ATWOOD’S TAVERN, CAMBRIDGE, MA.
Just past the heart of Cambridge five miles west of Boston, ATWOOD’S TAVERN has the cozily rustic feel of an Olde English pub with its wood furnishings, low ceilings, bottle cellar, rear dining space and superb beer selection. A heavily rotated batch of draughts delights both neighborhood brew hounds and curious outsiders. My wife and I sat dead center at the left bar during a two-hour mid-December 2011 stopover.
Copious salads, burgers and sandwiches dot the menu. I totally enjoyed the crispy crabcakes over spinach. There were a dozen tapped craft beers listed on the board in front of me and I chose three different stylistically ambitious brews from three brand spankin’ new local Massachusetts brewers.
First up, Jack’s Abby Brewing Kiwi Rising, an interestingly deviant Imperial India Pale Lager, represented the nearby town of Framingham. As Velvet Underground’s heroin-indulging “Waiting For My Man” played in the background, I quaffed the subtly tropical elixir. On tap, its faded kiwi, mango and passion fruit dalliance caressed piney grapefruit-peeled bittering and white-peppered spices, letting less intricately detailed pineapple, peach and red grape illusions to filter through the backend.
Next, the Beatles joyous “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey” crammed the speakers as I dug into Backlash Convergence, a busy Belgian-styled farmhouse saison from the northwest Boston suburb of Brighton. Its barnyard yeast funk saddled prickly white-peppered rye malting, lemony candi-sugared banana-clove insistence and vanilla wafer sweetness.
A fabulous live bluegrass quintet played pristine acoustic numbers by the time I dipped into Somerville Brewing’s excellent Slumbrew Porter Square Porter. Based in Somerville two miles outside Boston and opened for business a mere month, this small operation now has three flagship beers in their young catalogue. A fine after dinner relaxant, Square Porter’s hop-roasted oats toasting allowed prominent coffee-stained black chocolate richness to deepen the wood-burnt walnut char and honey-glazed hazelnut sweetness.
Expanded reviews of these three brews are in Beer Index.