Need mead? Plus, Revival’s here and Lagunitas Sucks

Bottles and cans and just clap your hands
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  November 22, 2011

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YE OLDE BEVERAGE Pete Seeger sang, "We will pray just like the Druids/Drinking strange fermented fluids/Go dancing naked through the woods/They're good enough for me." Those "strange fermented fluids" were mead (aka ambrosia and the nectar of the gods), the timeless honey-based beverage that flowed through Valhalla, juiced up the Canterbury Tales, and was Beowulf's go-to brew. And Seeger's verse is an appropriately randy reference to the offerings from Moonlight Meadery, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which debuted in this market last month. The names of the age-old fermented beverages brewed by Michael Fairbrother — Sensual, Wicked, Paramour, Blissful, Sumptuous, Desire — suggest that they have an ulterior motive (Moonlight's motto is "Romance by the glass"). One offering, Utopian, is aged and fermented in casks used to age Samuel Adams' uber-pricey limited edition Utopias. I tried a few of Moonlight's meads and favored Wicked, the driest and least sweet of the sampling batch (the ABV for most of the Moonlight is between 13 and 17%). The 12-ounce bottles (some stores stock the liquid in the beer aisle; others nudge it toward the wines; they're also at AS220) cost $16-$20 (the Utopian is in the $40 range), are a bit of an indulgence — but passion has its price.

REVIVAL ARRIVAL There have been a few fleeting sightings the last few months, but there's finally a semi-wide release from Revival Brewing Co. Make your Thanksgiving weekend memorable by seeking out their Imperial Octoberfest, Saison, Double Black IPA, and Juliet 484 Stout (I had a few ounces of last two at the way-fun Beer Summit Harvest Fest in Boston last weekend, and can't wait to savor full glasses). Sean Larkin's delicious creations can be found at the Dorrance, Brown's GCB, the Avery, Loie Fuller's, Doherty's the Hot Club, and Julian's, with many other locations to come. And get ready to be the first on your block to sport a "SEAN LARKIN DRIVES ME TO DRINK" T-shirt. Check revivalbrewing.com for updates.

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SANTA 'STEADA SHUGGA' Another treat at the Beer Summit was getting a few sips of the Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale. A lack of brewing capacity shelved the seasonal appearance of the beloved Brown Shugga' Ale, so the hop-crazed wizards substituted this "Cereal Medley" (with barely, rye, wheat, and oats). It has the massive flavor and enticing wallop that all of the Lagunitas offerings deliver (at a relatively modest 7.6% ABV). The return of Shugga' in '12 will be sweet, but this non-sucking one-off is a genuine Holiday treat. (Parenthetically, there were quite a few other treats at the Harvest Fest: Dogfish Head's daunting but delightful 18% ABV 120 Minute IPA and the sweet and smoky Chicory Stout; Olde Burnside's Stone of Destiny, a unique and hefty 12% ABV black & tan; Haverhill's Joshua Norton, a wonderful Russian Imperial Stout; Wormtown's Be Hoppy IPA and BUK Rye Pale; and Widmer Brothers' Brrr, a great malty/hoppy/spicy Winter Warmer.)

YUM! The Tree House Tavern & Bistro at Ferns and Flowers (yeah, it's a mouthful) on 1094 Centerville Road (aka Route 117, across from Inskip Volvo) in Warwick is an offbeat delight. The 1860s farmhouse is the very embodiment of quaint, with a big dose of quirk on the side (there's literally a treehouse room, plus a warren of other cozy quarters — and a high tea service). The menu is as engaging as the setting, and the beer selection ranks with the best in the state; there are only five taps, but the choices are always stellar — current offerings included Southern Tier Mokah and Allagash White — and the bottle list is extensive (and reasonably priced). Need an excuse to hit it? Make plans for the Brew HaHa Beer Tapas Event on Saturday, December 3 at 7:30 pm, with tastings of "many beers" paired with the Tree House's savory small plates, plus some info on Home Brewing 101. Tickets are $35; call 401.821.1447 or go to thetreehousetavern.com.

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