Mark’s Christmas Present Grab Bag, a post by Mark

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much so, I received a lot of different beer at Christmas. Between 2 Yankee Swaps, a Secret Santa, a present, and an unwanted Yankee Swap gift that was given to me, I ended up with quite a bit of beer. So I figured I would take this chance to write this “guest” post on our blog about some different beers you may have tried, and some you may not have.

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 Wells Banana Bread Beer

Malt Beverage Brewed with Banana’s

5.2%    1 pint 0.9 oz Bottle

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A lighter beer than I was expecting, sort of like a light ale. It has a subtle banana taste with more of a banana after taste. I had this beer once 3 or 4 years ago and really liked it. I was expecting a heavier, more banana taste this time around but was easier to drink than expected.

From the bottle “Long ago ale was known as ‘Liquid Bread’. We’ve used our long history of creating the finest malt blends and added fair trade bananas to awaken the sense with a seriously fruity, rich, yet surprisingly versatile banana bread beer.”

Brewed by Well’s and Young’s Brewing Company, England

Long Trail Double Bag Ale

7.2%    12 oz Bottle

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I have had this many times but figured I would include it. Has a smooth, lighter beginning. More of a hoppier taste at the end, almost a chocolaty finish. Pretty easy to drink, could be dangerous since it is 7.2%. Used to be only available for visitors to the brewery but is widely available now in 6 and 12 packs.

Brewed by Long Trail Brewing Company, VT

Stone Collaboration: R & R Coconut IPA

7.7%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Heavy tasting IPA though light in color. Coconut taste is subtle, don’t think I would have guessed coconut if I didn’t see it on the bottle. Does have a fruity taste as well as the subtle coconut. Heavy tasting because it is 7.7% alcohol.

Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan teamed up and entered the American Homebrewers Association- sanctioned brewing competition. They won and got help from Rip Current Brewing Company and of course Stone Brewers to finalize the recipe. Described on the bottle as a “seamless marrying of toasted coconut and a hop bill brimming with tropical fruit notes”.

Brewed by Stone Brewing Company, San Diego County, CA

Crabbie’s Spiced Orange

Alcoholic Ginger Beer

4.8%    12 oz Bottle

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Smells fruity, you can smell the orange. Megan said it tastes like ginger ale with candied apple, she didn’t see the label. It is a ginger beer with spiced orange and tastes like it. Very light; sweet and tangy, probably a good summer beer. I don’t think this is a beer I would drink a lot of at once.

From the bottle label, “For more than 200 years Crabbie’s has shipped its ginger from the far east following in the pioneering footsteps of the first Scots Merchants Adventures – hence our distinctive Elephant Trade Mark. Following a secret recipe, the steeped ginger is matured for 8 weeks. It’s then combined with real Orange Extract giving a deliciously distinctive flavor”.

Brewed by Halewood International in the UK.

Belhaven Scottish Ale

5.2%    14.8 oz Can, come in 4 pack

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Has a creamy head on it. Light like an ale, pretty easy to drink. Has a creamy flavor with a slight nutty flavor at the end.

Comes with the widgit in it to aerate the the beer when you open it so it tastes nice and fresh.

Brewed by Belhaven Brewery, Scotland

Lagunitas IPA

Unlimited Release

6.2%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Taste like an IPA, good, not too heavy tasting, good amount of hoppiness. Has a slight fruity taste, with an almost caramel finish.

From the bottle, a “unique version of an ancient style…. made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts, this redolent ale will likely float your boat, whatever planet you are on.”

Brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company, CA

Heather Ale

Ale Brewed with Heather Flowers

5%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Fairly light tasting ale. Definite fruity-like flavor, must be the Heather flowers. Created as a summer beer, seems like a good fit. Easy to drink, fruity beer

The heather flowers are handpicked from Westport, MA by the Brew Crew and friends.

Brewed by Cambridge Brewing Company, MA

Slumbrew Happy Sol

Ale brewed with honey, orange peel, coriander,and blood orange juice

5.5%    12 oz Bottle

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Orange smell. Strong aftertaste, citrus and possible coriander taste. Reminds us both of a Blue Moon with and orange wedge in it.

From the bottle ‘refreshing Bavarian-style hefeweizen ‘ that is an ‘unfiltered wheat beer brewed with orange peel, coriander, honey and the juice from over one thousand fresh blood oranges.’

Brewed by Somerville Beer Company, MA

Boddingtons Pub Ale

1 pint Can, comes in 4 packs

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Comes with a widget in the can. Smooth and creamy is a good way to describe it, that must be why it’s on the can. It is a medium style ale, easy to drink, smooth and creamy.

From the can, it is a “unique, pale-gold ale” that was first brewed in 1778.  “Boddingtons is served using the traditional hand pulled method which mixes air with the ale as it pours, producing a distinctive creamy head and smooth bod, with little gassiness. ” They use the widget to try and reproduce that in a can.

Brewed by Inbev UK Limited in Luton, England

p.s. – Inbev is the giant company that owns most (non-craft) breweries, including Budweiser.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

10%    12 oz Bottle

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Smells like toasted chocolate. Tastes like a heavy, dark stout. Subtle, toasted chocolate taste. I was expecting more of a milk chocolate taste, but it was good heavy stout with subtle flavoring.

This is brewed as a winter beer, and “achieves a chocolate aroma and flavor through the artful blending of six varieties of black, chocolate and roasted malts.”

Brewed by the Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Triple Golden Ale on Lees

9%    1 pint 9.4 fl oz Bottle

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Cloudy look, lighter than expected when I poured it into the glass. Has a fairly light taste, lemony, a hint of orange and some spices, possible coriander. Easy to drink, good overall.

“The excellence of triple fermentation through a blend of special yeasts gives this malt beverage La Fin Du Monde (The End of the World) an exquisitely robust flavor of exceptional refinement.”

Brewed by Unibroue in Chambly, Canada

Southern Tier Plum Noir

Imperial Porter Brewed with Italian Plums

8%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Fairly light taste for a porter. Has a malty taste, with only subtle fruit notes. I was expecting more of a fruity taste with “Plums” advertised so much on the front. Easy to drink, subtle taste.

From the bottle ” Moody and Evocative: Plum Noir’s mild sweetness is derived not necessarily from the plums, but from the many malts we use. A bit of plum flavor is present as well as earthy, toasted grains, & hints of caramel with mild coffee overtones.”

Brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY

That’s it, thanks for reading, Mark.

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Boston Wine Expo 2014: February 15-16

Boston Wine Expo 2014, February 15-16, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, USA

We will be attending the Boston Wine Expo 2014 as Blog Ambassadors this year. We are very excited for the expo. The expo features wine from around the world. We will have the opportunity to try wines from: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and the US.

The wine expo is a time for tasting and for learning. They are offering many seminars throughout the weekend. Some to highlight:
‘The One Hour Wine Expert’ with Kevin Zraly. 2/15 & 2/16. 11:30a-12:30p. $35.
Kevin approaches teaching wine in a fun and approachable manner, without the “wine-snob” mentality. Kevin explains what terms like tannin and oak mean, and how to pair wine with your food.

Oregon Cool Whites, 2/15, 2:30-3:30. $30
The cool climate, and what makes Oregon wines great will be discussed. Pinot gris, Chardonnanny, Riesling and other white wines will be tasted.

Scotch 101, 2/15, 4:00-5:00p. $35
A tasting and learning course. You will learn what makes Scotch be Scotch. Differences of each region will be explored.

Wine Spectator Presents… World-Wide Wine Adventure, 2/16, 3:30-4:30p, $30
“Stopping” at 5 continents, you will learn about world-famous classics and “local heros.”

Rum 101, 2/16, 4:00-5:00p, $25
Rum dates back to 300 B.C. Different traditions of making rum throughout the world will be broken down through tasting.

We are looking forward to trying some different wines, learning, and enjoying different foods. Any interest in going?  Use code “SOCIAL” (without quotes) to get 10% off tickets for either the Saturday or Sunday Grand Tasting. Buy tickets here!

Prefer to try to win your way in? We will be giving away one pair of tickets to the Sunday tasting. We will announce the winner on February 1st! Your tickets will be available at “Will Call.” Good luck!

Click here to WIN!

Our 40th Visit!! Walpole Mountain View, Walpole NH

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We visited Walpole Mountain View Winery in mid December, which waiting for a snowstorm to set in. Walpole Mountain View Winery is located in Walpole, New Hampshire. We became slightly lost on the way there thanks to our GPS, but were able to get there in one piece. Definitely a food day to test out how my fairly new tires handled the snow covered roads.  100_1181 100_1182
When we pulled up to Walpole Mountain View Winery, we thought it looked very pretty, all dressed up for Christmas. When we entered, we were greeted by David, who introduced us to the Winery. The tasting room has a bar along the right side, and many bar height tables, with comfortable chairs to sit in to have your tasting. 100_1195 the menu100_1194David showed us the wine list, had us pick a glass (stemless or traditional), and told us to pick out 6 wines each. The wine list was extensive, but was easy to view. It was a two sided menu, with dry wines on one side and sweeter (greater than 1% residual sugar) on the other side. They were then listed by dryness or sweetness level. Once we picked out our six, David brought us to a different room to view a short video tour.

Walpole Mountain View Winery Facts:

  • Family run winery, with each member taking part
  • 2000- they began to think about the land (rolling hills, wind and sun) and how located elsewhere, it would be great as a vineyard. They started to look into grape varieties that would work for them
  • 2004- they started to plant the grapes
  • 2009- made their 1st wine
  • They currently operate on 5 acres, with 32 varieties of grapes, producing 28 wines. 4 varieties of grapes they grow are table grapes.
  • They are one of the few estate wineries in New Hampshire. An estate winery is when all grapes used in their wine comes from their property
  • March of every year brings pruning
  • Harvest is mid-September to October
  • Autumn–> Spring= wine production time
  • All grapes are hand picked
  • They add oak chips during some red wine fermentation
  • They strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible

When we finished our video tour, we went out to the deck area to see that setup. The deck area had 3 long, bar height tables with stools. Overhead heat lamps were set up, making the room good for most weather, although too cold for that particular day. 100_1183 Mark, testing the heating lamps  100_1185  100_1188  100_1184 100_1187 View from the deck area

We then went back to the tasting room, where Alysa had put together our tasting trays. David brought them over to us and instructed us on how to properly complete the tasting.

100_1189 My tasting tray

100_1191 the tasting table set up

Our tasting:

La Crosse: white varietal ’11. Oak aftertaste. Only oaked white in ’11. Crisp, warm tart flavor, slight lingering flavor.

Barnett Hill White: plum nose. Easy mouth. White blend, 2012

Seyval Blanc: white varietal, 2012. nose- honey/mead like. “Slowly tart,” a great description- not quite tart. Unfiltered

Marquette ’10: great red, tart and fig. Bold. Would enjoy with a steak dinner.

La Crescent ’12: Sweet with a tartness. Sweet apple and pear with a slight citrus flavor. Unfiltered, white varietal.

Frontenac Gris: white varietal, 2012. Mark said that Kiwi flavor was a good description, smooth also makes sense. Unfiltered.

Leon Millet ’11: off dry red. Nose- cranberry, cocoa, molasses, jam. Mouth- dry, maple, cherry. Yum & great nose! We really enjoyed this one!

1761 Walpole Red: red/white blend. Good nose- peppery. Fruity but not sweet, with a slight spicy tingle.

Mountain View Red: red/white blend, 2012. Raisin with a hint of chili pepper. Fruity taste, but not too sweet. Bolder.

Marquette ’11: red, roasted red pepper. Chili powder with a slight mushroom nose. Berry, cherry and bold.

La Crescent “Late Harvest”: 75% 2009, 25% 2010. Peach & Citrus. Notes of melon. Very sweet and tasty dessert wine.

Cayuga White “Late Harvest”: tropical like; dessert wine

We had a great experience at the Walpole Mountain View Winery. David was very friendly, and made us feel very comfortable.
The set up was interesting, in a good way. We liked that you sat down, chose your wines to taste and went to watch the video tour before coming back to enjoy the tasting. This not only made for a good experience for us, but we can envision this set up working very well during high traffic times.

Want to visit? They are currently closed for the winter, and typically reopen Memorial Day weekend. 

2013 Hours (check their website and facebook for 2014)

Memorial Day- Halloween
Fridays 5-7p
Saturdays: 12-6p
Sundays: 1-6p

November 1st-Late December
Fridays 4-6p
Saturdays: 12-5p
Sundays: 1-5p

Henniker Brewing, Henniker NH

100_1164We went to Henniker Brewing Co. two weeks before Christmas. Located in Henniker, New Hampshire, it was slightly difficult to find, partially because the GPS said we were already there before we were, and partially because their sign wasn’t very large.

The brewery is owned by David Currier. He owned the building and wanted to do something fun and cool to benefit the town. Henniker Brewing Co. has a small bar, but also has a handful of tables for you to do your tasting. When we arrived, there were quite a few people there, some made a space for us at the bar. Their tasting room is not open for often at this time, but with seeing how busy they were, look for additional hours to be added with their growth. If you want more information on the brewery, the brewing process and the beers, go on a tour while you are there.

100_1175their store
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Our Tasting:100_1174

Whipple’s Wheat: 4.8% good wheat beer, dry hopped and citrusy.

Amber Apparition American Amber Ale: 5.2%. Carmel and toffee flavors. Mark- pretty good, light amber, light taste

Working Man’s Porter: 5.2% good flavor. Mark- tastes a little chocolately almost toasted or roasted. Good winter beer.

Hop Slinger IPA: 6.5%, citrus aroma with a grapefurit flavor. Mark- pretty good IPA. Meg- sweet taste at the end

Whipple’s Wheat Aged With Pineapple: they change this variety weekly to biweekly. Smells like pineapple. Good, different, fun. Mark- “pretty good, huh”

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Very busy place, many people came in while we were there to refill their growlers. By the time we left, the line was almost out the door!

Our Tour:

Our tour was given by Chris Shea- the Head Brewer. He knows what he is doing and really seems to care. He formally brewed at White Birch, and appears to see this as his chance to really do well and made a name for himself. When we walked into the brewery, it appeared to be a good sized space with lots of room to expand. We were told “don’t touch anything because it’s super expensive and super doesn’t belong to you.”

The brewery opened “a year and ten days ago” as of our visit on 12/14/13. Construction to convert the building began in December of 2011, with their first batches on December 21, 2012 and released in January 2013. Their initial brewer was James Moriarty, who had been a brewer for Cape Cod Brewery and was commuting from the Cape. When it came time for James to move on (and stop with the awful commute!), Chris had recently left White Birch and was recommended for the position.

Chris told us about how the October 2013 government shutdown impacted them. They are currently planning four seasonal beers and had hoped to have the winter beer out already. Due to the government shutdown, they were still waiting for labels to be OK’d. They are now looking for their winter beer to be released in January 2014.
Winter- roast coffee stout. espresso beans
Spring- Hop 4 Double IPA. Chris has been given the green light to change the flavor yearly.
Summer- Belgian table beer
Fall- double brown ale, possibly with maple syrup

The brewery gets their water from artisanal wells, located behind the brewery. It is neutral water, which Chris is able to build to any chemical composition, such as London water for the Porter.
They buy malt from all over the world. When they make their porter, they make it similar to a 1856 London brewery would, using 3 malts- pale, brown and black. They also use artisanal malts, which can be different colors because of the way they are roasted. 100_1166
We were shown the mill to grist case, which barely breaks open the malt. 100_1167

Some information:

  • they add hops 3x during their hour long boil
  • they currently have their beer available in 22 ounce bottles, but in 2014 will be moving to cans- 6 packs for their regular beers, 4 packs for seasonal. Once they have a canning line, help will be hired
  • Chris is the only one that works back in the brewery100_1173  100_1172  100_1171  100_1169  100_1168

Mark and I felt that the more of a craft brewery it is, and the more educated the tour guide is (here being the brewer), the more you learn during the tour.

Henniker Brewing Co. is a good brewery to keep your eye on.

Want to visit?
Tasting room is open from:
3-6pm Monday-Friday
12-2pm Saturdays
Tour- 1pm Saturdays