When I boarded the plane to Manchester, NH last week, I had no idea what to expect weather-wise or beer wise. I had written previously about what I would like to drink while on this three state (Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire) week-long trip, but there was no guarantee what breweries I could go to or what obscurities I could find. What ended up was me drinking 34 different craft beers and 4 homebrews in a week span (I took a day off as well). Needless to say, I left the East Coast satisfied and a few extra pounds over weight.
This is a 7 part/day series. I can’t really remember what every beer tasted like or how they smelled. I drank most of these during social events and didn’t want to stop, take out a pen and paper, and write a thorough review of each beer. So there’s some give and take, I was doing this more for the experience rather than properly reviewing each individual beer.
We boarded the plan early in the morning in Louisville. I had securely stowed away 6 bottles of homebrew for some family and friends in the East Coast. I had done my research on whether the bottles would explode during the plane ride, they didn’t fortunately. A runner friend of mine, Ron, was nice enough to pick us up from Manchester, NH airport for a lunch date. Like me, Ron is a big fan of Dogfish Head beer. We had emailed back and forth and he was kind enough to hit up a liquor store and give me two bottles of local stuff (I drank them later that night and they’ll be discussed in a bit). I gave him a Sarge and Hoptical Attusion for his ride home (to take home, not to drink and drive). It was nice to talk beer and politics, rather than running, with a runner…beer and talking about poop (see politics.) are two common themes among runners. After lunch, we headed back to Ashleys house for Christmas Eve and to see what her stepdad had purchased beer wise.
Like any holiday, many beer were consumed that night. My notesheet got a little sloppy near the end, but here’s how it went for the night. Or how I pieced it together the next day.
1. Smuttynose Common Man Ale
I couldn’t find any reviews or anything online for this Smuttynose beer. We had it at the little place we stopped to eat at and it was either this or Coors. The name says it all, it’s their common man beer and the closest thing to a pilsner they can get. A good ole regular ale with just a small amount of hops. A decent lunch beer, but thats it.
2. Homebrew- Red Pale Ale
This is just an assumption of what I think it was because the homebrewer never really told Paul what it was he was giving him. Upon first taste I thought it wasn’t very good, but after my palate eased up, it actually finished into a nice tasting beer. Red in color with a nice bite of hops towards the end of your tongue.
The first beer in their Publick House series, an imperial india pale ale loaded with Amarillo, Chinook, Simcoe, Magnum, and Centennial hops. This was the second beer I had on the trip and probably my favorite overall (I brought a bottle back home as well). The two founders graduated from Ashleys alma mater (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), gave up their engineering jobs, and decided to try their hand at brewing beer. They made a good call. Ashleys’ brother has a good friend who works at Wachusett and any mis-pours of messed up labels go to him. A very sweet and intense DIPA which started the night off right. If you’re around the area, try to get your hands on one of these. 7.5% ABV
This was one of the beers our buddy Ron gave us. The Long Trail actually is on Mad River Glen (where we stayed in VT) and runs the whole length of Vermont. Centennial is an imperial red ale which pours a dark ruby-red color. Very malty aromas with a touch of caramel and piney hops. It tastes similar to a barleywine with an overbearing malt presence with hops showing up in the aftertaste. Ashley wasn’t a fan, so I pretty much drank the whole bomber myself. 7.9% ABV
You’ll see the Berkshire name a lot in the next few posts. I drank a lot of Berkshire mainly due to availability and they are a pretty damn good brewery. Berkshire actually gets its name from the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts (Sidenote: also where Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head, is from). Lost Sailor pours a light orange color with the aroma of citrus hops and a slightly stronger than normal malt presence. A good IPA which could be viewed as an everyday beer, nothing special, but it gets the job done. 5.5% ABV
Now is the time in the night where I decided to start eating some of the appetizers and dishes Ashleys mom had made. My stomach felt like it was going to explode afterwards. I was a nonstop eating machine. (I gained 5 lbs on the trip, small victory to me).
I was really looking forward to drinking this beer since it was on my “to find” list and I never got to try it while I was at the Brewery a few summers ago. Big A comes in a 4 pack with an ABV of 9.7%. My buddy from Brighton (U.K.) recently gave me a CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) magazine and in it, there was a write-up about Big A winning the American cask ale competition at the Great British Beer Festival. Big A was my favorite 12 ounce beer on the trip so I made sure to covet the three others throughout the week. Very fruity aromatics with citrus fruits like oranges and pineapples hitting the nose. A sweet IPA, with caramel malts, grapefruit, and a nice bitter hop finish.
This is Magic Hat’s current “IPA on Tour” and it’s a blend of an American Wheat blended with an IPA. It pours an orange/amber color and has the aroma of both citrus hops and caramel biscuit. A more fruitier IPA though. On the other hand, raw piney tasting hops fill the mouth alongside its citrusy counterparts. This beer was very heavy with oily hops that stay on the tongue. Great beer by Magic Hat. 6% ABV.
The first Smuttynose Big Beer I got ahold of thanks to my buddy Ron! I’ll admit, I’ve only had a few Baltic Porters in my day and this beer served as my nightcap as I needed to move onto Woodford Reserve since midnight was just around the corner and I had just got my ass whooped in pool (darts was another story). This was the only “darker” beer of the night for me before I thought my stomach was going to explode and rum balls and spinach artichoke dip would go flying across the room.
The beer poured a deep black and smelled of roasted malts, darker fruits like figs and dates, and a hint of chocolate. Like the smell, upon first taste one gets roasted (or even burnt) malts in with a combination of espresso and dark figs. The alcohol taste is noticeable towards the end of the beer, but its subtle for the most part (9% ABV). I really wish I would have brought another one of these back with me. I did notice, from what I saw, most of the Big Beer Series was only like $4 for a bottle. Gotta love New Hampshire and their tax laws!
I crumpled my paper of all the beer I had drunk and my notes and shoved it in my pocket, hoping I’d remember where I put it in the morning. Tomorrow was Christmas Day and Day #2 of Hops for the Holidays.