Breakside Brewery is, in a nutshell, a good brewpub, but with a few tweaks it could be a great brewpub. For all of the passionate and serious craft that is applied to their focused, successful, intelligent range of beers, the chicken wings are rubbery, and the calamari sheds a gluey batter (the latter was happily refunded). Their barrel-aged Bourbon Wheat Wine, a 12.7 percent knockout that drinks like a boilermaker from the planet Sex-9, is the stuff that fuels men to revolution; the nachos look like something a bachelor from Frankfurt microwaves on payday.>There are many sure bets on the food menu. The cheeseburger ($11, $6 for the happy-hour version, which is identical but without fries) is truly excellent—half a pound of Country Natural Beef cooked to order, juicy and charred and unfussed with, a thick slice of aged cheddar (or pepperjack, or blue, or swiss) melting decadently across it. The beef stars more in this burger than in a dozen others I've tried this month—it is deeply satisfying.
Their imaginative and wide-ranging beer is their obvious raison d'être. Breakside's pride and joy is an award-winning dry stout, which took bronze in a field of 30 dry stout competitors at the 2012 Brewers Association World Beer Cup. It is dark, slightly bitter, light bodied, and true to the style of a light stout, with simple coffee flavor. At 4.2 percent, it's an all-dayer, and a growler for home is a great value at $12. Their Gin Barrel Lychee Wit (7.1 percent) is a fascinating medium-bodied sour not unlike a geuze, with a big fruity nose and long finish with developing juniper—a connoisseur's beer. Their standard Wit, at 4.4 percent, drinks like what you want a Budweiser-style beer to be, crisp and dry and dead simple.-CHRIS ONSTAD