yes, we’ve recently returned from our 2nd trip back east. this time, a visit to carrie’s parents in New Hampshire. (live free or die)
much fun, and many tasty brews, were had by all. details follow.
the timing of our visit was driven by our attendance of a party held annualy by carrie’s parents to celebrate the holiday of Epiphany.
during the visit, we also got to visit with various family & friends. rather than timeline events (because quite frankly i can’t remember on what days we did what) i’ll outline things by place.
breweries, brewpubs and pubs
Milly’s Tavern, Manchester NH
milly’s is a relatively new establishment, in place of the defunct Starck Mill Brewery. we went on a weekday afternoon after the lunch rush, we were the only diners present.
atmosphere: basement of a mill building, dominated by a bar and brewing equipment. also a dance-floor area. most of the place was dark and smokey, even though nobody was actively smoking at the time. food: food was good, usual pub fair but with a bit of flair — sweet potato fries were good.
beer: most of the beer was perfectly unremarkable. they have a very light ale to appeal to the sporty crowd (named after the new hampshire baseball team that plays in manchester). they have a few varieties of cider, and a whole range of reds, browns, ales, stouts.
beer standouts: their seasonal pumpkin, which carrie enjoyed (and she’s quite the critic of pumpkin beers) and best of all – bo’s scotch ale. one of the best examples of a scotch ale that we’ve ever tasted (again — carrie can be considered a good judge of that style, too).
overall impression: eek, milly’s is trying to be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. and it does an okay (but not spectacular) job at each of them. beer bar? tavern? dance club? coffee shop? who are you?! still, next time we’re in town, we’ll go back. keep the bo’s flowing.
Strange Brew Tavern, Manchester NH
strange brew is the kind of place that we’re going to miss. tavern-style: bar-side with stools & rail tables on one side, seating area on the other side, main stage/floor in the middle. free popcorn. flatscreens everywhere, showing sports and/or CSI or somesuch.
huge plusses: live music wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t hold a conversation in the bar. server was knowledgeable of what was on tap. taps? lots of them (48 i believe). many many good things on tap, menu broken down by style (and labelled with brewery/state).
most memorable beer: i had a dogfishhead 90 minute – i know i won’t see that on draught on the west coast.
best surprise of the evening: apparently tuesday nights and all day sunday is $2 draughts. ($3 for belgians). 2-1/2 hours, 3 baskets of free popcorn, 5 pints between us: $10! i tipped quite heavily, i suggest you do the same.
Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth NH
we had a very good trip to the seacoast to visit Portsmouth Brewery. owned by the same parent as Smuttynose, they had a good selection of Portsmouth and a few Smuttynose brews on tap (and a Sierra Nevada seasonal). we had the sampler, which included 10 different styles.
food: more upscale as you would expect from the culture of portsmouth, but still not expensive. we had a delicious plate of pita with hummus & baba ganoush. atmosphere: a large, open place, not bad. big bar.
beer: all beers were great examples of their style. you can’t really go wrong with any of them (Portsmouth or Smuttynose). kinda confusing that they had a couple of the same style from both breweries, but were different enough that we didn’t feel like we got 8 beers instead of 10. beer standouts: the Portsmouth American Style Pale Ale was unique and tasty enough that we brought a 22oz bottle of it home with us.
overall impression: good stuff, worth it for dinner if you’re visiting. street parking’s tough, but we went up, around and down an alley to get to the metered garage behind the restaurant. (2hr limit on meters – don’t let it expire, we saw someone getting ticketed as we arrived)
Sunset Grill, Allston MA
we’ve been itching to get back to Sunset (BeerAdvocate review). it was a place we frequented years ago while we were dating, but we weren’t yet into beer! we were so close to a good thing and we didn’t even know it.
there’s not much to add to the hyperbole about this place that already exists on the web, so the summary: 112 taps. good pub food, giant nachos. decoration is eclectic kitch, but authentic (without the “TGIFridays kit in a box” feel to it).
best surprise: 2oz and 5oz sampler sizes (in addition to pints, imperials, half-yards, and yards) mean you can try more beers and not get completely wasted. i believe we tried 7 different beers and only had the equivalent of a pint of beer each.
in summation: go!
this concludes the beer portion of our tour. between what we sampled at the pubs and what we drank from bottles, we tried between 36 and 40 different beers for the entire trip.
you mean we actually do things besides drink beer while we’re on vacation? why, yes. we do.
wow, i think that’s it. okay, we mostly drink beer on vacation. but we did a lot of non-specific driving around, too. this got us all nostalgic about being in new england again — until we picked up a Real Estate guide. i guess we could wait at least a few more years before we move back east … or i hear that buffalo is quite affordable.