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.

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Visit #75 – Smuttynose Brewing Company

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Smuttynose Brewing Company was founded in 1994. The story started before that, though. In 1987 siblings, Peter & Janet Egelston, along with partners, started the Northampton Brewery in Northhampton, MA, which is now the oldest brewpub in New England. In 1991 they started the Portsmouth Brewery, New Hampshire’s first brewpub. In 1992 Peter and Janet bought out the other partners. In 1993 Peter attended the bankruptcy auction of the Frank Jones Brewing Company and bought the brewery that would become Smuttynose. In 2000 Peter & Janet Egelston bought each other out of their partnership, splitting the brewery ownership. Janet remains owner of the Northampton Brewery; Peter and his partner, Joanne Francis, own Smuttynose and the Portsmouth Brewery. Smuttynose Brewing Company was located in Portsmouth, NH up until this year, when they moved to their new location in North Hampton, NH.

 

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Eric explaining the brewing process

 

They have a wet grist mill, not dry as many breweries are.

 

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Plenty of beer here

 

They also use whole malts instead of split malts.

 

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Their bottling line, which you can kind of see in this picture, can do about 300 bottles a minute. They were going a little slower when we were there because they were doing mixed 12 packs, which need to be separated and boxed by hand.

 

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Fermentation tanks

This is certainly one of the biggest breweries we have been to. Look at all those tanks.

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They made a lot of decisions to be a green facility.

 

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Plenty of natural light. They also have motion sensor LED lights, which are much more energy efficient than fluorescents. They actually did such a good job in making green decisions that they are a LEED Certified Gold facility.

 

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A rain garden outside that helps with absorbing water into the ground and avoiding the sewer system.

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Showing off our safety glasses on the tour

 

At the end of the tour you can sample 4 beers. We tried to split up our tastings between us so we could try beers we haven’t had before.

 

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Vunderbar Pilsner – 4.9%
One of the better pilsners we have had. Light but good flavor.

 

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Farmhouse Ale – 7.2%
We both really liked this. Fruity with a slight earthy taste. Unfortunately they didn’t have any in bottles or we would have bought some.

 

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Just hanging out

 

Big A IPA – 9.5%
Strong IPA, not overpowering considering it is 9.5%. Good flavor, has a nice- little-something-extra taste to it.

 

Old Brown Dog – 6.7%
Described as having a ‘rich, malty flavor’.  It is a little more flavorful than some brown ales.

 

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Smuttlander – 9.8%
Double bock, smoother than expected, hints of toffee and molasses.

 

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Robust Porter – 6.6%
Flavorful, but light bodied to us. Good coffee flavor, hints of chocolate aftertaste. This is their most award winning beer.

 

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The table Mark is leaning on is in the tasting area for people to gather around. They are made from recycled shipping containers from their new brewing equipment and double as storage. Staying green.

 

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Part of what they are able to do with the new facility is produce more beer, but also different lines of beer. They started in 2007 with a short batch series which has become the Smuttlabs series. They say that:

our brewing staff has many ideas that can’t be done on a large scale; this is where Smuttlabs comes into play. From barrel-aging and beer souring to culinary collaborations and special projects that just don’t fit anywhere else, if a project is out of the ordinary, unique or time consuming, you can bet it’ll bear the Smuttlabs name.

 

We bought 2 different types of the Smuttlabs to try at home.

 

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Mark deciding what Smuttlabs beers to buy

 

Herbaceous – 2014 wet hopped ipa – 6.75%
Darker in color than a typical IPA. A hoppy flavor but a little smoother than a Big A or Finestkind.

 

Shebang – 2014 Triple IPA – 10.5%
Definitely a heavy beer, dark color, heavy malty flavor. Tasty but you have to be in the mood for a big beer.

 

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Big Beers and Smuttlabs

 

 

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Plenty of swag and beers in the gift shop.

 

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They have lots of plans for the land surrounding the brewery. The farmhouse that was on the property is currently being renovated to be a farm to table restaurant.

 

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They have plans to  renovate the old barn that was on the property to be a function hall.

 

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Do you recognize this old trailer? Maybe from the Finestkind IPA logo?

 

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They have plans to turn this into an outdoor beer garden during the nice weather, serving beer from the trailer with seating outside. This way you can actually come and hang out at the brewery and have a few beers.

TOUR THE BREWERY!

Tours and free samples daily. Last tour leaves at the posted time:

M-W Tastings: noon – 4pm
M-W Retail: noon – 7pm
Thursday: noon – 5:30pm
Friday: noon – 6:30pm
Saturday: 11am – 6:30pm
Sunday: 11am – 3pm

NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED

Cape Cod Brewing Company

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We visited Cape Cod Beer last month with Sam, her boyfriend Dustin, and our friend Andrea. We had been there before, but it had been quite some time.

 They opened in 2004. We were there a few years ago and they have expanded their tasting area since then. They produced about 5,000 barrels in 2012.

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 They have 4 year round beers. The Red, Porter, IPA, and Beach Blonde Ale, as well as a few seasonals.

 

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There are 3 bar area’s and 2 tasting area’s. It was a little confusing when we walked in because it was busy and there were a lot of people around. You also walk into the gift shop area. Eventually we figured out we could go into the back area and order samples there and sit at a picnic table.

 

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When we were their they had 8 beers on tap. You can get five 3oz samples for $5.

 

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They give you these little coins when you pay, so each time you want a sample you go back up and get a nice cold pour.

 

Beach Blonde Ale
Mark, Megan, Andrea, and Sam all liked this beer. It was very light with a hint of fruit. Dustin thought it tasted like a Coors. This is the only beer Andrea liked, she usually drinks just Bud Light.

 

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Andrea and Megan

 

Harvest
Megan thought this had a good flavor with a slight spice. Mark thought it was a little light for a harvest but liked it. Sam and Andrea both thought it was too flavorful for them. Dustin would drink a pint of this but wouldn’t search it out.

 

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Dunkel Weizen
Spicy, reminded Megan of Christmas, maybe nutmeg or spruce tips.

 

Red
Mark liked it, a fairly typical Red. Megan actually liked it and she is usually not a fan of Reds.

 

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Farmhouse Saison
Mark, Megan and Dustin all liked it. Light, flavorful, good saison. Sam thought the flavor was slightly weird.

 

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Dustin, deep in thought, thinking about the beer

 

Porter
Megan liked it, good flavor, not too heavy. Sam actually liked it. She got a maple syrup taste first. She thought it taste better than it looked, she liked the flavor but it wasn’t familiar to her.

 

Pale Ale
Dustin said ‘not bad’ but it had a weird after taste. Sam was not a fan.

 

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above the tasting room

 

IPA
Hoppy, fairly straightforward ipa, good taste.

 

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Back room where we were sitting

 

There were kids running around and being a little noisy. It was kind of distracting and annoying. Not the breweries fault, the parents weren’t paying attention. As we mentioned, it was a rainy day on the Cape so people were looking for something indoors to do.

 

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The have a food truck outside during the summer months. It is run by local teenagers, who were looking for a job before they started the food truck. It was not open when we visited, but we heard good things about it.

 

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Funny shirt

 

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Good plan

 

They have a big gift shop with all kinds of merchandise.

 

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Want to visit? Retail Hours:

Weekdays (M- F): 10am to 6pm
Saturdays:  11 am to 3 pm
Sundays: CLOSED
Guided Tours: Once daily at 11am

Please note that they stop selling samples about  30 minutes prior to close and stop selling pints about 15 minutes prior to close.

Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub

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The beginning of Bre’s Birthday Weekend! Deryl, Megan, Bre, Mark

 

 

 

We visited Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, located right on the water in Kennebunkport, Maine during Bre’s birthday weekend festivities. We were headed to Old Orchard Beach to camp for this weekend, and this was at a good stopping point. It was also a good time to try to throw Bre off, because she didn’t quite know the full plan of the weekend…

 

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Megan & Bre

Federal Jack’s is one of Maine’s first brew pubs, and the birthplace of Shipyard Brewing Company’s award winning-line of ales. Federal Jack’s opened in 1992 by Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley, with the opening of the Kennebunkport Brewing Company as well. Demand quickly increased, and in 1994, Shipyard Brewing Company was built Portland, Maine.

 

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All beers at Federal Jack’s are brewed downstairs, at the 7-barrel brewery of the Kennebunkport Brewing Company.

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KBC

 

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beer options!

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We ordered a sampler tray so we could try some of the beers we haven’t had before, and so we could share little tastes with everyone.

 

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our samples

 

Samurai
Hoppy but light and summery

 

Sirius Summer Ale
Served with a lemon- delicious. Not a ton of flavor but a good summer beer.

 

Sunfish Wheat
Good flavor, grapefruit and peach. Smells like peach but tastes like grapefruit. Smell is a lot stronger than the taste.

 

Taint Town Pale Ale
Smooth, better than most pale ales.

 

Fuggles IPA
Not too crazy hoppy. Probably because it is single hopped with fuggles hops from England.

 

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the menu

 

There was a group of us, so we ordered a couple of appetizers.

 

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Pretzel Breadsticks

 

 

 

Nachos with Chicken

Nachos with Chicken

 

Deryl and Bre aren’t big beer drinkers, but they did like some of the lighter, summer beers.

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Deryl ordered a pint of the Sirius Summer Ale. Bre went with a Frozen Strawberry Margarita.

 

 

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Mark ordered a pint of the Samurai. He liked it refreshing on a hot summer day, but also a beer that we haven’t seen in the stores around us.

 

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Megan got a pint of the Sunfish Wheat Ale.

 

We visited at the end of the summer, so we sat outside on the deck. There is a really nice view of the water from the deck.

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view from the deck

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view of part of the deck

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Tables on the lower level- also nice

 

 

Lunch

Megan got the Chicken Caesar Salad

Megan got the Chicken Caesar Salad

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Bre’s Caesar Salad with Calamari

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Deryl’s hickory BBQ burger

 

Mark got Fish Tacos

Mark got Fish Tacos, really good with an interesting sauce

 

 

Caparse Sandwhich

Lizzie had the Caprese Sandwich

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Bre’s birthday lunch group! Lizzie, Deryl, Bre, Mark and Megan

 

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the ladies! darn sun

 

Want to visit?
Open year-round 7 days a week
11:30am – 1:00am
Late night menu after 9:00pm
Dinner served until 10:00pm Friday and Saturday
Brunch specials every Sunday from 10:00am – 2:00pm

Jack’s Abby Brewing, Framingham, Massachusetts

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We have been to Jack’s Abby Brewing in Framingham several times, and picked up their beer in Massachusetts’s packies even more. We went back recently to visit their brand new facility at 100 Clinton Street in Framingham, MA with Mark’s brother Jason and sister Michelle.

 

Jack’s Abby opened in 2011. They are an all lager brewery, which is very unique, and means they use only lager yeast. This is a slow fermentation process, much longer than making ales, and they ferment cold. It is a longer process but you have more control over flavoring. Sugars and yeast cell counts are measured throughout the fermentation process. There is a 4 to 5 week turnaround for 1 beer, where ale’s typically take 2 to 3 weeks.

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On the first tour we went on we learned a lot about the brewery:

  • the three Hendler brothers own the brewery- Jack, Eric and Sam
  • the brewery is named after one of the owners, Jack, and his wife Abby, as a nod to Abby and to the traditions of European monks who created their beers in their abbeys
  • Jack studied brewing in Chicago as well as in Munich, Germany

 

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They purchased a new bottling machine in the Fall 2013. They bottle approximately half and keg about half of the beer they make. 75% of what they make is consumed within the greater metro west area of Boston. They just started canning at the new brewery as well, in 12oz cans as well as 16oz cans for 4 packs.

 

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Mass Rising – DIPL – 8%
Mark and Jason both buy this beer semi regularly. It is a double india pale lager, or DIPL. It is pretty hoppy, somewhat bitter but a well balanced and smooth ipl.

 

Baby Hammer – black lager with lactose – 6%
A brewery only release, very tasty, a really smooth beer, probably a combo of the lager base and the addition of the lactose.

 

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Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10%
A good, smooth baltic porter for 10%. Still a strong, dark beer, but well balanced and flavorful.

 

Sour Time – wheat lager soured in wine barrels – 4.8%
You get sour and wheat flavors from this, just ok but not a stellar sour, according to Mark.

 

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Hibiscus Blood Orange Leisure Time – wheat lager 4.8%
A brewery only release, Megan described it as joy and sunshine, not very descriptive, we know. Mark was hoping it would be a little bit better, not enough blood orange fruit flavor.

 

Calyptra – session IPL – 4.9%
Pretty good overall IPL, not lacking in flavor for a session lager. They are releasing 12 oz cans of this soon.

 

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Excess – DIPL – 7.2%
Really good, smooth for a double. Really good hop flavor and overall balance.

 

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Lashes – red ipl – 6.8%
Michelle got a pint of this beer, which she enjoyed.

 

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One of the reasons we wanted to visit the new facility is that they have a new beer hall and they serve food.

 

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We got 2 pretzels for apps that were very tasty (that’s just one in the picture).

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Potato and Bacon pizza, pretty good.

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BBQ Pork Pizza, this was very good as well, interesting combo with the
pineapple and serrano chili, and BBQ pork.

When we visited it was only around 4:00, so we weren’t quite ready for dinner, we just got a few pizza’s. They were good. Their menu is not that big, and they don’t have everyday bar food, no burgers or sandwiches on the regular menu.

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They have plenty of room for all their new, and old, barrel aged beers. See those really
big barrels in the bottom picture? Must be something tasty in their!

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They have a much, much larger tasting area, or beer hall, now. It seems like it might not be quite large enough for the popularity they have achieved. We tried to visit a month ago, at around 7:00 on a Saturday. Couldn’t find parking or even get in the building it was so crowded.

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Even at 4:00 or 5:00 on a Saturday this is how crowded it was. Luckily we got a seat at one of the longer picnic tables. Unfortunately, they operate the beer hall as seat yourself, which probably adds to the crazyness on busy nights. It looks like they need more room already.

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Cool, reclaimed wood they use as ceiling panels with up lighting. They look
cooler in person, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

We were glad to see they do have a separate bar area, when you first enter, for beers to go, bottles, cans, growlers and swag.

The first time we visited Jack’s Abby Brewing was with Mark’s brother Jason as well. The guys had decided it was time to do a mini brewery and bar crawl through Framingham… Our visits included: Jack’s Abby, Angry Ham’s (featured on Bar Rescue), and John Harvard’s Brewhouse- Framingham.

 

Old sign, and their old logo.

 

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Old logo at the old brewery, hand painted by Jack’s wife, Abby

 

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They also cask condition a lot of beers in Bourbon barrels as well as red and white wine barrels.

 

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samplers before the tour- fun holder too!

 

Cocoa-Nut Barrel Aged Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Coconut smell, heavy coconut flavor with the bourbon flavor, not as much cocoa as expected. Mark thought the bourbon really played up the coconut, Megan wished there was a bit more cocoa

Jabby Brau – Session lager – 4.5% – IBU 20
No longer available?
Everyone liked it, Mark thought it had a touch of fruit.

Hoponius Union – Wicked Hoppy Lager – 6.7% – IBU 65
Year Round
Really good mix of hops and lager. One of their flagship beers, one of Jason and Mark’s favorite. We buy this often, and didn’t bother tasting it in the most recent visit because we knew we were both buying some.

 

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Jason’s sampler, after the tour

 

Leisure – Wheat Lager – 4.8% – IBU 15
available Year Round
Mark and Jason both thought it was a good summer beer. It’s what Megan likes, light and drinkable, citrusy.

 

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Berliner – Megan’s favorite

 

Berliner – Sour Wheat Lager – 3.5%
What Megan expected from a wheat sour, very good with a nice pucker.

Barrel Aged Cherry Berliner – Dark Sour Lager – 5.5%
Although it was barrel aged, the bourbon taste surprised Megan. It did have a god balance of sour and cherries. Mark liked this better than the regular Berliner.

 

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Mark’s sampler, after the tour

 

Framingham Lager – 4.5%
Light, easy drinking, nothing too special, Jason agrees.

Barrel Aged Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Very strong taste, maybe a hint of brown sugar. Strong bourbon taste as well.

PB&J Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Not as strong as the BA Framinghammer. Nutty with a little sweetness at the end. Made Mark smile when he had it, could get the PB & J taste, Jason thought it was more chocolate almond.

 

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Megan’s sampler, after the tour

 

Hopstitution – Extra Pale Lager
Good taste, hops up front, smooth lager base. Mark and Jason both liked it.

Session Rye IPL – 3.8% – IBU 40
Jason liked it, so he shared it, everyone liked it. Definitely had a lighter, rye taste to it.

 

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the offerings during our first visit…

  

 

 

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Yay lagers!

 

We had fun here, and we all found beer we liked, at the old brewery and the new one.

 

 

They also now distribute all over Mass, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Eastern Pennsylvania and into New York as well. Not in New Hampshire or Maine, too bad for us.

Want to visit?

New Beer Hall Hours
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 9 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 am – 11 pm
Sunday 1:30 am – 9 pm

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love this sign!