Mystery Brewing Company
437 Dimmocks Mill Rd
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Visited on February 7, 2014
Roughly 2.5 years after my initial visit, I have to say that my opinion of Mystery Brewing has changed. That’s for sure a major flaw of my entire record keeping, is that most places I tend to only get to visit a single time.
In the case of Mystery, I’ve found their beer to be quite good over the past year. Some of their regulars are still yawners, but they come out with a different four flagships for each season, which seems like a pretty neat way to do things.
And I could go on for hours about their sours. There’s usually one or two Brett sours on tap, each just as delicious as the last. My favorite of late was a sour aged in gin barrels – a truly unique and delicious brew. For sure, you’ll still run into some misses – like a “birthday cake” beer that was basically a blonde with lactose and barely drinkable for an entire pint. But I give props for the experimentation.
I feel it’s still important to keep the first impression thoughts, though, so…
I’m not sure where Mystery Brewing came up with their name. It could be a tribute to what seems like regular “mystery beers” flowing from the taps that only those in-the-know realize they can ask for. Or perhaps it’s a question of why a brewery would choose to open in such a deserted spot in North Carolina (seriously, where is Hillsborough’s downtown anyway?). One thing is for sure, though—it’s no mystery why I haven’t seen a lot of their tap handles in local bars throughout nearby Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.
On the night I visited, there were no less than 10 of their own brews on tap, so at least they’ve got the variety part down. The only problem was that for most of the styles, I couldn’t really distinguish one from the other. Don’t get me wrong, the beer definitely isn’t bad—it’s clean and crisp and doesn’t seem to have any off flavors—it’s just not good. Most varieties taste thin without enough body or hops to give it any distinguishing characteristics.
I tried all of their wares and I will say this; at least there were two that were worth the drive. Those would be the Six Impossible Things (chocolate breakfast stout) and the Brewers Session I (a Belgian single). The former was rich and thick and exactly what it was supposed to be while the latter picked up quite a bit of nose and floral complexity from the temperamental yeast strain.
I also enjoyed the space. It’s simple, rustic, and cozy with a full-length shuffleboard—which you almost never see anymore—and a kick-ass back patio that must be raging during the summer. That particular night, however, I was unable to really enjoy the setup because of a local band’s CD release concert, which had drawn a surprising number of people and completely overcrowded the bar.
But hey, I can’t fault a place for knowing how to bring in customers. I can, however, fault them for not having more bartenders on duty and making me wait no less than 30 minutes for a drink after walking through the front door.
Total: 69 (of 80)