11 December 2005

Beer Tour of Boston

I've been in Boston for the past week, and aside from a last minute wine tasting yesterday on the way home from the airport (notes to follow soon), I didn't consume any wine while gone. Rather, I took advantage of the city's rich beer brewing tradition. The trip was for business purposes, so I didn't have a lot of time to wander around. My co-worker stuck to Miller Lite and Jack and Coke. I'm not a huge beer snob, but why not try things that aren't sold in our home town? I took the same approach with restaurants--I wanted seafood, and lots of it, and attempted to avoid chain joints as much as possible.

The first night out, all of the local places were closed, so I was stuck with an Applebee's. I asked the waitress for a local beer, and she didn't know anything about beer. So we walked to the bar, and I glanced over the taps until something stood out: the Wachusett Country Ale. This was a fairly light beer, but it hit the spot.

Monday night was our first trip through downtown Boston... during a pub crawl I had Harpoon IPA and Harpoon Munich Dark. The former was a classic India Pale Ale, with solid bitter elements. God, I love a good bitter beer. The second was a good dark malt with a smooth finish. Things get a little fuzzy after that, though I had another Harpoon IPA at the historic Union Oyster House, over a massive sampler of fried clams, oysters, scallops, and haddock. Plus some damned fine clam chowder, even if the waitress made fun of my accent and refused to take the order until I said "chowdah".

Wednesday I sampled the Harpoon UFO at the Three Cheers Bar & Grill near the harbor. This was drunk alongside the best fish and chips I've had in my life. When you're literally on the edge of the water, good seafood is rarely far away. The UFO (UnFiltered Offering) turned out to be a decent Hefeweizen, which explained the lemon slice on top. I also grabbed Harp and Guinness at a couple of pubs--it was damned cold that night, with the wind slamming sleet and road salt into my face. A great excuse to dip into a pub and drink beer while consulting the map.

Friday I had a Berkshire at the Westford Grille in Westford, Massachusetts. Not sure which specific variety, but it was a deep amber ale with a just a little bitter touch from the hops. Had it with cedar plank salmon, green beans and roasted butternut squash. Praises be to those who appreciate butternut squash, an entirely ignored vegetable around here. (Though the desire for a dark orange, sweet and starchy side dish tends to be fulfilled by sweet potatoes.)

All in all, a great town. I didn't mean to neglect Samuel Adams, but we get several of their beers in Memphis. Supposedly there are 18 varieties of Sam Adams (including a cranberry lambic that I'm dying to try), but every place I visited in Boston only had Sam Adams and Sam Adams Light. One place had Oktoberfest. For comparison, this afternoon at my friend's place I had the Sam Adams Black Lager and could have had the Hefeweizen if I wanted. Had I planned a bit better, I could have hit some other microbreweries, but I had a good time nonetheless.

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