In December ’07, got to frequent older version of BOSTON BEER WORKS, located across Fenway Park. Opening to an auxiliary service bar with glass-encased brew tanks, this spacious sportsbar widens to a gigantic back dining-bar area (including multiple TV’s) boasting superb left wall beer bottle collection and many rear silver kettles. Winter Celebration menu included sea bass, lamb, and duck while yearlong fare comprised turkey, salmon, ribs, chicken, and meatloaf. Check newer Fleet Center-based Beer Works for beers sampled there.

Banana-melted vanilla-clove-backed peppery-hopped Victory White reminded me of Hoegaarden’s Belgian ale. Hazelnut coffee-roasted mocha-finishing Beantown Nut Brown, dry-malted yellow-fruited lemon rind-embittered Fenway Pale Ale, and lemony-hopped barley-oats-backboned Boston Garden Gold sufficed.

Better were espresso-chocolate-like cola-walnut-charred black cherry-tinged Buckeye Oatmeal Stout and overripe cherry-sweetened banana-bruised kiwi-mango-backed hop-charred barleywine-styled Hercules Strong Ale.

Next day, after walking Boston Commons with family, tried goodly date-fig-centered holiday warmer White Christmas Ale and peculiar Belgian-styled Winterfest Gruit, an un-hopped prune-date-fronted clove-coriander-allspice-tingled sugar-plummed herbal delight.

Better was cask-conditioned Baby Hercules Pale Ale, a soft cream-whipped ‘small beer’ with whiskey-dabbed rye frontage, honeyed tea linger, and fig-date slip.

At 11 AM sharp on a cold mid-December ’11 day I returned to Boston’s Fenway Park-sidled Beer Works with wife by my side for a surprisingly high nine untried brews. As we settled into a generously portioned hummus platter (with feta cheese, roasted peppers, artichoke, eggplant and olive), I downed the lightest fare in 6-ounce samplers.

Despite its misleadingly savage moniker, 9 Alarm Amber’s a simple mainstream lager with mellow raw-honeyed orange-yellow fruiting and crystal malted caramelization over a bitterer hop profile than the usual soft-toned amber fare.

Fig-dried rye enveloped the equally soft Bay State ESB. Not far removed from this Extra Special Bitter, Tell Tale Dunkel Lager brought plantain-grazed dried fruiting and washed-out earthen dewiness to a sedate biscuit backdrop.

Sticking with the German-styled branding of Tell Tale, thinly stable Accelerator Double Bock secured a dried fruited bed for its coffee-milked mocha sweetness, placing brown-sugared molasses plus desiccated black cherry, fig and prune illusions atop earthen mineral grains.

Mocha-related beers such as cocoa-dried Black Rider (a black-peppered, chicory-dabbed, dried fruited, peat-bound schwarzbier) and coffee-roasted Curley’s Irish Stout – Cask Conditioned (with its dry hop-oiled earthiness and milked espresso niche) were fine.

Getting into the wintry seasonals, I preferred the whiskey-dried Winter Warmer, a Scottish wee heavy with sweet vanilla-chocolate malting and cherry-fig ripeness, over Yuletide-spiced White Christmas, where toasted rye breading gets a fig-dried ginger-rooted nutmeg-cinnamon-coriander-allspice tingle.

For dessert, the awesome Godzilla Barleywine ruled! A sweetish barleyine with sherry, brandy and Scotch tones, its raisin-pureed red cherry, bruised banana, candied apple and sugared fig fruiting danced on the tongue while chewy caramel malts tantalized the bourbon finish.

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