You may not make it down to Fayetteville unless you have orders from the United States federal government requiring your presence there or unless you were born there and your family is still there. Luckily, I’m in the latter camp, so this Father’s Day I made a trip down to The Mash House Brewing Company with Mom and Dad before a trip to Jurassic World (which was awesome!).
I first went to The Mash House about 10 years ago when it first opened (circa 2004?). My beer tastes at the time trended towards “whatever was in the keg at the party, no matter how cheap, warm and truly awful”, and I didn’t have a fake ID (and if I had a fake ID, I would have been too scared to bother using it in my hometown!). (Speaking of IDs, my family is apparently holding grudges against Huske Hardware for saying my brother’s real 21+ ID was fake when he was with my dad, so I will have to review them not-on-Father’s-Day.)
There’s a small bar space (with view-throughs to the tanks) and TVs for watching sports, but the bulk of the space is devoted to a chop house. The burgers were great–pimento and fried green tomato Southern burger and the Stout Mushroom Burger were favorites in our party–and the service was pleasant and beer-knowledgeable.
Mash House offers music (and I once saw the-dude-from-90s-Southern-rock-band Cravin’ Melon here a decade ago), but for the most part it’s a family friendly restaurant that happens to also make beer.
You had the option of a 4-taster or a 9-taster wheel o’ beer, and we went with the nine. Like Front Street Brewing, the Mash House has only a few experimentals (between two and three) on tap at any given time and puts the bulk of its effort on making good examples of some of the more popular beer styles. And, like FSB, Mash House was pre-cap popping (of ABV in NC).
I’ll preface our review of the nine beers we tried with the following facts for your consideration: my dad drinks very, very rarely and likes Rolling Rock, and a small sip from each of these tasters was the most beer my mom had ever had in one sitting.
- Natural Blonde: I thought this was one that would appeal to the drinker of typical Miller and Coors fans, who like the no-frills light beers, but it has a rounder, fuller flavor.
- Hefeweizen: Strong citrus notes with a bitter finish. I wasn’t passionate about it, but my mom stated for the record: “I don’t like beer so I could drink that really good!” My dad said he’d like to have that one “if he was really drunk”, on the end of a night of partying.
- Irish Red: The red was a solid, full-flavor beer with no bitter finish. My dad said, “That’s one I could start with!” My mom? ::Frowns:: “I like the pear one better…”
- IPA: The IPA was very hoppy and bitter in the uppin’-the-ante style that was popular a few years ago and still has some religious hophead adherents. I didn’t find it objectionable, but I typically like something a bit more nuanced. Pops wasn’t so big on it either.
- Porter: The waitress described the porter here as if “Someone decided they wanted to get drunk but stay awake, so they put coffee and booze together.” It had a bitter finish but a fulsome coffee flavor. My dad said, “That is good! It’s like a Guinness without the bite.” My mom, when reminded of the waitresses’ comments said: “Bless her heart.”
- Stout: The stout was a solid beer but not a stand-out. (But see below…)
- Munich Helles: This one was a good German-style beer with a round, full flavor but less hops. My mom preferred the Natural Blonde, Hefeweizen and “that pear one”, but my dad noted “That one’s good. I could drink a pint of that one!”
- Spring Bock: I need to note here that the Spring Bock runs between 7.2%-9% ABV here. It has a farmhouse-style layering, and even my mom enjoyed it. My dad said, “Drunks would love it.” Upon reflection, “It’s like tequila: sneaky! That’s sneaky!” Everyone agreed that this beer had great flavors that masked the alcohol content, so it’s a beer to be careful with if you’re driving.
- Honey Pear: This was my parents’ favorite. I drank the beers in the order they were on the wheel, but my parents both reached for the honey pear first (it was described last on the wheel! you have to drink it last!). So for the full length of our tasting, I was treated to “But I like that honey pear one the best!” from my mother. It was a good fruit-forward beer with a crispness and tartness of pear to cut off the honey flavor, but ultimately my favorite was the Spring Bock.
The beers that were finished first, however, were the honey pear, Helles, Spring Bock, the red, the hef, and the stout (the stout was an early finisher). So it seems as though, despite not getting too much attention in the tasting focused portion of the meal, everyone kept reaching for the stout glass all the same.
Make it down to Fayetteville (for family, under order of the federal government or otherwise) and let us know what you think of Mash House!
Virginia Fitt lives somewhere on the border of Orange County and Durham city limits, and loves risk-taking brewers who use local ingredients, sours, Bretts/wild ales, strange collaborations, and all good beers.