New Hampshire is very different from Cape Cod. I discovered this last Saturday. First off, I went to a farmers market that morning, expecting a parking lot with a couple of flatbed trucks plastered in COEXIST and “Life hasn’t been the same since that house fell on my sister” bumper stickers, holding a few boxes of picked-over cabbages and Cape Cod Needlepoint Society pamphlets. What I happened on instead was a half-mile stretch of parked cars leading up to the entrance of the market. They even had to call in the police and crossing guards. Inside, my naive farmers market senses were bombarded with row upon row of overflowing produce carts, goats milk cheese, cured & smoked meats, organic soaps, coffee, seafood, freshly baked bread. New Hampshire, you divine bitch.
As if a bountiful market wasn’t enough, a new brewery happens to be opening on the same day. And not just any brewery, but one with a tasting room and a leaning towards the experimental. As someone who is fascinated by small batch brewing and herb/ancient ales, this is right up my alley. Founded by Alex McDonald and Butch Heilshorn, Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth features six rotating taps in a small but cozy tasting room, where you can also buy one and two-liter growlers of their beer.
We arrived around 1:00 on Saturday to find the tasting room at capacity and a line stretched down the hallway of A&G Homebrew Supply. Twenty minutes later, we were able to get inside and purchase our sample glasses/beer flights. Here are some of my highlights:
Exhilaration: A 5.6% gruit made with yarrow, wild rosemary, and sweet gale. Yarrow was used in a lot of ancient beers for flavor before the rise of hops, so you will find no hops in this one. The silky mouthfeel is amazing. This is a crisp, sweet beer.
Red Ryder: A red ale made with rye malts and dry-hopped with Amarillo hops. Spicy and hoppy. Delicious.
Puca: A 6.3% curry pumpkin porter; full of roasted dark malts, chocolate, and lots of curry/cumin/smoky notes that are pronounced without being over-the-top.
As of now, Earth Eagle can only be purchased at the brewery so be sure to stop by, have a drink, and learn about what I’m sure is going to become an explosion in the beer scene, the world of American gruits. Gotta love beer steeped in lore.
Earth Eagle Brewings
165 High Street
Tasting Room Hours:
Thursday & Friday: 3:00 – 7:00
Saturday & Sunday: Noon – 4:00