Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: A raft of exciting ales from NH breweries

BY JIM BEAUREGARD April 30. 2013 7:55PM

Bert Bingel of Bert's Better Beers in Hooksett sends me a "raft" note by e-mail every now and again - as in, "Jim, a new raft of beers just came in."

This, of course, prompts a trip to Community Plaza, just off Interstate 93's Exit 9 North to see what's in store.

As it turns out, each brewery on the raft we're sampling from today is local, as in within driving distance, either in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. They demanded long notes, since there was a lot going on in each bottle, so let's get right down to business.

Resonation Pale Ale, $7.45, 22 oz. bottle, 5.2% abv. Brewed and bottled by Mercury Brewing Company of Ipswich, MA, for the Great Rhythm Brewing Company. It says hops all over the label, so that's what we'll be looking for - Cascade, Centennial and Willamette, to be specific. Barley and Crystal malt go into the mix as well. Frothy, just off-white head, bubbles big enough to see; hops and light malt come through on the nose; amber/cloudy beer, in the pale ale ballpark to be sure. Rich palate of citrus, orange peel, floral notes; blossom, herbal notes in the background, very good bitterness, dry palate; good acidity, balanced and well-integrated alcohol, medium body, medium texture, again right in the pale ale category; long finish that holds the bitterness and the fruit, especially the orange, right through the finish. Sharp and refreshing, just in time for summer. If you like your beer intense, this is one to try. Judge by the size of this note how much is going on.

Henniker Brewing Company Hop Slinger India Pale Ale (Sgt. Ezekiel Hop), $7.95, 6.5 abv, 22 oz. bottle. Yup, it's in Henniker. Light caramel malts, hops. Light tan head, darker amber beer, slightly cloudy, light hop/malt nose. The palate is dry with intense fruit, grapefruit, spiciness, citrus, malt in the background, dry, good bitterness in good balance, balanced alcohol, medium-plus body, medium texture, medium-plus flavor intensity, long finish. They recommend pairing with spicy curries, salty fried foods, and ginger based desserts. I'd add a lemony chicken to that too. Check out hennikerbrewing.com, if you'd like more info.

603 Brewery Ice-Out Blonde Ale, $8.99, 1 pt. bottle. No ABV listed on label. The 603 Brewery is located at 24 Southmayd Road in Campton. The Ice-Out of the name refers to Lake Winnipesaukee being thawed enough in the spring for the MS Mount Washington to reach her ports. Blonde - yes. Yellow-gold, in fact, slightly cloudy, white head. Hoppy, sharp nose with some citrus mixed in. The palate is pleasing, also sharp, with god acidity, integrated alcohol, medium-light texture, and medium flavor intensity of citrus and floral notes.

What's a nano-brewery?

Next, the term "nano-brewery." This is a relatively new term, one that's been around for just a few years, and meant to indicate a brewery that's smaller than a micro-brewery. There's no explicit legal definition as to production levels, number of barrels, etc., it just indicates "small."

It's an outgrowth of the home brewing movement, in which someone decides to give brewing a go in their garage, for example, in small quantities. You may see more of these popping up in the days ahead.

Canterbury (N.H.) Aleworks is one such brewery. These folks describe themselves as a "one barrel, water-powered and wood fired nano-brewery." Visit their website at CanterburyAleworks.com if you're interested in reading more. Bert's had one of theirs on the raft as well:

Canterbury Aleworks Ale Man Granite Ledge Stout (Espresso-Oatmeal Stout), 1 pt., $6.35. (No ABV here either.) An oatmeal stout with some African espresso. It is, in fact, the color of espresso when poured, with a small tan head. The nose is coffee, grain, and some sweet malt notes. The palate is bursting with coffee notes, dark and rich, just a hint of sweetness, medium acidity, full-bodied, silky in texture, with intense flavors that last through a long, lingering finish.

Wine dinner

Wine Event: Mollydooker Wine Dinner at Unums Restaurant in Nashua, Wedneseday, May 8.

South Australia's McLaren Vale is the source of the Mollydooker wines that will be presented by Crush Distributors in New Hampshire's first Mollydooker wine dinner.

Tickets for the five-course dinner are $100 per person (excludes tax and gratuities). Seating is limited, and reservations can be made by calling Unums at 821-6500 or by email at unums1@aol.com.

Next week: Angry Orchard hard ciders.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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