Down on the corner of Kennebeck heading toward Ocean Park, laughter and song can be heard pouring out of an open-door eatery and brewpub as the sun slowly sinks toward the horizon.
It may have been proposed as an affordable and lively place to go on a Friday night for a dinner and delicious beer, or felicitously described, pre-COVID, as “the place with all the peanuts.” Without a doubt, Offshore Ale Co. satisfies all those descriptors, but it’s much more than just a solid stop for food and drink — it’s an Island establishment.
The restaurant changed hands this past December, and current Offshore owner Bill Honeycutt said he and his wife and co-owner, Sue Honeycutt, have been Offshore customers for over a decade. They fancied the restaurant/brewery for its family-friendly atmosphere, its consistently good food, and the variety of Island-brewed beers that are offered on tap around the clock.
“We have two restaurants in the Boston area, and we have a home on the Vineyard, so we were coming to spend time at our home,” Honeycutt said. Honeycutt has been in the restaurant industry since he was 17, so he knows what makes a good and successful food business. He knew the value of Offshore’s location, and the unique qualities of the restaurant’s interior that make it so homey and desirable for folks of all ages.
Honeycutt said his first job at a restaurant was at a place called the Hampshire House on Beacon Street in Boston. The Hampshire House eventually transitioned over the decades into the Cheers Bar, a world-famous Boston landmark, where Offshore Ale brews are now being sold on draught.
With Neil Atkins at the helm of the brewing operation, and Adam Lanoie leading the kitchen team, Offshore is experimenting with some professionally paired beer and food combinations. They also use their beer in some of their most popular recipes, like the fish and chips doused with crispy Amber Ale batter, or the warm twisted pretzel with a side of Lazy Frog IPA brown mustard. Their baby back ribs are a must-try — rubbed with house spices and finished with Offshore Stout barbecue sauce.
Honeycutt said the menu at his restaurant most closely resembles a gastropub, with a little twist here and there. The Offshore kitchen has recently been outfitted with brand-new equipment that will allow kitchen staff to expand offerings and continue bringing new items to the menu on a regular basis. Arguably the most popular food item (besides the juicy burgers) is the brick oven pizzas — potato pizza with bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions, or chicken pizza with fresh basil pesto, sliced tomatoes, and mozzarella, just to name a few.
“The menu is approachable, it’s not too expensive, and all our food is fresh. It’s really a business that has two seasons — we try to take care of the local people that support us year-round, just to make sure Islanders know how much we appreciate them carrying us through the long winter,” Honeycutt said.
Ever since Honecutt took ownership of Offshore, he has been feeling the love from the local community. “A lot of people refer to us as the Island’s living room. A lot of people feel like it’s their home away from home,” Honeycutt said. “They hang out with their friends, watch a game, and have conversations about the good and the bad. It’s a great environment with a really warm feel to it.”
After almost three years of persistent struggle with the COVID pandemic for those in the restaurant industry, Honeycutt said he is excited to bring people out to have a nice meal with family and friends this season. The restaurant will continue to tweak the ambiance with different furniture, artwork, and music in order to prepare for the busy summer, and the entire building will be painted. “We consider this place a jewel, and we are just trying to shine it as bright as possible for everyone to see,” Honeycutt said.
Neil Atkins started brewing beer a long time ago in another life, when he took a quality control microbiology position at Anderson Valley Brewing in Northern California. He went from brewer to head brewer, to production manager during his tenure there, and then moved to the Island around 2009, after taking a job at Offshore as head brewer.
“And that’s the story. I really liked Offshore because it was a small operation. Anderson Valley does 40,000 to 50,000 barrels of beer a year, and I worked with some other places that are even bigger than that,” Atkins said. “Offshore is really mine to do with what I want, to explore and experiment.”
Nothing on the beer board has stayed the same over the years — all the recipes are finely tuned, and new beers are added to the menu every so often. The Lazy Frog IPA has become one of the flagship beers at Offshore. Named after the Lazy Frog in Oak Bluffs, an indoor and outdoor recreation store that is the go-to for disc golf, the beer is West Coast–influenced with heavy hoppiness and a rich malted texture (it’s 7 percent ABV, so take it slow). The intense yet drinkable beer represents the epitome of community collaboration, as a portion of all sales go toward the Riverhead Disc Golf Course off Barnes Road. Offshore even fundraises for the disc golf course by holding a collaborative New Year’s Day disc golf tournament in partnership with the Lazy Frog store.
According to Atkins, the Amber Ale is also very popular, but his favorite is the classic Offshore pilsner, Das Pils. Atkins has been enjoying concocting some beer and food pairings, and looks forward to messing around more with the combinations. “If you pair the right beer with the right food, it actually works better than wine,” Atkins explained. “The carbonation cleans the palate a bit, so you get a new experience every time you taste another bite.”
For the third year, Offshore will be hosting its beer and cheese pairing in another cooperative initiative with Grey Barn and Farm head cheesemaker Joe Alstat. Alstat washes the Grey Barn cheese in Offshore beer for the perfect combination of Island-made products. The cheese will then be paired with appropriate Offshore beer selections for an unforgettable culinary experience.
Atkins voiced his excitement that the Cheers Bar and some other notable beer scenes in Boston have adopted some Offshore brews. He’s looking forward to creating new selections in the future, and putting smiles on the faces of local and visiting beer drinkers.
“It’s a huge team effort. I basically just make the beer and go away,” Atkins laughed. “But people appreciate the quality — they appreciate all the passion and good stuff that goes into each bottle.”
Offshore Ale is located at 30 Kennebec Ave. in Oak Bluffs. Visit offshoreale.com for menus, beer offerings, music event dates, hours of operation, and more.