Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Twisted Trunk Brewing - Juno Ridge, FL

Twisted Trunk are well-located right on PGA Boulevard, which is one of the main East-West cross streets in North Palm Beach, which (unsurprisingly) has multiple golf courses along its length. I can well imagine that this is the 19th-hole of choice for many a golf party!

There is indoor seating for around 50 and very pleasant shady outdoor seating for another 40 or so.

The taproom is very nicely presented in a large modern building, with the fermenting tanks attractively backlit as a decorative feature.

I would have very much liked to have spent the whole afternoon there, but as I was encumbered by my car, I was restricted to a single tasting flight from the excellent selection of 16 beers on offer.

There was a food menu available, but I forgot to look at it, for research purposes.

This is a very impressive business that is smartly located to catch plenty of passing trade. I am certain that it will continue to prosper.

Copperpoint Brewing - Boynton Beach, FL

The third of the close-neighbours in Boyton Beach is Copperpoint Brewing. Of the three taprooms,
this is the most bar-like, and had indoor seating for around 40, and outdoor shaded terrace for another 30 odd. The bar was already fully decorated for Halloween, three weeks ahead of time!

They don't serve food at Copperpoint, but there was the obligatory food truck parked right out the front, on this Saturday afternoon.

The bar was pleasantly busy, and I got stuck into a flight from the selection of 20 draft taps on offer.

This was a great conclusion to my walking tour of the Boyton Beach taprooms, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a few hours to spare in the Palm Beach area!

Due South Brewing - Boynton Beach, FL

This was the second of three Taprooms located in close proximity on a industrial area south of Palm

Whereas NOBO was a small cozy venue, Due South is on a major scale!

The Taproom itself is an enclosed air-conditioned bar area, with seating for around 60 people. There is also seating in the brewery barrel-store warehouse itself for another 50-odd, where there were a number of pub games in progress.

The Taproom serves a small selection of hot food, and there was also a food truck setup in the car park (this being Saturday afternoon).

There were 18 draft taps available, from which I chose a decent tasting flight.

Due South is an ambitious operation that has some serious money spent on it. I hope that is prospers!

NOBO Brewing - Boynton Beach, FL

NOBO are located at the end of sleepy industrial cul-de-sac, next to a pond that is well stocked with exotic wild tropical lizards!

A bit of Googling before my trip had highlighted that NOBO was one of three taprooms located in close proximity to one-another. (The other two being Due South and Copperpoint). This was shaping up to be a very agreeable Saturday afternoon!

NOBO is a small taproom, with seating for perhaps 25 people inside. There was a good crowd in when I arrived, but they made space for me at the bar, and I settled in to work on a tasting flight.

There was no food on offer, but ordering-in from local delivery services was enouraged.

They had 20 draft beers on offer, and the ones that I sampled were excellent.


Saltwater Brewing - Delray Beach, FL

Saltwater Brewing are located on a street of small industrial units close to the I95 freeway.

I got there at opening time on a Saturday, and there was a BBQ food truck already setup next to the entrance.

The Taproom has indoor seating for about 40 and outdoor seating for a further 20.

Saltwater do no offer tasting flights, so I sampled a couple of 10oz pours before moving on. It was notable that there wasn't a single Pale, IPA or Sour on the menu of 14 or so drafts.

Judged against the very high standards of US Taprooms, I was rather disappointed by both the ambiance and the beer selection at Saltwater Brewing.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Short Fuse Brewing - Schiller Park, IL

If you ever needed an excuse to leave for the airport a couple of hours earlier, then the Short Fuse Brewing Taproom could be the justification!

Located just off the intersection of the major highways that head to Chicago O'Hare, and being just a 10 minute Uber ride from the terminals in the suburb of Schiller Park, this Taproom is setup on an ambitious scale, but seems destined to be a huge success.

The Taproom has seating for at least 100 people, at a combination of hi-top and regular tables.

They offer a full-service menu of hot food, and I demolished the "Beerchos", (nachos with beer cheese) which were exquisite.

That is all very well, but a Taproom is really about the beer, and Short Fuse excel in this area in particular.

They have 14 regular draft beers, which are offered in two "fixed-list" 7-beer flights at a very reasonable $13 (quite honestly, the lack of free-choice is the only aspect of their operation that I can find fault with!) , as well as a further 8-beer list of special drafts, which are not available in flights.

As I had the whole afternoon to kill, I worked my way through both of the regular flights, and there were some exceptional beers among them. 

This was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon, I will undoubtedly be back on every future opportunity, when I am passing through O'Hare!

Noon Whistle Brewing - Lombard, IL

Located about 10 miles south of Chicago O'Hare Airport in the suburb of Lombard, Noon Whistle are
located in a single-story concrete building set back from the road.

The taproom shares the same space as the brewery itself, and indeed the bathrooms are located in the back of the brewery "follow the painted line, and don't touch the brewing equipment!"

The taproom has indoor seating for perhaps 30 people and outdoor seating for perhaps anouther 25. They do not serve food other than snacks.

They had 11 beers on draft, including a decent modern range of styles. I sampled a couple of four-beer flights, before the need for food dragged me away. 

This was a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours early on a Thursday afternoon, and they seem to enjoy plenty of passing local trade, dropping in for growler fills.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Garden State Beer Co. - Absecon, NJ

Located close to Atlantic City Airport, adjacent to Garden State Parkway, and among a dozen or so
hotels and motels that serve the airport traffic, Garden State looks well placed to thrive.

The Brewery and Taproom occupy a large building that looks like it was formerly a restaurant/bar of some kind. The modest production facility looks almost lost at one end of the cavernous space, and there is an immense island-bar that spans most of the room, which has been overlooked, in favour of a more intimate bar setup in the opposite corner from the brewery itself.

The room could easily accommodate 150 people, so the current setup has excellent scope for expansion.

There were 10 draft beers available including several innovating options, most memorable of which was a blonde ale with an extraordinary aroma of freshly cut chilli peppers!

As I was in no particular hurry, I worked my way through the entire menu, and I was made to feel extremely welcome by both customers and staff alike.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Ludlum Island Brewing - Ocean View, NJ

This Taproom reminded me strongly of Glasstown Brewing, just a few miles to the NW in New Jersey, which I visited earlier this year. Both are located on small industrial parks in sparsely populated areas, and both had a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Ludlum Island Taproom is a modest facility, with seating for perhaps 20 people downstairs, along with an upstairs room of similar size.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and range of beers available, including two cask beers!

There is no food available to purchase, but a family who were there when I arrived had a picnic in full swing on the central table!

As I was driving, I restricted myself to a single flight, but the beers were excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this sleepy corner of rural New Jersey.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Dark City Brewing - Asbury Park, NJ

Dark City Brewing lies only about four blocks north of Asbury Park Brewing, but those blocks bring it much closer to the wealthy residential end of Main St, which no doubts greatly helps to bring in the demographic with the disposable income that craft brewers are targeting.

Dark City occupies a large street corner location, with air-conditioned seating inside for around 50, with some further trestle tables outside on the patio.

I arrived to find just a couple of customers at around 1pm, but within an hour the place was packed, and the staff were working hard to keep up with demand.

They had fourteen draft beers available, across a very broad landscape, including stouts, IPAs, Pales and several innovative sours. Not all of the beers worked, but most of them did, and this is a great place to visit if you really want to challenge your tastebuds to something a bit out of the ordinary.

It was great to see this business really thriving, and I will definitely be back next time I am in the area.

Asbury Park Brewing - Asbury Park, NJ

Asbury Park, NJ, famous for being the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen, used to give Atlantic City a run for it's money as the premier vacation spot on the New Jersey shore. Similar to AC, it's fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the past Century, but Asbury Park never received the benefit of the major casino investment, and so it had fallen into a very decrepit state twenty years ago, which it is only now starting to recover from.

On Main St in Asbury Park there are two Taprooms only a few blocks apart. Just like I discovered the previous day in Bradley Beach, these two business represent the two extreme ends of this nascent industry.

Asbury Park Brewing occupies a large industrial unit, just behind a Family Dollar supermarket, in the ugly part of Main St.

In order to get to the Taproom, one has to walk through the Brewery itself, and this is a large scale production facility by most craft beer standards. It was a relief to find that the Taproom is in a sealed air-conditioned corner, and there was seating for maybe 40 people.

I was significantly disappointed to find just four draft beers on offer! I tasted them all and there was a couple of decent beers among them, but I find it difficult to understand why a Brewery of this size would offer such a limited choice in its taproom?

Bradley Brew Project - Bradley Beach, NJ

If it hadn't been for a casual conversation in Beach Haus Brewing earlier in the day, I wouldn't have even know that Bradley Brew Project existed, and my life would have been immeasurably the poorer!

(I had done extensive Google-mapping of the Taprooms of NJ prior to my visit in March of this year, so I didn't bother to repeat the "work" for this trip. It turns out that Bradley Brew Project only opened in June!)

BBP are in a modern air-conditioned store-front unit on Main St in Bradley Beach, just a few blocks from the shore-front.

The place was absolutely packed at about 6pm on Friday evening when I arrived, but I managed to nab a stool at the bar. The attention to detail in the Taproom is delightful, from the very funky taster-racks, to the decor featuring a variety of barrels.

The beer styles featured a modern selection of juice-bombs, stouts and pales. They were all brilliantly executed, and I couldn't leave before I had tried all ten taps.

This is a superb business that has really hit the ground running. It is a must-visit, if you are drinking on the Jersey Shore, and I will be returning as soon as I get the chance!

Little Dog Brewing - Bradley Beach, NJ

One stop on the Jersey Shore train from where I was staying in Asbury Park is the small resort town of Bradley Beach, home to two very different Taprooms.

My first destination of the evening was Little Dog Brewing, which is located in a small shopfront, a couple of blocks west of Main Street.

The Taproom has no aircon, and was oppressively hot when I arrived. There is seating for perhaps 20 people, and this is more of a nano-brewery than a micro-brewery, run by two friendly middle-aged ladies, both of whom were working behind the bar.

The beer choice was limited to just six taps, and the styles were rather conservative by modern standards.

I overheard one of the owners tell another customer that their main focus was to sell beer to local restaurants, and so the relatively "safe" beer styles make sense in this context.

This is not a taproom that I would return to, but it is nice to observe the variety of people that are getting into this business!

Beach Haus Brewing - Belmar, NJ

Upon reflection, it was my first visit to Beach Haus Brewing back in March of this year, which really opened my eyes to great US Taprooms in somewhat out of the way locations. It was that visit that triggered me to start documenting these wonders of modern hospitality in this blog!

Beach Haus occupies a large purpose-built street corner unit, in the center of the small resort town of Belmar, NJ. Their location, just a few blocks from the beach, and even closer to the inlet marinas, presumably assures that there will be plenty of passing trade. 

The Taproom has both a downstairs and an upstairs area, which could easily accommodate a couple of hundred guests. Upstairs features a large outdoor terrace, and there is even a separate upstairs room which is used for live music events. 

Having observed this industry more closely than is probably good for me over the past couple of years, I can confidently state that Beach Haus is one of the most innovative craft breweries I have come across. They always have a decent selection of Pales and NEIPAs brewed under their Test Dept banner, but they also have something brilliant and wacky on offer! 

Last time it was a peanut butter black lager, this time it was a hot chocolate lager with cayenne pepper! Both these two beers had unbelievable aroma, but also brilliantly balanced flavour combinations.

In chatting to the server, I learned that they have just hired a sour-specialist brewer, so things are about to get even more interesting! 

Being based in the center of a small tourist town, there is a huge range of food available too order-in from adjacent restaurants. 

This Brewery and Taproom is really the Gold-Standard for all that I am looking for, and it will take a lot of beating. Doesn't mean that I am going to stop searching though....!  ;-)

Big Rock Brewing - Toronto

A mile or so to the south of Great Lakes Brewing sits Big Rock Brewing, in a large industrial unit  close to the main freeway south of Toronto. 

The Taproom is fairly basic but quite sizable,  and could accommodate a decent crowd, which made the fact that I was the only customer for the majority of the time that I was there seem a bit odd! 

There was an interesting selection of beers available, and I worked my way through all of them, discussing each with the friendly barman. 

Unsurprisingly, there was no food available. 

I am somewhat concerned about the viability of such a business in this isolated location, but the quality and selection of beers on offer will ensure that I check them out again the next time I am in the area. 

Great Lakes Brewing - Toronto

Nice purpose built facility, although rather isolated, on an industrial street next to the freeway. 

The Brewery offers limited indoor seating at the bar and at a couple of tables for perhaps 30, but also has lots of outdoor seating. As the Toronto climate is fairly temperate, people probably prefer to sit outdoors for a good part of the year, but it was way too hot for that in August!  

The taproom had a rather limited tap selection, which was a little disappointing considering the range of beers displayed in bottles around the taproom, and considering the age and history of the brewery (2-time Canadian Brewery of the year!) 

As expected, the service was pleasant and attentive, and several other customers were tucking into some food options ordered in from near by outlets. 

I left feeling a bit disappointed that I didn't get the chance to try more beers from this apparently celebrated brewer.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Lot 30 Brewing - Toronto

Just a couple of hundred yards away from Henderson Brewers lies Lot 30 Brewing. They are located in a very smart unit which presumably was originally built as a restaurant. This had the huge benefit of being deliciously air-conditioned on this sweltering August afternoon!

I arrived bang on opening time and got settled at the bar with an excellent tasting flight.

The taproom seats about 50 inside, with patio seating at the front for a further 20 or so. 

The beer choice was good and the staff were pleasant and attentive.

Even though they had only been open for a few minutes they were immediately serving food from a decent menu.

As I discovered in my conversations as I toured the Taprooms of Toronto, Lot 30 Brewing is not yet well-known in the City, but I am pretty confident that this will change soon enough! The combination of some excellent Pales and Sours, along with the very appealing Taproom should see this business thrive in due course.