Just because I’m kind of nuts right now, facing down my January 2d deadline for my craft beer book, I thought it would help me to take the BlogHer challenge to write a post every day for the month of November! I’m getting a late start only because I didn’t know of the challenge until yesterday, the last day to sign up. But here I am, showing up bright and early in the morning to get going. Today’s post is about branching out of your beer-tasting comfort zone and traveling to New Hampshire, where the craft beer scene is exploding.
Not that you’d ever get tired of our outstanding Maine craft breweries, but as a beer writer investigating all of New England, I want to let you in on other places you can go to wet your whistle. Our neighbor New Hampshire changed its laws a couple of years ago to allow nano-breweries to open, and there are a baker’s dozen just dying to see your bright shining faces and pamper your palates. Think DIPA (double IPA) and beers for non-hopheads as well.
Just an hour from Portland is a six-month-old venture called From The Barrel in Londonderry, owned by brothers Jon, Joel and Jason Anderson. I got to have a fun conference call with the trio in the dying light of evening, and by the time I was done, I was thinking I’d love to get my hands on their double IPA called Elle. I mean, the clock went back, so at 4 it’s really 5 p.m., right? Agreed.
Jon tells the story of their beginnings: “We opened in July 2014. Joel and Jason had been home brewing for years, and as the quality got better and better, we talked about opening our own brewery. Then when New Hampshire eased up the nano laws, we decided to go for it.”
When I asked, “Do any of you still have to have day jobs?” I got a throng of guffaws. “We all still have day jobs in IT and telecommunications,” Jon says. From the peanut gallery I hear, “Yeah we have no social lives.” Between them Joel and Jason are brewing four to five times a week. “We like brewing small batches, because we can experiment a lot.”
Let’s get to the beers. “Most will be on the hoppier side, but do have a porter, and our opening-day summer beer, a Kolsch was a big hit. We have a tasting room that offers flights or growler fills and a room off of that where you can look into brewery operations. We can’t serve full pints, but we can do four ounces of every label we have available. We usually have four to six beers there. Occasionally we have some pre-packed bottles. Our double IPA called Elle flies off the shelves, and there’s Remedy Porter, and a bunch of ales we rotate. Lily, a single IPA, is one of our flagship beers.”
What makes a From The Barrel stand out? “The biggest thing that makes us stand out is our model. We have twelve or more standard recipes and more that rotate, so you could come in one day, then return a few weeks later and get different beers. We love to have people come in and talk about beer, what they like and don’t like. Our space allows for hanging out.”
I always have to ask, “What’s a good food to have with your double IPA? “Spicy food, hands down.” Then from either Jason or Joel: Burgers and pizza, everything.” I should know better!
For travelers who might want lunch or dinner after a visit to FTB, the guys recommend Cask and Vine, right down the street, which promises twelve tap lines, always different, featuring local New Hampshire beers and breweries. Chef Craft has worked up a small plates menu to emphasize best bites with the best brews and wine.
From The Barrel Brewing Company
15 Londonderry Rd #9,
Londonderry, NH 03053
Hours: Thur 4-7PM; Fri 4-7PM; Sat 12-6PM
Cask and Vine
1.5 East Broadway
Derry, NH 03038
C&V recommends referring to their Facebook page for updates and specials.