Hop on the Bus! – Sunday, May 31

As much as we love Rhode Island, we both also absolutely adore New Hampshire. Kristie used to call Portsmouth home and any time we have a free weekend in the summer, you’ll usually find us making the trek into the mountains with a car loaded full of camping gear and beer.

Not only do we love the surroundings, but the New Hampshire beer scene is second to none. Breweries like Smuttynose, Earth Eagle Brewing, Throwback, Moat Mountain, and Stoneface are cranking out some of the best brews in New England and each space is so unique that the idea “if you’ve seen one brewery, you’ve seen them all” is quickly dismissed.

That’s why we’re beyond excited to be partnering up with our friend Dave and his brewery tour bus Granite State Growler Tours. On Sunday, May 31, we’ll be on board as guest-hosts of a trip that includes stops at Earth Eagle Brewings, WHYM Craft Beer Cafe, Sea Hagg Distillery, and Throwback Brewery. During the tour, we’ll be talking about our journey into the world of beer writing, the book writing process and a bit about the beer scene in Rhode Island.

Tickets are $55 and available here. RSVP on the Facebook event page.

The night before the tour, we will also be hanging out at WHYM Craft Beer Cafe for their Second Anniversary Party – 2014 Parabola, Allagash Midnight Brett, Stoneface Brewing aaand Lunatique Homard (if you haven’t had this one, you haven’t truly lived) on draft. See you there!

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157. Smuttynose Smuttlabs Winter Ale – Aged in Red Wine Barrels

 

Rhode Island has an interesting take on beer. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think no good beer can come from the state; a sort of self-loathing. In my line of work, I see self-proclaimed craft connisseurs go for beers from Dogfish Head and Founders 10x more than they purchase something from their hometown brewery.

I started thinking about this because I picked up this bottle of Smuttynose from Wakefield Liquors a couple weeks back. Smutty hasn’t really taken off in Rhode Island, which is just a trip for me since I recently moved from New Hampshire where Smuttynose was THE brewery of seemingly the whole state. New Hampshire beer drinkers are a unified front when it comes to drinking local and bolstering their beer economy. Rhode Island is still skeptical. It has only started to see a beer resurgence within the past few years, and even so, you can still almost liken it to the craft beer boom of the early 90’s, where everyone was starting a brewery and time had to cull the herd a bit to see who would stick around.

Smuttynose logo

I would love to see more brewery tasting rooms that are akin to bars so consumers can meet the people brewing their beer and create social gathering spaces (damn you three-tier system) And while it’s nice to have plenty of choices in bars, I would like to see a better balance between local options and the Belgian imports that a lot of the better beer bars place their money on. But no matter what, there’s still no denying that it’s an exciting time for beer in the state.

Onto the review! This is the Winter Ale from Smuttynose which has been aged in red wine barrels. It pours a very deep brown with reddish copper highlights – looks like a very concentrated cranberry juice. The head billowed up and then settled back down into a creamy thick film on top. The carbonation seems pretty decent.

Smuttlabs Winter

Tart aroma; very winey and akin to cooking sherry but with a touch of oak. My first flavor impression was of milk chocolate with a touch of caramel, which really threw me off a bit. There is a light berry sweetness that begins to fade into a big oak character. I think the original Smutty winter was there interpretation of a dubbel – I remember tons of dried cherries and a big caramel malt character, very bready and spicy. With the addition of the wine barrel-aging, I feel like something was lost. I am enjoying the vinous qualities, but they’re not blending as smoothly with the underlying beer.

You still get the nice bready quality, complimented by a light cocoa, raisins and big vinous fruits. The tartness is medium with the acidity lingering in to the finish. The body is a little on the lighter side, but it still feels rich and smooth. It’s not bad by any means, just interesting. This was the first beer in Smuttynose’s Smuttlabs Series. I like seeing breweries being able to expand and play around with styles a bit so keep at it, Smutty.

135. Moat Mountain Oktoberfest

Moat Mountain Oktoberfest2

Oktoberfest in Munich started two days ago, on September 21. My body and mind has in turn, perfectly aligned itself with the harvest season and oncoming cooler weather, by turning the perfect shade of vitamin deficiency and by choosing to watch Creep Show marathons instead of even remotely considering going outside.

I usually love cheesy gallows’ humor, but let me tell you, Creep Show 2 doesn’t hold a candle to the original. Obnoxious characters and cheap effects had me pining for the days of, “Jordy Verrill, you lunkhead!” Discuss amongst yourselves.

jordy

Typically brewed in the spring, then stored in cold cellars to be served in autumn, marzens or Oktoberfests, are German lagers known for their clean and rich malt character. They usually fall in between 4.8 – 5.7% ABV, but American versions are often stronger, but still tend to stick to using German ingredients and respecting the Reinheitsgebot. In fact, it seems like German-style lagers have started to become increasingly popular in the US, with lager breweries popping up all over the country.

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115. Blue Lobster Brewing – Love on a Farmboy’s Wages Saison & Ragged Neck Rye Porter

Blue Lobster saison

I would like to first off apologize for our lack of updates recently. After a few months of us both skulking around, wondering if our resumes were inherently flawed and if our college degrees were a waste, we have finally found jobs in our respective fields of interest and are looking forward to a summer of gainful employment and beer consumption, rather than just the latter. Continue reading