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Crafting some of New England’s finest hazy India Pale Ales, Northampton’s PROGESSION BREWING COMPANY take extreme pride in producing their refreshingly crisp, clean beer. In the heart of town in a red brick building with a pristine round silver logo sign at the entrance, Progression opened for biz during November ’18, becoming Northampton’s fourth brewery.

Residing on Pearl Street in the former space of Gleason’s Camping Supply, the centralized pub hipster Industrial setting features white-walled modern art, front-windowed lounge furnishings, cavernous pipe-exposed open space and illuminated light scheme. Its marbled red linoleum floor contrasts well with the three yellow-wooded community tables and four-chaired seating while a sectioned-off backspace is also available.

Brew tanks are located behind the ten-stool serving station where twelve taps serve the expanding crowd on this cold Saturday eve in February ’19.

A separate refrigerator contains a rounded selection of Progression’s canned fare. Freedom Leaf editor, Steve Bloom, and friend Tom, joined me for some brews while consuming hearty minestrone soup and mac-cheese-bacon.

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Exquisitely detailed Flourish Farmers Saison brought herbal white-peppered grape-skinned Hallertau Blanc hop dryness and mixed culture saison yeast to the fore, letting tart lemon-dropped mandarin orange spicing, bruised banana sweetness, tangy pineapple juicing and earthen plantain sedation gain a spritzy carbolic pep.

Juicy-fruited Sequence Double Dry-Hopped New England Pale Ale let tangy grapefruit, orange, peach, pineapple and mango overtones receive a zesty lemon spritz buttressed by sugared pale malts (nearly duplicating a citric IPA sans piney bittering).

Tangy clementine fronted floral-tinged Upward New England Double IPA, a grassy hopped medium body with ancillary tangerine sweetness, mandarin orange tartness and lemon rind bittering atop dry pale malts.

Crisply dry West Coast-styled Expanse IPA placed lightly pined citrus juicing atop floral-dried herbage and grassy hop astringency, leaving orange, grapefruit and lemon zest in its wake.

On the dark side, percolated coffee grounds consumed dry full body, Portent Coffee Porter, a superior creamily textured java beverage with bitterly walnut-seared charred hops.



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A lil gem of a place just off Route 7 near the Connecticut state line in the lower Berkshires, Sheffield’s BIG ELM BREWING came to fruition ’round 2012. Inside a worn yellow aluminum warehouse with faded red cement floors, this quaintly rustic brewpub crafts distinct and wide ranging beers.

A small wood-topped serving station (with corrugated aluminum siding) provides a passive industrial setting. Twelve tile-bound tap handles release the backroom-brewed suds (listed on a colorful blackboard) for customers filling the four-stooled wood tables and extra window seating.

Today’s offerings for a seasonally warm February ’19 afternoon span the stylistic spectrum while leaning on the dark side.

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Musky straw-cleared American Lager will delight blue collar thirsts with its corn-dried barley roast, maize-husked barnyard leathering, pungent herbal hop mustiness and fizzy yellow fruiting. It made a fine mainstream statement counteracting all the more creative and original recipes Big Elm concocted.

Sticking out like a lollipop-candied sucker was the one sour ale available. Salty blueberry souring faded over vinous green grape tannins, puckered cranberry-raspberry tartness and sparkling blush-wined rosé illusions for Sol Crusher Blueberry Gose.

Easygoing Fat Boy Double IPA brought juicy orange-mango-pineapple sweetness to a lightly perfumed floral bouquet and wispy pine tones above caramelized pale malts.

Muskier perfumed hops, drier wood tones and latent herbal snips saddled the lemony yellow grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering and sugary orange-peach tang of delightfully sunny West Coast-styled India Pale Ale.

Ambitious Magnum Ulmus Tripel regaled spicy candi-sugared fruiting with musky white-peppered juniper snips, buttery Chardonnay licks and rum-soaked oak chips. Sweet banana-clove-coriander overtones picked up tertiary peach, pineapple and apricot illusions as well as minty green tea notions.

Black-peppered chipotle and toasted cinnamon added pep to Mexican dark chocolate for rich El Luchador Spiced Porter, leaving tarry charcoal residue upon nutty molasses-sapped cocoa nibs.

Lactic milk chocolate consumed Gerry Dog Stout, an oats-sugared full body with dewy earthen soiling contrasting sweet toffee at the backend.

Just as easily defined as a sour stout, Love Dog Raspberry Chocolate Stout allowed dry tobacco-roasted green grape tannins to desiccate its raspy raspberry tartness and powdery dark cocoa malting.

Wintry brown-sugared dried fruiting dappled Dead Of Winter Imperial Stout, where plummy fig tones grazed molasses-draped dark chocolate malting, mild coffee quips and dewy wet-grained sweetness.


On tap at Shepherd & Knucklehead – Haledon, milk-sugared cinnamon coffee sweetness and maple-syruped cacao adjunct meet spiced-up ancho chili peppering in luxurious full-bodied setting. Maple cinnamon coffee continuance gains chocolate-caked vanilla frosting as well as curried cardamom-cumin-nutmeg snips plus distant bourbon, rum and coconut reminders. Overweeningly stupendous!

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