By Amy Tindell
A group of Venture Café bartenders made the pilgrimage to Bentley Brewing Company as part of our “adventure day” in Worcester, Massachusetts. With food coma setting in after devouring 4 pizzas at Volturno Pizza, but our beer appetites whetted at Armsby Abby, Shahin pointed the car southwest towards Southbridge, Massachusetts.
We found Bentley housed in an historic building in downtown Southbridge, sharing space with the Dark Horse Tavern. Bentley Brewing Company sits at the back of the building, with an outdoor patio facing the Quinebaug River. The tasting room is complete with booths, a small bar for tasting and filling growlers, and a pool table.
Brewers Adam Golka and Mike Lynch stood in the tasting room with the owner of the Dark House Tavern and his very large, very friendly dog. Adam and Mike offered us tastes of their full slate of current offerings as they told us about their journey to opening the brewery. Both brewers with day jobs, they founded the brewery with a focus on providing excellent craft beer to their local community. They have plans for slow expansion, with a booth at the upcoming American Craft Beer Fest in Boston, and releasing 22 ounce bottles to select Massachusetts retailers. On a day-to-day basis, they focus on growler sales and experimenting with their 10 barrel system to perfect new beer styles.
Always the IPA-doubter, I was suspicious of their first pour of the Bentley IPA, despite their reassurances that it was not too hoppy. I should have trusted them, as their IPA was smooth and slightly sweet, balanced with light hop bitterness, and felt pleasingly refreshing going down. Adam and Mike explained that they achieve this balanced effect with a combination of Cascade, Chinook, Columbus, Nugget, and Apollo hops. Bentley’s S.O.B. (Southbridge Ordinary Bitter), a traditional English ale, was even easier to drink, incorporating British Maris Otter malt with Sterling hops. Continuing our journey to the maltier side of brewing, Man Skirt exemplified how delicious a good Scottish ale can be; the sweeter caramel flavors mixed with the bready malty flavors, creating a smooth, clean finish.
Our final taste was Black Eye, a dry imperial Irish stout. Light in mouthfeel but substantial and complex in taste, Black Eye is one of the most drinkable imperial stouts I’ve tried. It started out sweet in the mouth, until the roast, coffee and chocolate flavors became more apparent, and then finished with slightly sour and metal notes, tempered by an ethanol aftertaste. I bought a growler.
In fact, we all bought growlers. However, we couldn’t agree on a favorite. Robin liked the S.O.B., Shahin the IPA, and I the Black Eye. Perhaps our varied tastes explain how our beer offerings across 4 taps often manage to represent the full spectrum of beer styles. Nonetheless, we did agree that we would see Adam and Mike again. Is there any other way we can keep our growlers at least half full?