BrewReview: Bog Iron Brewing
By: Tim Corcoran Jr.
Bog Iron Brewing - Norton, MA
BeerSeeker on the Job: Tim
(Disclaimer: we visited Bog Iron Brewing in February, before government shutdown orders)
Norton, Massachusetts, is best known for hosting the PGA’s Dell Technologies Championship golf tournament (formerly known as the Deutsche Bank Championship) each Labor Day weekend. If you’re visiting from out of town and happen to be looking for a local brewery to check out, we’ve got the perfect suggestion. If you can get to the golf course, all you have to do is drive a few miles further towards downtown to find Bog Iron Brewing.
Bog Iron has been in Norton for nine years, and while its mission is to be nothing more than a small, local brewery, it has seemingly already recognized the need for expansion. The location is in a small building connected to a local hardware store. But once you go inside, you will understand why growth is imminent.
Having gone to Bog Iron a few years back on a weekday afternoon, I was excited to see what the atmosphere would be like on a Saturday night. And it did not disappoint. Walking through the door, it was clear that Bog Iron has become one of the places to be on a Saturday in Norton. While not a super large space, Bog Iron has expanded slightly since my last trip there, allowing it to really blossom as a social hot spot in the community. The first time I visited, all the space consisted of was a small taproom bar, a few small tables to sit at and one or two standing tables. Since then, they’ve opened up a brand new room which includes a few couches, large tables and a better overall seating area. On this particular night there were several groups of people playing board and card games.
A new feature that Bog Iron has been offering is food options from local vendors like food trucks and nearby restaurants. A real highlight of the brewery, though, is the staff itself. They were very responsive and friendly, chatting with you about their favorite beers and offering suggestions.
While Bog Iron may like to keep the feel of a small local establishment and maintain its roots as a craft brewing operation, the extensive beer menu would have you think otherwise. On its website, Bog Iron lists a total of 27 beers that it’s currently brewing and rotating through availability at the taproom. On this night there were 14 total offerings available on the menu, with a few other canned options for take-home only. Take a look through the entire beer list. As soon as we’re able to return, we’ll work our way through the rest of the offerings.
Burly Blonde (Blonde Ale) 7.5% ABV
Unlike previous Double-Take picks, this one is not as much a result of being unsure that I would enjoy it, but rather my surprise after I had put down a few. Everyone has their beer preferences and their go-to's when they head to a brewery, but sometimes a place might come up a little short on variety. Most every brewery, however, is likely to offer its take on a golden or blonde ale, largely because it’s something that almost everyone can get behind and is, generally speaking, universally liked.
If today was your day to stick with the basics at Bog Iron, you probably ordered the Burly Blonde a few times over, especially if you are planting yourself at the taproom for the night. This blonde stays true to its burly name, not necessarily in taste, but in ABV. It’s not until you do a real hard double take and realize this isn’t your everyday blonde, although it drinks just like it. On its website, Bog Iron suggests that this beer pairs best with grilling and enjoying time outside with friends in the summer while waiting for the burgers to be done. This beer is light like a true golden with a slight bitterness (makes sense right?) thanks to a bit of a hop profile. The whole menu here caters to every kind of beer lover out there, but if you go with the blonde early and often you may want to order yourself a water and some food from the vendor that day before you head home.
Happy Pander (New England IPA) 8% ABV
I wasn’t sure which beer I wanted at this stage of the night, so I asked for a suggestion. The bartender handed me a Happy Pander. He said, “I just tapped that one after it finished brewing...unless you are making beer at home right now to drink later, you won’t find a fresher beer in the country.” Truly glorious words right there.
The Happy Pander is classified as a New England IPA, however Bog Iron is quick to point out that this beer was brewed differently from their other NEIPA, and that is on purpose. Staying true to being a small hometown brewery, Bog Iron places a big importance on not making the same beer again and naming it something different. According to the website, this NEIPA is brewed with many non-traditional hops compared to what most IPAs and well-known beers use. The name comes from the brewers feeling slightly bad about pandering to its New England style but remaining happy with keeping the beer’s core values in place while creating a brand new recipe. The taste and texture of this NEIPA was familiar but definitely offers its own unique twist on what has become a common offering in the craft brewery scene.
As the American craft beer scene continues to explode into bigger and better taprooms with huge spaces and live entertainment venues, Bog Iron is the place to head to if you prefer the smaller local feel. As soon as you walk through the door you get the sense of community that Bog Iron has built and the loyalty of those that go there. With some smaller craft breweries being pulled into bigger operations, Bog Iron seems content expanding to accommodate its local popularity.
If you are in the area (perhaps for the golf tournament), we highly suggest making your way to Bog Iron Brewing. In the meantime, be sure to visit them online, and find their beer in many bars and stores in the surrounding areas. And find them on social media as well for all the latest Bog Iron updates! Cheers!