WIDOWMAKER BREWING

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BRAINTREE, MASSACHUSETTS

Residing at a cement-floored red brick industrial warehouse in Boston’s South Shore suburb of Braintree, WIDOWMAKER BREWING creates some of the finest small-batch ales in the entire state.

Open since September 2017, co-founding brewer Ryan Lavery designs a wide array of delectable elixirs.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, April 2018, my wife and I peruse Widowmaker and throw back a few original house recipes.

A 20-stool front bar with eight community tables welcomes customers to the beige grayed beam-exposed open space. Towards the rear, a six-stool serving station with crowler-to-go refrigerator and large TV becomes our home for the next hour as I sample the suds.

Though many English milds are a bit nebulous flavor-wise, an up-front chocolate roast seeped into earthen dewy peat for perfectly stylish Noble-hopped Claremont Mild – a fine choice for dark ale fans.

Lightly perfumed lemon zest gained mild juniper bittering and spicy floral zing for refreshing springtime moderation, Manc Juniper Ale.

A lovely milkshake-inspired medium body, Martin & Lewis Milkshake IPA, offered creamy vanilla sugaring to juicy orange, mango, peach and pineapple tanginess, contrasting minimal lemony grapefruit bittering. Its well-integrated sweet vanilla spicing gained mild marshmallow, coconut and pecan snips as well.

Brisk orange-peeled grapefruit juiciness and candied pineapple tanginess settled into the moderate mainstream midst of Greenbush Pale Ale. Its dry Mosaic hop astringency and minor wood tones deepened above mildly creamed crystal malting.

A back-tongued cold-brewed coffee roast rises above soily hop-charred bittering as well as black-malted chicory, espresso and black licorice snips for Donut Shop Coffee Stout, leaving a lightly sugared java reminder.

Reminiscent of a lightly embittered Snickers candy bar, There’s No Wrong Way Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout’s rich dark chocolate syruping and burnt caramel sweetness contrasted walnut-charred peanut salting and charcoal-singed coffee tones.

widowmakerbrewing.com

UNTOLD BREWING

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SCITUATE, MASSACHUSETTS

Inside a spacious tan aluminum mill in the Massachusetts seacoast town of Scituate, UNTOLD BREWING came to fruition October ’17. Revamping a small schoolhouse, co-brewers Kyle Hansen, sister Kristin Greene, and close pal, Matt Elder now have plenty of room to operate as the cement-floored open space utilized already stores some massive brew tanks.

At 11 AM on a musky Sunday in April ’18, I mingle with the staff at the varnished pale blue tasting table before any customers get there. Interestingly, the back classroom now serves as a pristine community-tabled beer parlor. And an attractive stone-bordered slate-topped patio adds more seating.

Currently, there are eleven tap handles serving five flagship brews as well as two more IPA’s, a red ale, Scotch ale and porter.

The mildest ale available may be Untold’s best. Brisk lemony orange tanginess regales Abigail Blonde, a citric perfume-spiced treasure yielding ancillary wood-toned grapefruit, peach and pineapple illusions above biscuity pale malts.

Valencia orange, mango and peach fruiting anchor Pale 143, a mild pale ale with dainty floral-pined citrus hops reaching a dry finish.

Stylishly mild East By Northwest IPA drapes floral orange-spiced sweetness atop subtle pine hop bittering and mineral-grained rye breading.

Muskier and dryer, Time Shall Unfold IPA gives its orange-peeled ruby red grapefruit tang a spritzy carbolic splash and musty wood respite.

Nut-charred caramel and chocolate malts inundated Rebecca Brown Ale, a semi-rich darkie with latent coffee roast bittering, sweet toffee tease and dewy earthen restraint.

These flagship offerings were rivaled by five non-regular brews.

Lemon-candied moderation, Untold Identity Crisis, a ‘hazy IPA,’ gathered juicy grapefruit and orange peel bittering and resinous pine to contrast sweet mango, pineapple and peach fruiting as well as sugar-candied malts.

Easygoing To The Limit, a mildly creamed Imperial IPA, had subtler grapefruit-orange bittering and softly spiced pineapple, peach and tangerine subtleties backed up by leafy wood-toned hops.

Pleasingly affable Irish Red united toasted caramel malting with snappy orange-apple fruiting and mild hop astringency.

Tenacious P Porter worked molasses-sugared milk chocolate into mild hop bittering and dry rye malts as well as oncoming praline-glazed almond and walnut sweetness.   

For dessert, excellent Mean Mother Maggie (aged on oak spirals) sufficed. Its peaty rye-dried Scotch malting gained a whiskey smidge to reinforce caramelized apple, apricot and peach tones.

www.untoldbrewing.com

CRICKET HILL BREWERY

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FAIRFIELD, NEW JERSEY

Since perusing CRICKET HILL BREWERY a few times in 2011, I finally got a chance to revisit while picking up a compressor across the street from the rustic warehouse pub.

During a friendly springtime ’18 afternoon journey, I got to experience the newly renovated pale green-walled, cement -floored, duct-exposed space. Besides the bigger bottling line, there was a new wooden serving station with twelve taps, twelve stools and a prominent blackboard beer list. Plus, five stooled tables adorned the interior and a few plastic furnishings outside allowed for picnics.

Onboard as brewer for the last few years, Mark Tilley (formerly of Long Trail Brewery in Vermont)

Before heading out, grabbed a four-pack of Bourbon-aged Jersey Devil Imperial Red Ale and a growler of exquisite Bourbon-aged Doppelbock (reviewed fully in Beer Index).

HOOVER’S TAVERN

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MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY

For an independent ‘old man’s bar,’ Morris Plains roadhouse, HOOVER’S TAVERN, stays youthful capturing western Jersey’s woodsy suburban rusticity while serving some of the finest tapped craft beer in the area.

Sure, there’s the typical Bud-Miller-Coors fare, but most of the draughts at this 1930′s established dive bar will please even the most stubborn beer snobs.

An illuminated Sierra Nevada sign guides patrons to this paraphernalia-laden one-room joint. Inside the pale blue bar is an ancient oval bar with 50-plus seats, three small tables and old reliable kitchen appliances to cook pizza, hot dogs and pretzels.

There’s a Heineken sign stretched along the wood-paneled front wall and several TV’s generate local sports fans. Live entertainment could be found on the weekends.

On my initial May ’18 mid-afternoon jaunt, I consumed Southern Tier Somoa This (a S’mores-like Imperial Stout), Stoudt’s Hobo Ed’s Imperial Coffee Porter and New Belgium Tartaion Lemon Ginger Sour Ale. Full reviews are in Beer Index.