- The beer is good. Craft and small batch beers with lots of character and higher alcohol content.
- Evaluating each beer while enjoying them does take time.
- Meeting other beer geeks really gets the conversation stories going!
I’m not going to bore with tasting notes on the all the beers I ended up trying but I will list their brand and style so that folks can lookup them up if they like. I will provide notes and food pairing considerations on several of the highlights. Where noted the breweries are based in New Hampshire.
- Portsmouth Brewing Black Cat Stout (NH)
- Long Trail Blackberry Wheat
- Woodstock Brewery Wassail
- Sam Adams Holiday Porter
- Milly’s Infamous Pumpkin Ale (NH)
- Gritty Christmas Ale (NH)
- White Birch Indulgence (NH)
- Long Trail Pale Ale
- Smuttynose IPA (NH)
- Sebago Local Harvest Ale
- Brooklyn Local 1
- Brooklyn Imperial Chocolate Stout
- Brooklyn Local 2
- Brooklyn Brown Ale
- Brooklyn EIPA
- White Birch Elysium (NH)
- Flying Goose IPA (NH)
- Milly’s Oatmeal Stout (NH)
- Shipyard Prelude
- Sebago Frye’s Leap IPA
- Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale
- Narragansett Lager
- Run of the Mill XPA
Local 1 is a Belgian Pale Ale in the strong category due to the 9% alcohol content. This beer is bottle conditioned which means a bottle fermentation that introduces additional flavors and textures while carbonating the bottle. The aromas and flavors of this beer are distinctive against a lineup of typical American beers, but when cast in the shadow of its Belgian relatives is not unique. The flavors are of yeast, bread and malt with a nice fruity/hoppy finish and a bitter cleansing hit at the end. Some alcohols is noticeable.
This beer was used in the cheese pairing with Cabot Pepper Jack. It definitely worked quite well, but was not the best beer and cheese pairing we tried. I believe this is a very food friendly beer and would be the beverage end of many great pairings.
Best Stout – White Birch Indulgence / Elysium
Indulgence is a jet black stout (although not according to the WBB web site) with the best aroma of a stout that I have ever smelled. The coffee and chocolate flavors were so amazing that Richard said “it has a shot of espresso in it.” I called it coffee on steroids.
We didn’t get confirmation of this but we believe the Elysium was a barrel aged version of Indulgence. The aromas and flavors of coconut and vanilla were present something I suspect comes from the influence of the wood.
Both of these beers are excellent but not something you would drink a lot of in one sitting. I do believe both of these beers would be excellent with dark chocolate desserts.
Best IPA – Flying Goose IPA
This beer was recommended to us by Bert from Bert’s Better Beers and his friends. These guys know beer so it is no surprise that we found their tip a hit!
The aromas from the beer made me think of what it would be like to stand in a hop patch. The color is a beautiful orange/gold. Lots of pine and citrus flavors in each sip and a clean finish.
I could see pairing this beer with salad with a citrus-infused dressing or stuffed baked squash with savory herbs, nuts and dried fruit.
Best Seasonal Beer – Milly's Infamous Pumpkin Ale
This was another beer that was recommended to us. We got to talking about seasonal and flavored beers with a couple guys we were sharing a table with. Shipyard Pumpkinhead was bandied about as the best of the pumpkin beers but due to high demand they wouldn’t be serving this day. Milly’s Tavern was serving their pumpkin beer and with a sugar and spice rimmed glass it didn’t disappoint. It has a slightly sweet and malty aftertaste with plenty of pumpkin flavors, more so than I had recalled in any pumpkin beer I had ever had. The sugar and spice rimmed glass was a nice touch.
This to me is a steller drinker on its own, but paired with some squash pie and whipped cream might take both to another level.
Best Brewery – White Birch Brewing
I can never say enough the beers from White Birch. I started buying them in 2009 at Jasper’s Homebrew in Nashua and I have yet to have a bottle that I didn’t think was some of the best beer I had ever had. White Birch beers have big aromas and flavors and require attention to take them in. I like this in a beer, but truly understand that these types of beers are not for everyone.
Best Food Pairing – Cabot Horseradish Cheese with Sebago Local Harvest Ale
The cheese and beer pairing hosted by DrinkCraftBeer.com and Cabot Cheese was a lot of fun. With a lubricated audience the hosts had a tough time delivering their information, but they pressed on. Four pairings were offered and the best was the Cabot Horseradish cheese with Sebago Local Harvest Ale. The freshness of the well hopped beer was a great opposition to the spicy horseradish flavors in the cheese. The creamy cheese and a citrus finish from the beer created wonderful bite.
Biggest Surprise – Narragansett Lager
With a 120 year story in each can of Narragansett Lager I had no idea what to expect. I’m too young to have enjoyed any of the production prior the closure of the original incarnation of the brewery, and this event was the first time I had actually come across any from the new version of the brand. Pouring as a light golden colored lager I was unsure as to whether the same old Bud/Miller/Coors tastes were awaiting me. But not so! This beer is very bright and refreshing with flavors of grains and a nice clean finish. Very smooth and definitely drinkable. I would recommend this to folks who want to drink a little piece of New England beer history.
We also ran into Joan from The Drinkery, our new beer and wine store in Londonderry. She was on the hunt for new beers to stock. Doesn’t homework suck?
This event delivered on its advertised promises with lots of beer, decent food and entertainment. Richard and I both had a lot of fun and were exposed to quite a few new styles of locally made beer for future enjoyment. If you haven’t ever attended this type of event before and love great beer, keep an eye out in the Hippo Press for future activities.