Dank Darlin’s and Russian stouts in cozy digs with killer brussel sprouts and parking too
Welcome to the Boston Better Beer Bureau, our latest incarnation of the trusty suds reporting we’ve done at DigBoston ever since people referred to beer as suds. Really, we remember the days when we’d spend half our checks on fancy German bottles just so that we could review them, whereas these days breweries from all around New England kindly send us samplers and stay in touch. The BBBB is our attempt to return that love, all while sharing more news about the innumerable microbreweries and pubs among us.
First of all, while I know you’re not supposed to necessarily be driving to these places, I have to note that Winter Hill Brewing in Somerville has lots of parking, or at least one parking lot, which is more than most. It’s just so goddamn rare these days that it is probably worth mentioning, plus the taproom isn’t exactly next to the train, so perhaps you’ll want to get a friend to roll you in their car. It’s fine if they don’t drink; as you’ll see in the part where I extol the food, there’s something for just about everyone, even sober vegetarians.
Unlike modern breweries that have the whole Dave & Buster’s appeal with games and attractions, this spot’s simply built for good drinking and grubbing, and I cannot stress enough that there is nothing wrong with that. Not unlike Dorchester Brewing Co., Winter Hill’s home base doubles as a neighborhood bar, one where somebody might actually know your name. With the frigid months approaching, this is a place you’ll want to have on your cozy and comfortable list.
I’ll expand on the sips in a moment, but first I have some props for the food. Even in 2019, in an age and time when baseball parks sell sashimi and McDonald’s offers craft coffee, I still don’t walk into most breweries expecting top-notch fare. It’s nice when there’s a food truck out back to help quell my munchies, but pretzels and mustard will do the trick just fine. With that said, Winter Hill Brewing has some spectacular bites; like, I’d go there even if I wasn’t looking to get trashed. We only had the brilliant brussel sprouts, fantastic mac and cheese, and fried buffalo broccoli that could compete with any plate of traditional chicken wings, but we were motivated enough to return and sample the rest, especially the overstuffed sandwiches that kept giving us whiplash as they manifested on tables around us.
For beer, it’s only right to start off with the signature Darlin’s IPA. At 6.6% ABV, which I faithfully believe is basically the perfect percentage for a strong ale of this variety, and in the service of the tagline, “West Coast meets East Coast. Floral and Dank,” this is one of our region’s leading numbers, equal parts challenging and easy on the pipes. Packing citrus, marmalade, resin, and pine notes, it’s the kind of beer you marry.
Once you’ve settled in with a Darlin’s, or perhaps one of the usually available Johnny Juice Bomb hazy hopalongs that Winter Hill is also known for, it’s time to reach for some exotics, like the evening-ending Russian Ending Imperial Stout (9.2% ABV), or the Rose of Slovenia IPA (5%), which is light with a small bite, visually resembling generic table beer but offering much more upon the palette.
On our last trip to the brewery, we also got to enjoy a few pours of Lazy in the Sky stout, which we found to be sweet and filling, like an apple donut stuffed with candy corn, though slightly more subtle. The taste propelled us deep into a cavern, the kind of place we’d like to hibernate for several of the coming months.
A place, I suppose, like Winter Hill Brewing.
Citizen Strain/Grain is an amalgamation of a bunch of us who, in addition to the hard and oftentimes depressing journalism we report for the Dig, also enjoy sampling and writing about the various beers, spirits, and cannabis products that vendors from near and far send our way. If you want us to check out your product, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.