Lord Hobo Brewing Company, Woburn, MA

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We stopped by Lord Hobo Brewing Company for a quick visit in Woburn, Mass. They are not quite a year old and have already made a name for themselves. We think the names of their beers help them stand out, as well as the fact that they started canning right away.

 

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They are located in an interesting, re-habbed building. It may have been a tile store or showroom before. They have a very large tasting room, see picture below. It looks like they have plenty of room out back for expanding their brewing capacity down the road.

 

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They seem to be focused on making IPA’s, since they had 3 beers and all 3 were IPA’s, with a fourth IPA that had just kicked. Only 3 beers on tap, but all are available for growler fills, as well as in cans, which we like to see.

 

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They also have a temporary permit to pour pints. They will pour pints on Friday and Saturday nights, through the summer it sounds like. They just lowered their prices for their beer to go, which is good to hear as well.

 

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Megan is not a big fan of IPA’s, so Mark just got a sample size
of each of the 3 beers they had available.

Hobo Life – Dry Hopped Citra Session IPA 4.5%
A session ipa, light in flavor overall, with the main hop flavor being piney with a light bitter finish. This was Mark’s favorite beer, bought a 6 pack. Citra, Horizon and Chinook hops were used.

 

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Steal This Can – IPA 6.5%
Kind of light in body for a 6.5% IPA. Pretty good IPA up front, but has a heavy, bitter finish to it. Zeus, Warrior, Centennial and Chinook hops used.

 

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Boomsauce – Double IPA 7.8%
Seems a little less bitter overall, maybe the malts and higher abv balance out the bitterness a little bit. Still very ‘drinkable’ at 7.8%, good, semi fruity ipa taste upfront, finishes with the same bitterness as the rest.

 

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All 3 beers have a somewhat similar taste, like different variations of the same beer. With only making IPA’s, we would expect a little more variation from them. They do have a decent New England style flavor to them but all finish with a lingering bitterness, not Mark’s favorite. If you like IPA’s though, you should definitely check them out.

Want to visit? Check out their facebook page for hours ūüôā

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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

 

 

North Country Hard Cider, Rollinsford, NH

 

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We recently visited North Country Hard Cider with Mark’s sister Michelle. They have only been open for a few months, but we have seen them popping up in some bars in the area.

 

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They are locally owned and operate out of the Salmon Falls Mills in Rollinsford, NH. If you are visiting, drive to the back of the building. That’s where you will find their entrance ūüôā
They make all natural hard cider¬†with apples they get¬†from local orchards that they¬†know and trust. Most of their cider’s are around 5% ABV. We learned that is about as much as you can get with just fresh apples. Some other places¬†add extra sugars while brewing to up the ABV and sweeten the cider.

 

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Original Blend
Sweet, a little bit tart, really light in body but very tasty. Has a lot of bubbles. Michelle thinks it would be a good summer drink, sitting on the porch. They use a blend of 7 different apples for this.

 

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Bitter Brothers Bourbon Barrel
Aged 3 months in Jim Beam barrels. Dryer, not quite as sweet, still a little tart. You don’t get a bourbon flavor. A blend of 4 apples.

 

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Honey Badger
Made with just Honey Crisp apples. Sweet with a pucker at the end. This was Michele’s favorite.

 

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Sugar Shack
Starts with the original blend. They use Ginger, extra dark maple syrup, and black walnut. It is a more complex flavor, still sweet and tart, with lots of extra flavor. We got a small growler of this.

 

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Firestarter
Cider with habanero, cinnamon and pomegranate. Really good, very interesting flavor. It gave you a real warming in the chest. They had just run out of this on tap, but had a little bit left and let us try it. It was no wonder that they had run out of this! It was very good.

 

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View from the tasting room into the brewery. They have a handful of small tables and a bar that you can stand at.

 

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Swag

We bought a growler, and Michelle bought two. We already have Michelle’s empty growlers to be refilled- so we will be back soon!

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Want to visit?
Hours:
Thursday and Friday: 3:00 – 6:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

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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

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

Blue Lobster Brewing Company, Hampton NH

picstitch (21)When we entered the Blue Lobster Brewing Company (as part of the Granite State Growler Tour), we felt that it was a larger brewery than Earth Eagle Brewings, and that it felt more established. The tasting room is large, and unlike any that we have visited before. The tasting room had a feel of a restaurant/bar with the way it was set up, high top tables and a nice, long blue bar.
The Blue Lobster Brewery opened in November 2012, by Michael and Roberta. They are currently open:

Thu: 2:00 pm Р6:00 pm
Fri: 2:00 pm Р7:00 pm
Sat: 2:00 pm Р6:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm Р4:00 pm

One of their tricks is to fill growlers with CO2 prior to filling with beer to help keep the beer fresher.

picstitch (23)We were able to have a sneak peek at the brewery, which felt large compared to what else we had seen that day. After, we took seats at the bar for our tasting.

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the taps

***

Our Tasting:

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Gold Claw: a pale ale. I am not a huge pale ale fan in general. Sweet pine and fruit, but not enough for me. Mark felt it was a hoppy pale ale and enjoyed it.  4.5%

Stalkholm Syndrome: a wheat pale ale, their interpretation of a wheat IPA. Pine, melon and orange. Had an unusual heaviness to it. 5.7%

ő© Sweet ő©: a kolsch. I enjoyed this one a lot, definitely a favorite here. Light and citrus. 4.4%

Red Door (Paint it Black): American Black Ale. first sip was delicious, after pretty good. Mark agreed, although he wasn’t a huge fan. 7%

Excess is not Rebellion: what our pretzels were made with! Imperial IPA with notes of citrus 7.8%

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Ragged Neck Rye: a porter. A slightly smokey flavor, although stronger than the cocoa flavor. Good flavor all together, nice and rich. 7.4%

picstitch (26)If you order a flight, you receive it on a nice lazy susan!

picstitch (25)ő© Sweet ő© and I

Cheers!

Earth Eagle Brewings

picstitch (18)Mark and I visited Earth Eagle Brewings, located in Portsmouth NH as part of the Granite State Growler Tour (see here for our post on the tour as a whole!).

When we walked into Earth Eagle Brewings, we were greeted by Butch, one of two brewers. picstitch (14) He walked us through A&G Homebrew Supply, which provides supplies for local home brewers. In A&G, the four main ingredients to make beer were gone over- water, grain, hops and yeast. We were each able to feel, smell and taste some malted barley.picstitch (13)Hops help to change the flavor of the beer, making it taste fruity or nutty. Yeast is added, and produces alcohol.

Process: In the one barrel brewery, the beer moves from the hot liquor tank to the mash tank. The sugars are pulled out, and the liquid goes to the boil kettle. The left over spent grain then goes to a farm in Berwick, Maine. The liquid is then cooled from 212 degrees Fahrenheit to 65-70 degrees via a plate chiller. The beer then enters a fermentation room, moves to the refrigerator and then to the tap to be enjoyed.

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Butch explained that Earth Eagle is a one barrel brewery, and the beers are always changing. Earth Eagle Brewings produces empyreal ales made with hops (beer) and un-hopped ales called gruit. Gruits are ales made with herbs, a more traditional style before the use of hops.  Occasionally, they will add herbs to their beer, and hops to their gruits. They try to use fresh, local products when available.

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Following our tour, we enjoyed a tasting. During open hours, anyone can go in and have/buy a 4oz sample, a 32 oz growler or a 64 oz growler.

Our tastings:

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Sage Goose: immediate smell of sage. Smooth herbal sage and gooseberries. No hops. 4.7% ABV. We bought a growler!

Sol Sister: had a familiar flavor, almost of clove. Sweet, woodruff fern, eleuthero root. 5.6% ABV.

Purl the Elder: different flavor. Elder flower and ground ivy. Nice balance and flavor. 6.3% ABV

Diurnal Hoppy Blonde: Hoppy with a smooth finish. Most similiar to other beers, still different but not as different as others. 4.2% ABV

Fur Trapper: My immediate thought- I like this. Oh, it’s a dubbel, no wonder! ¬†Belgian dubbel big bear. Each barrel contained 10 pounds of Belgian candied sugar! 7.1% ABV

Jack Wagon: Spicy nose. Double IPA. Typical, but good. Big Beer, 8.1% ABV

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We didn’t try a beer or gruit here that we didn’t like! One of the great things about us taking home a growler is that we have to go back soon to get a refill and try something new!

Want to visit Earth Eagle Brewings? They are open 7 days a week- Monday-Friday: 4pm-9pm. Saturday: 3pm-9pm and Sunday: 1pm-4pm. Great hours that allow those that work to visit while not on vacation. They are great with posting what is on tap on their facebook page, so check it out if you are curious before you go.