I recently had the pleasure of joining Michael Hauptly-Pierce of The Tap Handle Show on a tour of a few New Hampshire breweries. Michael was kind enough to be our host and take us on a tour on some of the local places near his home around Salem, NH. We started our day at White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, NH.
We caught up with one of the founders, Bill Herlicka. He was running the show in the taproom, handing out samples of a variety of his creations, including a recent release, a Watermelon Wheat. Certainly a first, the watermelon flavor was present and carbonation just right, almost like drinking a watermelon jolly rancher, but clearly more enjoyable as everyone in the taproom found it to be a common favorite. Bill has been brewing since 1994, originally working on Belgian beers, working his way through imperial stouts, and eventually through champagne beers and everything in between. Bill has a refreshingly direct personality, he'll let you know what's on his mind, regardless of topic, and we like that about Bill.
After a great conversation with Bill and a tour of the facility, it was time to make some beer purchases. One thing we noticed real quick about White Birch Brewing, is they have no shortage of variety. We ended up picking up a case of different beers including their Double IPA, Wee Heavy, Barrel Aged Stouts, and many more.
Next stop was Kelsen Brewing Company in Derry, NH. Talk about a busy place. From the moment we walked in the door we realized we were in for a trip. The folks at Kelsen have a great presentation in the taproom from layout of the room to the great customer service of the staff.
As you can see in the picture, we not only toured these facilities, but we made sure we sampled anything and everything we could find. Michael Hauptly-Pierce was being an excellent host and sharing facts and anecdotes about each place we went. We also had the privilege of having Scott Barbick, a photographer and beer aficionado along with us for the ride.
As mentioned, there is no shortage of accolades and swag in the Kelsen tap room. A truly impressive sight, you know these guys aren't messing around with their beer.
We happened to catch the folks at Kelsen in the middle of a brew session, so we didn't stay too long, but Matt didn't leave until he picked up a case of their finest beers. At the time the only bottles available were their Battle Axe IPA and Paradigm Brown Ale, both amazing libations that you should run out and find if you can!
Next stop was From The Barrel Brewery in Londonderry, NH. A collaborative of brewers the came together in the name of fine craft beer. This was Matt's favorite stop of the day, mostly because of the layout of the place, completely unique to any of the stops.
Tucked off the road in a string of outlets, FTB is quite unassuming from the outside. But once you walk in you find something very unique about the layout. While a perfect setting for a brewery and taproom, we found out after conversations with the staff that the facility used to be a TV production studio, completed with green screen walls!
Ok, back to the beer. Due to the fact that we caught FTB in the middle of a Saturday rush, there wasn't a lot of opportunity to ask a lot of questions about the place. However, they were more than happy to allow us back into their brew area to shoot a couple pictures.
When returning back to the front, we ran into a rowdy bunch of patrons, having a great time and being extremely respectful while doing so. That's the theme we noticed about visiting these breweries, everyone is very nice and there is a big community feel. While there, we had the joy of trying a flight of beers, and Matt brough home a case consisting of Howl, an Imperial Stout and Remedy, a very fine Porter, both at 8.5%.
Final stop was Rockingham Brewing Company in Derry, NH. A fine nanobrewery run by Rob and Ali, who have been working together since the very opening of the brewery. This dynamic duo have a great thing going over at RBC, with Rob making the beer, and Ali running the taproom.
Naturally we had to try some of their beer so we picked up a flight of 5. Listing the beers in order, "Belly of The Beast" a bacon stout that was very smoky and unlike anything else we had on the trip. "Maple Beast" a maple stout, "Rockingham Ale" a very straight forward amber ale, "Napoleon" a farmhouse ale, and finally "Javelina" a hopped up IPA, a very tasty treat indeed.
Rob gave us a brief tour of the brewery itself, as he had just wrapped up a brew session so things weren't completely cleaned up. We were happy to oblige and took a quick shot. You can see Rob is proud of what he has constructed and he very well should be. Rockingham Brewing Company is definitely the place to be, make sure you stop by!
So that was our trip to New Hampshire, we do hope you make your way to one of these great breweries for a flight or a growler fill, and a special thank you to Michael Hauptly-Pierce of The Tap Handle Show for being an excellent host. He is also quite the grill master as we discovered during dinner after all the brewery visits. Let's do this again some time!