- Bermuda Triangle mystery
With Bermuda's ancestral links to England, and England's historic links
to beer, one wonders why it took until 1997 for the first -- and
only -- brewpub to open on this picturesque, twenty-square-mile island.
David and Heather Littlejohn, the "nicest people in the world" according
to their manager Kim Sadlowski, were unavailable during the PubScout's
visit to the North Rock Brewpub. But they need not worry. Their pub was
in the excellent hands of this raven-haired, statuesque, classy Canadian
beauty who was as charming as she was efficient. Full of seemingly
unbounded energy, Kim attended to a wide array of duties: setting,
waiting and cleaning tables; bringing drinks, seating a substantial queue
of guests for dinner, taking phone calls and -- oh, yes -- finding the time
to provide a gracious in-depth interview to a visiting beer writer.
There is much (besides Kim) in this brewpub to attract the eye. The
classic Bermudian vaulted and beamed ceilings, a gorgeous hand-carved
mahogany bar, the understated country cottage elegance of a first class
establishment, an unending stream of diverse customers--nearly 90% of
whom are local-- and a wide array of sumptuous-looking dishes that
emerged from the kitchen.
Not just pub-grub, this was upscale fare -- akin to the successful formula
used by some brewpubs in New Jersey, like Trap Rock, Basil T's and Long
Valley. Though I did not sample the food, the long lines and the waiting
list for the dining room at the door along with five separate eating
areas were strong indications that North Rock was well worth a gourmand's
consideration. Indeed there are two menus -- lunch and dinner -- and they are
quite different from each other in offerings as well as price (lunch is
cheaper), an important consideration on pricey Bermuda.
It was the beers of Bermuda's first and only brewpub that attracted the
PubScout this night. The head brewer is none other than the owner
himself -- David Littlejohn, and he uses a 3.5 barrel full mash system
along with one 7-barrel and three 3-barrel fermenters. Two 3-barrel
"brite-beer" tanks are used for aging and kegging.
From this system emerge seven fine brews, though one, Johnny's Scotch
Ale, was unavailable at this sitting. Whale of a Wheat, Island Pilsner,
Somers' Amber, Old Colony Bitter, West India Pale Ale and North Rock
Porter rounded out the other selections. All beers are available in 12
oz. "half-pints" for $3.25 and 20 oz. Imperial pints for $4.75. Tasters
of four 4 oz samples are $3.25.
Whale of a Wheat beer, served with the requisite lemon, was light, clean
and citrusy. Probably aimed at American tourists, it had surprisingly
more flavor and body than I expected.
The golden-colored Island Pilsner, which serves as a sound transition
beer was also very smooth and flavorful. Recommended to accompany fish
and chicken, it could easily fit the requirements of a session brew as
Somers' Amber, named for the shipwrecked Englishman who jettisoned
barrels of beer to save women and children (give him a break -- he was
under great stress) while "founding" Bermuda, was a wonderful example of
Littlejohn's brew craft. Amber with a hint of red, its nose was
wonderfully floral, and its complexity yielded flavors of malt and
citrus, held up by a smooth, clean, dry finish.
Old Colony Bitter must have been brewed with the local landed gentry in
mind. Hardly carbonated, full bodied and malty and served on the
hand-pump, it was easily a session beer reminiscent of those in British
pubs in England.
The PubScout's choice for a session beer, however, was the West India
IPA, a classic British IPA designed to please hopheads from Bermuda to
India and all points in between. This beer grew even better with each sip.
One of the blackest porters I've seen is North Rock Porter, but the color
hints at the strong coffee and chocolate notes that come in on a smooth,
velvety body. Manager Kim toyed with the idea of plopping a dollop of
chocolate ice cream in the porter to make a float, but decided to wait
until the owners returned. My guess is that it would make a great dessert.
Interestingly, the pub sells standard beer brands as well as its own,
perhaps recognizing that the predominantly local folks, who (ironically)
seem to revere their Heineken and Amstel, need to be won over gradually.
The method seems to be working, because North Rock is packed almost every
night, and that includes from November to March when most sunseeking
tourists seek hotter climes than Bermuda's, which can dip into the
sixties and below.
Still, beer fanciers from around the world who visit Bermuda should know
that North Rock Brewpub is up and running, and quite nicely, thank you.
Less than ten minutes cab ride from Hamilton, Bermuda's first and only
brewpub is easy to get to and well worth the trip when you get there.
Given North Rock's success, maybe Bermuda's second brewpub isn't far
It would, however, have quite a tough act to follow.
®Kurt E. Epps 1998 All Rights Reserved