It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? One doesn’t normally associate the stout style of beer with tropical climates, much less consider it a summer quaffer, but it’s actually quite popular in the Caribbean.
People often assume all stouts are the same, usually referring to a certain wildly popular dry Irish stout. Not all stouts taste like Guinness, however. You can find boozy American Imperials clocking in at over 10% ABV, biscuit-y oatmeals and delicious chocolate stouts on store shelves and in bars. They can come in all shapes and forms, people!
In the far reaches of Orange County, a town called Hillsborough plays host to the Mystery Brewing Company, who produce the “Papa Bois,” a Southern take on the tropical stout. Made with whole lemons and lemongrass, it has a citrus-tinged finish, yet remains staunchly stout in appearance and overall taste — it is still primarily a very roasty, malt-forward beer.
Mystery is a seasonal-only brewery, meaning it doesn’t have a flagship beer like DogFish Head’s 60 Minute IPA or Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. But inside Mystery Brewing’s Public House, located on Nash Street adjacent to Hillsborough BBQ, you’ll find a myriad of taps beckoning you with all of Mystery’s seasonal selections. Some of their beer has garnered great accolades, bringing home medals from the US Open Beer Championships and the Great American Beer Festival.
The Public House is a lot of things: a community center on trivia nights, a music venue featuring live local acts on weekends, and as recently as March, a restaurant serving lunch and dinner. There are small-plate offerings, like housemade pickles and crab tacos, and more substantial offerings such as fried bologna sandwich and venison sausage. The menu at the Public House has potential to be as diverse as Mystery’s portfolio of beer, and Hillsborough is better for it.
Do you have a favorite summer beer? What’s your #thirstythursday drink of choice? Post a photo of it in the comments section.