Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A hand-pulled pint at McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Borrowed from Trip Advisor

I'm recapping our summer vacation, and the beer story goes here at PC, with further narrative at NAC:

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 2: Across Ohio and New York to Brattleboro, Vermont.

On Day Two, we drove from Cleveland to Brattleboro, Vermont, proceeding directly to our Airbnb lodgings. Once the flag had been planted, it was time to get our bearings and go downtown, perhaps a half-mile away, which brought us to McNeill's Brewery.

I've no idea what has happened at McNeill's since 2005, when the following article appeared, although a more recent on-line account suggests that little has changed apart from the plug being pulled from a second brewing facility owing to the owner's bout of bad health.

After reading Crouch's wonderful character study, it's perfectly clear to me why I liked this place so much.

Alternately brash, arrogant, kindly, brusque, and passionate, Ray McNeill, the owner of McNeill's Brewery, is an intriguing mix of personalities, by Andy Crouch (BeerScribe)

... When he opened McNeill's Brewery in a rundown building in downtown Brattleboro, a structure that once served as a police station, a town office hall and a jail, McNeill had a vision. "I was trying to create a sort of social meeting house for the town. You know that stupid television show 'Cheers'? That actually happens here. That's what this bar is like." The bar's insular atmosphere can prove challenging for outsiders. "Some of them get it right away and some of them don't," says McNeill. "Some people from out of town just figure it out right away. I've seen people from out of town, within twenty minutes, were on a first name basis with another half dozen people. If some people live in some real cloistered suburban place, they're probably not going to figure it out. But a lot of them do. If people don't know who I am, I certainly try and encourage that. If I see someone from out of town, I try and start a conversation with them right away. I go a little bit out of my way to do that."

Even before reading the preceding, I wrote a review of McNeill's on Facebook.

We stopped in McNeill's during the afternoon while visiting Brattleboro, and again the following day, and enjoyed it. Someone else said McNeill's is a dive bar with great beer, and to me, this is both accurate and commendable, because increasingly, pretentiousness kills the joy of "craft" beer. I had excellent cask pours, including a yummy Old Ale. The bartender was great; she treated us like family and offered spot-on advice about other dining and drinking options. Loved it for what it is.

My instincts are still fairly sharp, after all. One of the bartender's most enthused recommendations was Turquoise Grill, an intimate Turkish spot. My Lamb Köfte was outstanding.

One Brattleboro brewery down ... two to go.


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