewery, and production was in progress today, so be aware of your surroundings. Also, “There will be things screaming ‘touch me!’ Lots of shiny buttons and knobs.”

Ooooooh, shiny.

Standard brewery tour, this is how to make beer, skip ahead, skip ahead. Interesting bits: they sell their spent wort for cattle feed. One of their whirlpools is an old Ben & Jerry’s dairy tank. Largest tank is 120 barrels (if my math is correct, 1 barrel is 31 gallons, so that’s a 3720 gallon tank. In beer terms it’s 39,680 12oz bottles. Approx one f-ton). Their production is around 4800 barrels per year. The bottler will run both bottle caps AND corks for 12oz bottles and 22oz bottles (many of their premium bottles are corked).

Ok. Now we get to see the barrel “house,” two climate controlled rooms used for aging and conditioning the beers. The first room was cooler, and had an immediate smack of bourbon aroma, like a punch to the nose. Yum. This is where all the Curieux is aged (again, an average of eight weeks) before bottling. The second room was filled with 90% experimental brews with some great names. We saw “Zebulon,” “The Lude/ El Luderino/ His Ludeness,” “B’oncé,” and even a Three Sheets shoutout:

That curious little monkey.

That was about it for the tour. Overall, very cool. I don’t like Belgians/wheats, but they do some very nice work there. Allagash is one of the big boys in Maine, although nowhere near Shipyard Brewing, which is a MONSTER. We opted to check out some smaller places instead of Shipyard, so we didn’t make that tour. But Allagash was well worth the visit. It’s probably one of the larger “smaller” breweries. Our next stop was on the other end of the spectrum, a tiny place just down the road in the same industrial park: Maine Beer Company.

Just Beer.

I don’t remember where or when I became aware of Just Beer brewery, but it’s been in the back of my mind for awhile. Since we had nothing planned for the weekend, on a whim I proposed doing a trip down to the south coast of Mass. The Just Beer brewery is located in Westport, not far from New Bedford, where my coworker lives. He suggested meeting up for brunch at a local diner (which was delish), and also mentioned that there was a winery in the area. Lady Friend is a winer (not whiner), so I threw that into the mix to sweeten the deal, as one brewery starts to look like every other brewery after a few tours. She thought it’d make a good day trip (I’m kind of grossed out at how relationshippy/ couple-y that sounds), so we hopped in her Corolla (named Phantom) and headed south. Hit a massive downpour on the way, and battled the rain off and on for several more hours.


After some diner-riffic vittles, and clearing weather, we drove through Cowville, USA. Seriously, there’s a lot of farm down there in Westport. Eventually, we found our destination: Just Beer, which is apparently a farm-based brewery. Makes sense.

Just Beer. It’s that simple.

We arrived around 1:30, half an hour early for the only Saturday tour at 2pm. Wandering past the growing hop vines, we started looking into the retail shop. I snapped a pic, and the girl working the register quipped “Are you going to be doing that the whole time?” I’ve been in the place for about four seconds, and someone’s already busting my balls. I like this brewery.

Since the tour wasn’t ready yet, she offered us a tasting of the four beers currently brewed:

Golden Flounder Wheat Ale
Made from a 30% wheat bill.
Nose: Light, slightly fruity
Taste: Light with a touch of bitter. Very refreshing.

Summer Ale
Darker color than most summer-style beers. They wanted to do something different and more flavorful than (without naming names) the typical lemony, light summer beers. They call it a bronze ale.
Nose: Slight malt sweetness.
Taste: WOW. Hop bitter, completely unexpected for a summer ale. Dry hopped with Sorachi-Ace hops. Nice bitter bite, smooth finish. A surprising pleasure.

Moby D Pale Ale
This is one of their most popular beers.
Nose: Sweet, fruit.
Taste: Malty and fruity with a slight hop bite. Mild. No overwhelming flavors. Crisp and light.

Horseneck Golden IPA
IPAs are my go-to for brewery tastings. If a brewery makes one, I have to taste it. This one uses all Cascade hops.
Nose: Floral hop. Very light aroma.
Taste: Bitter hop. Slight malt, but mostly fresh, almost green, hoppy bite. Good, but would prefer a touch more malt to balance.

I’d say the summer ale was the clear winner here. The Golden Flounder and Moby D didn’t have a whole lot of flavor to them, but were very refreshing. The IPA was good, but was a bit on the bitter side. The summer ale, however, was a complete surprise… full of flavor, balanced and tasty. Again, not what I’d expect from a typical summer style ale. I wound up buying a bomber (only $2.50 each!) of the IPA and the summer to share with Irish Lad on a future beer night and get his thoughts.

Time for the tour. We started about 10 minutes before 2pm, so heads up if you get there close to start time. They were super laid-back, so I’m sure there’d be no problem joining a tour that’s already started. Our tour guide was Sam, who was very easy-going and friendly, wearing his bright green “Just Beere” tshirt. More on that later.

Aside from the usual “how to make beer” speech, here’s some of the interesting bits from the tour: apparently this place is actually Buzzard’s Bay Brewing, d/b/a Just Beer. There was some sort of dispute with their distributor, so to get out of the contract, they changed their brand to “Just Beer,” and began make ales rather than lagers. They plan to bring the lagers back eventually, but ales are easier and quicker to produce, so it’s worked out well so far. All of their bottles are pasteurized, so the beer has a longer shelf life. The growlers and kegs are not, so they are a tad fresher than the bombers. I doubt anyone would really notice a difference in the taste, but some purists will tell you that it makes a big difference.

The brewery is part of a 500 acre farm, and is considered a “green” brewery. They source their water from a natural aquifer, originating in the White Mountains of NH. Brewing byproducts, like spent wort, are re-purposed as livestock feed, and brewery wastes are sent back into the fields as fertilizers.

Just Beer will also contract out their equipment to other brewers, especially in the slower winter season. Among these is Offshore Brewing Company from Martha’s Vineyard, and Pretty Things, a self-described gypsy brewery based in Sommerville.

Buy something, cheapskate.

Just Beer was great. A brewery tucked way out in the middle of farm land. You’d never know it was there, if it weren’t for the chalkboard signs by the road. The staff were young and enthusiastic, but with just the right amount of sarcasm. Their retail front sells cases for about $25 (a full case, or mix and match) but will also hook you up with a discounted case if you pick it up around back, since it’s being sold as wholesale, not retail. It’ll run you $20, but only full cases… no mix & matching of varieties. This seemed to be a bewildering ordeal to some of the patrons, but it makes perfect sense to me. I snagged a pint glass for the collection ($4 or so), and two bombers at a fantastically inexpensive $2.50 each. We saw the bombers for sale at our next stop, a winery just up the road, and the price was about double. Well worth going to the brewery if you’re planning to stock up.

The End …?

The John Beere cluster.
APPARENTLY, at some point, someone at Just Beer decided to have a little fun and make a parody tshirt, with a similar color palette to a certain tractor manufacturer. This tractor manufacturer didn’t find much humor in the situation, and sent a cease-and-desist letter from their intellectual properties department, which is now proudly displayed on the brewery door.

…and on this blog.

Beercation 2011: Part 5, 3 Needs

This is Part Five of an ongoing series chronicling the Grand Beercation of July 2011. To start at Part One, click here.

3 Needs
A fantastically divey taproom.

3 Needs is only about a block away from the madness of Church St in Burlington, but you’d walk right past it and never know what you missed. The Lady Friend and I wandered around the tourist maelstrom for a bit after acquiring some official VT ice’d creams before heading towards the last stop on our passport mission. Saw a few mildly interesting oddities on the way including a Golden Retriever puppy shaved in an unusual manner, complete with tufted lion tail:

…and yet, right around the corner, a Ferrari F430 Spyder.

This one goes to eleven.

I think you’ve got a bit of an identity crisis going on, Burlington. Artsy-fartsy or Ferraris… pick one.

Lady Friend asked me what “those red things” were. Those are brake calipers, dear. BIG ONES.

Anyway, we tracked down 3 Needs and headed in. They’ve got a weird airlock double-door thing going on which makes it awkward to casually stroll in while wielding photo gear, but I eventually made it. It was 7pm on a Saturday, and dead. Three others, a couple and one other solo gent, were in watching a soccer game, and not saying much.

I’m assuming it gets busier later on in the night. The reviews on Yelp say this is a “love it or hate it” kind of place, and describe the normal crowd as “Phishy.” Perhaps it’s better that we were there while it was quiet.

The bartender was very friendly, and told me they brew in the basement, and I’m kicking myself for not taking a peek at their setup. He chatted a bit about the various laws, saying they can brew and serve on the premises, but can’t sell growlers or kegs, and have to use a local liquor store for sales. The decor of the place is very 18-35 year old male demographic, with a pool table, punk rock stickers, liberated street signs and license plates, and a plethora of Family Guy and Simpsons cutouts.

Marge nipples?

It was definitely a dive, but with that “neighborhood-bar-where-the-locals-go” sort of vibe. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was sitting in somebody’s “saved” seat. While we were there, a few others wandered in, and casually strolled behind the bar to get their personal pool cues before settling down for a couple games. My thoughts might change if I saw the usual crowd, but I loved it. Good, solid place to sit down, shut up, and have a good beer.

Oh right… beer.

I started with the Citra IPA, which was bad move, since I was still in the throes of palate fatigue. If only B&J had vanilla! Lady Friend went with the Helles Boch, in a surprising move. I had suggested the pils or the Belgian wit, but she was wheat-ed out and wanted some flavor. Nice. The IPA was fantastic… hoppy bitter bite, but with enough smoothness to balance it out. The best beer I had on the whole trip. Lady enjoyed her boch… medium dark and malty sweet. I nursed the rest of my pint, since my taste buds had been hop-burned away, but she was feeling adventurous and got a (free!) flight of the four house beers. I’m not sure if that is standard, or if it was just quiet that evening, but free beer always tastes better. The Belgian wit, Helles boch and Paul’s pils were all pretty standard and drinkable, but the IPA was by far the star of the show. Excellent.

We stayed for about 45 minutes before venturing out for further adventure. After consulting with the bartender, who suggested VT Pub & Brewery (went there), then American Flatbread (there too), he mentioned the Farm House with its outdoor beer garden, right up the street. Done and done. Onto the next one, Part 6, the Farmhouse Beer Garden.

Passport stamp acquired for a grand total of 4! (5 if I had paid attention to Zero Gravity. Bah!) However, four stamps gets us an official “Drink Vermont Beer” bottle opener magnet! Vermahnt… do watcha wahnt.

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