Ask Berkshire Brewing Co. co-owners Gary Bogoff and Chris Lalli to pick their favorite BBC beer and they sit back for a think. "It's like trying to pick your favorite kid," says Bogoff. "It depends on how I feel."
BBC offers 16 beers, many of which can be found all over the region on tap. Lalli reels off a few—"We've got Oktoberfest, Cabin Fever, Maibock, a raspberry barley wine, a hefeweisen, a pilsner."
Many beer lovers in the area have a clear favorite among their offerings—a longtime repeat winner for best local brew is Steel Rail Pale Ale. Bogoff and Lalli chose to start their microbrewery business with it because it was the prevailing style among most beer drinkers when they began brewing in 1994. "That was a key decision," says Bogoff. "And it's still a solid beer, but a lot of people also want something more complex."
That's largely because the years since 1994 have seen a tremendous rise in the popularity of microbreweries, and a concurrent increase in drinkers' knowledge of beer types and brewing. "Many more people are developing a taste for craft brew," says Bogoff.
Still, adds Lalli, "Steel Rail is 60 percent of our business, and no one of the other beers is a full 10 percent."
In addition to the recipes Bogoff and Lalli have concocted, the people who work with them in their South Deerfield location get to create new varieties of BBC. "The brewers are artists in their own right," says Bogoff. "As romantic as is sounds, at the end of the day we work in a beer factory, so it's important to give the guys something to do to exercise their creative abilities."
The increasingly popular results of those creative abilities make their way to pubs as far afield as Burlington, Vt.
2nd place, Steak house