I have two beer confessions before we begin. First, I’m a beer snob. While I know that a lot of beers I like to think of as ‘microbrews’ are actually owned by the big beer guys, I can no longer drink Bud Light, Coors or any other of their canned brethren. I’m not even cool enough to attempt to enjoy hipster throwbacks such as Narragansett or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Both I, and my wallet, lament that those days are long behind me. I crave a beer you can chew and as I’ve (gracefully?) aged, I can no longer do really light, watered down beers. This brings me to my next revelation. I am not a fan of IPAs. I know that in beer circles that is sacrilege and I feel the need to defend myself. I feel I have an extensive palette and there are very few flavors I do not enjoy but piney and hoppy and bitterness are some of them. I have run across a few IPAs now and then that I have enjoyed but they are few and far between. I instead go for luscious porters and stouts. Thick, creamy, slightly sweet with coffee and chocolate notes are exactly what I gravitate towards in a beer. Roasted, malty with undertones of toffee and caramel‚ now you’re speaking my language. So now that we have that out of the way, I am delighted to tell you about a local brewery that is gaining some solid national traction as evidenced by their growing list of accolades. Jack’s Abby craft lagers recently opened the doors to their new beer hall and kitchen in the heart of downtown Framingham, Massachusetts. I had first visited Jack’s Abby when it was in a nondescript, semi-deserted factory location from which they were churning out some quality beer. Their new location is everything the old location wasn’t; huge, retro, modern, deliciously decorated with shiny copper taps and large tables and benches for seating. There were couples, families and friends sitting together at the open seating tables, it makes for a wonderful gathering place.
There is a surprisingly extensive menu full of wood fired pizzas, a plethora of shareable plates, a few larger entrees and sandwiches (lunch only). I can heartily recommend the piping hot pizza from their gorgeous exposed oven (the meatball with pecorino and clam with bacon were definite winners). A nicely charred crust, with just the right amount of toppings and a good chew, and at about 8 slices, large enough to share. The clam pizza was just the right amount of salty and the meatballs were well seasoned. The crispy rosemary wood fired chicken wings and the pillowy house pretzel were also fantastic, but honestly, anything coming out of a giant wood fired oven is probably going to be pretty tasty.
But if you are headed to Jack’s Abby, it is probably for the beer. When I was there, they had 24 beers on tap, make sure you check their website for what is available. While you order your food at the tables, your beer is ordered initially at the bar. The bar is a beautiful sight to behold with gleaming copper and a row of taps on both sides. Behind it are huge glass windows showcasing their giant stainless steel tanks. I can’t attest to the IPA but I recommend their Smoke & Dagger, a smoky, woodsy black lager with hints of coffee and chocolate. If you are really fortunate, they might have their Machete & Dagger, which is the Smoke & Dagger with some spicy heat added. I’m a huge fan of the rotating selection of their porters, Framinghammers and Hammers. The baby Hammer is probably my favorite as it hits all my favorite notes of coffee, malty, roasted goodness with a hint of sweetness, very similar to a milk stout. Service was beyond friendly and indulgent, especially as I wandered around with my phone snapping pictures of everything, including a friendly bartender who begged to be in a photo. Jack’s Abby is a local craft brewery well worth a visit. I support them even more for staying true to their roots and refurbishing a building in downtown Framingham. I look forward to using Jack’s Abby beer hall as a happy hour destination or a weekend gathering spot with friends.