The First Day


It is the evening of the first day of the New England Brewery Tour 2009. I must say it was a mixed case of missing the chance (one should always call ahead to make sure the place you want to visit is open for business), making the best of a situation (visiting a brewery or brewpub unannounced and finding it ample but not impressive), and finally finding just what the tour was all about (the good beer, interesting brewer and good food).

The first stop was Opa! Opa! A steakhouse brewpub in Southampton, MA… We arrived there at 1230 hours and the sign on the door said it opened at 1600. (Should have called ahead.) The stand-by was the Northampton Brewpub… the place was hard to find and was enjoying a slow day for the wait staff and a too busy day for the brewing staff. However, the fish sandwich was tasty and the waitress was pleased almost beyond words when I asked her to pick the brew to go with my fried fish sandwich. (The fish was tasty and not oil-drenched and the IPA was a nice complement).

Then came Brattleboro and the cases of the closed shops… first the older brewpub was shuttered and the newest brew-bar (Long Trail) was closed on Monday. So much for calling ahead…

The final stop, The Norwich Inn was right on. Since this was not my first visit here I did know what to expect. What I was not expecting was a visit by Tim, the original brewer, visiting with Pat, the new (last three years) brewer. The tour of the brew house was informative and fun. The brews later in the pub were tasty and paired well with the smoked brisket. After a walk to make room for desert the Porter and molten chocolate cake were the best ending to a brew event I could imagine.

In short, two out of five seems a fairly good score.

Tomorrow it will be Harpoon, Magic Hat, Flat Bread and The Alchemist… stay tuned!


Peter LaFrance
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