Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brewery Tour Stop #4: Offshore Ale Company

If you haven’t been to Martha’s Vineyard, you should go for two reasons:

1) Back Door Donuts (also called “Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Café & Bakery” for the civilized folk)

2) Offshore Ale Company

OK, there are many more reasons to go to MV. It’s a wonderful island. But these two food spots in the busy village of Oak Bluffs are highlights. Before I talk about Offshore Ale Company, let me make clear that I’m not joking about Back Door Donuts. Go there. Do not question me. The apple fritters are intense, the donuts delectable, and the ice coffee is unbeatable (take note Dunks). Plus, with any bakery purchase, you get a free “I Love Back Door Donuts” bumper sticker. What more do you want?

Spitting distance from Back Door Donuts is Offshore Ale Company. On a recent trip to MV, my wife and I visited twice.

Do you like eating complimentary peanuts and throwing shells on the floor? Offshore welcomes you and expects this type of behavior. This is a popular place for dinner. It’s in a busy part of town, and because it’s not huge, there’s often a wait for tables. Unfortunately the bar area is not huge, but we’ve been lucky to score a seat there on all four visits going back to last year.  

One reason I like this place is because although it’s super casual, the food is above typical pub fair. The kitchen is exposed, providing a bistro feel, and they put an artisanal touch on familiar comfort dishes. The food we’ve had was delicious.

They brew on site and beautiful copper brewing kettles are visible through a glass wall into a separate room. In this room you can also see a chalkboard listing upcoming beers. It will tell you which are boiling, which are fermenting, etc. Nice touch, even though I sadly won't be around to drink them.

Let’s talk beer. Ladies first. My better half had the Menemsha Creek Pale Ale which she declared a “good pizza beer.” I tasted it as well and agree. It has a familiar, faint caramel malt and with a touch of floral hops.

On to better things, we both had a pint of “Hop Goddess” and began to feel that we were now in business. If you’re a hop head, grab this. I feel it’s a cross between an American IPA and a Belgian pale ale. It looks cloudy and bright orange in color. Strong hops own the aroma with a touch of apricot. The taste is full of citrus, as well as floral and resiny hops, blended with almost Belgian-style yeastiness. It’s smooth, a bit dry, and quenchable. Highly recommended.

The Steep Rock Stout was another winner in my book. Pitch black with a white head one-finger in size. Its aroma was a mix of baker’s chocolate, charcoal, and slight molasses. The taste was similar to the aroma, with notable notes of roasted grain, oats, and coffee. Dry and easy to drink. This one earns another high recommendation.

I did taste their imperial stout called “Inkwell”. This is similar to the Steep Rock Stout, but with a lot more heat thanks to its 10% ABV. However, it didn’t impressed me because it couldn’t hide its alcohol well, which ruined the flavor profile. If you want a stout here, stick to the Steep Rock.

Not during the most recent visit, but the first time we were here, I had their amber ale and Helles Bock. The amber ale can be considered their flagship. You can find bottles of it in stores. It’s serviceable, and boasts toasty malts with faint hops that only serve to keep the brew balanced. An agreeable table beer for the majority of their audience.

I remember being impressed with the Helles Bock. It was refreshing, crisp, and floral. A great summer beer.

Recommended? Yes. Very much so. But, let’s be honest. If you’re a beer geek on the Vineyard, there’s no other brewery to go to. Are there bars with a few decent taps? Sure. But, breweries? No. Luckily this one’s a good one with satisfying food. Just skip dessert there and head to Back Door Donuts (I mean, Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Café & Bakery) for fine pastry.

Kennebec Avenue, Oak Bluffs
Martha’s Vineyard

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