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.

603 Brewery, Londonderry, NH

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We stopped at 603 Brewery recently while in the Londonderry area. We had a group with us, Mark’s brother Jason and wife Maureen, friends Taylor and Lance and friends Ian and Stephanie.

 

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603 Brewery was formed in 2012 by three longtime friends. They started in a smaller space in Campton, NH. They became well known and liked locally. It wasn’t long before they realized they needed more space. They found their space in Londonderry and was able to quadruple their output. They keg, bottle, and can their beer and distribute all over NH.

 

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Ian checking out the brewery.

 

Each couple chose a few beers to enjoy, with most deciding on the “Brewery Tasting Tour,” a placemat tour and a pint glass. Walking tours were available earlier that day.

 

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Our tastings:

18 Mile Ale – Rye Pale Ale 6.6%
Made with rye malt and pilsner malt. A fairly easy drinking beer, but Mark wasn’t a big fan, the main taste being the rye malt. The beer was named after the 18 miles of coastline New Hampshire has, with Rye being one of the coastal towns.

 

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Ian double fisting his samples and Jason getting ready to sample.

 

Winnie Ale – Amber Ale 6.6%
Basic, easy drinking amber ale with a sweet malty base. It’s their best selling beer, because it’s easy drinking. Named after Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake. This was 603’s first beer.

 

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our placemat tour, with a couple of extras we added

 

White Peaks – White IPA 6.6%
Light, describe by Jason as ‘crushable’ IPA. Light and crisp, it is made to be drinkable but still has good flavor to it. Named after New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the first IPA released by 603.

 

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Mark and Megan. A little tired after so many stops!

 

Cogway IPA – American IPA 6.5%
Heavier, malty IPA with medium body. Hoppy bitterness and a malty sweetness dominate this beers flavor profile. Named after the World’s first mountain cog railway which reached the summit of NH’s Mount Washington in 1869.

 

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Jason and Maureen, enjoying their samples?

 

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There we go, enjoying samples.

 

Anniversary Ale- pale ale 5.2%
This beer was brewed in honor of the brewery’s anniversary, as well as the state of New Hampshire. Hoppy and smooth, with a slight citrus flavor.

 

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Lance drinking his sample.

 

Summatime Ale – summer seasonal 4.5%
Megan and Steph tried this and liked it. Good flavor, light but flavorful, a good amount of ‘sunshine’ , which is a spiced wheat beer, with fruit flavors and malt.

 

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Taylor, Maureen, and Stephanie

 

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Swag for sale.

 

 

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Lance is sad, or mad, that there is no beer in his free glass.

 

Want to visit? Hours.

Thursday and Friday – 4:00 – 7:00

Saturday – 1:00 – 5:00

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Other Breweries in the Londonderry/ Derry area

Kelsen Brewing Company, Derry, NH

From the Barrel, Londonderry, NH

Rockingham Brewing Company, Derry, NH

Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry, NH

Rockingham Brewing Company, Derry, NH

IMG_4218   Our 2nd stop on a recent trip with Taylor, Lance, Jason, Maureen, Stephanie and Ian to the Derry and Londonderry area was to Rockingham Brewing Company. They had only been open for about 5 months when we visited, since February 2015. It felt like a well established brewery.  IMG_4231  The two people working behind the bar were very warm and welcoming. They asked if we knew their beer, and the brewery and were able to answer questions when asked.

They have several options for tasting paddles. Megan and Mark split a flight of five 4 oz pours and a flight of three 4 oz pours, for $8 and $5, so we were able to try all the beers they had on tap. Jason and Maureen also split a full tasting, with the other couples picking a few here and a few there.

Rockingham Ale – amber ale 5.5% Fairly typical amber flavor with a little bit heavier body.

Javelina – IPA 6.5% Tropical notes, light in body, not super hoppy or heavy. Ian said it had more of a bitter hop taste with not much malt.   IMG_4220   Napolean – dark farmhouse 5.2% Light in body, sweet, dark in color with a malty flavor, but not too heavy. Not quite enough ‘funk’ for us, looking for a little more tartness or something extra from a farmhouse.

Curly’s Gold – wheat ale 5.1% Light, sweet, a good summer beer. Jason tasted orange peel, Megan thought it had a citrusy zest to it.     IMG_4223   Belly of the Beast – bacon imperial stout 8.6% Smells like smoked bacon and tastes like smoked bacon! A heavy tasting stout with a lighter than expected body, and a hint of sweetness.   IMG_4228   Cloven Hoof – Belgian dubbel 7.1% Sweet, not as heavy as Mark expected, light, pretty good belgian flavor. Megan did not like it. Ian thought it was fantastic, right on what he expected it to be.

Blond Melon – American golden 5.3% Tastes like melon. A good, light summer beer. General consensus was just ok.

Golden Mango – American wheat 5.1% A bit of a funky smell, light body and light in taste with mango flavors. Megan liked this better than the Blond.

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Lance and Stephanie relaxing on the rocking chairs

They have a pretty good size tasting room. It has a cool atmosphere as well. The bar is all rustic reclaimed wood. The wall behind the bar is chalkboard paint so they can update the beers when they rotate.

They have seats at the bar, a couple big comfy chairs and a big picnic table, which we took over.

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Stephanie, Ian, Mark, Megan, Jason, Maureen, Taylor, Lance

They had 4 of their beers bottled in 22 oz bottles. We bought 2 of the Belly of the Beast and a Curly’s Gold.   IMG_4219

Want to visit?
Hours

Thursday and Friday 3:00 – 7:00

Saturday 1:00 – 7:00

As always, check their website, or facebook for the most up to date information.

From the Barrel, Londonderry, NH

 

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We recently stopped at From the Barrel with a few friends one Saturday. The plan was to visit a few places in the Derry/Londonderry, NH area that day with From the Barrel being the day’s first stop.
From the Barrel was the 110th place we have visited.

 

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We have heard good things about From the Barrel so we went to check it out for ourselves. They have been open for just over a year and just had their one year celebration. They are a nano brewery, creating small batches of each beer. Luckily they had some of the Anniversary DIPA leftover for us to try.

 

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They sell a flight of four 4 oz tasters for $5. They also sell single tasters, so we tried all 6 beers that they had on tap that day.

 

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Lily IPA – Double Dry Hopped – 7.5%
A strong citrusy hop smell, with a lighter hop flavor than aroma. The hop flavor mixed with malts made for a well balanced IPA with tropical notes.

Anniversary DIPA – 8%
Another well balanced IPA, not an overly hoppy taste but a little more hop flavor than than the Lily. Made with Columbus and Citra hops.

These first two were Mark’s favorite of the IPA’s/DIPA’s. If they had bottles of either of these in stock he would have bought a few.

 

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MK DIPA – 8.1%
Double IPA, with a Citra/Simcoe hop flavor but more bite and more malt.

Big Elle – 10.5%
We didn’t like this as much, as it had more of a bitter hop taste. I think everyone with us liked Lily and the Anniversary Double better.

 

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Howl – 8.5%
Coffee flavor, sweet, chocolatey notes, good body. We bought a bottle of this.

 

Know Your Enemy – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.2%
Heavy flavor, a touch sweet. We liked the Howl a little bit better, but Stephanie (visiting with us) liked this one more.

 

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Both the owners were there when we arrived. We were served mostly by the head brewer. He answered questions about the beers and chatted with us. He told us he named most of the beers after his family, his daughter, sister, Mom, and wife.

 

We were visiting with a small group of friends that day.

 

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Mark’s brother Jason and sister in law Maureen were there.

 

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Ian and Stephanie enjoying their beers.

 

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Taylor and Lance might be enjoying themselves….

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And us.

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They have cool glasses for sale as well.

Want to Visit?
Hours 

Friday: 4:00 – 7:00

Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

 

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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

Sebago Brewing Company, Portland Brewpub, ME

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Our last stop during our most recent trip through Portland with Jason and Maureen was The Sebago Brewing Company – Portland Brewpub location. We figured after a long day of visiting breweries in Portland we should finish the trip off with some food, and more beers.

 

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The original Sebago Brewpub opened in 1998. After 6 years of brewing beer out of their brewpubs, they opened the main brewing and bottling facility in Gorham, ME. There are 4 brewpub locations and we visited the Portland Brewpub, right Downtown, under the Hampton Inn. It’s actually right around the corner from Shipyard.

 

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I don’t think we had actually tried Sebago beer before. Mark and Jason each ordered their own sampler tray to try all the beers they had on tap.

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Saddleback Ale – 3.9%
Light beer with a really light taste, not cheap or bad, just an ok taste that is not very flavorful.

 

Frye’s Leap IPA – 6%
Fairly standard IPA, good flavor, drinkable, but nothing outstanding.

 

Slick Nick – 7.2%
Malty, winter style beer, similar to the IPA in that it has a decent taste but nothing great. Winter style beers are not Mark’s favorite.

 

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Runabout Red – 4.4%
Fairly easy drinking amber with a malt base. Only 4.4%.

 

Royal Tar – 10.5%
Imperial stout, pretty good flavor, heavy tasting, you can tell by the taste it is a high percentage beer. Jason didn’t think it was a good beer to drink while eating, better for sipping on.

 

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Flora’s House – 4.3%
Described as ‘a love child of a pilsner and a Belgian wheat beer.’ Maureen didn’t think it was that great. Mark liked it, pretty good Belgian flavor, a little on the lighter side.

 

Imperial Small Batch – 4.2%
Fairly smooth, nutty flavor, good overall taste. Probably Mark’s favorite.

 

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2014 Barleywine – 11.1%
Heavy barleywine, not too enjoyable, bourbon barrel aged, we didn’t really like this one.

Food

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We ordered Potato Nachos as an appetizer. It was waffle fries instead of nachos, pretty good.

 

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Megan got a Caesar Salad and a Vermont Panini. The salad was ok, the panini was good.

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Mark ordered the Bacon Mac and Cheese and added chicken to it. The chicken wasn’t really added to it, it was just put right on top. He just mixed it in, it was really tasty.

 

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Jason ordered the Imperial Burger, a burger with a fried egg and
bacon on it. He described it as decadent.

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Megan and Maureen wanted desert, so they got a Molten Chocolate Cake to split, which they both really enjoyed.

Want to Visit?

Portland Pub Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 1am
Sunday: 11am – Midnight

Other places to visit in Portland:

Bissel Brothers

Allagash Brewing Company

Foundation Brewing

Austin Street Brewing

Urban Farm Fermentory

Shipyard Brewing Company

Foundation Brewing Company, Portland, ME

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We visited Foundation Brewing Company on our recent trip to Portland with Maureen and Jason. They too are located in the legendary 1 IndustriALE Way, in the same building as Bissel Brothers and Austin Street Brewing, right across the street from Allagash.

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They had been open for almost a year when when we visited. We have heard good things about them, they have been creating a bit of a buzz. Jason and Maureen tried some of their beer at a festival in Boston. When we visited, they had 4 beers on tap to try, samples were $1 each.

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Eddy – 5.7% Traditional saison, fairly light in body and flavor, not a
whole lot of flavor though.

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Infused Saison – 5.7% A brewery only option, infused with cardamom and orange. This had a much better taste, more interesting and complex, a lot of the orange flavor. Mark, Megan, Maureen and Jason all liked this.

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Burnside – 5.17% English brown ale, really good flavor, hint of caramel, one of the best brown ales we have had recently.

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Infused Burnside – 5.17% Infused with coffee, the smell of coffee is intense. The balance of coffee and brown ale flavor is good. Between this one and the Infused Saison, Megan didn’t know which to sample again! They did not have any Blaze available to taste, but we liked the beers we did taste so Mark figured it was worth a shot, and this was the only bottle available while we were there. IMG_1656

 

Blaze – 6.2% Comes in a 750 mL bottle, which is a little different for a beer. A farmhouse style ale, good taste, fairly hoppy flavor but light in body, good balance. We ‘tasted’ this at home.

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Jason and Mark enjoying their samples

 

They are in a pretty small place, we hung around the bar area. When they are open to the public you can take your samples into the back brewing area to spread out. Customer’s were playing cornhole in the back when we were there. This was one of Megan and Maureen’s favorites- because of the atmosphere and conversation. Two couples run the brewery together, and they started with
a love of Farmhouse beers.

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Growlers. glasses, and limited bottles for sale

 

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Merch for sale

 

Update August 2015:


Epiphany glass

 

Three important updates from when we visited about 6 months ago.

First is:

Epihany – Maine IPA 8%
This beer is described as a Maine IPA by Foundation, pictured above. It is a super hop-fruity IPA with little to no bitterness. Mark really likes it, and it is different than most other IPA’s, maybe that’s why they call it a Maine IPA. It was a little too fruity for Jason, and he tasted it because I actually got my hands on some cans.

 

Epiphany Cans

 

Update number 2. They can beers and distribute now! This is good news for us. Although we did just drive by Portland and stop in for a growler full of Epiphany, we don’t frequent Portland too often. They do have a small area roped off outside, for the nicer weather, which doubles the amount of people they can have tasting. Occasionally some cans make it down near the NH border, so hopefully we can get some. Which brings us to the 3rd update:

More capacity! They added a third 30 barrel fermentation tank somewhat recently. Then in the past week they added 2 more 45 barrel tanks. Hopefully that means we will see even more beer distributed and making it outside of the Portland area.

 

Want to Visit?

Thursday 3:00 – 6:00
Friday 12:00 – 7:00
Saturday 12:00 – 7:00

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Visit #90! Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

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Our third stop on our most recent trip through Portland with Jason and Maureen was Allagash Brewing. They are right across the street from Bissel Brothers, Foundation, and Austin Street Brewing or should we say they all moved in right across the street from Allagash.

 

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If you want to go for a tour, you need to book it ahead of time. The tours book up quickly, and they try to keep them a fair size- so everyone can see and hear the tour guide. The tour is free, but you have to plan ahead. We booked our tour about two weeks in advance, and booked it for four people- not yet knowing who the other two people would be! We booked for the only time slot that had spots for four people, knowing we would have company. We didn’t want the others to not be able to go. The tour includes a private tasting as well.

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Cool bar in the tap room

 

If you find that you aren’t able to book a tour, you can go to their tasting room and try some there! We were unaware that they had a tap room prior to our visit, but now know we can go anytime we are in the area!

 

Our tour guide was Thadius, a local college student, which he reminded us of several times. His fun loving personality made the tour entertaining but he was also quite knowledgeable about the brewery and was able to answer questions people had.

 

We learned a lot about Allagash while on the tour. They told us what makes them special and different, not just the typical story on how beer is made, so we liked that. We learned that 80% of what they produce is Allagash White. They are the 32nd largest brewery in the US, and still a craft brewery. Their biggest markets are LA, then Chicago and Boston.

 

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They operate a 70 barrel system right now. They expanded 2 years ago, and now they are planning to add more fermenters.

This is inside of the newest part of the brewery. This was the old exterior wall, and they left the old Allagash Brewing Company sign up.

They have a custom BrauKon system for producing as much White and Saison as they can.

 

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This newer system is more computerized, but you still need the brewer to check on things and know how to work the system. They brew 5 days a week, 24 hours a day. They have 15 brewers and over 80 employees.
How are they working to be even more eco-friendly?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
*Their spent grain goes to a local farmer, Norm, to feed to his cows.
*They also use steam energy.
*Just last year, they added a beehive on premise to use the honey in the beer. They are using the most local honey they can, and are helping the honey bee population! Another cool fact about the honey- their Accountant is the bee keeper!
*They have the least water usage of breweries, and use local water coming from Sebago Lake (just over 10miles away)

 

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Old system with Thadius

 

They still use an old 15 barrel system that Rob Tod started with back in 1995. They use this older system for their more experimental brews.

 

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They use Microstar kegs, a co-op program so when they ship full kegs to somewhere like LA, a local brewery reuses instead of shipping empty kegs back to Maine, which not only makes it easier for them, but also is more eco-friendly.

Fun fact- about 60% of their production is put into kegs. This is a lot for a brewery of this size.

 

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barrels in their barrel room. Each has the beer’s name or a code name on it.

 

An interesting sounding beer we heard about in the barrel room was the Koelschip series. The Koelschip series are sour and/or funky beers. They use wild yeast to get the sour flavor, and it takes 3-4 years to actively ferment. Megan really likes sour beers, so we will be on the lookout for any Koelschip series releases!

 

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The oldest barrel we saw.

 

These barrels were in a separate temperature controlled building to age.

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large barrels and fermenting beer

 

Allagash has a pilot system in which employees can submit recipes for brewing. Like their Saison? You can thank an employee for that! The Saison is not their first new year round beer in just about twelve years.

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a little view into how large they actually are…

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empty barrels, ready to be filled

 

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the private tasting area in the barrel room

 

Our tasting:

White – 5.2%
The first Allagash beer. We have all had this before and we have liked it. Maureen thought it was light, Megan and Mark order it out at the bar sometimes.

 

Saison – 6.1%
Recommended to have with spicy food. Light and citrusy with orange and coriander taste. Maureen said it was a titch spicy on the back of the tongue. We all liked this as well.

 

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the Saison mmmmmm

 

 

Four – Quad – 10%
Takes four months to make, uses 4 yeast and is complicated to make. Smooth and very flavorful, we all liked it. Jason liked it so much he bought a bottle there, and has bought 2 more since then.

 

Tripel – 9%
Aged in Jim Beam barrels. Light for being aged in Jim barrels. Maureen said she tasted fruit right on the tongue. Good balance of beer, flavor and fruit. Mark bought a bottle of this.

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Cooler full of brewery only beers as well as beers you will find elsewhere!

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Special Release! Midnight Brett Ale

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Midnight Brett Ale:
Megan opted to purchase this one, despite having not tried it. She understood that Brett Ales can be on the tart side, and loves trying beers like that. It had the flavor and aroma of berries and sour cherries. She was very happy to have bought two bottles. Mark had hoped for a bit more tartness.

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the tap room bar, inside the retail store

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t-shirts galore!

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have a kegerator at home?

 

We enjoyed our visit to Allagash, and liked how the tour was- it wasn’t just the “here’s how we make beer,” but what actually makes them who they are. We will certainly be back, especially to see what special releases they have!

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Want to visit?
HOURS: Monday – Saturday: 10am-5pm.
Last tour at 4pm, taps close at 4:45pm

Check their website or their facebook for any changes.

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************************************
In the area? Besides going across the street to Bissel Brothers,
Foundation and Austin Street, take the drive to:
Urban Farm Fermentory
Shipyard Brewing Co.

Bissell Brothers Brewery, Portland, ME

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Bissell Brothers Brewery is in Portland, ME, outside of the downtown area. This was our second stop on our most recent trip to Portland, after New England Distillery a mile or so down the road.

 

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They are in the same industrial building as Austin Street Brewery and Foundation Brewing Company, and right across the street from Allagash.

 

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They have only been open since 2013, but have been creating a lot of buzz. So much so that there is a limit on how much you can buy, and people wait in line for some of their special release beers. They are beginning to offer more and more beer as time allows.

 

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The beers on tap during our visit…

Substance Ale
Flagship IPA – 6.6%
Mark thought this had a really good flavor, not a hard bite of hops, but still quite flavorful with a slightly more floral taste. Jason agreed, not too bitter, good taste.

 

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Single Hop Pale Ale
Lemondrop – 5%
Smooth, fairly light flavor, especially after Substance. Only a hint of lemon, all 4 of us expected more lemon. Good overall taste.

 

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The tap room is a little small, especially since they are so popular, but certainly not the smallest we’ve been in. It has a cool feeling though, people talking, having fun, music playing, a pinball machine you can play.

 

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Graffiti style artwork cover the walls

 

 

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Steel barrels with wooden tops for tables

 

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They usually have a limit for the beer they are selling, and most people in there had purchased their limit of four 4 packs. They recently expanded their brewing capacity by 66% and are just starting to see that extra capacity coming out.

 

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The 4 packs of Substance sell for $13, which is on the expensive side. It is good beer, but we won’t be buying too much of it at that price.

 

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They have a small area for merch and swag.

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The disappointing thing was there were only 2 beers on tap for us to try. Looking at facebook this past week, they have three in cans this weekend- so we expect more to come!

Want to visit?
Check out their facebook before heading out for special releases. It is good to know, in case you want the special release or want to avoid the crowds. We have heard of over one hour waits on a release day!

 

 

New England Distilling, Portland, ME

 

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New England Distilling is located in Portland, ME. This was our first stop on our most recent trip to Portland. We went up with Mark’s brother Jason and his fiancée Maureen.

 

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New England Distilling was started in 2011 and in 2012 started releasing Gin, Rum and Rye Whiskey. They are working on a Bourbon Whiskey now, but that will not be ready for at least a year and a half.

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Ned is the owner and distiller at New England Distilling, NED for short. He is a 6th generation distiller with family history in distilling going back 150 years to Sherwood Whiskey being made in Maryland.

 

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Original Sherwood Whiskey bottle…

 

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with a prescription on the back! This was used during Prohibition.

 

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Old pictures and bottle from the family history.

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Matt explaining the distilling process

 

The whiskey and gin are both grain based, and are first made into a distillers beer. They take special care in this process, it is where the flavor starts. The rum is made from a sugar water base.

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Rum fermenting

 

Each batch size is about 450 – 500 gallons. They ferment on the grains, which is not done while making beer because it can spoil or alter the flavor.

 

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Grain shaker machine

 

They give all the spent grains to a local farmer to feed the cows.

 

The still they use is not a super high efficient still, but it keeps more of the flavor.

 

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They have 2 copper stills

 

They run the whiskey and rum through the still 2 times at different temperatures. They run the gin through a third time with extra botanicals added for flavor.

 

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They use charred, white American oak barrels. They can only use them once, by law, to make American whiskey. A lot of the flavor comes from the barrel, and the charring in particular. The charring helps to release natural flavors and sugars from the wood.

 

They are considering making a non-American style whiskey so they don’t have to turn over barrels so quickly.

 

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Maureen tasting the rum

 

Eight Bells Rum
This is a New England style rum. It starts with molasses, instead of sugar cane which is used in Caribbean rums. The rum is aged in the barrels for 22 months.

The name Eight Bells comes from the bells rung during a duty period upon a ship. The bell was run at every half hour interval for a four hour duty period. Once the eighth bell pattern was complete, your duty was. End of duty meant time for your rum portion!

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The Eight Bells logo is a Winslow Homer painting. They were given permission to use it from the Museum of Art in Portland.

 

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Gunpowder Rye Whiskey
This is a Maryland style rye whiskey, there is no corn used to make this.

 

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It is aged in the barrels for 12 – 15 months in the smaller barrels, 2 years in the 53 gallon barrels.

 

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Grains in the whiskey

 

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Mark and Megan tasting

 

 

Ingenium Gin
The Gin has a floral smell and a floral taste, along with the gin taste. Good balances of flavor, not too much juniper. Both Jason and Megan purchased a bottle of gin!

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Gin

 

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Jason and Maureen having fun

 

 

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Hand bottling ‘machine’

 

IMG_1192They have a lot of stuff in their little gift shop.

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Candle holder made from wine barrel staves

 

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Want to visit?

 

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 12-4
Saturday 10-4
Tours on the hour

Check out their facebook page for more information!

Other places we have visited in Portland:

Urban Farm Fermentory

Shipyard Brewing Company