Special Release NH Beers, Somewhat Recent

Here are some special release beers we have tried over the last several months. All of them are NH beers, and most are not available anymore, but still an interesting read.

 

Smuttynose – Big Beer Series
Gravitation – Belgian Style Quadrupel Ale – 11.5 ish %

 

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A heavy style Belgian beer, red in color and flavor, Belgian base with lots of flavor. Mark enjoyed it, Megan did not.

 

Smuttynose – Big Beer Series
Zinneke – Belgian Style Stout

 

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Complex flavor. A dark, robust taste with a roasty and malty flavor, all built over a dark Belgian base.

 

Smuttlabs – Smuttynose Specialty Line
Gose – 4.75%

“tart wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt”

 

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That’s what’s on the bottle, and that’s what it taste like. A light style wheat beer, a tartness, not overly sour, with a coriander taste and a slight salty finish.

 

Smuttlabs
East Coast Common Ale

 

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This was a Smuttlabs collaboration brew with Stoneface and Great Rhythm Brewing. Mark had this on draft and several bottles. Hoppy with a hint of citrusy smell. Medium body with slight bitterness or malty taste. Very good overall beer, too bad it’s a special release.

 

Smuttlabs
Farmhouse Pale 
‘ale brewed with French Saison yeast and Brettanomyces’

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Really light in body, definite Saison taste/ finish. There is a little tartness to it which compliments the Saison nicely. We both liked this better than the Daily Brett.

 

Smuttlabs
Daily Brett – 5.9%
‘ale brewed with Brettanomyces’

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Smells like a sour but only has a slight tartness to it. The tartness fades quickly and you get more of the malty  beer flavor. Medium body with a with a slight off taste. We were hoping for more sour.

 

Stoneface Brewing Company
Special Releases

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Hopulization – Double IPA – 8.9%
Smells of hops. A malt flavor base with lots of hoppy after flavors. Definitely a strong, hoppy beer. Good beer, and definitely worth trying if you can, but not quite as good as the regular IPA.

Hopulization was first released in late October, then again in late January, with the RIS in between.

 

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Russian Imperial Stout – 9.5%

It’s been a while since we had a taste, we were holding onto the bottle for something special, I guess. They have bourbon barrels that they are aging another batch in, hopefully we get our hands on some of that, too.

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Mozaccalypse – Double IPA – 8%

This was a really good beer. Great taste, bright, smooth flavor. This beer was double dry-hopped with Mosaic & Azacca hops. Hopefully they consider bringing this back. Update: They brought it back! We wrote this after the first growler-and-keg-only small release.  Then they did quite a large bottle release, and 2 weeks later still had bottles and then offered growler fills.

What have you tried recently that is worth sharing? Let us know here or on our facebook page!

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Fall Beer Fest, by the Boston Event Guide, Boston MA

We were lucky to go to Boston Event Guide’s Fall Beer Fest in November. They had three sessions; we went to the 12:00-2:30pm session.
We also had two pairs of tickets to give out to our readers- thank you to everyone that entered!
We hope that those of you that went had a great time!

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The Boston Event Guide prides themselves for being the leading resource for the best events in Boston. It was started in 1995 by Jeff Popkin to connect young professionals with events occuring across the city. He had been hearing about events AFTER they happened, instead of knowing first hand that they were happening. The Boston Event Guide also sends out a weekly newsletter to it’s members (membership is FREE) about what’s going on, what social events and netowkring events are approaching, and any great deals.

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The Fall Beer Fest was held at Cyclorama. The building was easy to find, however parking was not. Next time, we will definitely take the T in (the Boston area train).

When we arrived, we had our IDs checked outside, and then proceeded in.
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After checking in, we each took a cup to use for the day, and were given a map of where we could find the beer.

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map for the afternoon

 

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Cyclorama’s fun ceiling

Some of the many breweries present, and the beer we enjoyed…

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Foolproof Brewing Company
Foolproof Brewing Company opened 2 years ago in Pawtucket, RhodeIsland.
Farmhouse Ale Saison was very good
Backyahd IPA was pretty standard but tasty
Raincloud was a robust porter, good, chocolate and coffee notes
We recently added Rhode Island to our travels, so we will be visiting Foolproof sometime in the future
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Finch’s Beer Company
Finch’s is located in Chicago, Illinois. They are beginning to expand into the Massachusetts and New England market.
We had the Hardcore Chimera (double IPA) and Cut Throat (Pale Ale). Both these beers were really good.
Keep your eye out for these beers, and others by Finch’s Beer Company.

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Strange Brew
Strange Brew is currently a beer and wine home brew supply store, that also offers classes. Rumor has it, they should be opening as a brewery sometime soon…
They had a lot of interesting beer flavors:
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Granny Strange was a sour and/or tart cider. Good but very different flavor.

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Sour Power, as they label it, is an extremely sour ale. A very interesting, very sour and tasty ale.

 

Downeast Cider
Very good traditional cider taste- as Megan says “it’s like getting a jug of cider, but it is alcoholic.”
We have had many family mebers and friends try this cider- and no one has disliked it. In fact, it it now the favorite of many!
We just visited here, look for our post coming soon.

 

 

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Spiked Seltzer
This was a different take on beer. They brew it like a lager, but it drinks like flavored seltzer, despite being 6% alcohol! Spiked Seltzer is all natural and has low sugar, low carbs and is gluten free. They had lime, orange, and grapefruit flavors available to try.

All the flavors were pretty good, grapefruit was subtle and the orange tasted like orange soda. Megan can’t wait until they are all over New England, so she can pick up a six pack! Want to see if they are available near you? Check here

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Redhook and Kona
They were both there. We tried the Winter Hook because we’ve had their other beers plenty of times. The Winter Hook is a super hoppy ale with dark malts.

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Goose Island
We tried their IPA and Festivity Ale.
There’s no doubt they are a craft beer maker, but now they are owned by Inbev, owner of Anheuser-Busch. They like it, they can get what they need when they need it, they have the support of a company that has some pull.

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Blue Point Brewing Company
Our options were their toasted lager (which is their flagship beer), and a pumpkin ale, which was good- not overly spiced so you could taste the pumpkin

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Off Shore Ale Company
One of the many breweries in Massachusetts that we haven’t been able to visit yet- this one is on Martha’s Vineyard.
They had their Beach Road Nut Brown Ale and Hop Goddess.

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Uinta

All of the beers we tried here were good. They had their Black Lager, Yard Sale, Double IPA, and Session IPA. Our only fault with them? We would have to go to Salt Lake City to visit!
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Cape Ann Brewing Company
They brought a fair selection. We both liked the Fisherman’s Brew, but the Pilsner we did not like that much.
If you are interested in visiting Cape Ann Brewery in Gloucester, check out our post about our visit there.

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Ballantine
They just relaunched the brewery after being closed for 10 years. They have been around for a long time, in the 40’s and 50’s the were sponsoring the Yankee’s, they were the 4th largest brewery back then. Now the only beer they make is the Ballantine IPA which was a pretty good, fairly standard IPA.

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They were giving out free waters, which was great- always a good idea to hydrate during and after drinking! This water has a pH level of 9.5, to help keep you hydrated

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We thought the beer fest was good, and different in a good way. The event space fit it well- and allowed for you to walk around without bumping into others. We also liked that we had the opportunity to speak with the brewery representatives at many of the tables. Many tastings/festivals you want to ask questions, but really aren’t allowed to because the focus is to push everyone through the line. Here, the focus was fun and education when wanted.

Interested in going to one of these events, or something else by the Boston Event Guide? Be sure to sign up for their newsletter list to stay updated!

Ready to go drinking? Their Spring Craft Beer Fest 2015 is right around the corner- April 12th.
Tickets are $69. but you can buy them for $19 through December 31st! It looks like an event you can’t miss!

While at the beer fest, we ran into a few co-workers of Megan. They had taken a bus to the event, which was such a great idea!
Group photo, post beer fest!

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6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont

100_0734Last weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, located at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont.

We played tourists for the weekend, visited a couple of breweries and a winery, saw the beginning of fall foliage and went camping. 100_0741
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We started our weekend early, heading over Friday morning. We arrived around 1pm, and started our weekend off with a quick chat and tasting at Northshire Brewing. Look here next week for a review and photos! We followed the beer with more beer (and lunch) at Madison Brewing Company, a brewpub. Look here next week for a review and photos!

We then checked into the campground, and went out on the pond for a little bit. 100_0653  100_0646 We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow… 100_0654  100_0672 100_0684  100_0683  100_0682

The next morning, Saturday, was the day of the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival. After making a quick breakfast of bagels toasted over the fire, we set off for a fun and alcohol filled day.

When we arrived at Mount Snow, we (at first) went the wrong way. Although our GPS was giving us the correct directions, even once we were on the Mount Snow property, we tried to follow the signs to determine where to park. Unfortunately, it was a breezy day, and some of the signs had turned around, misdirecting us. Luckily, the hotel valet directed us the correct way (as our GPS had been telling us to do haha). 100_0717After we found parking, we checked in and proceeded to have our IDs checked. After receiving our “over 21” bracelets and a stamp stating we had paid, we proceeded to get our wine glasses, grab bags and 3 tasting tickets a piece.100_0718  100_0729

We decided to walk around the two large tents before really stopping to taste anything. There were wineries, cider, cheese farms, and distilleries, places sampling jam, pickles and candy…

Oh, a note on the tastes. Each taste cost 1 ticket. A size of a taste varied table to table, some saying it was 1 ticket per pour, others 1 for all they were offering, and others, 2 tickets for all that they were offering. We were not able to try all of the wineries, but were able to try most and didn’t spend too too much on extra tickets (about $13).

Many of our stops at the festival:

Grafton Village Cheese:

We tried:

  • 3 year cheddar (bought)
  • 5 year cheddar
  • Maple Smoked Cheddar (very dry, but good!)
  • Leyden- English style cheese. Really good!

All of their cheese was very delicious! Would have loved to go home with more- will look into buying at least another block next time we are in Vermont. One of the really great things about the Grafton Village Cheese table, besides all of the delicious cheese, is that although this was one of the first tables we went to, they remembered us at the end of our day, when we went back to make a purchase. Something as small as that gesture of remembering really helps make a difference.

Newhall Maple Syrup:

Woodfired, grade A maple syrup

Really good, nice, sweet and thick

Newhall also made a cider, and had it paired with two other small orchards for a tasting:

we tried them in the following order, from lowest to highest in both alcohol and acidity

  • Windfall Orchards Ice Cider- 30 different varieties of apples go into the making of. 9% ABV. Great with dessert or cheese
  • Eden Heirloom Blend-10 different varieties of apples, 10% ABV. Goes well with dried meats
  • Newhall Ice Cider-Won a double gold metal. 12% ABV.

We both liked all three, for different reasons. Each one was unique.

Caledonia Spirits and Winery

All products are made from honey

I was very excited about this brand, due in part to the “Barr” name of two of their products.

Our tasting:

  • Barr Hill Vodka- not harsh, slight honey flavor
  • Barr Hill Gin- honey more powerful here. A sipping gin. Although I am not a gin drinker, i enjoyed this.
  • Elderberry Cordial- really good! Would be great as an after dinner drink or mixed with Prosecco 100_0722  100_0719  100_0721  100_0720

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

100 proof. Highest rated whiskey, 96 points. Good taste, but pricey. I found out after the festival that Whistlepig is not made in Vemont as we were made to think (all the others were Vermont made). I was disappointed in this. I did, however, find out that the distiller who makes this used to work for Maker’s Mark, which could be why I enjoyed it.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company

Tried:

  • Lille- thicker than Brie. Really good! Great flavor
  • Governor’s Cheddar- good, dry cheddar

Mad River Distillers

  • Maple Finish Rum- tastes like whiskey to me (which in later discussions with a distiller I know, I found was actually the oak barrel taste that I associate with whiskey). The maple syrup is aged in bourbon barrels.Good flavor
  • First Run Rum- good mixer
  • Chocolate Rye- nice, spiced, smooth100_0723

Vermont Distillers

  • Metcalf’s Raspberry Liqueur- good, tastes like raspberry jam. Would be great added to other drinks, or even a splash in sprite
  • Metcalf’s Vermont Maple Liqueur- Really good. Mark said it could be his new skiing coffee mixer.

 

100_0724 100_0761 We stopped by their tasting room at Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook on the ride home, but they were not present. We assumed their staff was at the festival.

Vermont Spirits

  • Vermont Gold Vodka- not too much of a burn. Distilled from maple syrup.
  • No 14 Bourbon Whiskey- Mark really liked; they suggested adding water to a glass of whiskey to make the flavors open up

Mother Myrik’s Confectionary

Had their Buttercrunch to sample. Really delicious! It is handmade and made with Cabot Creamery butter.

 

Saxtons River Distillery

  • Vermont Maple Liqueur- good, although somewhat harsh going down
  • Vermont Maple Bourbon Whiskey- Mark tried, he said it was good, but “weird” because the maple flavor is different
  • Perc Coffee Liqueur- tastes just like coffee

Comment made by Mark:

“There’s a lot of maple and cider stuff in Vermont.”

Everywhere we looked, there was maple flavored stuff or cider!

Shelburne Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Louise Swenson- driest of the whites. Not too dry, it had a nice pucker to it
  • Riesling- Mark “that’s good.” Me- dry Riesling, not typical for me.
  • Lakeview White- semidry blend
  • Marquette- dry red. Hybrid grape with pinot noir. I actually liked this one, which surprised me. Mark also enjoyed.
  • Harvest Widows Revenge- semisweet red. Best served chilled. Mark and I really enjoyed.

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North Branch Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Frontenac Gris- dry white. Nice flavor to it, white peach and citrus. Liked it!
  • Miss Maeve- red raspberries. Not strong raspberry flavor, dry rose. Not sweet like you would expect.
  • Traminette- semidry. Similar to a dry Riesling. Rose petal and grapefruit. Mark liked.
  • Lacrescent- semisweet. Intense sweet apricot. Liked it, it is a different flavor
  • Marquette- oaked. Dry, black pepper and cherries. Like it, sweet, although it doesn’t intend to be.
  • Marechal Foch- dry blackberries. We both actually enjoyed this wine, although we tend to not like dry wines (guess our tastes are changing!)

Comment by Mark:

“I think we’re spoiled by Lukes.”

Lukes Liquors, located on the South Shore of Massachusetts in Rockland, hosting a wine tasting twice a year. The cost is $5, and for that price you get a wine glass, booklet, pen, small bites, and the opportunity to taste more than 100 different wineries.

Fresh Tracks Farm

We had to pick 3 each to try

  • American White- Mark tried, it was alright
  • Vermont Rose- I tried, it was ok
  • Vermont Apple Wine- semidry, juicy apple juice front. Refreshing finish. Good apple wine- you don’t see many apple wines that aren’t ice wines, so it makes it to be a more affordable way to enjoy
  • 2011 La Crescent- Mark enjoyed, and later went back for a larger sample (1 ticket for a larger pour)
  • 2011 Frontenac Gris- I tried and really enjoyed. Good amount of sweetness. I went back for a larger sample later.

Crowley Cheese

Had to try this cheese due to it being a family name.

  • Unusually Sharp- soooo good!
  • Chive- really good!

Yum! Understood the high prices, but would have purchased if it were less expensive for what they had left when we got there100_0638 100_0730

Whetstone Ciderworks

Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”

Our tasting:

  • Orchard Queen- dry, crisp, refreshing
  • Barnyard Blend- more rustic, English Farmhouse style. I enjoyed this one more than the Orchard Queen
  • Orchard King- most carbonated of all. Mark enjoyed
  • Whetstone Reserve- a different flavor. Mark enjoyed

Grandview Winery

Our tasting:

  • Pear Wine- Eastern States Wine Convention “double gold” and “best in show.” We both thought it was really good
  • Cranberry Wine- Ok, have had other cranberry wines that I have enjoyed more (such as those from Plymouth MA!)
  • Mac Jack Hard Cider- fresh grown Vermont apples, carbonated
  • Strawberry Rhubarb- nose picks up strawberry, then mouth picks up rhubarb
  • Raspberry Apple Wine- great nose. Nice and refreshing. Great combination. This is the bottle we left with, which was enjoyed with our Grafton Village 3 year Cheddar Cheese by the campfire.

On Sunday, we packed up and set off towards home mid-morning, making a stop on the way at Honora Winery. Look for that post soon!

Want to go to the 7th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival? Look here for more information as the time gets closer.

Due to the nature of our visit (it being a festival), there is not a huge amount of detail for many of the wineries. Since it was a festival, they are all still on our list to visit.

 

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article all about New England’s newest craft breweries

I just came across this article all about New England’s newest craft breweries and had to share! Quite a few more to add to my list!

Listed below are the ones I will be adding to my list- I think I have heard of a couple of them… The list is never ending!
Kretschmann Brewing Company Webster, MA
3 Beards Beer Company Northborough, MA
Trillium Brewing Company Boston, MA

Big Elm Brewing Sheffield, MA 
Berkley Beer Company Berkley, MA
Brash Brewing Company Ipswich, MA 

RiverWalk Brewing Company Newburyport, MA
Banner Beer Company Williamsburg, MA 
Westfield River Brewing Company Westfield, MA 
Battle Road Brewing Company Ipswich, MA 

Granite State Growler Tours, LLC

Mark and I recently went on a Granite State Growler Tour.

picstitchGreta the Growler Getta, aka the tour bus

The tour currently leaves from Hampton, NH. Once you step on board “Greta the Growler Getta,” you are brought to 2-3 different breweries as well as a distillery and a great craft beer store. You are provided with fun facts about the Seacoast New Hampshire area, a delicious homemade pretzel, a cooler full of water, and a cooler to hold any growlers you may purchase along the way. Why pay to do a Granite State Growler Tour? How else can you visit multiple breweries and/or distilleries in the same day (without having a DD),  get some great discounts (more on that later), learn some fun facts about the history of beer in New Hampshire, and maybe make some new friends.  You also are able to interact with many of the brewers, and get special attention from them due to the tour occurring when most of the breweries are closed to the public.  Depending on what they are working on, you also might have the option to try something new, that is still in the works or not bottled yet for public consumption. It was great to have a basically care free day, with the ability to make many visits without having to worry about one of us driving.

We went on the “Sunday Driver” tour, which consisted of visits to: Earth Eagle Brewings (Portsmouth NH), Sea Hagg Distillery (Hampton NH), Top Shelf Brews (Hampton NH) and Blue Lobster Brewing Company (Hampton NH).  When we climbed onto the bus, we filled out waivers, and were given “Tasting Notes” (to keep track of any notable beers- see below),picstitch (4)

star stickers (to label growlers), a coupon to use on a future visit to Top Shelf Brews, and a homemade pretzel (made with Blue Lobster- Excess Is Not Rebellion IPA). We were also notified that if we went to Community Oven (also in Hampton, where the tour begins and ends), we could purchase a 20oz beer for the price of a 16oz beer after the tour. The tour started with introductions- we found out that David (owner and driver) and Mark (partner and tour guide) have known each other since third grade!

picstitch (1)yummy, homemade pretzel!

Oh! I almost forgot- you also receive a name tag at the beginning of the tour, to not only make sure you stay with the group, but to guarantee any of the stops know you are with the tour for any additional discounts, or special access.

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Mark, the tour guide, really knows his history. He told us a lot of great information about the area, both beer history and otherwise. Although Mark (the boyfriend and co-author of this blog) and I did not know a lot of the area’s history prior to, we also feel that those familiar with the area will enjoy it as well- I shared some of the stories with co-workers and they hadn’t heard the stories before.

Did you know that Portsmouth is the third oldest establishment in the United States (after Jamestown and Plymouth of course!). Things were different in Portsmouth from the beginning, as they came to reap the benefits of the new world, and immediately began to brew beer from their surroundings. Spruce tips, strawberries and apples were all used to make beer, basically whatever they could get their hands on. Settled in 1630, in 1642 a tavern was established. Portsmouth was allowed to have 6 taverns, although most towns were strictly limited to 2.  Only upstanding individuals were allowed to operate taverns, and they had to pledge to not serve to Native Americans or slaves. I would love to share some more of their stories now- but I want you to have something other than delicious beer and rum to look forward to! picstitch (12)

Mark, our tour guide

The stops we made:

Earth Eagle Brewings: Located in Portsmouth, NH, also runs a home brewing store (A&G Homebrew Supply), which we had a tour of and received some great information about the brewing process in. They operate a one barrel brewery, so the beers are always changing and never quite the same. They make a type of beer I was not familiar with until now, gruits, which is beer made without hops.  See my post about Earth Eagle Brewings here!

Sea Hagg Distillery: Located in Hampton, NH creates true, colonial style rum.  It was started by a couple who thought of the idea while on vacation in the Caribbean. Rum is a true New Hampshire item, as it was written in every town budget in the 17th and 18th century. See my post about Sea Hagg Distillery here!

Top Shelf Brews: Located in Hampton, NH is a craft brew store. One of their biggest draws is that they do mixed six-packs. Mark and I bought a mixed four-pack, of four beers and ciders we hadn’t tried before but looked interesting. Great store to go to find a new craft beer, or that hard to find beer.

Blue Lobster Brewing Company: also located in Hampton, NH was started as a retirement hobby and turned into a retirement job.  They feature small batch specialty brews. See more in my post about Blue Lobster Brewing Company here!

*****

One of the great things about Granite State Growler Tour is that they are willing to go the extra mile, and do private events of any location. Both David and Mark are interested in beer, and like making new connections as well as (on their own time) trying new beer. Who knows? Maybe we will join them on a future tour, elsewhere. to cross other breweries or wineries off our list!

*****

Mark and I purchased glasses at each stop, as well as a glass koosie at Sea Hagg.

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I also won a glass on the tour!picstitch (5)

We also went home with a growler of Sage Goose from Earth Eagle Brewings. Thank you to Granite State Growler Tours for keeping it cold for us in the cooler while we enjoyed the rest of the tour!

picstitch (3)The sticker on the Sage Goose top is the star sticker we were given at the beginning of the tour- so we could mark the growlers we took home.

*****

Another great thing, is that the tour begins and ends outside of the Community Oven, located in Hampton NH. The Community Oven will hold a table for any in the tour that would like to continue drinking or want something to eat after the tour. David happened to have a coupon for a pizza, so Mark and I couldn’t argue about it- we had to try out The Community Oven!

picstitch (6)Mark outside of the Community Oven

picstitch (11)Their extensive beer list!

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picstitch (7)Our yummy, free pizza!!

picstitch (9)Delicious, dry rub wings!

*****

Want to go on a Granite State Growler Tour?

Saturday Beer Run

Begins at 11:00am and returns around 4pm.

Stops include:

Sea Hagg Distillery

Throwback Brewery

Blue Lobster Brewing

Earth Eagle Brewings

Venues and times are subject to change even during the tour

Sunday Driver

Begins at 11:30am and returns around 3pm.

Stops include:

Earth Eagle Brewings

Blue Lobster Brewing

Sea Hagg Distillery

Venues and times are subject to change even during the tour

Go here to register for a tour!