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Destination New Hampshire: mountains, lakes, and craft beer

Schilling Beer Company, Littleton, NH
Schilling Beer Company, Littleton, NHKevin Kervick

New Hampshire is known for its beautiful lakes and majestic mountains. It is also becoming a destination for craft beer.

Your writer and his business partner just completed a jaunt through the Lakes and White Mountain Regions of New Hampshire, visiting seven craft breweries in three days this past weekend. Each venue was better than we anticipated. The New Hampshire craft beer culture is thriving.

Our first stop was Tuckerman Brewing Company in Conway. We arrived just in time for the 3 P.M. Saturday tasting and tour. The place was packed. We sampled the Headwall Alt, the Altitude, the Pale Ale, and the 6288 Stout, the latter being a new release of a beer that was brewed in the past. All of the beers were fresh and familiar. Although the Pale Ale is their flagship, we like the Altitude, which is a higher A.B.V flavorful ale, and a style we enjoy.

The Tuckerman brewers have been making the same three ales for several years. Their philosophy is to strive for simplicity, quality, and consistency. While other brewers are dabbling with flavor enhancers and wild experimentation, the Tuckerman brewers stay with high quality water, barley, yeast, and hops. They strive to do it correct every time and they do. They are doing justice to the English and German brewing traditions from which their chosen styles originate.

Tuckerman is building a massive new brewery just across the parking lot from their existing space, which will allow them to expand capacity. The facility should be complete soon.

Our next stop was the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery in North Conway, which is a favorite of vacationers and locals alike. The Maibock was full of sweet malty goodness like a Maibock should be. The service was great and the environment energetic as it always is. Hopefully we will get to the brewery next time.

Our final Saturday stop was memorable. Schilling Beer Company in Littleton may be the best all around brewpub in New Hampshire for beer quality, community, and setting. I had heard Schilling was a terrific place and it exceeded my expectations. Schilling is brewing great craft beer and it has a thriving beer community. They describe their beer and their philosophy this way:

Our continental European-style beers are defined by their balance and innovation. We draw inspiration from classical Belgian, Czech, German and Polish brewing traditions (among others), and conduct much of our research in German—especially when reviving centuries-old European ales. We tap culture, history and science in every pour of Schilling.

On Saturday they were serving up their own Belgian Pale Ale, a Belgian Trippel, and a Belgian Strong Ale, each of which was sensational. They also had a unique offering that I had never seen on draught in the United States, a Czech Dark Session Lager. The diverse taplist also included a Bohemian Pilsner and a Baltic Porter. The glassware was correct. The lines were clean. The pours were professional. The servers were knowledgeable. This was a great craft beer experience.

Schilling is about to open an outdoor deck that is adjacent to breathtaking views and sounds from the Ammonoosuc River. This is a special place that beer geeks will love and it is a mere 2 hours from the Massachusetts border and an easy jaunt from anywhere in New Hampshire. In addition to expanding their setting, the owners are planning to do some vintage bottling so their beers will be available for sale at the restaurant and retail outlets. We can hardly wait.

The next day of our beer jaunt brought us to Woodstock Inn Brewery which is located at the Woodstock Inn at the western end of the Kancamagus Highway in Lincoln. This location is always a mecca for travelers and beer enthusiasts alike. There are few better beer destinations in New England where one can relax and enjoy people-watching and great scenery.

Squam Brewing in Holderness was our next destination even though the brewer was enjoying the vacation and not at the brewery that day. Squam is a small nano-brewer and a self distributor. You can find their beers at various craft beer outlets throughout the state. The "Camp" Barleywine is a particular favorite of mine.

Our newest craft brewery is so new that they are not even brewing yet although they have opened their brewpub doors to the public. Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Company is located on Rte. 16 in West Ossipee. We stopped there on Sunday. They have an interesting upscale pub fare menu, and they plan to begin brewing their own craft beer very soon. They also had an impressive selection of local New Hampshire brews on tap now, including offerings from 603 Brewery in Londonderry and Throwback Brewery in North Hampton. I tried the 603 White Peaks White IPA, which was fresh and tasty.

Our final stop was at Canterbury Aleworks where "Aleman" Steve Allman delighted our senses with tasty small batch beer and great conversation. This is a cool location on a farm in the woods where Steve is growing his own hops and making interesting ales and lagers. His dream is to put Canterbury Aleworks on the map as a must visit independent craft beer Mecca for serious beer chasers like us. This was a fitting way to end our craft beer weekend journey in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has beautiful lakes and majestic mountains. It has great craft beer too.

Kevin Kervick is an owner operator of Craft Beer Cellar Nashua with his wife Karen and son Brian.

This writer has done a series of television interviews about beer culture and beer community with local entrepreneurs. You can find videos of those shows here.

The working title for Kevin's upcoming book is, Discovering Possibility: The Revolution for Virtue and Common Sense. Kevin offers common sense community building coaching to grass roots groups around the country that are interested in pursuing common sense approaches to community building.

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