While on business in Westminster, Massachusetts I had a chance to visit the Gardener Alehouse, in Gardner Massachusetts. Gardener is an old furniture town that has, let's say, lost its edge. Apparently, some years ago Gardner was know as Chair City and the Furniture Hub of New England.
While the neighborhood left much to desire, the alehouse was quite a pleasure. My experience of brewpubs is that the beer usually under-whelming. I found this to certainly not be so at Gardener's. My first beer was the cask ale, which was their pale ale with Citra hops added. It was served at room temperature and the dry hopped Citra added a wonderful bouquet and bitterness. I paired this with their eggplant parmesan, which was excellent. And it certainly complemented the tangy essence of the marinara sauce.
To finish off my first experience at Gardener's I had their double IPA, Face-Off. This was served in a small goblet which was appropriate for this 10% ABV beer.
The first experience at gardeners were so good I suggested to our group to go back a second time. Fortunately, they agreed.
I wanted to try they are chocolate porter and again and was not disappointed. With chocolate notes and a solid roastiness, it was a joy. I paired this with fish tacos which were accented with a mole sauce.
The last beer I was able to try was an abbey rye. I was really looking forward to the since I love both Belgian style's in rye beers. And while the spirit was not bad, it didn't really highlight any of the two styles. It didn't display any of the funky character you associate with Belgian beers. Nor did it really have any the spiciness I have come to expect from beers brewed with rye. While it certainly was a drinkable beer, it was the only one that I really was disappointed in.
So, if you ever find yourself in north central Massachusetts and need a place to eat with dependable good, fresh beer, the Gardener Alehouse is an easy recommendation that I don't think any respectable beer geek would be disappointed in.