Far From the Tree Cider, Salem, MA

We visited Far From the Tree Cider in Salem, MA with a group of friends. Far From the Tree is owned by a couple with a background and interest in wine making. It dawned on them that in New England making cider makes a lot more sense if you want to grow your own ingredients. Apples grow great in New England, grapes not as much.

 

They released their first cider in 2014, and opened the tasting room in 2015. They started with a limited variety of ciders released in bottles, but now have a wide variety of styles and seasonal releases in bottles and cans.

 

We had wanted to visit here for a while after searching and finding a special release of theirs, Lei, a pineapple jalapeno cider that was fantastic.

 

Bre, Sammie and Megan

 

Deryl, Mark and Dustin

 

 

They had flights or full pours available, we started with flights and a few of us got full pours after.

 

Megan drinking

 

Roots – 6.9%
Original barrel aged cider. This was a very dry cider, light, not sweet at all.

 

 

Granny MacCort’s Blend – 7.5%
Still a dry cider but slightly sweeter than Roots. Made with Granny Smith, Cortland, and Mcintosh apples.

 

 

Nova
A dry hopped cider. You can smell the dry hopping, more pine on the nose but tropical flavors dominate on the pallet. A good cider, everyone liked it, Mark like the additional flavors from the dry hopping but Megan liked it as well, as the hops were not too much for her.

 

 

Gallagher’s Hammer – 7.3%
Smells and tastes like melon, more like melon than watermelon, but still pretty tasty.

 

 

Apple of My Chai – 7.5%
Smells strongly of chai, tastes like Chai with a hint of cinnamon though Mark. Bre and Megan really liked this cider, Bre went specifically looking for this one. They both bought cans to go of this.

 

 

 

Mark and Megan with cider to go

 

 

They have a pretty large patio outside with picnic tables, chairs and umbrellas. It more than doubles the space they have inside, which is great for the nice weather.

 

 

There was no door to the patio, you have to go through the building. We had a little trouble finding the door, it was hidden in a mural.

 

 

They had a food truck, The Porch, there that day so Mark and Bre got some food, mac and cheese and pulled pork sandwhichs.

 

There is not very ample  parking there, they have just a few spots and there is limited street parking. We parked down the street.

 

 

Cool murals inside.

 

 

Bre and Deryl

 

Mark and Megan

 

Sorry, no cute pic of Dustin and Sammie, just Sammie and her cider

 

 

 

 

Hours

Monday – Thursday: 4:00 – 10:00
Friday and Saturday: 12:00 -11:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 10:00

 

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Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards, Richmond, MA

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While out in Western Mass with our friend Bre, we visited Furnace Brook Winery, which is located at the Hilltop Orchard in Richmond, MA. This was actually a place Bre found and wanted to go to because they make their own cider as well as wine.

You can sample any 1 wine for free, or 5 wines for $5, so we all tried some different ones.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio – A crisp, golden white wine, slightly dry.

Riesling – Mark and Megan both liked this. Fruity but not too sweet, nice flavorful balance. We both skipped the Dry Riesling for this one.

Mead – A light, sweet mead with a very strong honey flavor. Honey sourced locally from Westfield, MA.

 

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 Red Wines

Shiraz Special Reserve – Peppery with hints of berry, dry but not overly dry.

Ruby Port – Mark really liked this, very tasty. Bre and Megan both thought it was sweet. It is wine, fortified with Brandy.

 

Sparkling

Blanc de Blancs – Bre tried this, slightly fruity, easy drinking.

Muscato – Very sweet, crisp, a bubbly muscato, Bre and Megan really liked this, we bought a bottle for Mark’s sister Michelle.

 

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Ciders

Johnny Mash Dry Gold – A very dry, but refreshingly clean cider. Made simple on purpose, goes well with anything, for day drinking we were told. Did we give off that vibe?

 

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Cidre Special Reserve – Light and a little sweeter than the Dry Gold, still dry. The apples were fermented whole, with the skins on, in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French Oak barrels.

 

Johnny Mash Hard Cider – Light, slightly sweet, minor oak notes, aged in American Oak, good cider, 6%.

 

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Ice Wine

Berkshire Winter Harvest Ice Wine – Sweet, tasty, a complex cider ice wine. They grind the apples and make juice (cider) they freeze the juice, then remove the nectar and ferment that. It takes about 45 apples per bottle.

 

Hilltop Orchards is one of the largest cider mills in New England. They make cider for lots of other places. They are proud to grow, pick, grind and mash, as well as ferment all their cider onsite.

 

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There are miles of trails on the farm, and they rent snow shoes and cross country ski’s. They get a lot of traffic during the winter, people coming to use the trails and then sample some wine or cider. There was not enough snow when we were there to take advantage of that. Maybe some day… we would definitely visit again if we are in the area.

 

They also use and integrated pest management system, IPM. This means they plan when to spray based on rain, wind, etc, they use the weather to their advantage to keep the apples and grapes and fresh and clean as possible.

 

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Of course we got some Cider Donuts before we left as well.

 

Hours

9:00 – 5:00 Daily, year round

 

 

 

 

 

Northampton Brewery, Northampton, MA

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We recently visited Northampton Brewery out in Northampton, MA. We were on our way out to western Mass with our friend Bre and stopped there for beer samples and dinner. This has been on our list for a while, they have a long history and connections with some local breweries in NH.

 

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Northampton Brewery opened in 1987 and was the second brewpub to open in the region. They are currently the oldest operating brewpub in New England. A brief history: Northampton Brewery was founded by brother and sister Janet and Peter Egelston. In 1991 they opened another brewpub, Portsmouth Brewery in NH. In 1994 they opened another brewery, a small production brewery called Smuttynose Brewing Company. In 2000, Janet and Peter bought each other out of their respective businesses, which left Janet the sole owner of Nothampton Brewery, and Peter owner of Portsmouth Brewery and majority owner of Smuttynose.

 

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Similar frothy mug to Portsmouth Brewery

 

Northampton Brewery has gone through several renovations over the years, which leaves them with a pretty good sized brewpub, which includes a rooftop bar area, which we did not go to since it was December.

 

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One of the renovations added this large back room with high ceilings and exposed beams.

 

 

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They do flights of 4 beers, you can pick any 4 off the menu so we each got a flight so we could try as many beers as possible.

 

Redheaded Stepchild 5%
Pretty good for a red ale, described as ‘well balanced’, we agree.

Deckbier 4.5%
A golden ale with slightly more flavor than a typical golden ale. A light bodied beer with a light citrus flavor.

 

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Greyhound IPA
Smells like grapefruit. Light in body for an ipa, super cloudy with a very strong grapefruit flavor. Bre liked this and isn’t usually a fan of ipa’s.

ESB 5.7%
Better than a standard ESB, not quite as bitter, balanced and drinkable.

 

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Blue Boots IPA 6%
Slightly hazy, smells citrusy and piney but tastes more piney. Decent ipa.

Hoover’s Porter
Megan smelled vanilla, Mark smelled coffee and chocolate. A good porter, smooth, well balanced, a hint of coffee and vanilla, not bitter at all. We were pleasantly surprised by this porter.

 

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Milk and Cookies 5.6%
A dark beer, medium to heavy body. A touch of chocolate with some roastyness, with a cookie sweetness to the finish. Bitter start, smooth sweet finish. Not quite as good as we were hoping for from the name, but pretty good.

Old Brown Dog 5.2%
A smooth brown all, creamy, with a touch of sweetness on the finish, not very malty at all.

Mark asked about Old Brown Dog, since that is one of Smuttynose year round beers. When the businesses separated they both had rights to the Old Brown Dog recipe. We think this tasted a little different than Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, but not quite sure.

 

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Northampton American Pale Ale 5.7%
Pretty good, nice and hoppy for a pale ale.

 

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Bre enjoying her samples

 

Food

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

 

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Green Mountain Burger

 

All the food was very good and so was the service.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the beers as well. They do make some of the less interesting, ‘typical brewpub’ beer styles, like a Golden Ale, ESB, Porter, but they put their own unique twist to their recipes, which makes the beers more interesting and enjoyable.

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They makes all their own beer in the brewery. The also can and bottle all their own beer in house as well. We bought cans and bottles to go, which is nice to have offerings other than growlers.

 

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Mark, Bre and Megan

 

Hours

Monday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 1:00 am
Sunday: 12:00 – 1:00 am

As always, check their website or Facebook for updated hours and offerings.

RiverWalk Brewing Company, Newburyport, MA

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We stopped at RiverWalk Brewing Company on one of our many drives between NH and Massachusetts. They are located in Newburyport, MA right down the road from Newburyport Brewing Company, so we stopped there for a Growler refill as well.

 

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Bre and Deryl met us at the brewery. The RiverWalk website says: While we are influenced by the proudly independent spirit of Belgian farmhouse breweries and the warm atmosphere of English country pubs, our philosophy is uniquely American. We draw inspiration not from a particular style or set of guidelines, but from the incredible richness of the world around us and the character of the ingredients that we carefully choose.

 

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Growlers being filled out back.

 

 

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Bre and Daryl at the bar

 

They have a fairly small tasting room, a bar with 6 stools but room for standing as well.

 

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Rustic Pils – 5.6%
Better than the average Pilsner, still not Mark’s favorite, but had a decent taste.

 

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Uncle Bob’s Bitter – 4.5%
An English style ale, good, not bitter, pretty drinkable beer. No hoppy taste, Deryl liked this beer.

 

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Unveiled – 6%
Very interesting flavor, not very carbonated. Megan thought it was sweet, Mark did not. There is an extra flavor, Hibiscus or peppercorn flavor, not sure which, and a touch floral. It is a Belgian style ale with hibiscus and pink peppercorn.

 

Gnomad – 7.5%
They use 2 yeast strains and 2 malts. A Belgian base, slightly tart or sour, fairly light body. A hybrid beer, hard to describe all the flavors, does not taste like 7.5%. Spicy, earthy notes of banana and clove.

 

Rt. 1 Rye Stout – 6% limited release
Interesting balance of flavors, lighter style stout, maybe because of the Rye. Coffee flavor, Megan likes it, Deryl and Bre did not like, they do not like coffee.

 

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Riverwalk IPA – 6.75%
Interestingly balanced, right in the middle of IPA spectrum, hoppy but not super hoppy, not plain or boring either though.

 

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The service was good. We did not get anything to go, though Bre did get a small Growler. Unfortunately, on the website they say they bottle condition their beer and have pictures of beer bottles on the website and Facebook and we were looking forward to that. We have way too many growlers! When we were there they told us they were not currently bottling beer. According to facebook, they are now bottling again, about a month later.

This is definitely a brewery to keep an eye on!

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Want to visit?
Hours

Thursday and Friday: 3:00 – 7:00

Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

 

 

Our 100th Visit! Cambridge Brewing Company

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We planned our 100th visit for the Cambridge Brewing Company. The brew pub has been operating since 1989, and is in an old mill building, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their beers are both traditional and experimental. They were the first commercial American brewery to produce a Belgian beer. Their food menu is just as diverse, offering food that shows what New England is about.

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Mark and Megan

We went on March 7th, the 2 year anniversary of our first post on this blog. We let our friends and family know we were going, and almost all whom had been on a visit with us before was able to go! 17 people came to celebrate with us (19 in all), so we have a lot of pictures.

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Sam enjoying her beer

 

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Andrea enjoying her ….. water.

 

 

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Heather …. just being weird.

 

 

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Dustin chugging his beer.

 

 

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Mark and Marilynn

 

 

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We ordered nachos for an appetizer. When the rest of the table saw them they put in another order or 2. Since there were so many of us they had pitchers of water on the table for us.

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Very cheesey nachos, with Sam making an angry face. But look in the background, as well as pitchers they sell a beer tube? tower? We didn’t get one, but we did see them.

 

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Pete noticed the camera.

 

Beers:

Regatta Golden
Al ordered this beer, the first beer on the list under year round beers. It’s the lightest beer they make, similar to what Al drinks regularly. He liked it, as well as Sam and Andrea, simple and light. Not enough flavor for Megan and Mark.

 

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Al sharing the Regatta Golden.

 

 

Tall Tale Pale Ale
Marilynn ordered, she did not like it, not what she was expecting. Dustin liked it, Mark thought it was a fairly hoppy, somewhat typical Pale Ale.

 

Morning Dew Saison
It has a bit of a funky smell to it, thankfully doesn’t taste like that. Marilynn and Heather liked it, refreshing. Andrea thought it was ok. Megan and Mark liked it, light body, fruity-ish flavor, probably the elderflowers.

 

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The parents: Al, Sheila, Jim, and Marilynn

 

Machinery of Night
Whiskey scent and flavor, followed by a sour aftertaste. There was a sweetness to it, probably from the barrel aging, and a tart finish. Light in body, especially for a barrel aged beer. Everyone liked this beer, wouldn’t drink a lot of it, but it is good for a pint.

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Big Man IPA
Hoppy IPA, a mild wintery spice taste, aggressively dry hopped, adds that extra flavor. Mark and Jason thought it was pretty good, hoppy IPA with a little extra flavor.

 

Charles River Porter
Robust, roasty, coffee flavor, good overall balance and taste. Most people liked this beer as well.

 

Sgt. Peppers
Amber color, spicy, peppery taste. Good, interesting flavor, after a whole pint it did get quite spicy. Mark liked it and bought a bottle.

 

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Look at that pour!

 

Kafka’s Hat Simcoe
Strong smell, piney, earthy style IPA. Chris, Jason and Mark all thought it was decent. Not Mark’s favorite style IPA, but it was pretty good.

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Smile from Chris.

 

 

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Moving down the table, Andrea, Bre, Deryl, Michelle, and Kevin. Big, cool mural in the background.

 

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Other side of the table, Sheila, Jim, Jason, Melitta, and Katrina.

 

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Mark chatting with Jim.

 

Food:

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Burger and fries

Mark got the burger and fries, good burger really good fries. A lot of people got the burger and liked it. Dustin got bacon on his and thought there could have been a little more.

 

 

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Steak, twice baked potato, and onion rings

Megan and Andrea both got the steak and liked it.

 

 

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Burger with salad

Heather got the BBQ burger with a salad. Burger and roll were good, could have used a little more BBQ sauce. Salad dressing was light and refreshing.

 

 

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Braised Chicken pizza

Katrina and Kevin got the Braised chicken pizza that had feta, potatoes, spinach and sundried tomatoes. An odd mix, but it was good.

 

 

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Panini and fries

 

Melitta got the Beet Salad and enjoyed it. Chris had the Duck, it was tasty.

 

 

 

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Dessert

 

 

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The whole table, all 19 of us, plus a random waiter.

 

 

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Want to Visit?

 

 Monday  11:30am- 11:00pm
 Tuesday – Thursday  11:30am – 12:00am
 Friday  11:30am- 1:00am
 Saturday  11:00am-1:00am
 Sunday  11:00am- 11:00pm

7th Settlement, Dover, NH – many visits in one

Looking through our stops, we realized that we hadn’t posted about a brewery we have been to quite a few times, as it is fairly local for us. Megan posted a visit when she had gone with Kristen from Good ‘n Good for Ya, but Mark and Megan hadn’t posted a joint visit. We’ve enjoyed some great food and beers at 7th Settlement, located in Dover, New Hampshire.

7th Settlement is a Community Supported Brewery, serving Progressive American Pub fare. All of their food is farm to table- even their ketchup. They know what local farm each cow, chicken or pig came from and support local farms with their produce as well. Their baked goods and pasta are also made in house. With everything made to order, you don’t have to worry about allergies.

Throughout our various travels to 7th Settlement, we have been able to enjoy many different beers and food.

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long bar on the right and long community tables on the left. Dining room further back

 

 

 

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On one visit a while back Mark had had the Red Winter Wheat Ale and really enjoyed it. Megan had the Czech Untz, a Kolsch style ale with Czech hops. A bit heavier than expected, as we usually have a more fruity Kolsch, but it was good.

 

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We tried their main entrees, Mark their Pork special, which was a pork chop in an apple glaze with apple sauce and Gouda polenta with Brussels sprouts. Mark enjoyed the pork, the polenta and even ate most of the Brussels (even though he isn’t fond of them).

Megan had the Chicken feature, which was a Statler chicken, with Pancetta baked on, served with fingerling potatoes and carrots (which were traded for string beans). There wasn’t a bite left!

Another time we went back to visit we both got burgers. The burgers are big and really tasty.

 

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Megan went on a tour of the brewery during the Dover Mini Maker Faire, and learned a lot about the way they do things at 7th Settlement. With her was the Barrett family, Peter, Mary, Chris and John, as well as Bre.

 

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2 row barley start with for grain

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Grain room

 

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During tour, we smelled chocolate malt (smelled like fire burning a little), and learned that the hops are even local! The hops are through a hop exchange, out of Strafford.

The tour was given by one of the brewers, which had very good analogies for those not familiar with the beer process- like rowing through fondue cheese, like when you add water to oatmeal, etc
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A good description was given for the way the water buckets operate- one way entry, helps keep bacteria out

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They have large kegs in their refrigerator, for in house use. They feed into the lines at the bar, 78 feet away. This is the furthest the beer goes, unless they are going to a festival.

All beers are vegan– which is unusual, but it is due to the finding agent they use- seaweed based instead of fish based.

 

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Their average time to brew- 3 weeks. The least amount of time for one of their beers is 2 1/2 weeks, with the most at 5 weeks.
Since the tour, they have added 3 more fermenters, and 4 more conditioning tanks- nice to be growing so quickly!

Both brewers are looking to further their beer education, and hope to never stop learning.

 

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Chris enjoying his beer

Chris had recently turned 21 before the visit to the Dover Maker Faire and 7th Settlement, so it was exciting for Megan to have a beer with Chris during this trip!

 

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Chocolate Bacon Cake!

 

Another time we went back to visit we both got burgers. The burgers are big and really tasty.

We had some of their Peter Peter Pumpkin Ale as well.  A heavier, darker style pumpkin ale with a subtle pumpkin taste. It is conditioned with bourbon and vanilla beans.

 

There have been some changes recently. When 7th Settlement opened, they were sharing space with One Love Brewery. One Love has moved out, and up to Lincoln NH, so they both have more space to do their own thing.

 

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We both agree that this has benefitted 7th Settlement. They have a lot more variety of beers on tap, and have become a little more experimental, at least more than they were. We have visited more often recently because they have new beers more often, and more beers that intrigue us.

 

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Chicken wing special. The sauce was really hot, but very tasty. Megan may or may not have been crying a little… The wings were good, nice and crunchy, and homemade blue cheese was laid beneath them, very good as well.

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A beer cheese fondue with homemade bread. This was really good as well, great taste and helped Megan cool off from the chicken wings.

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We had the Gerrish IPA and Milk Stout while we were their this time. Both were good. We also tried the Kris KOLSCHstofferson, it was a little darker than we were expecting, the ‘gentle malt flavor’ they described was a little more prominent than we were expecting.

 

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Yup, those are Megan’s ski’s

 

Most recently, we skied down to 7th Settlement during the Blizzard of 2015. Yes, this month. We accepted the Facebook invite telling us snow shoes and ski’s were acceptable forms of transportation.

 

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Mark only had a little snow frozen in his beard, it was windy!

 

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Beers on tap most recently

 

Mark started with the Hero Pale Ale. Very hoppy with a good flavor, Mark liked it. A little too hoppy for Megan, not her type of beer.

 

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Mark also tried the NH Common. A good beer, light style but still flavorful, it did not taste cheap.

 

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beer menu, during the Blizzard of 2015

 

 

Megan had the Black Day Porter. Nice coffee notes, balanced flavor, good dark beer. We both liked it.

 

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an exhausted Megan, after skiing (not downhill)

 

 

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Honey Chipotle Flatbread

 

We ordered the Honey Chipotle Flatbread. It was tasty, crunchy onions with a good sauce. The Potato Bites were good as well. Mark liked the Horseradish Aioli, Megan used some of the homemade ketchup instead. The couple seated next to us ordered the potato bites after seeing ours come out- good choice!

 

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Potato Bites with Horseradish Aioli

 

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What’s on tap and what’s coming

Downeast Cider House

This past fall, we took a trek into Boston with Mark’s sister Michelle, Megan’s sisters Heather, Jessica and Samantha, Samantha’s boyfriend Dustin, and friends Bre and Lizzie. We took a walk from the nearest train station to Downeast Cider House. On a warm day, this walk would be nothing. On a windy day (like the one we had), the walk was a little harsh. In good weather, walk. In cold weather, take a cab or drive.

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When they say they are located down under the Tobin Bridge, they are serious. Right under the bridge.

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A little farther in…

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Around the corner…

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And you are there!

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They give you these sampling glasses at the start of the tour. They come around and give you samples of what they have on tap during the tour. We all liked this, you get to drink while on the tour.

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We have had Downeast Cider plenty of times before, and we have had a lot of people try it as well, including everyone who came with us on this visit. They press from fresh apples year round, and it tastes like it.

Original Blend – 5.1%
It tastes like a regular jug of cider you would get from the produce department. It is a blend of freshly pressed blend of Red Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland and Gala apples.

Cranberry Blend – 5%
Good blend of cranberry flavor and cider, not too tart but just enough cranberry flavor. Several of us actually got growlers of this.

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Kegs, growlers, and cans, lots of cans.

Hard Honey – 5.1%
This was a spring release this year. A sweeter, definitely honey flavored cider. Good but sweet. When we had tried this, they had said it was the lemonade at first… So, many of us weren’t fans. After finding out that it was the Hard Honey, we wished for another taste.

Lemonade – 5.1%
This was a summer release, light and easy drinking.

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They have a Winter Blend out now that we did not get to try. It is 6.5% and aged on oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg, sounds like a good winter cider. Next fall they may be making a pumpkin cider, and possibly a hard iced tea for the spring, though that is just a rumor.

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Back row: Lizzie, Dustin, Mark Middle row: Michelle, Megan, Heather, Jessica, Samantha Front: Bre

We had quite a group of people visiting with us.

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It was a little hard to hear on the tour, it is an operating brewery, so equipment and coolers were running. We were on the largest tour of the day on a Sunday afternoon, too, so we couldn’t get too close to the tour guide. The tasting during the tour is a good touch. We recommend Downeast to everyone we think might like it. That includes you!

Want to visit?

Tastings, Tours & Growler

SATURDAYS 12-8pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 7pm
SUNDAYS 1-6pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 5pm