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Best Microbrew in the North East

So... everyone else is talking about their favorites... I thought I would mention mine. It is from Brattleboro Vermont (that is in the south) and by far the best beer ever! Their many varieties, like their extra special bitter or smoked porter are even hard to get in Vermont, where I anxiously await the day each month when it arrives to my local grocer. What is it - I ask myself- about this beer that is so wonderful in every way?? Well, definitely the attention that is paid to every single brew. It always seems to me that brewers eventually stretch beyond their reach, past what they are good at and into the realm of uncertainty. Not McNeill’s, McNeill’s I suppose is made by someone who truly loves ALL of the forms of beer that they concoct. From the crazy hoppy ipa to the delicious stout, these people have beer truly figured out. Right now I am having a sip on their unfiltered seasonal Scotch Ale, which is bottle conditioned. Deep roasted amber in color and rounded in scotch ale flavors of coffee, chocolate, hazelnut it is truly an exceptional brew after a long hard days work during the depths of winter...Yummy!... what do you think? Have you had it? What’s your favorite?

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  1. Never heard of McNeill's, but I'm definitely going to look for it here in Maine. Smoked porter...mmmm...I had a good one years ago at the Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington, and I'm overdue for another. What is McNeill's putting out for spring?

    As I've said elsewhere, my favorite beer of all time, Northeast or otherwise, is Otter Creek Copper Ale, up in Middlebury. I hear Otter Creek has a Kolsch-style ale for spring that I've got to try. Don't know if they're doing Mud Bock Spring Ale this year. Check these guys out if you haven't!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kinnexa

      I don't think they have brewed the Mud bock in a few years. The Alpine Ale replaced it as the spring seasonal. I also miss their old winter seasonal - A Winter's Tale, but that got the axe too, the year after they had that rancid batch.

      1. re: LStaff

        I really dont like Alpine Ale for some reason... I think that Otter creek really missed the mark on that one. As far as Kinnexa's reference to the smoked porter at VT Pub & Brew... they still have it and it is still AWESOME. Probobally the best I have ever had. If you like VT Pub or get around B-town in the spring, they have a limited release maple beer. About 5 or so years ago I first had it and was blown away. I guess that they actually trade a bunch of beer to a maple syrup producer for his very low grade syrup (which is better for cooking purposes anyway). I try to make sure to have it every spring time now. It is deep and dark and rich with all of the fun flavor of maple syrup and not the sugar..... yumm

      2. re: Kinnexa

        Geeze, Copper Ale is about the only brew Otter Creek makes that I *don't* like. My favorite has got to be Stove Pipe Porter.

      3. Ten years ago, there was no better brewer in New England than McNeill's. Today other breweries have left poor Ray standing still - maybe if he stepped back into the brewhouse and put out a few batches himself, it might be a different story. But the quality issues that have plagued McNeill's beers within the last few years has taken its toll. Hopefully the new production brewery is what is needed to get Ray to put the boots back on and get excited about brewing again.

        But for now, The Alchemist is the new king of New England. Holy Cow IPA is one of the few IPA's made in New England that pushes my hop head buttons - Heady Topper DIPA, Alena, El Jefe as well. Solid regular lineup with a great porter and tasty red ale too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LStaff

          totally agreed on the alchemist, although rock art's new extreme series beers including infusco (barrel-aged spiced belgian), ?riddler? (trappist-style dubbel), hell's bock (hoppy dopplebock), vermonster (double ridge runner) and sunny & 75 (orange wit) are placing them hot on the alchemist's tail.

          mcneill's new scotch ale is really good, on tap anyways. got bottles to test out in the week ahead.

          1. re: goodbyeohio

            I like the stronger non-belgians Matt is making for sure -and the regulars are solid beers (albiet a bit boring for me). I don't know if things have changed in the later batches of the belgian styles, but I tried some of the early batches at EBF the last two years and did not like them at all due to rough alcohol flavors.

            1. re: LStaff

              Alchemist, but gbo does point out that RA's brews are up and coming. I've been digging them as of late.

          2. My absolute favorites are Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout. Both have a very high alcohol content and are extremely rich and complex. The brewery is in Delaware, but they distribute all over. Not always easy to get as they only release certain brews a few times a year.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rrems

              So are you saying that you would like them less if they were as rich and complex but had less alcohol?

              1. re: Chinon00

                No, not at all. I just mentioned it because it is unusual, and meant to be drunk in small quantities.

              2. re: rrems

                Damn good beer but it has has more calories than a 10 pack of Chicken McNuggets so watch out!

                1. re: rrems

                  dogfish head does a 60 and a 90 minute IPA also. It's the amount of time that they are continually adding hops. If you are in search of the bitterness level you prefer. Just an FYI everyone.

                  1. re: ECU

                    They are also different strengths: 6% for 60 minute and 9% for 90 minute. Perceived bitterness varies with amount of hopping and the maltiness of the beer.

                2. I don't think I'd go so far as to call it the best, but one that doesn't get as much press as it should is Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA. They're doing great stuff. I could drink their Winter Palace Wee Heavy (Scotch Ale) all winter.

                  1. In terms of the larger "craft" brewers, my vote would have to go to Dogfish followed by Victory.

                    In terms of the smaller brewers, Weyerbacher does a tremendous job as does Troegs.
                    By way of brewpubs, Harvest Moon in central NJ is always top notch.

                    just my two cents.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: yankeefan

                      agree with dogfish.

                      does brooklyn count? six points can do no wrong.

                      1. re: TBird

                        another nod for six points; reliably great beers (hell yes brooklyn counts!)

                        1. re: jimmyjazz

                          I like Six Point. I had the Diesel Stout from a small a cask and Atlantic Antic Amber, both fine beers. I think Blue Point's beers are still better.

                          I've also had some Southern Tier's I liked recently.

                          1. re: Captain

                            I have been to the Brooklyn Brewery, and I have to say that the Brooklyn Monster is great. They have a festival in the summer. If you are in the area, you should give it a shot.