Located inside a tan barn stable with green and brown trim in a freestanding mall-bound building, Manchester’s TULLYCROSS TAVERN took over the space previously occupied by John Harvard Brewpub and had its grand opening October 1st, 2011. A hybrid sportsbar, mahogany furnishings bedeck the hunter green walled interior and a rectangular oak bar serves the main area and outer perimeter dining space. A new patio to be constructed in spring will provide outdoor dining. Plus, a newly designed menu featuring upscale pub fare with an Irish flare was just introduced.
Like Willimantic’s Wollner, Tullycross brewer Brian Flach grew up on Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Sam Adams Boston Lager, becoming a Dogfish ‘Head’ thereafter. After home brewing several IPA’s, an 18-month New England Brewing internship afforded the Worcester resident the chance to come aboard for Tullycross’ July ’11 soft opening. A 22-ounce ceramic mug club offers discounts and special happy hour pricing on Flach’s solid offerings crafted at the front side brew tanks.
On my initial January 2012 visit, it’s Tuesday Night Trivia, and following some chicken wings and quesadillas, a large crowd gathers for tonight’s 9 PM contest. While digging the scene, I tried four year-round libations, a nifty winter stout and a Belgian IPA.
Eric Burdon & War’s cryptic “Spill The Wine” played as I revisited Tullycross the following day to meet with Flach, who promised a cream ale, German altbier and sundry IPA’s in the near future.
As for today’s beers, I started off with Tavern Light, a Kolsch-styled sourdough softie with citric esters, rice niceties and popcorn buttering that’s just right for indiscriminate pilsner fans as well as bolder folk better suited for the next three ales.
Best selling Tully’s Irish Red retained a bigger body than most stylistic competitors, bringing amiable red-fruited spicing and caramelized wheat-honeyed cereal grains to a stable earthen bottom. Better yet, TCT Pale Ale had a heady IPA-like wood-toned grapefruit rind bittering and tangy peach-tangerine spicing.
“If you’re gonna drink a pale ale, why not go to an IPA,” Flach confers. “It’s made hoppier for our customer base. But there’s not a lot of alcohol.”
Next up, Flux IPA #8 saddled subtle yellow fruiting with spiced hop bittering.
Flach contends, “All Fluxes have different hop profiles but the grain bill generally remains intact.”
Another Tullycross standard, Silk City Stout, maintained a soft cask-like chocolate creaminess, malt-smoked hop char, vanilla sweetness, dewy peat resonance and peanut-shelled cola-walnut conflux. Likeminded Siberian Winter Imperial Stout doused Christmastime cinnamon-toasted gingerbread spicing atop oats-toasted dark chocolate, nutty coffee, black cherry and raisin notes.
Though not in regular rotation, mild Scottish 80 Shilling plied toasted cereal grains to peat-y earthiness in an approachable manner.
But the best bet may be Convergence Belgian IPA, where white-peppered basil, thyme and peppercorn regale lemon-dried orange rind bittering, snippy juniper piquancy, tangy peach-pineapple sweetness and buttery crystal malting.
“Convergence was a collaboration with New England Brewing, whom I’m still good friends with,” Flach affirms. “They were happy to oblige. They make 668 Neighbor Of The Beast. We borrowed their yeast strain and hopped it up.”