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Restaurant review: Hops N Scotch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  October 15, 2012 08:29 AM

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It's simplistic to say that craft beer is beer that's all grown up, but in some ways it's true. As we get older our palates change; beer that's nuanced and intensely flavored becomes more appealing. Scotch is also a grownup drink. A bar that serves both, in Brookline, would seem to appeal to adult tastes.

I met a friend for dinner and drinks after work one night to try out Hops N Scotch, a newish bar in Coolidge Corner Brookline. This is my old neighborhood, one of my favorites in Boston, and one of my favorite bar concepts. A good beer selection paired with good spirits is on trend, and I'm on board.

hopsscotch.jpgThis is a beer blog, but to get a sense of the place we settled in at the bar and ordered two selections from one of 100 scotches, whiskeys, and bourbons. Our bourbons, one neat and one on the rocks, were generously poured and served in classic tumblers. We were off to a good start.

It doesn't come out much in this space, and I hate the word, but I'm something of a "foodie". I'm an adventurous eater, so when I saw the fried chicken livers on the snack menu I knew I'd be ordering them. I also got a cold sweet potato salad, and my friend got a burger. We were in business.

The chicken livers and salad came quickly, but it was at about the same time that our pleasurable dining experience ground to a halt. The chicken livers were tasty if uneventful, but the salad was lacking. Cubed sweet potatoes were doused in too much honey-vinaigrette; there wasn't enough going on here to warrant this being a restaurant dish.

We both wanted to sample from one of the 40 or so beer taps, but it took a while to get the attention of either bartender despite the lack of activity at the bar. A pair of ladies to our left, however, were getting plenty of time with the barkeep. Once we got a look, the Enlightenment Ales saison I ordered poured all foam. A tweak of the tap line didn't fix the problem, so I selected a Uinta Hop Notch IPA. Maybe it was just me, but I'd had all of the bar's tap selections at one point or another before. There were rotating taps, but we weren't provided with a list; a chalkboard in one corner of the bar was the only place to see them. If you're a beer geek seeking the latest rare or exciting selections, you won't find them here.

Located on the same street as the Publick House and Washington Square Tavern, Hops N Scotch has competition in the burger department. My friend's burger came out on a drab-looking plate; we asked for barbecue sauce and got a, "Sorry, bro." We had a minute to spend with our ketchup before it was whisked away to the lovely ladies on the left.

The crowd was eclectic; whether folks were trying to match the space or vice versa is a good question. Good beer should be paired with good food. A warm and sophisticated decor should be matched with welcoming service. Scotch and craft beer may appeal to mature tastes, but Hops N Scotch still has some growing up to do.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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