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Reviews on PubCrawler from ralph s sturgen
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August 22, 2014 @ 03:01 AM EDT
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ralph s sturgen

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62
Beer Reviews from ralph s sturgen
   

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Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great
Great Great Great Great

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA

2012 Holidale revisited.

Just opened one of the bottles I laid down.

The gold color has turned porter-dark. The rich, sweet malt has dried out. The various malt and hop flavors have given way to semi-sweet chocolate and underlying cinnamon. The head has mostly disappeared. The microscopic bubbles and the clarity have turned cloudy.

I think I need to buy more because I'm looking forward to the beer this shall become.

There are the beginning hints of sherry (although a dry one). The dark fruit is beginning to emerge. The alcohol is moving forward as the yeast re-activates and ferments a bit more.

Damn, I like aging big beers.

(08/18/2014)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA

Waah and Wow.

Drinking my last bottle of the 2002 Old Baggywrinkle.

Clear mahogany. Very little head remaining. (No hiss when opening but some head when pouring.)

Very fruity aroma. No hops discernible to the nose.

Very fruity flavor. Quite sweet. No hop flavor discernible but some bittering hops must remain as it does not cloy. Aroma and flavor of apples, pears, maybe some apricot, slight indefinable spices, and the earth. There is even a little smoke flavor. (No idea where that comes from.) No dark fruit nor licorice as are found in most well aged beers. The alcohol (originally 8.8% ABV) is still quite apparent and warming.

A lingering sweet and warm finish. A perfect beer for a 40F'ish winter evening with a fire in the wood stove.

Like all well-aged barleywines, this has turned to sherry. Unlike most others, it seems to be an amontillado rather than an oloroso which is an interesting change.

I'm happy that I opened this one this evening even though it is, I believe, my last bottle of the original series of 8.8% ABV before they moved to 12+% ABV, then back to 8.9(?)ABV. (In those days, Cisco Brewers bottled around 60 cases/year and I accounted for >1 case/year all by myself. "The good old days". It's hard to find any of any year these days.)

Why am I happy? Right now, it's a glorious beer. Yes, it would have been wonderful for another 5 - 10 years but why take the chance?

(01/14/2014)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA

Twenty minutes after my last sip, there is still an awesome, rich, sweet/balanced/bitter/balanced/sweet/balanced/.....thing going on in my mouth.

I wrote "2009" on the label of this bottle of Old Baggywrinkle. I'm not sure if that means that it was brewed in 2008 or 2009.

Clear, deep, old-gold color.

A small, very short-lived white head.

Deep aroma of complex malt plus aromatic (English?) hops.

Rich flavor of malt, hops, and herbs. Alcohol is quite noticeable (no surprise there, at 9% ABV) but not overpowering.

In short, this is a beautiful complex beer.

In terms of aging, this may be the best age. I've certainly had older Baggywrinkles and younger ones but I don't think I have a more perfectly-aged one.

(07/25/2013)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Bar Harbor Brewing Company, Bar Harbor, ME

Oh that's nice.... (I couldn't stand the suspense any longer.)

2007 Cadillac Mountain Stout (This is from Tod's final batch. The brand has been sold to the Atlantic Brewing Company, also in Bar Harbor):

It still has it's nearly opaque very deep ruby color. It still shows a lingering tan head although it's thinner now.

The nose is a blend of its original malt/roast with the dark fruit aromas so common in aged beers.

The flavor is quite complex. There's definite red raspberry and cherry flavors and a bit of vanilla. The dark fruit. flavors are only beginning to come out.(I expect them to predominate in another few years.) I'm surprised that the flavor, overall, is so light.

The finish continues to linger long after the last sip: malt, roasted barley, chocolate, fruit....and a bit of alcohol warming.

At age 7, still a wonderful beer. I think I'll save my last bottle for 2017.

[A further note: In 2009, I did a side-by-side tasting of Tod's last batch and Atlantic Brewing's version and I must say that the differences were very slight. Atlantic Brewing has remained true to the original.]

(03/18/2013)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA

As promised, I'm enjoying my last bottle of the 2001 Holidale. After 11 years in the bottle, nothing remains of this originally-harsh-to-near-undrinkability barleywine.

The color has deepened to a medium/dark amber. There is no longer more than a hint of a head. I smell deep, complex malt and dark fruit: raisins, currants, and dates. I taste those things as well as a sweetness I do not remember at the first tasting. The alcohol does not seem to have gone away; it still warms one. There is also a coffee note to it and a licorice flavor which has developed since I opened the bottle about a half hour ago. That developing oxidative flavor suggests to me that this beer is near the end of it's life so, if you still have a couple of bottles in your cellar, soon may be time to enjoy them.

All in all, I'm very happy that I laid down some bottles of this. My initial hope was that it might become drinkable. My patience has rewarded me with a wonderful bottle of beer with which to finish my weekend.

(12/16/2012)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA

I'm sitting here enjoying another bottle of the 2012 Holidale. These folks have come up with a very big, pretty well balanced barleywine this time. Very drinkable immediately but with enough oomph to last a long time (meaning that I'm going to put a few bottles back to age).

Nice dark gold color. Almost microscopic bubbles giving a long-lasting head.

Aroma and flavor of hops and malt. Interesting hop aroma and flavor because they used locally-grown hops that give citrus, resin, fall leaves, and earth notes. (The citrus and resin notes are reminiscent of Cascades hops but are quite subdued by comparison......more orange than grapefruit for instance.)

Drinking this at cool room temperature (65F?) makes the malt quite apparent: big, mouth-filling, rich, and complex. It almost balances the hops - making it an American-style barleywine.

Thed alcohol is definitely present but does not overpower any of the other ingredients.

In all, quite a good beer for a winter evening ...... but certainly not a session beer. This 22 oz bottle shall be enough for now.

(12/09/2012)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Good Good

Establishment: Cool Springs Brewery, Franklin, TN

[Sorry if I offend but "good" is good. If it isn't "good", there is some problem. "Better" and "Best" exist only when comparing to others.]

We came here for supper and beer last evening. The place was a bit hard to find but worth the search.

None of their named pizzas caught my fancy so I ordered from their extensive list of optional toppings. (onion, spinach, black olive, and anchovies if you're interested) The pizza they brought was very pleasing to us.

Since the main focus was the beer, we asked that the food not be delivered too quickly so we could linger over the sampler. That request is ignored at most places but Cool Springs honored it, indicating better service than is common.

They had 5 of their beers on tap. Here are my comments:

FRANKLIN'S FIRST [Koelsch]

Aroma: Light malt Appearance: Clear yellow-amber. Slight head Flavor: Light biscuity malt. Slight hops. Bittering low for the style. Short sweet/balanced finish

"B+"

MORNING WOOD RED ALE [use roasted unmalted barley]

Aroma: Medium malt. Some spicy hops. Appearance: Clear light amber Flavor: Malty. Sweet. Very clean. Fairly big mouthfeel. Bitters a bit in the finish.

"A-" {This is the one I chose to accompany my pizza. The roasted unmalted barley (used in dry Irish stouts) may have been used for the color as there was no flavor from it. A very pleasant, somewhat sweet beer.}

FATBACK AMBER ALE [Altbier]

Aroma: Some malt Appearance: Light amber. Slight head. Flavor: Light malt to medium malt. Slightly sweet. Hops not apparent. Medium balanced finish.

"A-" {A nice altbier but could use a little more bittering.}

PECKER WRECKER INDIA PALE ALE [dry hopped. crystal malt]

Aroma: Pacific Northwest hops. Slight malt. Appearance: Pale yellow. Slight head. Flavor: Pacific Northwest hops. Some malt. Long moderately bitter finish. Alcohol not apparent.

"B-" {Quite a good American Pale Ale rather than an IPA (not enough alcohol nor hops). Very drinkable.)

SCOTTISH ALE

Aroma: Dark malt and dark fruit. No hops apparent. Appearance: Clear dark amber. Little/no head. Flavor: Rich malt. Moderately sweet - bittering barely to balance. Alcohol not apparent. Fairly long moderately sweet finish.

"A" {That a Scottish ale is sweet is no surprise as hops historically were not grown in Scotland. Stylistically, this beer is confusing. Is it an 80/- Export (too big and too dark) or is it a Wee Heavy (not enough alcohol. no peat)? In any case, it is quite tasty}

[For style guidelines, see www.BJCP.org.]

(12/22/2010)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Sweetwater Brewing Company, Atlanta, GA

Bought bottles in a store in Nashville, TN. Beers were tasted at low room temperature (as I drink my beer.)

420 EXTRA PALE ALE Aroma: Light malt and spicy hops. Appearance: Clear mediul yellow. Flavor: Spicy hops up front (American Saaz?) with clean malt underneath. Very well balanced (my mouth baounes back and forth between slightly sweet malt and slightly bitter hops). Fairly long balanced/bitter finish.

"A" {A clean, light-bodied, tasty (what we Yankees call a) summer beer.

INDIA PALE ALE

Aroma: Intense Pacific Northwest hops. Faint malt underneath. Appearance: Clear old gold. Soft white head of fairly long duration. Flavor: Intense pine-y/ slightly citrus-y hops predominate. Clean malt underneath. Long bitter/balanced finish.

"A" {If these two beers are typical of this brewery's product, they may well deserve their "Small Brewery of the Year" award a few years back.}

(12/20/2010)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Yazoo Brewing Company, Nashville, TN

I had four beers in bottles from the package store and tasted them at low room temperature (as I usually drink my beer). This, in general, allows the malt flavor to remain prominent. (Cold supresses the malt flavor and allows the hop bitterness to come through.)

HEFEWEIZEN ["70% wheat, Belgian yeast"] Aroma: Strong "banana" with wheat and yeast underneath. "Clove" on the second smelling. Appearance: Hazy dark yellow. Big, white head. Flavor: Tart wheat. Banana phenols. Moderately sweet. Very slight hop bitterness to balance. Alcohon noticible (but not stated) - maybe high for the style? Lingering sweet/balanced finish with strong "banana" throughout.

"B" {Even though the phenolic flavor are stronger than usual for the style.}

DOS PEROS [Munich, English & Chocolate malts. Flaked maize. Perle & Saaz hops. Reference made to Vienna lagers.[ Aroma: Cohcolate maltt. Some hops. Appearance: Clear amber. Slight tan head. Flavor: Chocolate malt predominates. Slightly sour (suggesting that the pH in the boil was allowed to drop too low). Hop flavor very low. Bittering hops to balance. Saaz flavor does come out in the finish. The finish is quite dry and bitter.

"B-" {Mexican amber lagers tend to be closely related to Vienna lagers. This one is not particularly so. This is more of an American Amber style. Still and all, it is a clean drinkable beer.}

PALE ALE ["American Pale Ale. Amarillo hops"] Aroma: Citrus hops Appearance: Clear, medium yellow. Firm shite head. Flavor: Medium body. Fairly rich malt. Well balanced with bittering hops. Flavor of citrus-y hops without being too strong. Fairly long balanced/bitter finish.

"A" {Quite a pleasant pale ale.}

FALL ALE ["Malty peak disappears into a clean crisp hop note."] Aroma: Clean medium malt with slight hops. Appearance: Clear old gold with a slight white head of short duration. Mouthfeel: Medium body. Flavor: Malty but balanced to the bitter side.. Not much hop flavor.

"A" {Comes across like an "American" Oktoberfest (were there such a named style)= way too bitter to be mistaken for a true Maerzen. Clean and tasty.}

(12/20/2010)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA

Congratulations, BBC.

The 2009 Holidale is "not so bad, could be worse". Actually, it's a good American-style Barleywine:

Clear dark gold. Small head that lasts a little while (very hard to do better at high alcohol levels). Big malt and bigger hops in the nose and mouth. Alcohol is quite noticable (9% ?). Lots of fruity esters. Overall, well balanced (although my personal taste would request less hop bitterness - I prefer the less bitter English-style).

I've been waiting for years for BBS to release a Holidale that was ready to drink when released (not by waiting 5+ years for it to mellow into drinkability). I'm happy to see that they did so this year.

(12/19/2009)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Offshore Ale Company, Oak Bluffs, MA

I only get to Martha's Vineyard once a year and for the last few years, their hours often did not coincide with mine. Today they did and I got to have supper and try 4 of their beers.

East Chop Lighthouse seems to be their American light pilsener but is all malt and quite nicely done (B).

Merseyside Red Ale is a light but well balanced, malty Irish Red (B+).

I was a bit disappointed in the Beach Road Brown Ale. Yhere is nothing wrong with it (no flaws detected) but it just tasted nondescript or lifeless to me (C).

The Extrasensory Beer (ESB) made up for the brown ale. It is a very nicely balanced, malty, fruity ESB (A).

My only complaint about the fish and chips dinner was that the fish was served on top of the chips so they lost their crunch.

The service was attentive and prompt.

(05/19/2009)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: American Flatbread Taproom was Burlington Hearth, Burlington, VT

I didn't go tponight with the intention of reviewing the place again so have no particular tasting notes.

The beer lineup has almost completely changed since my last review.

The (not very) low point was the doppelbock. I'm spoiled by Celebrator which thisw one isn't. Having said that, it is in style and is a good beer.

Nobody makes ordinary bitter nor mild beers? This place does and they are very good. They call them "session beers", which they are, being low enough in alcohol to keep sipping for hours without much ill effect.

The wit and saison beers were also excellent.

My choice for quaffing with my flatbread was the gruit ale. (Ale from the days beforer hops were used so the bittering was done with other herbs.) It is a beautifully soft and malty beer. Very tasty and it went well with my sausage, mushroom, caramelized onion, and fresh tomato flatbread.

(04/30/2009)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Titanic Brewing Company, Coral Gables, FL

I see that the rviews for Titanic are as mixed as they were 9 years ago. I also see that they are at least as good as they were then.

We started with samples of all of their current beers (more later)efore getting food and a beer each for supper. My buddy looked like he was really enjoying his blackened mahimahi sandwich and brown ale while I was having my shrimp escaviche, conch and crawfish fritters, and salad with my best bitter.

The service was prompt and courteous.

As to the beers:

WHITE CAP WHEAT (seasonal): (B) It tried to be a full-fledged German heffeweizen but didn't have quite enough of the "bananas and cloves" flavor to get an "A". Well crafted with georgeous bubbles and lacy head.

TRIPLE SCREW (Koelsch): (B+) It's light, creamy, malty, and noticibly bitter.......everything a Koelsch should be (maybe a little too bitter?). A good version of the style.

BOILER ROOM (Nut Brown): (A) Is a rich, malto brown ale. Maybe a little heavy on the dark malts for the style but very well done.

BRITANIC (Best Bitter): (A) The malt predominates (as it should) but it finishes with a lingering fruity bitterness. There is some American hop character but it is done in the English style.

CAPTAIN SMITH'S RYE: (A) Gentle on the rye but it is there. A nicely balanced beer with some ale fruitiness, some rye sourness, and some hop bitterness and flavor. Nice beer.

SHIP BUILDERS (Oatmeal Stout): (B) Big roasty flavor with coffee and chocolate notes. "Guiness with oatmeal but w/o the nitrogen dispensing:.

DUBBEL TROUBLE (Seasonal): (C) A good effort and a fine, drinkable beer but light bodied for a dubbel and the candi sugar dominated the flavor.

(04/09/2009)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A Great Great

Establishment: Dieu du Ciel, Saint-Jerome, QC

The menu is limited to pizza, sandwiches, nachos, etc, but looks very interesting and tasty. We dined elsewhere as we were looking for dinner rather than light fare.

They had all 10 or their beers on tap. You should look at their website for the full descriptions before reading my comments as we were limited to French-only descriptions on-site. (While that did not make things impossible, it has been 40+ years since I studied French in high school.) Also, my tasting notes are limited (very brief) as my wife and I were sharing 2 oz tastes provided by the good graces of the barkeep - they have no sampler trays on offer.

BLONDE ALE: clean, crisp, good balance.

FUMISTERIE: very tasty. includes organic hemp seeds in the grain bill. (my wife's choice for a pint)

CORNE DE DIABLE: an American IPA, hopped and dry-hopped with Pacific Northwest hops without being wall-to-wall Cascades.

PECHE MORTAL: (sin; not peach) an imperial stout with coffee in the brewkettle, I didn't know that you could overpower an imperial stout with anything but this has more coffee in it than my coffee does.

BLANCHE DE PARADEIS: an excellent Belgian witbier

LA COMPLICE: a bit big to be an English brown ale (which is what they called it) but also not an American Brown (lots of hops but they're English)

DEUS NOTORNO: a dry Irish stout. very clean, very roasty-bitter, quite light bodied.

ROSE DE HIBISCUS: tastes like an American wheat with hibiscus flowers added. clean, dry, interesting, very nicely done.

DERNIER VOLANTE: spicy, excedingly complex nose and flavor, dry-hopped, very tasty (my choice for a pint)

ROUTE D'EPICE: interesting use of black peppercorns, very present withoug overwhelming but it does come back strongly in the finish.

They also serve an excellent local hard cider (not of the Woodchuck ilk).

In short, while not all of the beers are to my personal taste, they are all very well crafted and without discernable brewing flaws. We're looking forward to our next visit.

(09/20/2008)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Lancaster Brewing Company, Harrisburg, PA

I'll start with the one negative (which they handled well): As I was not familiar with the brewery (last visit about 15 years ago to their original place), I chose the sampler. The first beer I tasted was badly infected (thin, sour, and hazy). I mentioned this to our waitress who gave us the usual hooey (nobody else has complained, the bartender tasted it and it's fine, etc) but did report it to the manager.

About 5 minutes later, the manager stopped by our table to thank me for telling them. The keg was replaced, the lines flushed, and a fresh sample brought to me. Quite tasty. (In customer service training, they teach that you don't judge a company by what they do when everything goes right but what they do when things go wrong. This was a good recovery from a problem.)

Anyway, the beers were all tasty and without apparent brewing flaws. They were served a bit too cold (certainly common enough in this country) but warmed up soon enough. To stand on its own, I found the Celtic Rose the best of the lot. With food, the Milk Stout paired superbly with the crab stuffed trout (fileted with the skin intact) and the fest was excellent with the spice-rubbed pork tenderloin.

The only clunker, from a style perspective, was a beer described as a helles using Bavarian hops. I was rather surprised at the grapefruity-ness of Cascades. Not a bad beer but still a shock to a palate expecting a German flavor.

They had 2 beers which used rye in the grain bill. The Amish Four Grain (malt, rye, oats, and wheat) was okay but had so much going on that I found it ultimately non-descript. The other (name currently escaping me) spoke of a hint of rye and was, in fact, a very good rye ale.

(08/10/2008)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

I'm really enjoying this English Style Old Ale (100 Barrel Series). It is definitely on style with one exception (more about that later). I'm halfway through my second 6-pack.

It is rich and malty, has noticible alcoholic warming, has fruity and estery (same thing?) aromas and flavors, and has enough hops (bittering, flavor, and aroma to balance it all out. And they do taste like English hops.

So what's my quibble? It isn't old enough yet. It has not yet developed the sherry-like character that is the remaining style-defining characteristic.

Fortunately, that can be solved very easily...............let it age for a while. I think that I'll buy some more and put it by for a few years. (I'll probably try it at 2, 3, and 4 years. I predict that 4 will be about right. After all, it's an Old Ale, not a Barleywine.)

(03/02/2008)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA

A few years back, I used to personally account for more than 1 of the 60 cases of Old Baggywrinkle barleywine that they produced each year. Then they changed their brew to 12+ %abv and I accounted for something like 4 bottles 5 years. (I didn't much care for it.) I'm happy to see that they appear to have returned to the previous 8.8% formulation. I've had a few bottles and enjoyed them.

BUT, I'm reporting now on a bottle from the original formula that I laid by and have opened this evening.

I bought it in 12/01 (so it was probably brewed in 2000). It has rested in the company of other aging beers in the dark in my kitchen ever since and has aged well.

The hops have mellowed considerably. The malt has now taken the lead along with the oxidative overtones. It has an interesting licorice flavor up front followed by some soft dark fruit flavors. There is still alcohol warming, gentle but firm fruitiness, enough carbonation to lighten the mouthfeel, and that rich maltiness with which it started 9? years ago. (It has not turned to sherry like a 14 year old Samiclaus, with its 16% abv, but then I didn't buy it to be Samiclaus.)

(To those who are not familiar with the idea of aging beer: Big beers with a high alcohol content and, generally, high hopping rates will age well. Barleywine, Wee Heavy [Scotch strong ale], Russian Imperial Stout, Baltic Porter, Belgian Dubbel and Tripel, English Old Ale, and Biere de Garde are all good candidates. With time, these beers slowly oxidize and change their character. I have various samples of these styles from 1 [just bought that one] to 13 years [an original Swiss Samiclaus] old. No, you can't come visit - they're MINE. Age your own.)

(02/25/2008)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA

I'm happy to report that the 2001 Holidale has turned out quite well, contrary to it's early lack of promise. I put 2 bottles by to see how they would age and have just opened one.

It's fruity and sweet up front, then dries out in the mouth and the dark fruit flavors come out along with the alcohol warming. The flavor keeps building until the mouth and nose are full of a glorious warm fruitiness with the malt still resting on the tongue. There is little apparent hop presence (although it must be there or this would certainly cloy).

I won't take back anything I may have said about it in 2001 ("hot", "harsh", and "undrinkable" come immediately to mind), but my patience and the $4.95/bottle that it cost then have been rewarded. I'll probably open the other one in a few more years.

(02/24/2008)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Awesome! Great

Establishment: American Flatbread Taproom was Burlington Hearth, Burlington, VT

The Burlington brewpub scene just got, happily, more complicated for the serious craft-brew drinker. American Flatbread's newest restaurant has a brewery, too. It's even handy, being just a few doors away from Greg Noonan's Vermont Pub and Brewery.

Last evening they had 5 of their own beers on tap from a golden, sweet Summer Bock and the biscuity, hoppy Paul's Pils through the TLA IPA (nice hop aroma but underbittered for an IPA - more of a gentle American pale ale)and Extra Stout (a slightly sweet version of a foreign extra stout).

The star of the lineup was Villier's ESB - a very English ESP with the emphasis on the malt and alcohol. It was, in many ways, reminiscent of an old ale, tending to some oxidative flavors such as licorice and dark fruit.

The food is flatbread (pizza to us plebians) baked in a wood-fired French Canadian (low-profile) version of the beehive oven. I had the New Vermont Sausage version (sweet Italian sausage and lots of mushrooms). They have about 10 varieties listed but say that they will make any combination you request.

The beer menu continues with a dozen taps (half Vermont, half from "away"), 3 pumps for the cask-conditioned ales, and about 20 listed bottles.

The decor is comfortable: brick walls, tin ceiling, hardwood floors, long mahogany bar...........

In all, a respectable addition to an already great beer town.

(07/19/2005)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A Great Great

Establishment: Three Needs Taproom, Burlington, VT

Well, it took them years to do it but they finally did something I don't care for: nitrogen pressurization of their 90/- Scottish ale. I am no fan of N2 service anyway but since when does a Scottish ale need "smoothing"?

The Old Ale is tasty and will definitely improve with age (if it has a chance) and the Belgian Winter Ale is heavy and sweet/hoppy kinda a holiday version of a Belgian strong ale).

It was interesting to see some non-classical styles from these folks who are always so dead on style.

(12/21/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So So So Great Great Good

Establishment: Italian Oasis Restaurant and Brewery, Littleton, NH

A perfumy taste to all of their beers? Yep. The gold and amber were loaded with DMS to the point of undrinkability. (DMS gives a cooked corn or cooked vegetable flavor.) The stout lacked the flavor and bittering of roasted barley, and the IPA, while dry-hopped, maybe had 25 IBU's.

I don't care for the 85-IBU versions of IPA but this was too low. Actually, all of their beers lacked sufficient bittering hops.

On the other hand, the service was excellent and the food, also. The sppinach and roasted garlic raviolli were wonderful and the marinara sauce one of the best I've had.

(11/16/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So Great Great Great

Establishment: Opa-Opa Steakhouse and Brewery, Southampton, MA

They're open now and I predict success.

We went for dinner on opening day (Labor Day). They were about half full already. We had to wait at the bar for a table to be ready but the barman was friendly and understood the concept of having room-temperature glasses available in addition to the frozen ones.

Dan only had one of his beers so far (more by now), a malty dark amber ale. We found the service very good, especially for opening day.

I guess that the best way to say how good our dinner was is to mention the only flaw I found - they used a St. Louis BBQ sauce on their Texas ribs. (Nothng like a geek reviewing restaurants, eh?)

(09/11/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Opa-Opa Steakhouse and Brewery, Southampton, MA

Stopped in the other day to look the place over. They aren't open yet (scheduled for Labor Day) so can't rate them on anything. I expect their beer to be excellent as their brewer is Dan Kramer (late of Maplewood's in Amherst, MA). The plan is to have 6 of their beers on tap plus 2 'guests'.

The menu looks good: various steaks, prime rib, ribs (Texas beef and St Louis pork), chicken, crab cakes, salmon, cod, burgers, and the occasional Greek bit such as saganaki. Entree's run about $12 - $20. The owners are long-time successful restauranteurs in the area so I expect the food to be good.

The decor is kinda 'faux Southwest' but nicely done in wood and stone. There is also an outdoor deck with its own bar.

(08/30/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Maplewood Farms, Amherst, MA

Sadly, Maplewood has closed. I have no further details. (I got that info from Dan, the brewer, now at Opa Opa in Southampton, MA, so it's reliable.)

(08/29/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Boscos Nashville Brewing Company, Nashville, TN

Ah, the joys of a brewpub where my only complaint is that they overdid the dry-hopping of their cask-conditioned IPA! An experienced beer judge giving one "B" and 8 "A's" or "A+'s" after tasting all of their beers? That's high praise coming from me. No hint of sourness in the oatmeal stout nor London porter; a faint caramelization in the steinbier; the sharp hoppiness on the (regular) IPA; the characteristic flavor of decoction mashing in the alt; the restrained use of American hops in the pale ale (very much there but not over the top); a hint of smoke in the Scottish ale (okay - a little off style here); ther malty/balanced/dry/warming old ale; .................

I suppose that I could go on and on but I've mentioned them all by now. It is not common for a brewer's every beer to be so "dead on" style AND so well done (Maplewood's in Amherst, MA, does come to mind although I'm sure that there are others).

In addition, the service was way above average for a brewpub.. Up there with the good restaurants. The menu has plenty of variety to please the 2 year-old or the demanding epicure (gorgonzolla-scallop pasta, an assortment of Ceasar salads, a selection of individual thin-crust pizzas, sandsiches, ect. Garlic-parmesan fries anyone?) and the portions are reasonable as are the prices.

In short, we had a wonderful time whether beer drinkers no not.

(11/25/2003)


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