Monday, September 14, 2015

Family Brews in Fall Rivah

Battleship Brewhouse
101 President Ave.
Fall River, MA

Blue collar cities = Budweiser crap.”
          -- Cousin757 email to Suit757

You can tell we’re kin, huh?

Yeah, Cousin757 loves double IPAs even more than I do. She probably wouldn’t drink a Sam Adams if it were free.

I guess that’s where the similarities end. I’m pretty sure I’ve never turned down a beer.

Ever. Not even a Bud.

But Cousin757’s warning about the perils of finding a good place to sample local double IPAs near her home in Fall River, Massachusetts was well taken.

This is the town that is famous for two things: the gang rape trial depicted by Jody Foster in “The Accused” and Lizzy Borden -- who axe murdered her parents.

Not exactly Chamber of Commerce marketing material.

Folks in this gritty former textile town are perfectly happy with their bottles of Bud, thank you very much. Hoity toity beer snobs like us can keep their “fancy beer” inside of Route 128.

But Cousin757 mentioned a strip mall brewhouse that serves an unusually nice selection of suds in this blue collar town.

Battleship Brewhouse in Fall River.

Deal. Count me in.

If USAir doesn’t ruin my life, I’ll be there at 7:30pm on Wednesday night!

To add yet another layer of festivity, my sister unexpectedly decided to drive four hours round trip to join us.

The lengths people will go to down a few brews with Suit757!

I was honored.

And thirsty when I pulled into the nearly empty trash-strewn parking lot on the outskirts of downtown Fall River.

Next to a nail salon and a Chinese take-out joint, Battleship Brewhouse’s parking lot view didn’t look too promising.

But the inside was much better, freshly painted with pictures of the namesake USS Massachusetts battleship parked on the Fall River waterfront.

Other than a small scattering of a few lonely beer drinkers, we had the place to ourselves.

I kicked off this 757 family reunion in style -- with a beer flight, of course.

While Fall River doesn’t appear to have climbed aboard the craft beer bandwagon with a local brewery, the beer menu offered some tasty options from other parts of the People’s Republic of Taxachussetts.

I chose an IPA from Ipswich Ale and a porter and IPA from Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth for my maiden flight of three.

I thought Mayflower’s IPA was a little thin, but the porter was toasty, malty and full of flavor.

The Ipswich IPA was definitely a notch above the Mayflower. And isn’t that why we order beer flights -- to compare and contrast -- and declare a winner?

Congratulations Ipswich IPA.

But that was just the warm up for one of the greatest beers to ever grace my liver -- Vermont’s Otter Creek Backseat Berner -- a hoppy IPA masterpiece with aromatic piney hops balanced perfected with a tasty malt backbone.

Four beers into the festivities (don’t worry, three of them were 5oz samplers), it was time to join my cuz on the heavy double IPA side of the beer menu.

I opted to leave New England for Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing. Their Nitro Stout is a Suit757 Hall of Famer, so I was anxious to try the Twin Sisters. She didn’t disappoint. Twin barrels of hoppy deliciousness.

By this point in the evening it was past time to start thinking about actual non-liquid sustenance.

Cousin757 had warned me, “The beer selection is decent but you probably won’t be buying the shirt.”

Well, we’ll see about that.

As they say at the kick off of football season, “That’s why they play the games.”

Like many blue collar sections of America, Fall River has developed its own unpretentious culinary traditions (and language) that you just won’t find on your local two-for-twenty Applebee’s menu.

Chourico (pronounced “shar-eese”), Linguica (pronounced “ling-weese”), Quahogs (pronounced “stuffies”), Clam Chowder (pronounced “chowdah”) and Pork Altejana (pronounced “pork and necks”).

Many of these dishes originated in the islands off of Portugal and were transported here to the southeast coast of New England by Portuguese settlers generations ago.

Cousin757 has exactly zero Portuguese blood. I know -- I’ve researched our family history.

Just don’t tell her.

She sure sounds like she knows what she’s talking about because she married into a native family.

She warned me that Battleship Brewhouse probably isn’t your first, second, third or fourth choice in Fall River (pronounced “Fall Rivah”) for sampling authentic local Portuguese dishes, but I was determined to give it a shot.

After all, I can order another cheesesteak or overcooked burger anywhere.

The clam chowder was creamy and chock full of local clams. Not as thick as I usually prefer, but pretty darn tasty.

The quahog was an oversize clam shell stuffed with diced clam bits and seasoned breading mixed together with spicy seasoning. Instead of a crabcake, think a clamcake -- on the half shell. Probably the highlight of the meal.

As a sausage connoisseur, I just HAD to try some local chourico -- a dense local Portuguese sausage. So I opted for the “Mac & Cheese and Chourico Flatbread”.

I hate to say it but it was a bit of a disappointment.

It was basically a thin pizza with some macaroni piled on top.

Cousin757 asked, “Where’s your ‘chareese’??”

On top of the macaroni was a thin sprinkling of red flakes, kinda like bacon bits. No thick slices of sausage I was hoping for.

Basically the flatbread was just a disappointing mouthful of carbs.

Fortunately, the meal was salvaged by the Pork Altejana, a stew of diced potatoes and pork chunks in a well-seasoned garlicy, peppery broth.

Wow. You could put that sauce on my flip-flops and I’d gladly eat them.

The littleneck clams on the side lended a nice balance to this Portuguese version of surf and turf.

While my sister and I were pretty infatuated with this dish, our cuz was left underwhelmed.

“The clams are supposed to be steamed in the broth,” she griped. “I can make better Altejana than that.”

My sister and I took that as an open invitation.

And that’s one of the great perks of this traveling life.

Flight delays, 3am hotel check-ins and TSA crotch gropings aside, the opportunity to drop in on family and friends scattered across America on a random Wednesday night makes it all worthwhile.

After all, double IPAs go down even better in good company.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.

Battleship Brewhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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