When you step inside Maynard’s Battle Road Brew House, don’t be surprised if you detect the sweet aroma of steeping grains. This is a working brewery as well as a spot for delicious pub fare. You can get a glimpse of the action while perched at the bar.
Head brewer Jeremy Cross climbs down a ladder that’s set beside a tank. “I had been boiling the sugary liquid, called the wort,” he explains. Earlier, he added hot water to crushed malted barley in a process he likens to making coffee. The resulting liquid went on to be boiled and cooled, making this Belgian stout-to-be ready for fermentation.
Cross has the affable self-assurance of someone with 20 years of brewing to his credit. He is well known throughout the Boston area for his Battle Road Brewing Company beers, launched in 2012, each of which is named for a bit of Revolutionary War history. A couple of years ago, the Whole House Group approached him about establishing a brewpub in the sprawling Mill & Main development in Maynard, the site of a Civil War-era wool mill. The brewery was built out first, and the pub side — with capacity for 250 customers — opened its doors in January.
This restaurant team wants to foster the spirit of a New England tavern, while serving up a decidedly non-Yankee menu of Southern barbecue. Executive chef Jordan Mackey (who also oversees Flank in Waltham as well as nearby 29 Sudbury) describes it as “Texas-style,” pointing to an outdoor hardwood smoker, turning out low-and-slow smoked meats.
You could quibble that St. Louis ribs mark a geographic departure from the Southern-themed meats, but why bother? They’re delicious. So are thick slices of prime-grade brisket that are fork tender, sumptuously marbled, and kissed with smoke. Kielbasa-style smoked sausage, finished on a wood grill, offers appealing snap. Smoked pork shoulder arrives juicy, pulled into fine shreds.
Can’t choose just one meat? A two-meat plate ($16) or three-meat plate ($19) both come with two sides. Saucy baked beans (thankfully not cooked to mush), mac and cheese (shells in silky Mornay sauce), and collard greens dotted with bacon are all excellent. Don’t miss the cornbread. It’s rustic and savory, with sliced scallions in the mix. It’s a far cry from the sweet cake-like version found at other places.
If seafood is more your speed, start with the “powderkeg” shrimp ($12). The shrimp are not “wicked spicy” as promised, but delectable nonetheless, with a crunchy cornmeal coating. A haddock sandwich ($14) features two crisp, beer-battered fillets tucked inside a soft, seed-dotted bun, with tartar sauce, tomato, and Bibb lettuce. You could opt for the garden salad alongside, but then you’d miss the tempting salt-and-pepper fries.
Like any new restaurant, this spot is fine-tuning its flow. On a weekday, a food runner apologizes for the lack of cheese on an otherwise appealing Greek salad ($11), dressed with an appetizing crushed mint dressing. “The feta is on the truck,” she explains about a yet-to-arrive delivery. Creamed corn is not available either. Perhaps the kernels are also on the truck? A friendly server suggests other options.
One afternoon, it’s hard to decide which is more enjoyable — the Lexington IPA, golden-hued and bright with hops, or the Midnight Rider Porter, inky-dark with appealing lift. It’s like a cold-brew coffee with a campfire kick.
Cross is chatting about a famous recipe for a porter-style beer attributed to George Washington when the conversation turns to customers’ questions.
“People often ask, ‘Do you make beer like they did in Revolutionary War times?’ ” he says. He tells them no, saying that he doesn’t want to limit his creativity. “Also the beer back then wasn’t very good,” he says with a chuckle.
No bad beer here. The food is better too.
BATTLE ROAD BREW HOUSE
5 Clock Tower Place, (20 Sudbury St. for GPS), Maynard, 978-298-5229, www.battleroadbeer.com
All credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Appetizers, snacks, salads $7-$14. Barbecue plates $11-$24. Burgers and sandwiches $12-$17.
Liquor Full bar
Hours Daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
What to order “Powder keg” shrimp, barbecue plates with brisket and ribs, crispy haddock sandwich.Ellen Bhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.