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DRINK LOCAL: Walkabout Brewing – Worth the Journey

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Out past Highway 99, if you take Mason road off Sage Way, just beyond the Medford Shooting range, across the street from a Beverage Distribution center and next door to the Medford UPS CC, you’ll find a little alcove of beer heaven; a sort of Shangri-La, nestled between the industrial buildings of old Medford. Walkabout Brewery is well named, as it requires a small journey just to reach its front doors.

But the drive is well worth it.

I tried eight of their beers they had on tap, and enjoyed every one. Best of all, their beers are diverse. Often times, it feels like breweries have a specialty and instead of using that as a good launching point, they use it as a crutch–they don’t expand. Walkabout has no such problem. The great demonstration of their skill was the difference between their Platypus Porter and the Midnight Oil stout. The Porter had notes of robust chocolate, something akin to baker’s chocolate: a healthy amount of flavor, with a bit of bitterness. While the Stout is the opposite. It has a full mouth feel, a mild sweet flavor coupled with the robust flavoring of the coffee that goes into it. The type of beer you’d want coupled with an entire cheesecake.

Most surprising was their Gluten Free Ale. I not only enjoyed it, but wouldn’t mind drinking a six pack of it on a hot day, near a body of water. Coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy bad knockoffs like Vegetarian burgers or Tofu bologna, that means quite a bit.

But the best part of the brewery was its hospitality. I walked in and asked for a sample tray, and without knowing why I was there the man behind the bar offered a brewery tour. Of course, I said yes. That’s when the real fun started.

The brewery’s history is that of the American dream. The owner, Ross, came over to America as an immigrant with his pregnant wife and ended up starting his own business. Ross built all of the equipment himself, and started brewing and distributing from his garage. The brewery was first built using old recycled tanks, repurposed for brewing. The mash tun and brew kettle has wood paneling on the side, and their first fermentation tank is still in use: the spray-foam insulated tank stands out among the newly acquired stainless steel equipment. In a way, it’s sweet. It’s a physical demonstration of their growing success. Looking at it all, it reminds me of Mad Max, where function supersedes form.

Needless-to-say, I believe I’ve found a new haunt. I’m looking forward to spending some time near their firepit during the winter, or out on their lawn playing lawn games during the summer.  Best of all, I’ll have over a half dozen selection of beers to choose from.  And I’ll be confident that each and every one will be just as delicious as the last.

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