Hopin’ Around: Special travel edition: Bermuda

By on June 29, 2016

This island destination has pink sand, palm trees, and … beer. Of course, while on vacation I made it a point to visit Bermuda’s only brewery and sample all their beers! I wasn’t the only one. Dockyard Brewing Company is a popular spot.

Housed inside The Frog and Onion Pub on the island’s western point, Dockyard boasts to be Bermuda’s only microbrewery, and also has “the distinction of being the only producer of any type of adult beverage that can put the ‘Totally Made in Bermuda’ stamp on all of its products.” (I wonder what Gosling’s Rum has to say about that?)

The brewery started out as North Rock Brewing Company, but in 2006 joined forces with the English-style pub to alleviate production problems at its smaller facility. The brewery is housed in the mid-18th-century cooperage building of the historic Royal Naval Dockyard. Imagine a huge fortress with an open courtyard: aged cannons, sea-weathered stone walls, and lush, green flora. Inside the walls is The Frog and Onion, which is part English pub and part royal castle with several dining areas and a token-driven game room.

At the mahogany bar, the staff pours five flagship brews: Whale of a Wheat, St. David’s Lager, Somers Amber Ale, Trunk Island Pale Ale, and North Rock Porter. The seasonal brew during my visit was a saison, and I hate to say it, but it really missed the mark. I like my saisons fizzy, fruity, and a little funky. This beer was none of those and more closely resembled a bock. Oh well, so I ordered a flight.

Upton ordered a flight containing Whale of a Wheat, St. David’s Lager, and Somers Amber Ale. (Photo by Michael Upton)

Upton ordered a flight containing Whale of a Wheat, St. David’s Lager, and Somers Amber Ale. (Photo by Michael Upton)

The Whale of a Wheat is almost a textbook Hefeweizen; it is a bit lighter than ones we would find here on the mainland. St. David’s Lager (which used to be called St. David’s Light) is more like a traditional pilsner, but without the characteristic bitter bite. Somers Amber Ale is a rich color and pours with an aromatic head from the use of Noble hops.

I had an awesome time at The Frog and Onion. The food — Toad in a Hole, local sausage baked in Yorkshire pudding, with rosemary onion gravy and buttered peas — was awesome. But, I became a bit suspect about the beers before I even ordered. The description for Trunk Island Pale Ale reads “commonly referred to as IPA.” No! It’s not. There’s a big difference between a pale ale and an IPA, especially to Americans. Maybe this is a culture thing, but beer definitions are usually universal (thus why there is a West Coast IPA designation). So, despite my skepticism and afornoted critiques, I was glad to find a brew I really liked: North Rock Porter.

Dockyard Brewing must use a classic recipe for North Rock Porter. I haven’t tasted a fresh porter like this since I was in England. If I had had a growler it would be full of this dark jewel.

That’s the scoop on Bermuda’s only brewery. If you go, keep in mind, it’s island prices over there. A pint at Dockyard runs $9.25. Cheers!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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