Event Recap: Southern New Hampsire Brewers Festival 2012 at White Birch
@Bill_WBB, @snhbfest, #craftbeer
2012 Southern New Hampsire Brewers Festival at White Birch Brewery
The second annual Southern New Hampshire Brewers Festival was held on Saturday, July 14th at White Birch Brewery (http://www.whitebirchbrewing.com/) in Hooksett, NH. There were 19 breweries in attendance with 75 different offerings! WOW! Burrito Me (http://burritome.com/) was there with a beautiful smoked hog made in to spicy pork tacos….beyond delicious! Also bringing the yumminess was Firefly American Bistro and Bar (http://www.fireflynh.com) with fantastic chilli and jalapeno corn bread. The BEERkery of Northfield (http://beerkery.com/), NH brought the sweetness with some tasty and unique cupcakes my favorite of which was the caramel jalapeno made with Hooksett Ale. Most importantly the designated drivers were not forgotten! Boarder Brew Supply of Salem (http://www.borderbrewsupply.com/), NH was there with a SLEW of tasty soda beverages for DD’s to enjoy. What a great reason to be a DD! And…an extra special novelty at the fest…CIGARS from Twins Smoke Shop (http://fujipub.com/twinssmokeshop/)! There was plenty of food and beer and quality tobacco to be had, but first, there was much work to be done.
As a volunteer, I arrived at 12:30 pm. Doors didn’t open till 5 pm for VIP’s and 6pm for general admission, so let that be an indicator as to how much work was involved that day. 7 Barrel Brewing (http://www.7barrel.com/) was the first to arrive. As each vendor showed up, it was our job as volunteers to help them haul in their kegs, set up and get everything iced down (and trust me when I say we were all so happy to carry the bags of ice in that 93 degree heat). Next came Rory with Baxter Brewing - http://www.baxterbrewing.com/ (try their Stowaway IPA in a can! Incredible!). She’s always organized and ready to rock at these things. Vendors trickled in slowly from 1pm to 3pm and then, EXPLOSION! It was a flurry of activity as they came rolling in. There were so many kegs and CO2 tanks. Thank goodness we had a small tractor with an attached wagon for all those heavy loads. We would have been dead before the fest ever started! Probably the most amount of excitement during set up came when the guys from White Birch took down one of their designated tables and wheeled in a pallete of cinder blocks. What the heck? A small crowd of curious volunteers and vendors gathered around as they unloaded the cinder blocks and placed the table on top. What ended up on top of that was a barrel containing their Wild Golden Ale. Aged for 2 years in a whiskey barrel, the Wild Golden had a delightfully sour, yet light on the palate flavor that people kept coming back for over and over again (I had the extreme pleasure of pouring this one for a while). Sours and wilds are becoming less of a novelty and more of a staple, people. If you haven’t tried one lately, go do it!
This is the point when I made my way across the street to assist with parking. I had the most fashionable outfit EVER! Hi-lighter yellow vest…what do you think? Is it my color? After an hour an a half of parking, the lot was full and my shift was over. It was time to enjoy the brew fest!
Now, when I’m at one of these beer fests, I tend to stay away from things I can get readily in the store. My palate is adventurous. I want to try anything new, different, weird or seemingly unimaginable to find in a beer. So my first one was the Rhubarb Wit from Throwback (http://throwbackbrewery.com/). Let me tell you something…these gals KNOW how to make some great and unique beer. It was light and summer-y and refreshing like any good wit should be, but that rhubarb gave it just enough of a titch of unique flavor to know there was something different about it. I don’t eat a lot of rhubarb, so I would never have guessed what it was, but knowing what it was made it so much more special because who would ever think to put rhubarb in a beer? Throwback also created two more of my stand out favorites from the fest: the Spicy Bohemian (brewed with jalapenos! Sounds too spicy to drink? NO WAY! This was completely drinkable, and was even better with a spicy smoked pork taco!) and their Chai Porter, which smelled like a really great cup of chai tea.
Moving on from there I went over to 7 Barrel Brewery (http://www.7barrel.com/). I tried their Champion Reserve IPA. This American style IPA was unlike many I’ve had. It had a sweeter, almost delicate flavor that was very unobtrusive on my tongue, but didn’t leave me looking for hoppy flavor. It was truly fantastic and if there hadn’t been so much more to try, I may have stuck around for a while and been responsible for draining the tap! Their other favorite of mine was the Gingered Wheat. Move over Canada Dry, there’s a new summer gingered drink that rises to the top! Some times ginger can have an assaulting-type quality to the taste buds, maybe even a tad spicy, but this was pure enjoyment. Like candied ginger with out all the overwhelming sweetness.
Next up, I popped over to Prodigal Brewing (http://theprodigalbrewery.com )and tried out the Necromancer (not just a plot line on True Blood). It poured a dark, dark color…nearly black. When I asked what style it was, they replied “not really sure yet”. But I think they decided it was an Imperial Black Lager (though I’ve also seen it listed as a Doppelbock in google search). This beer was 11.2% ABV , but was so sweet and smooth on the palate that it was incredibly drinkable. This would get me in to trouble quickly…it was time to move on!
I took a break from the beer to return to some beer fest duties. Yes, you read earlier that my shift was over, but I couldn’t just walk by as I saw dump buckets filling up. That many beer vendors meant a LOT of dump buckets. So off to work I went. It took me about 30 minutes to get them all done. I had to weave through the crowd (500 tickets were sold!!!) with full dump buckets, get them inside to the brewery and pour them into the floor drain. Let me tell you something, if this is ever your job at a beer fest, DON’T wear leather sandals! My feet were soaked and sticky and disgusting. Then again, maybe sandals were ideal as it would have soaked into sneakers and utterly ruined them. Hmm….I’ll have to think about that. When I was down to my last bucket, my arms were so tired. But, to the rescue came Bond…Mark Bond. He traded with me to dump the last bucket. I was now manning (er…womanning rather) his post pouring the Wild Golden Ale from the sexist beer vessel there: the whiskey barrel. One by one, people came to try what they’d heard everyone talking about all around the beer fest. When they asked what it was and I described it to them, I could see faces that ranged from excitement to hesitation. Such a range of emotion, but none were disappointed. General consensus: this beer ROCKS! I remember one lady made an “Ick” face as I told her what was in the barrel (hey…sours aren’t for everyone) but she decided to try it (I LOVE adventurous drinkers!) and her face lit up upon first taste! She quickly finished that off and got a second sample.
From here I got to move on to more beer tasting. I moved quickly from one beer to the next: the Baxter Pamola Xtra Pale Ale ( http://www.baxterbrewing.com/), Clown Shoes Miracle IPA (http://www.clownshoesbeer.com/ ), Nepenthe’s Nut Brown ( http://www.candiaroad.com/ ), and Martha’s Exchange Consortium Saison (http://www.marthas-exchange.com/brewery.php ). Each was a fantastic example of its respective style. Why did I rush through these last few tastes? I unfortunately had a prior engagement and had to leave the beer fest soon. BUMMER!!
Everything came together really well. It was very organized, went smoothly without any major hiccups and White Birch’s goal was achieved…the vendors and patrons wanted for nothing! White Birch was very adamant about making sure the vendors and patrons could just come and enjoy and that the vendors didn’t feel like they were actually working…a very classy touch Bill Herlicka!
So who were the other great breweries there? View as follows:
- Boulder Brewing Company – http://www.boulderbeer.com/
- Victory Brewing Company – http://victorybeer.com/
- Mayflower Brewing Company – http://mayflowerbrewing.com/
- Brewery Ommegang – http://www.ommegang.com/
- Lagunitas Brewing Company – http://www.lagunitas.com/
- The Portsmouth Brewery – http://www.portsmouthbrewery.com/
- Rising Tide Brewing Company – http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/
- Smuttynose Brewing Compnay – http://www.smuttynose.com/
- Stone Brewing Company – http://www.stonebrew.com/
- Tuckerman Brewing Company – http://www.tuckermanbrewing.com/
- Woodstock Inn Brewing Company – http://www.woodstockinnbrewery.com/
I wish I’d had time to get to you all! Thank you to White Birch for hosting one of the most unique beer fests I’ve had the pleasure of either working or attending and thank you to all the brewers and breweries for your creativity, commitment to your work and passion for craft beer.
Cheers and Beers!
Lisa – the Hefeweizen_Hunny
Pictures are courteous of Lisa Griffin, Mark Bond, White Birch Brewing, and Seth Odel. Thanks