Sunday, April 24, 2011

Madison Brewing Co.

Fourteenth Stop: Madison Brewing Co.

Beers: Sucker Pond Blonde, Buck’s Honey Wheat, Willoughby’s Scottish Ale, Crow Town Pale Ale, Wassick’s White Wall, Seasonal Oatmeal Stout, and a Raspberry Ale.

Madison Tavern holds a special place in my heart because it hails from my hometown of Bennington, Vermont and it’s because of this reason that I was able to visit this past weekend. Over the Easter weekend I laid my final living grand relative to rest and returned to my hometown for the only reason I ever seem to; a death in the family. I know what you’re thinking starting this one out a little dark, huh? Well bare with me, I mean they can’t all be happy days, right?

It’s been a Langlois family tradition to get together on Easter Sunday (sometimes Saturday if that worked out better for everyone involved but that’s besides the point) right outside of the town that spawned us all in Shaftsbury, VT at my Aunt’s house for some kind of Holiday meal. No one that I know of in my immediate clan is particularly religious but I think maybe all the other good holidays were taken or maybe it was an ancient battle between my Über religious side of the family versus the pagan side in one finally last ditch effort to get us to convert to their secular god. Whether this event ever did have darker undertones or not, one thing was certain: once a year we loaded up in our family truckster and headed down the rabbit trail. Last year, in a stage of defiance I requested we make a brief but important pit stop at Madison Brewing Co. so I could collect my stamp and sample (at the time) the only beer coming out of the very town that pushed me out into this world. With little protest but no small amount of arm-twisting and many promises of no appetite ruining, I convinced my parents this was a necessary stop, and quite a memorable stop it became. Boasting both flavorful beer and food, Madison Brewing Co. could easily become one of my favorite haunts if only there wasn’t 128 miles between us. But maybe somewhere in a parallel dimension, one where I never left Bennington, that would’ve become my Vermont Pub and Brewery; at least I’d like to think so.

This trip to Bennington alas had a darker undertone since the main mission was to lay the ashes of the Langlois family patriarch to rest. I cannot lie though, although my blood is an eclectic mix of French Canadian, American Indian, Irish, German and god knows what else, a true mutt like most god fearing Americans, my last name is Kehoe and I hold fast to my Irish-American roots that spawn it. I was going to celebrate my grandfather’s passing the same way I’d celebrate the birth of my first child, surrounded by those closest to me with a craft beer in my hand. Madison Brewing Co. was both warm and inviting like they knew I was the prodigal son returning to his native land. I had my heart set on ordering an Old 76 Strong Ale, a favorite from my last visit, but this wasn’t meant to be because they were currently out. I knew I had liked the Sucker Pond Blonde, which I promise has nothing to do with my Dad’s adventurous off-road stories from its namesake and everything to do with its light sweet flavor, but I couldn’t remember which other beers I enjoyed. There was a very simple way to solve this question: Madison’s Brewmaster Sampler.

The sampler consisted of Sucker Pond Blonde, Buck’s Honey Wheat, Willoughby’s Scottish Ale, Crow Town Pale Ale, Wassick’s White Wall, Seasonal Oatmeal Stout, and a Raspberry Ale (to replace the missing Old 76 Strong Ale). Beers of interest were the Wassick’s White Wall, their Belgian inspired unfiltered wheat ale that was Jaclyn’s favorite and a very flavorful beer if you are a fan of the Belgian style ales. I’m not a huge fan of coriander but I can appreciate good ale when I taste one, and as far as local Belgian ales go this was a good one. My father enjoyed the Crow Town Pale Ale, which I found to be slightly hoppy. It’s a golden ale, but it uses Fuggles hops. I found this interesting because I’ve had quite a few Fuggles-based I.P.A.s but not a lot of golden ales boasting Fuggles hops. Now that I type this, I’m going to have to put in more research (i.e. drinking) to back this up; stay tuned for the retraction. The Seasonal Oatmeal Stout was a favorite amongst the table (ordered in pint form by both my parents and my brother). Although I tried a sampler of this it wasn’t my main focus, it had a smooth creamy flavor and was quite delicious but I have to say my favorite beer of the evening was the Willoughby’s Scottish Ale. To me it had a crisp first sip with a smooth mouth feel and malt finish. After I finished my sampler I ordered a pint of the Willoughby’s Scottish Ale and I know if the growler didn’t have to spend 48 hours in a car I would’ve purchased one of these. My time at Madison was short but worth it and I look forward to my next visit and my next sip of both Willoughby’s Scottish Ale and hopefully Old 76 Strong Ale.

Stop #14 Complete!