IDLE HANDS BREWERY

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MALDEN, MASSACHUSETTS

At a renovated light Industrial area six miles north of Boston in a well-maintained red brick building, IDLE HANDS BREWERY is the pride of hilly woodland city, Malden. A black-gated entrance with Idle Hands insignia and metal-furnished porch welcomes patrons to the pristine warehouse pub.

Whether leaning towards German lagering, Belgian funk or American spunk, Idle Hands’ gentle touch can be felt with each distinctly soft-toned offering. Founding headbrewer Chris Tkach moved his operations from a tiny Everett storefront to its current nearby space in 2016.

The expansive high-ceilinged rafters add spacious dimension to the sparely furnished interior. LED-bulbed pendulum lamps hang above the twelve-seat serving station where twelve barn-wooded silver metal draught handles carry the brews crafted in the windowed silver barrels. Six cafeteria-styled community tables provide extra seating.

Fabulously boozy Country & Western tunes such as “Drinkin’ On  My Mind,” Whiskey Bent & Hellbound” and something about ‘getting his drunk ass home’ play in the background as my wife and I settle into ten Idle Hands suds.

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Stylishly robust Edgeworth Pils brought mild floral citrus rind bittering to pungent maize-dried hop musk, fresh-cut grass astringency and cracker-like pilsner malting, leaving zesty lemon wisps on the clean tail end.

Grain-toasted baked breading appeased moderate zwickel lager, Emelyn, leaving musty fungi rusticity on the spicily fig-dried finish.

Approachably brisk dry body, Slate Ale, gathered slightly soured melon rind, lemon-spritzed papaya-raspberry tartness and mild hop bittering above sweet biscuit malts.

Salty-herbed Belgian wit, Blanche De Grace, goes a stylish step further as lemony orange coriander expectancy gets bum-rushed by cologne-perfumed lemongrass, fennel and wildflower illusions over its sedate pilsner-malted wheat bed.

Sweetly bread-crusted Munich dunkelweiss, Brunhilda, aligned toffee-spiced chocolate malts with mossy dried fruiting and earthen nuttiness.

Fermented subtly with Malbec grape must, Mazamomma Cream Ale let bubbly champagne sweetness reach raw-honeyed pale malt dryness.

Interesting, if not fully integrated, mixed culture farmhouse ale hybrid, Rosemary Reimagined, underutilized its sweet potato, candied yam and rosemary adjuncts, but let tannic-soured pinot grigio wining spawn a tartly puckered acidic aspect.

Soft-toned, golden-hazed, New England Imperial IPA, Splitter, allowed yogurt-soured yellow grapefruit piquancy and subtle melon-mango-papaya tropicalia to ride above its malted red wheat spine.

Another tropical fruited NEIPA, yellow-marbled Four Seam strove for sunshiny winsomeness as serene mango-guava-melon sentiments gained dry wood dankness and muted peach-pineapple wisps.

White-peppered lemon zest and honeyed banana-peach sweetness confirmed passionate tripel, Triplication, a boozy (8.9% ABV) elixir with spiced-up peach, pear and pineapple ripeness.

idlehandscraftales.com

DOWN THE ROAD BEER CO.

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EVERETT, MASSACHUSETTS

Just a few miles north of Boston inside a rustic red brick building at Everett’s heavy Industrial area, DOWN THE ROAD BEER CO. opened for biz in late 2017.

A casual warehoused pub with an evolving beer menu, Down The Road’s pristine epoxy-floored interior includes a colorful Greek God mural, rows of cafeteria-styled community tables and a raised bandstand for entertainers.

Its quartz-topped serving station features thirty draught handles and Edison light fixtures with glass-encased brew tanks right behind. A few retro pinball machines guard the front wall and a small couch area with TV fills the diagonal back end. A large front-walled projection TV shows Star Wars while my wife and I consume nine fine brews this sunny Saturday afternoon in May (2019).

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Salty pinkish magenta-hued Feyborn Berliner Weisse (blueberry derivation) stayed tart as subtle Maine blueberries received dry raspberry-cranberry respite while retaining spritzy carbolic briskness.

Floral-fruited herbal spicing lingered gently for highly amiable Justa Saison, where sweet banana, lemon meringue and tangelo illusions reach white-peppered barnyard acridity.

Lacquered citrus and musty dewiness fronted West Coast IPA, The Resistance, leaving raw-hoeneyed buckwheat and dry rye malts upon tangy lemon-grapefruit-orange juicing.

Admirable Sour Cherry Table Beer let its tart beet-sugared cherry rhubarb pie likeness gain lemon candied soda pop pep.

Straight-ahead West Coastest IPA crossed tropical fruit-spiced pale malting with minor wood tones.

Easygoing beige yellow-hazed Dreamtime New England IPA brought barley-floured yellow grapefruit juicing to zesty orange peel sweetness as well as yogurt-soured passionfruit and pineapple tartness (above grassy-hopped pine resin).

Nutty dark chocolate and chalky cocoa powder guided Dirty Shillelah Dry Stout, picking up a hop-charred walnut sear.

Dark-roasted chocolate malts swept up smooth medium-bodied dark ale, Devils Twins Porter, leaving cocoa, fig and walnut snips on the tail end.

Chewy brown chocolate sweetness spread across cookie dough richness for Darkest Night Imperial Stout, retaining mild coffee-caramel-molasses conflux and subtle bruised cherry tartness.

BONE UP BREWING

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EVERETT, MASSACHUSETTS

Formerly Boston’s smallest brewery, BONE UP BREWING now occupies a cozily polished overhead-doored red brick warehouse with black metal-fenced front patio. Inspired by old school Belgian farmhouse brewing while celebrating American styles, this husband-wife-owned pub continues to gain popularity.

Founding heavy metal-loving homebrew spouses, Liz and Jared Kiraly, doubled their space and brought more brewing equipment when the place started humming along. In two-and-a-half years since August 2016, they’ve crafted three hundred small beer batches, creating an amazing one hundred-plus different draught offerings.

The left side fifteen-stooled L-shape bar (with canary yellow walls) features a few tables and multiple Edison lights. The serving station has twelve tap handles, one cask set up and a blackboard beer menu. Fabulous modern art crowds the walls and a left room drinking area has pinball and Ms. Pac Man games.

My wife and I visited Bone Up on a hazily sunny Saturday afternoon in May ’19.

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First up were the four flagship offerings.

Crisply light-bodied cream ale, Extra Naked, gathered floral lemon-oiled herbal musk for delicate maize-dried pilsner malting and restrained grainy hop pungency.

Next, approachable white ale, Key Lime, stayed dry as lactic key lime-juiced lemon meringue tartness settled above honeyed Graham Cracker wheat malts.

Straightforwardly easygoing India Pale Ale, Wasted Life, brought blitzing orange-peeled yellow grapefruit tanginess to subtle piney hop bittering and wispy floral accents.

Richly embittered robust porter, Shut Up Kelly, retained black-malted dark chocolate muck and nutty dark-roast coffee tones.

As for Bone Up’s seasonal or one-off fare, there were a few pale ales left untried (Unholy Alliance; Dance Bob; Chaos Reigns ), but a grisette, hibiscus saison, smoked wheat ale and tripel got tasted.

Sessionable saison, Lawn Chair Grisette, maintained a lemony orange-peeled grapefruit tang reinforced by oats-dried barnyard acridity.

Tart pinkish amber farmhouse ale, Loretta, doused sweet-tart hibiscus florality with a white-peppered lemon twist and herbal saison yeast funk.

Bacon-smoked wheat ale, Oink!, let Band-aid-like beechwood astringency contrast humble bourbon-staved sweetness to its dry pale malt base, leaving petite meat-cured pastrami, salami and chorizo snips at the back end.

Creamily smooth tripel, Joybringer, relied on lingered banana spicing, candied citrus tartness, syrupy peach sweetness and salted pineapple zing to counter its musky herbal respite and dainty floral bouquet.

www.boneup.beer

DEMOCRACY BREWING

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Strategically beginning operations on July 4, 2018, DEMOCRACY BREWING celebrates Independence Day on a daily basis. In the heart of Boston’s Downtown Crossing, this blue-faced side street pub boasts a German beerhall atmosphere while its decorative wood furnishings, old-fashioned wagon wheel chandeliers and stark arched columns provide serene Revolutionary Era antiquity.

Cozy wood booths and tables sidle the 20-chaired, red brick-walled bar (with 12-plus draughts and 2 TV’s). The brew tanks are located upfront in an exposed front cellar.

My wife and I grab seats at the central draught area on a glorious Saturday afternoon, May ’19, to quaff five stylishly conservative, yet well defined and balanced, Boston-made brews.

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Muskily dry lemony herbage seeped into light-bodied blonde ale, Workers Pint, an approachable pilsner-malted, citric-spiced flagship.

Sassy farmhouse ale, Fighting 54th Saison, gathered peppery chamomile-lemongrass herbage to sidle its tangy lemon-soured tangerine briskness and sweet banana-clove ascendance.

Dewy English bitter, Cellar Door, let moderated black tea-like bittering relegate its orange-dried pine resin and pale malted amber graining.

A frisky lemon spritz picked up mossy earthiness and dank wood tones for medium-bodied Imperial IPA, Consummate Rioter, leaving lightly spiced grapefruit-orange rind bittering in its wake.

Cold-brewed Peruvian coffee added medium-roast bitterness to Crash Coffee-Infused IPA, letting latent IPA-like citrus-spiced wood tones linger lightly at the brusque java finish.  

Unfortunately, the ever-popular Irish-styled 1919 Strike Stout, was unavailable.

www.democracybrewing.com

CHEEKY MONKEY

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

A full-scale upscale cocktail lounge with a fully automated brewery, large billiard room, plush band stage and pristine Old world splendor, CHEEKY MONKEY opened for biz in 2017. Its black metal fenced-in porch with three tables leads customers into this sterling polished gem across the street from historic Fenway Park.

Besides offering crisply clean draught beers, Cheeky Monkey’s fine wine and liquor selection crowd the wood shelves at the elongated 30-stooled L-shaped bar. Solid pub fare goes well with the six tapped beers emulating from the far back windowed 10-barrel Smart Brew System.

The posh barroom also includes several shelved antique radios, old metal beams and low-hanging ceiling pipes to capture Boston’s historic rustic charm. Several wood booths and tables line the room.

An American-flagged back lounge with plush furniture and stone hearth provides some privacy to counteract the large sports-centric open area where a spacious billiards hall competes with shuffleboard tables and ping pong before leading to the back-barred brew tanks.

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While my wife and I hung out at the bar, we tried four diversely easygoing brews during our quick May ’19 afternoon stint.

First up, wonderful fruit ale, Wild Blueberry, captured all its distinct sweet-tart blueberry goodness alongside briskly carbolic lemon zest and honeyed wheat sugaring.

Next, easygoing Galaxy-hopped Down Undah Pale Ale proved to be stylishly intensified as spritzy lemon zest, tangy orange juicing and tart guava-gooseberry spunk merged over its musky pale-malted oats spine.

Straightforward Harambe’s Ghost IPA brought sharp citric-pined crisping and tingly floral spicing to sweet caramel malting without making a fuss.

Fudgy milk chocolate-y Rebellious Monk Stout let lingered oats-sugared black chocolate and mild coffee tones gather for a creamily full-bodied midday nightcap.

cheekymonkeyboston.com