Saco River Brewing, Fryeburg, ME

While we were up camping and tubing on the Saco River, we decided to visit Saco River Brewing Company, what a surprise! They opened just over a year ago, in July 2016, in Fryeburg, ME. They are located in a building or two out behind a restaurant with a decent amount of parking.

They do 4 oz pours and full pints. We ordered a 4oz pour of each beer so we could try all 7 beers they had on tap.

D.O.T. Special – Czech Pilsner     5%
Has a strong pilsner/lager taste. Strong additional flavors added by the spicy saaz hops. Not bad for a pilsner, which is neither of our favorite styles. 

Driftwood IPA – American IPA     6.5%
Pours super clear. Does have a malt presence but the hops balance that well and add a good amount of hop flavor to it. Good, not Marks favor style IPA but it’s pretty good and worth a try for IPA drinkers. 

Clearwater Pale Ale     4.8%
Pours pretty hazy. Flavor matches description ‘Easy drinking, silky mouthfeel and citrus hop character’, we agree. Nice overall hop profile (citrus) for a pale ale. 

Flip Flop IPA      6.7%
Marks immediate reaction “oohhh this is good”. Pours super hazy, you can’t see through it, a definite  New England style IPA. No malt character, all hops, on the herbal/grassy but still super tasty.

Sweet Fern Saison     4.5%
Good, easy to drink Saison while still having flavor, spicy and citrus notes. On the lighter side for a saison.

Buck Brown Ale     5.4%
Megan said it had an almost a dull coffee flavor, but in a good way, not an overly bitter coffee taste. 

Mark said pretty light overall, not very roasty, more sweet caramel with citrus. 

Old Colony Porter     6.5%
Sweet and roasty. Light body for the style, but more roasted here than the Buck Brown Ale. 

We sat outside to have our samples, it was a pretty nice day. They have several picnic tables with umbrellas and pop up tents for shade.

They have a fairly small bar area, but another decent sized room off of that with a ping pong table, shown above, and their outdoor space, so they have plenty of seating.

Mark at the bar. There is a whole wall of glass behind the bar so you can see everything happening in the brewery, shown below, not much happening on a Sunday afternoon though.

They have a cool, custom made cement bar with
the river built into it, cool details.

This was a nice visit. They are doing well for only being open a year.  It was better than we expected, as we went in assuming it was a “tourist trap.” However, it seems to be a nice combo of tourists and locals based on the amount of growlers we saw being filled.

Check Facebook for hours, we assume
they change with the seasons.

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Neighborhood Beer Company, Exeter, NH

We recently visited Neighborhood Beer Company  which is located close by us in Exeter, NH. We have been planning to visit for awhile. They specialize in German style beers with an American twist.

Our production brewhouse is a 4-vessel, 4-barrel custom-fabricated
system designed specifically to brew complex and innovative
German-style ales and lagers.

When they first opened, they hired a well known German brewer to help design their brewhouse and work with them the first year in traditional german brewing styles.

The tasting room is on the smaller side, but still has plenty of room. In the nice weather, like now, they have an outdoor area sectioned off with picnic tables and corn hole.

 

 

 

They started out as just a tasting room and have grown to a brewpub, serving food as well as wine and beer from other local establishments.  When we visited, the guest beer was from Deciduous Brewing Company and guest cider from North Country Hard Cider. They have also increased their hours recently to make them easier to visit.

 

They have tasters for $2 each, 3/4 pints and full pints. We started with 2 flights so we could try all the beers.

 

 

Hallowed Hammock – blonde ale 4.9%
A good blonde ale, better than the average, light and easy drinking, Megan liked it. Megan typically finds Blonde Ales to be boring, so it had a little something extra to it.

 

Junkyard Pedigree – copper ale 7.5%
Described as ‘malty and complex’, it is, malty and a touch sweet. Megan tasted caramel notes, Mark said dark fruit. Again, better than we expected.

Boss Flamingo – Bronze ale 7.2%
Complex flavor up front with a smooth, clean finish. A mix of fruity, malty and hoppy flavors as described.

 

Bastardly Blitz – German style IPA 8.2%
Dark in color, well balanced, so not super hop forward like American style IPA’s. Not Mark’s favorite style.

Old Salt – Helles lager
What Mark expected from a Helles, very light, not a strong flavor to it, on point for the style just not a very interesting style. Megan liked it more, better than other lagers.

 

Mellow Grove – summer Hefeweizen
Pretty light body, even for a Hefeweizen, a strong clove flavor to it with a light body and feel. Decent summer beer.

 

Obstinate Goat – strong blonde ale 7.1%
Light body for a strong ale. Decent flavor to it, slightly complex, hard to pin down specific flavors, malty with a mild citrusy finish.

 

We ordered a pretzel, served with homemade mustard and beer cheese. Yum!

 

 

Mark had a 3/4 pint of Boss Flamingo and Megan had the NBC Snakebite, their Mellow Grove summer Hefeweizen mixed with a North Country Hard Cider, which was very good. She also tried it with the Obstinate GOAT, which was a good drink but the flavors if the Mellow Grove and the Original Blend North Country Hard Cider blended even better.

 

For beers to go, you can get any of their beers in a growler. They also use a mobile canning company and have most of their beers available in 12oz 6 packs. They have a mixed pre-made 6 pack, which changes based on the season. We bought two of the mixed six packs to share with friends. The summer mixed six came with Hallowed Hammock, Mellow Grove and Boss Flamingo.

Tasting Room Hours

Tuesday – 4:00 to 8:00
Wednesday – 4:00 to 8:00
Thursday – 4:00 to 9:00
Friday – 12:00 to 9:00
Saturday – 12:00 to 9:00
Sunday – 12:00 to 6:00

Lithermans Limited Brewery, Concord, NH

We recently visited Litherman’s Limited Brewery in Concord, NH. They opened in April of 2016 and have been busy ever since. We had heard good things about their Saisons, but they had quite a few ipa’s on tap as well.

 

They are located in the back of an industrial park, luckily they had a sign out front with directions, very helpful!

 

 

The owners met and bonded over music, and ended up recording hip hop tracks together. Somehow that transitioned into making beer, and the tasting room has a definite music feel too it, and so do a lot of their beer names.

 

                        

 

The stools have records on them, and they have posters of their beer labels up on the wall which is fun.

 

And classic albums mounted on the walls.

 

They had 10 beers on tap, so Mark and Megan split a flight, so did Sammie and Dustin.

 

Misguided Angel – traditional New England style ipa
Pretty good version of a New England style ipa, hoppy, not quite as ‘juicy’ as some of the best though.

Little Miss Strange – dipa
Dry, more subtle flavors than the description, mild orange and pineapple, not quite a juice bomb, but pretty good.

 

Mark pondering the flavors

 

Simply Red Ale
Described as ‘big, chewy, malty, slightly sweet’ and that was right on. Not Mark’s favorite style of beer but they did a good job with this beer, Megan liked it.

Hall Street and Oats – dry hopped New England style pale
Tasty pale ale, dry hopped with Mandarin Bavarian hops, Megan and Mark both liked this beer.

 

Megan enjoying her beer

 

Orange Crushable – belgian orange ipa
An ipa with a super orange flavor too it, interesting (in a good way).

Chakra Khan – saison with lotus root
This was a pretty tasty saison, all 4 of us liked it, dry hopped with Citra.

 

Sammie tasting some beer

 

Tangled Up in Bruges – ever evolving saison
They use seasonal ingredients in this saison. Strong saison flavor with a little bit of funk.

Foolish Lovers Game – Berliner Weisse
A pretty drinkable Berliner Weisse, not that sour with a mild  apricot flavor.

 

 

Milli Banilli – banana vanilla porter
A porter with banana, and interesting mix of flavor and style.

Last Mango in Concord – mango green tea blonde ale
Tea and mango, with some sweetness, stand out in this beer.

 

Dustin read us a story

 

They had cool marble tables and a marble bar

 

 

Dustin being a goof

 

 

Dustin and Sammie being goofy together

 

Favorite beer names: Bow Wow Yippie Yo and The Ol’ Dirty Dipa,  neither were on tap when we were there. They mostly fill growlers, but occasionally bottle some batches of their beer.

Current Hours

Thursday 4:00 – 7:00
Friday 4:00 – 7:00
Saturday 12:00 – 5:00

Liar’s Bench Beer Company, Portsmouth, NH

We just visited Liar’s Bench Beer Company in Portsmouth with Mark’s sister Michelle. Liar’s Bench has been open for a little less than a year, we just hadn’t made it over there yet.

 

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They do full pours as well as samples. Megan and Michelle just did samples of the first 3, Mark tried all 6 beers on tap.

 

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New Norman – Kolsch 4.9%
This was a collaboration brew with Magnolia Brewing Company. Megan thought it was kind of basic, Mark thought it was not quite as clean as he expected from a Kolsch, with an earthy flavor to it.

 

Doctor Criminal – Berliner Weisse 3%
A light, sour beer with a dry finish. Pretty classic in style. “There is no fruit added to the beer, so you can appreciate it in all of its sour goodness.” Mark and Megan thought it could have been a little more sour. Michelle did like it, and she is not a big fan of sour beers, so its made to be more approachable.

 

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Megan and Michelle’s samples

Hai Ikki – Rice Saison 5.7%
Really smooth, from the rice we assume, with a mild peppery saison finish. This was Megan and Michelle’s favorite.

Punxsutawney Swill – Brown Ale 5.2%
Has a roasty nose, a smooth brown ale, pretty flavorful for the style, better than the average brown.

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Young Upstart – IPA 6.6%
A hazy New England style ipa, smells really, really fruity but doesn’t taste quite as fruity. They say balanced in the description, Mark wanted the flavor to follow the nose. Still a good ipa, medium body, hoppy – fruity/ citrusy with a very minor bitter finish. Pretty good overall.

Pound of Flesh – British Strong 7.5%
Clear with a reddish tint. Not what Mark was expecting, a sweet, malty beer that was better than expected.

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This is a cool, popular spot on the West end of Portsmouth. Michelle noticed when we first walked in that everyone there was our age or younger. More people came in as we were there, some older people, but the crowd was generally pretty young.

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Megan and Michelle

They serve food, just a few selections, hot dog, bratwurst, and sausage. They serve food so that they can serve pints, as that is the law in New Hampshire for serving pints, you need to have food.

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A pretty small place, but they use the space well. They have 2 long tables that people can stand around, they fit about 12 people each and 1 long table to sit at.

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There is room to stand around and some standing counters around the edges of the room. There is Foosball as well.

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Hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 2:00 – 9:00
Friday and Saturday: 12:00 – 10:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00
Monday: Closed

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

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 🙂

Trillium Brewing Company, Canton (and Boston), MA

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We recently visited Trillium Brewing Company, the Canton, MA location. This was our 125th visit! We went with Mark’s brother Jason and his wife Maureen, Mark’s sister Michelle, and Megan’s sister Jess. We went on a Saturday afternoon with fairly high expectations, we have heard a lot about Trillium but have never tried any of their beers, until now.

 

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Trillium Brewing Company has been open since March of 2013, run by husband and wife owners JC and Esther Tetreault. They have built quite a following from their small scale operation in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston. In December 2015 they opened their secondary brewing location in Canton, MA with a tasting room and a much larger brewing capacity, a theoretical brewing capacity of 35,000 barrels annually. They still operate both locations. We had heard a lot about their beer, but waited until they opened their new Canton facility to visit them. They do not serve samples in the Fort Point location.

 

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Mosaic Fort Point Pale Ale – 6.6%
Smells very fragrant, tropical and fruity hops. Pours cloudy and unfiltered. Has a fruity hop taste to it, not super juicy, but pretty tasty. Fruity and tropical hops with a bitter finish.

 

Summer Street American IPA – 7.2%
Not nearly as fruity smelling or tasting as the Pale Ale. Smooth, not that hoppy or bitter, nothing really stands out with this beer, fairly standard IPA. Maureen thought it was pretty good and she doesn’t like most IPA’s.

 

Sleeper Street American IPA – 7.2%
This IPA was a little fruitier, with a hint of grapefruit. A little bit juicy, not too hoppy or bitter, but a little more interesting flavor, Mark thought. Jason liked the Summer Street better.

 

Pot and Kettle Oatmeal Porter – 7.5%
Not as heavy as we expected, but we liked it. Medium body, smooth, Jason tasted chocolate, Mark got a roasty chocolate flavor. Mark, Megan, and Jason all enjoyed this.

 

 

 

The tasting experience here was not as good as we had hoped. It is an improvement since they do not do tastings in their Fort Point location, but there was only 1 bartender serving most of the time, so it took a while for us to get served. They serve 2 oz complimentary samples.

 

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The most disappointing thing was they only had 4 beers to sample. Mark went with specific beers he wanted to try, but could not sample them. Since they do have such a good reputation, we bought beers that we could not sample there to bring home and try. Other people visiting, or people unfamiliar with Trillium’s reputation may not buy a $10 bottle of beer that they can not sample.

 

Double Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale – 6.6%

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They sell their beer in 750mL (25.4 oz) bottle. This was one of the ‘tastings’ we did at home. This is a super cloudy beer with a huge hop nose. It is a pretty tasty beer, mostly citrusy hops, a little bit of a piney taste mixed in there, Mark liked it a lot. The only minor critique is it is all hop flavor up front with not a whole lot of flavor on the finish, but Mark did like it and will buy it again. This was the stand out of the ‘at home tastings’.

 

One of the benefits of the new facility is that there is an area for filling growlers and buying bottles that is separate from the tasting room. This separates the crowds and makes it easier if you want to just stop in and pick up some beer.

 

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Bottles behind the counter, and brewing tanks behind them.

Hours
Canton Location

Monday – Wednesday: 4:00 – 7:30
Thursday and Friday: 12:00 – 7:30
Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

Hopsters, Newton, MA

 

 

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Mark’s sister Michelle got us all a brew session at Hopsters in Newton, MA for Christmas. We tried some of the beers they brew themselves while we were brewing and waiting.

 

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Their Beer

 

Newtonian – 7.4%
Medium body IPA with a piney hop flavor. Not that hoppy or that bitter, a little bit lacking it seemed.

 

Newton Corner Porter – 7%
Megan said it was delicious. Robust, not that chocolately, with some subtle dark fruit notes. Mark likes this as well, robust, light in body with a smooth, clean finish.

 

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First round of beers. Newtonian, ABC and Porter

 

Comet Citra – 5.5%
Not that hoppy for a citra IPA. They describe it as having ‘subtle tropical notes and grapefruit’, but these tropical fruit notes were very, very subtle. This was kind of lacking overall flavor, low hop flavor, not very bitter, very subtle fruit notes. This was significantly lower in alcohol than the other ipa’s.

 

Sour Vacation – 3.5%
A tart beer with a lemon flavor. Mark liked it, Megan thought it was just ok, maybe it was the lemon flavor, she wonders if it would have been better served with a lime.

 

Leaf Blower – 5%
Maureen ordered this, said ‘yup, it’s a beer’. It was described as a ‘clean, crisp, light american ale’, Mark’s agree’s.

 

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Ship of Fools – 6.3%
More hoppy, more flavor, more bitterness than the other 2 IPA’s. A little bit of a juicy hop flavor, not that much, but more. Jason and Mark agreed it was the best of the IPA’s, Jason said more identifiable hop flavors.

They have a few guest taps as well:

ABC Ginger Libation – 8.7%
Everyone liked this, Maureen and Michelle got glasses of it so we all tried it. It was fairly sweet with a good ginger flavor, light in body. Does not taste like it is 8.7%. Maureen thought it was delicious.

Citizen Cider – Dirty Mayor – 6.9%
Pretty good ginger cider, not as sweet as the ABC Ginger Libation.

 

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 They offer all sorts of food, too. We got a Buffalo Chicken Dip while
we were waiting for the mash to boil.

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The Brewing

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We decided to brew the German Hefeweizen beer. We figured that is a style of beer all 5 of us would like. We ordered our first round of beers, and shortly after that met up with our brewing guide.

 

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We started out in the ingredients room where he gave us an overview of what we would be doing, and to gather the ingredients we needed.

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Maureen helping to measure out the Red Wheat.

 

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Jason measuring out the Cara-pils Dextrine wheat.

 

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This is the Liquid Malt Extract. It is basically the wort, pre-made. If we were to make the beer from the beginning, called all grain brewing, that would take all day. That is the way Hopsters makes the beers they serve, and the way most breweries make their beer. In order to make it more time efficient, they have the extract for us to use. We are basically just skipping the first time consuming step.

 

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Michelle is cracking the grains to help release the flavors.

 

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We learned a little bit about hops, got to smell them, and pick out which ones we wanted to use, on the recommendation of our brewer. We only used an ounce of hops for bittering near the beginning and an ounce of hops near the end of the boil for aromatics. There is not very much hops in a german hefeweizen.

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We went with one traditional choice of the Saaz hops for bittering. We decided to go with Cascade hops for the late addition aromatic hop, on the recommendation of Mark. Mark wanted to mix up the recipe, just a little. The brewer recommended that we use the Cascade as the aromatic hop, so that’s what we did.

 

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Jason inspecting the beer.

 

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Jason removing the grains we steeped for 15 minutes. We put them in bags so they are easy to remove.

 

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Megan added the Liquid Malt Extract while Michelle slowly stirred it in.

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Everyone making sure Michelle was stirring it right.

 

After the Liquid Malt Extract and Saaz hops were added it had to boil for 1 hour. We grabbed a few seats near the bar and got some more beers, and Buffalo Chicken Dip.

 

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Hop pellets.

 

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The final stir after we added the Cascade hop pellets.

 

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Sanitizing the bag with Iodine so we could transfer our beer into the plastic keg.

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Michelle had to sanitize her hands, too, before poking the bag funnel into the keg.

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Our beer passed through a small cooling system as it was being transferred into the keg.

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There is our beer!

Bottling Session

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Jason starting out the bottling session.

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Bottles sanitized and drying.

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Push the middle lever down, it puts the sealer top down over the bottle.

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Michelle holding the lever on the right down for 2 seconds, it fills the bottle with CO2.

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Michelle filling the bottle up, hold the lever on the left down until the bottle
is filled almost to the top, leave about and inch of space.

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Mark helping Michelle figure out where the beer level is, sometimes
its hard to see, the beer foams up as it starts to fill.

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Our beer! You can upload a jpg file to the website and they print out labels for you. Make sure you send it at least a week before you are going in to bottle. Mark made this custom label for us in Photoshop.

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The beer turned out pretty good and the process was fun. However, we have 2 major complaints. There is not enough room, anywhere in this place. There was no room at the bar or tables while we were brewing, the brewing area was pretty cramped, and so was the bottling area, there was no room at all. We would have loved it if they had put aside seats for those brewing. We would have ordered more, and wouldn’t have had a few seats stolen when we got up to perform a step.

The other issue was they sell just about all their beers for $8 each. That’s too much for every beer to be that price, maybe 1 or 2, but not all of them. We only had 1 beer each when we went back for our bottling session, then went somewhere else to drink.

 

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Hours

Tuesday – Friday: 4:00 pm -12:00 am
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am

You can schedule your brewing and bottling sessions online at their website, or
check them out on Facebook for the most up to date info.