Part of Ludlow’s historic clock-towered old factory mill since 2014, IRON DUKE BREWING lives by the handy blue collar ethos “a celebration of hard work.” Reigning supreme along the Chicopee River, these friendly zymurgists have created a charmingly rustic topnotch garage-like nano brewery delivering well-defined hand-crafted beers.
Taking a ramp to the entrance, Iron Duke’s spacious high ceiling interior includes a wood-lacquered L-shaped bar servicing scattered seating towards the windowed brew tanks. A huge Styrofoam footprint along the red bricked bar wall serves as Iron Duke’s emblem.
There are olden beer trays and proprietary beer mugs above the fourteen copper draught handles at the bar plus a hanging TV nearby for sports fans.
My wife and I settle in on a Saturday night March ’19 to sample a few draughts.
There were five flagship beers Iron Duke currently had on tap.
First up, politely creamed prohibition-era Kentucky Common Ale, The Common, left lemon spritz upon maize-flaked rye malts and grassy hop astringency in a soft-toned manner.
Dry rye malts infiltrated tangy grapefruit-orange-soured Dead Nuts Rye IPA, leaving mildly bitter piney hop resin at the sunny citrus finish.
Relying on a ‘bigger, bolder hop and malt punch’ than Dead Nuts, Stud Finder Imperial IPA launched tropical Topaz-hopped lychee fruiting, sharp grapefruit juicing and dusty floral herbage upon resinous pine wisps above candied caramel malts.
As for the two flagship dark ales, dark-roast ground coffee summoned dry Irish Porter, Baby-Maker, leaving brown-sugared molasses oats to sweeten its cocoa-powdered black malting.
And dry breakfast stout, Sinker, brought black-malted hop char bittering to Blackstrap molasses sinew above a seared oats base.
I also quaffed another six brews while the taproom filled up with local denizens.
Dewy moderate-bodied Irish Red Ale, Murph, brought dried fig, cold-brewed coffee and minimal caramel spicing to its mossy earthen bottom.
Brisk orange-hazed New England-styled IPA, 4 A.M., brought sharp grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering to tart lemon-limed souring and sweet mango-pineapple-papaya tropicalia above peaty pale malts.
Bitter walnut-charred dark chocolate chalking contrasted hazelnut-glazed toffee sweetness for fairly rich Brown Ale, Putts Bridge.
Adventurous 7-Up/ ginger ale knockoff, Ginger Kerfuffle Pineapple Ginger Sour Ale, sprinkled sea salt upon lemonade-sugared pineapple juicing (leaving a latent alcohol kick).
Subtly bourbon-soaked vanilla bean sweetness picked up raw-honeyed bittering for hybridized amber ale, Generosity.
Best bet: heavenly 3rd anniversary celebrator, 156 Barrel Aged Nitro, an Alaskan Imperial Porter, spread exquisite bourbon vanilla sweetness across whiskey-dried mocha, toasted coconut and marshmallow illusions.
Before heading out, bought bottle of bourbon barrel-aged Iron Duke 208 Imperial Pale Lager. Its IPA-like piney citrus bittering soaked into whiskey-dried bourbon boozing, picking up a lingered alcohol burn. Honeyed lager yeast sweetens the midst alongside wavered red grape, red apple and pineapple snips.