Standing Stone Brewing Co.

Ashland's Standing Stone Brewing Co. has a well-deserved reputation for innovation in energy efficiency, environmental responsibility and community involvement.

In recent months, the Ashland brew pub and restaurant has updated its menu, too. It has launched an array of new appetizers worthy of sharing and a handful of new sandwiches, wraps and entrees, while keeping many old favorites.

On the hunt for new flavors, my husband and I stopped in on a recent Saturday with plans to make an afternoon meal of a collection of shared dishes.

I had to try the Szechwan green beans ($7), which he had raved about after a past visit with friends, but the sweet potato curry fries ($7) with harissa aioli sounded good, too.

Standing Stone's hummus has long been a favorite and now it's been replaced with a black bean hummus with chili oil ($9) that sounds worth trying.

My husband is always in the mood for wings ($10 — they're free range), but willing to consider edamame ($4) as a healthy addition to the table.

And that's just on the regular appetizer menu. A goat cheese fondue ($9) beckoned from a newly added chalkboard over the open kitchen listing specials.

Of course, sandwiches are great for sharing, too, especially when the menu features two new vegetarian options — a sandwich featuring tofu and a wrap filled with tempeh and grilled vegetables.

Fortunately, hunger kept us from dithering the entire day away. Before long, the friendly waitress delivered the Szechwan green beans, goat cheese fondue and sauteed mushrooms we had finally settled on.

The green beans were fried to a tender crispness and coated with a sauce that offered hints of sweetness, the saltiness of fermented black beans and surprisingly little spiciness for something claiming to be Szechwan.

The generous mound of green beans was definitely designed with sharing in mind and could have sparked the appetites of a whole table full of diners.

The rich, warm chevre of the goat cheese fondue provided an unctuous topping for slices of sourdough baguette, Granny Smith apple and a delightful multi-seed cracker bread baked in house. The thin, whole-grain crisp was loaded with sesame, poppy and flax seeds, while a hearty sprinkling of dill added flavor.

The sauteed mushrooms ($6), glistening in a mahogany-colored reduction, echoed the earthy flavors of the fondue plate and the savory saltiness of the green beans' sauce.

The intense hoppiness of Standing Stone's double India pale ale offers a perfect match for spicy or fried foods, but, if you're not so big on bitterness, the regular IPA is also a good choice with some of the same qualities.

Speaking of same qualities, I think Standing Stone's beers have gotten more consistent over the years and I can now rely on whatever brew I choose tasting the way I expect from visit to visit.

Standing Stone is always worth another visit, especially now that is has some new flavors ready to be added to the list of old favorites.

­ — Anita Burke

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