Off the beaten track two miles up a hill from Sturbridge’s main drag in Fiskdale’s Hyland Orchards lies a rustic sienna-hued barnhouse that’s home to RAPSCALLION BREWERY. Formerly housing Pioneer Brewing Company, identical twin owners, Cedric and Peter Arnold, took over operations in 2013 and re-branded the company to its current rogue handle. Head brewer Shaun Radzuik crafted some of Rapscallion’s recipes while working at Holyoke’s Paper City.
Basically a one-room, concrete-floored lodge with centered community bench, a few wooden tables and red brick-walled beer trays, Rapscallion’s uniquely enhanced by Hyland Orchards’ outdoor music pavilion, picnic area, petting farm and apple orchards.
Visited on a cold, snowy January ’16 evening, this growing neighborhood pub serves 13 taps worth of homemade beer to local minions and curious beer hounds. A large mounted glassware section is just down the L-shaped bar from the beer-to-go refrigerator.
Before heading out to get dinner, I settled into flagship Rapscallion Honey Ale, a dry, soft-toned moderation with mildly creamed honey-spiced butterscotch sweetness and lemony orange tang furrowed by grassy hop phenols. For further investigation, 32-ounce crowlers (canned growlers) of Irish Red, Rye IPA, Munich Dark and Porter (reviewed in Beer Index).
Traveling beer fanatics should also check out nearby Acton’s Rapscallion Table & Tap, a related restaurant serving all beers mentioned above.
Before heading back to Publick House Historic Inn, my wife and I stopped by Enrico’s for wood-fired pizza, splitting the Giardino (white-sauced ricotta cheese with artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers). A terrific Tuscan-influenced Italian food venue with U-shaped left bar and right side dining, its open kitchen also serves pasta dishes, panini sandwiches and salads. On tap are 20-plus macro-micro brews.
Revolution Anti-Hero (a Chicagoland India Pale Ale fave) had a bright floral fruited briskness gathering tangy grapefruit, orange, pineapple and mango juiciness atop piney hop bittering. Easygoing Notch Left Of The Dial, a milder IPA, bolstered its lingering Chinook/Amarillo hop pining with less aggressive lemony grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering, sugary peach-pineapple-quince-cantaloupe-mango dalliances and recessive floral nuances.