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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Around this time last year, I realized that I wanted to be around beer all the time. I quit my job and moved to New Hampshire’s Seacoast in an attempt to throw myself into what I heard was an expanding and passionate beer scene. I was amazed to see the amount of breweries opening, established breweries growing larger, and the constant outpouring of support and enthusiasm from the public. New Hampshire is what a craft beer community should be – a focus on locality, quality and innovation, and an unpretentious attitude. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “Good people drink good beer.”
I’ve poured a lot of beers and learned so much in the process, and met people whose dedication to whether it’s brewing, serving, or teaching others about beer, is inspiring.
I’ll be leaving New Hampshire at the end of the month and moving to Providence, Rhode Island – an area not yet widely known for its beer, but still growing nonetheless. I’m excited to gain a new perspective on New England’s beer community. I’ll be starting a weekly post featuring updates on PVD beer news and events, while Ashleigh will be showcasing the Cape & Islands and surrounding areas.
This move will also bring Two Girls closer to one another, so look for more collaborative efforts, including joint video reviews – after all, it is Two Girls, One Beer, right?
So that’s my update. If you’re in the NH area this Saturday, come say hi to us at the Powder Keg Beer & Chili Festival. This is an awesome event with tons of great local breweries and restaurants. Tickets are still available at the website.
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.
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.
I decided to get the Moat Mountain Blueberry because I love North Conway, NH, and wasn’t aware that they had their own brewery. As much as I rag on some denizens of the granite state, it’s a pretty cool place, having brought us GG Allin, the Kancamagus, the motto “LIVE FREE OR DIE” I mean it doesn’t get more badass than that. Okay, well West Virgina is pretty good too with their motto of, “Mountaineers are always free” but if freedom means bottle feeding my kids Mountain Dew, count me out.
I suppose I should talk about the American IPA bubble and how the guild over at BJCP must be wringing their claw-like hands over parameter stretching and constant re-definitions and yadda yadda yadda. But really, meh. Give it another decade and we’ll have that conversation. For now, let’s have some fun. Hell, I’ve even created my own IPA. It’s called a CAT-IPA, or CIPA. Continue reading
Nepenthe Ales comes to us from the Candia Road Brewing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is the first beer that I’ve had from them, but have noticed their distribution growing strongly in the area, so hopefully soon, I’d like to showcase some more from this new brewery. In the meantime, here’s a short review of their wheat ale.
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
Hey guys. I’m doing some live-action reviewing right now. Like, I’m drinking this beer and typing how I feel about it. Isn’t this novel and exciting?
What we have here is Portsmouth Brewery’s Royal Impy Stout; a Russian Imperial Stout that is taking the place of the infamous and now defunct Kate the Great. It is 11.10% and bottled up in a cute little 11.16 oz. stubby bottle featuring a display of “Royal Russian Midgets.” Does Portsmouth Brewery believe in a resurrection of the czarist system? As of now, all signs are pointing to yes.
The forest is still as the majestic earth eagle tears through the terrain, its mighty gobbler rustling in the breeze… Yes, the earth eagle is the turkey, but they also brew a damn good beer. Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth, NH has certainly inched its way up as my favorite place to grab a beer (or six tasting-sized pours). Problem is, I’m not from Portsmouth so we have to make do with refilling our growlers every couple of weeks or so, and just ignore those yearnings for a gruit that spring up between visits, and placate myself with something else.
I didn’t know anything about Dover upon moving here. Smart, right? I figured everything that I needed out of the local beer scene I could just get from Portsmouth. The old Barley Pub on Central Ave. was closing it’s doors as I was unpacking my house, and it seems like all the reviews of the “new” Barley Pub are comparing it to the old. Well, I have no “remember that time at the Barley Pub in our favorite booth when blah blah blah happened”-moments. All I have is the new bar, and what has become the ideal spot for a young person on her own in New Hampshire, trying to get into the beer scene. I know, it’s like a sitcom.
High-ceilings, dark colors, a long bar, and even a raised stage area for bands, it’s apparent why I see a line out the door of this place every Friday/Saturday night. I’ve yet to mingle with the weekend bar crew, but I can tell you that around 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon, I have the Barley Pub almost to myself and am free to sample from their 30+ tap list at my leisure. Whether I want to sit at the bar, one of their nice window-side tables, or a couch in the back, the place has become an addition to my living room.
I will not pretend that I know anything about Mayan calendars or end of the world prophecies. I could easily recite some Wikipedia and learn you something real hard about the 13th b’ak’tun. Maybe even feature it in a podcast where I practice writing my name in hieroglyphics with a raging Neil Young soundtrack for accompaniment. I choose to abstain.
If I was writing a post on local, seasonal beers, this would have to top the list. How more seasonal can you get than the end of a b’ak’tun? I’ll take a good ole’ strong ale over some cinnamon-spiced nonsense any day.
This English strong ale from Earth Eagle Brewings out of Portsmouth, NH, pours a thick amberish brown, with hints of ruby around the edges. Nose is full of caramel/toffee notes, alcohol esters and a mild dark fruitiness, probably from the New Zealand Green Bullet hops.
Taste is a light nuttiness and a rich malt presence, but not so much as to become overly sweet. Alcohol is very noticeable, as expected with a 7.2% ale, but the hop bitterness helps add balance and clings to your palate in the finish. Light-medium body with a good carbonation;this is an estery, malty beer with character.
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.
This beer has some crazy coincidences surrounding it. Let’s start at the beginning. Tommy Stahle of Eartly Delights was talking to my boyfriend Ryan about Julio’s Liquors in Westboro, MA and how it would be right up our alley. They have thousands of craft beer selections, plus a whole section of the store devoted to hot sauce. All the way up my alley..