Off the Pike

off the pike DrunkenHello dear readers and beer sippers alike, I would like to start a new segment of posts called Off the Pike  (Massachusetts Turnpike). In Massachusetts there are a plethora of wonderful breweries, and many “off the beaten path” so-to-speak. But in these posts, we will introduce you to Breweries up and down the state, all within 10-20 minutes of the Pike. Personal challenge accepted!

The Mass Pike is loaded with Tolls, troopers, and scenic views, and it leads to some great adventures. For this post, I will introduce you to two breweries off exit 7 in Ludlow. Ready?

First is Drunken Rabbit, located roughly 15 minutes from the exit on 749A New Drunken Rabbit LogoLudlow Rd, South Hadley, MA 01075. They are a newer brewery with big ambitions. Live music, ample seating and games are available. They also serve a variety of styles such as: IPA’s, Browns, sours, stouts and porters. If you can’t decide, ask for a sample or order a flight. Dogs and outside food are welcome.

Walking into the tap room, the actual brewery is to the left – behold the birth of beer!  Straight ahead is the bar with the friendly staff on hand; take a seat anywhere you can, at he bar itself or in the many varieties of couches or chairs and tables.  As for the brews? here are a few suggestions:

Archemedes’ War Machine is a 5.5% stout that is just easy sipping. It has the roasted quality you would expect in a stout, but its not overly robust. It’s smooth, velvety and all around easy drinking. Think Guinness, but better.

Boysen Da Hood is a nice change of pace from all those heavily hopped IPA’s we see flooding the place. This 6% sour beer is brewed with coriander, sea salt, and Boysenberry puree. It’s pleasantly light and juicy with a balanced tartness.

Rabbit De Niro, will have you saying, “are you lookin’ at me?” To any-bunny dRUNKEN LEFT FOOT(see what I did there) that walks by? It’s an American milk stout at 5.5% ABV. It starts off with an enticing coffee nose, and it drinks like an iced coffee with a  rich finish. Definitely a beer that gets better as you drink.

Imperial Lucky Left Foot is a delicious treat not to be taken lightly.  At 11.5 % ABV, this is a beer to be sipped and enjoyed. Not only is it an Imperial, that is not available in flights, but its aged with honey in bourbon barrels. Expect a smooth and vinous quality, with some malty marshmallow notes. Pick it up on tap or bottle.

Desperately Seeking Sour is another sour running at about 5% ABV. It has a pungent dank nose, with hints of lemon, honey and cider vinegar.It’s a bit tart with a wheaty finish.

These are just a few of the brews I have sampled, so why don’t you head on down and try a few of their other concoctions -and yes, they make many IPA’s. Besides bottles, you can take the beers home in Growlers and Crowlers. This is one Off the Pike brewery you need to indulge your senses in.

Rustic Logo LightA new player to the brewery game, about 7 minutes off the exit is the award winning Rustic Brewing, located on 34 Front St Suite G21, Indian Orchard, MA 01151. For this, I would recommend visiting their website and pre-ordering, because their beer sells out fast! Pours/fills can be ordered online without cost. This guarantees you will have a sample (good thing they installed more equipment to keep up with demand).

Rustic has a great variety of good small batch brews, and have won awards; beating Trillium and Tree House in a blind taste test. This rustic set up is located in a facility called Indian Orchard Mills, and the entrance to the brewery is facing towards the canal, not the river, by a foot bridge. Their website will show you a more detailed description, as well as the parking lot locations.  Inside is definitely rustic; from the beautiful wood worked table tops to the large logo’d barn doors.  And whether you talk to Jared, Todd or Eric, you won’t be disappointed in their conversation, knowledge and wit. Many of their beers can be found on Untappd, and here are a few of my suggestions ( their menu changes often):

CoffeeNutt is a 7.2% Milk stout. It is covetously delicious; you almost feel guilty drinking it. I call this my liquid cheat day. Think of your favorite chocolate covered coconut candy, put it in a blender with some coffee and cream, and you have yourself  a tantalizing smooth coconutty, creamy, coffee dessert of a beer.  It’s a very aromatic beer and very fresh.

Fruitful Darkness is another 7% milk stout, but it’s not as thick as a mouthfeel as one might expect. It is rich and roasty with subtle fruit resonance. It’s a more chocolate forward beer, with a well rounded balance of flavor and aroma. Sampling this with another food and beer reviewer, the topic of this darkness being infused with other fruit got us thinking… could their be a series?

Hop Blind leads us out of the dark and into the hoppy sunshine. This is 6.8% NEIPA, is fresh for the picking! It’s dank, juicy, smooth and balanced. With a mixture of four hops, Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Azzaca, you will be swimming in a hoppy bounty.

Smothered in Hops is your classic NEIPA style, and flavor, with a hoppy twist. The dankness is there, but suppressed and while the finish is dry, the soft tropical papaya notes complete the experience nicely.   Expect some copious Rustic Lavenousamounts of hops in this bouquet of Galaxy, Simcoe, Citra and Columbus.

What’s a New England brewery without a Milkshake IPA? If  the thought of a milkshake mixed with a creamsicle that will give you a buzz sounds delicious, then Mango Daydream is up your alley!  This hazy flavor bomb will reward your tastebuds with its fruity tropical nuances. It is a lot lighter than you would expect, but appearances are deceiving. the nose is dank and green, and the tropical fruit lingers sweetly on the palate. The finish is dry and tangy.

For a detailed description of their brews, click here, for their beer list.

Both of these breweries have excellent swag. Go for great beer, leave with great memories. And remember, don’t forget to tell them, “The Barley Men sent you.”

We hope you enjoyed the review of these two breweries right Off the Pike, and stay tuned for two more great breweries off the same exit!


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