Admittedly, I didn’t attend as much of Portsmouth Beer Week as I would have liked to this year, but between the (long overdue…) opening of Smuttynose’s Hayseed restaurant, and the Hangover Cure Tour, I think I got my fair share of the action. This post will focus on the Tour, but maybe I’ll blog about Hayseed too… maybe.
This is the second year of the Hangover Cure Tour (hence the second annual bit), which is co-run by the phenomenal crew at WHYM Beer Café and the equally phenomenal folk behind the Granite State Growler Tours. Last year they were able to give folks a sneak peak at Smuttynose’s new location, and this year they upped the ante by offering attendees a look at Dave Sakolsky’s not even opened Deciduous Brewing Company. For longtime followers of this blog, you may remember my little love affair with Blue Lobster Brewing two years ago. Well Dave was the man behind those beer’s, and when all the shit went down over at Blue Lobster, the seacoast of New Hampshire lost the output of some damn fine beer. Luckily, Sakolsky had no intention of leaving the area, and picked Newmarket, NH as the home of his own brewery (this happens to be the town next to me…) Dave’s been slowly building up the brewery for the past year, and now, despite a dock strike over in Oakland holding up his brewhouse, he is nearly ready to go. He and his partners in the venture were nice enough to invite the Hangover Cure Tour over as their first visitors, and to give them a taste of the oh-so-tasty things to come.
First, however, let’s talk about the breakfast.
I’m not sure why I’ve never done a post about WHYM before. The service there is superb, the food is amazing, and they easily have one of, if not THE best curated tap-list in all of New Hampshire. As the hosts of the
“Cure” portion of the Tour, as well as the hosts of a raucous party last night, the WHYM crew worked on negligible hours of sleep to offer up a delicious breakfast to those that came. The meal consisted of a hash patty, wrapped around an egg and cheese, and served on French toast. Of course, there was a little dipping cup of syrup to the side, and when blended with the burger, it created a heavenly pairing of sweet and savory things. On the side was a serving of WHYM’s house frites (always delicious) and some grapes and orange slices for color and palate cleansing. To wash down the meal, they offered a superb selection of three fine beers, but WHYM had such a lovely tap list going for Portsmouth Beer Week that I had to dip into the other offerings. I started
my day with a richly citric Mozzacalypse Double IPA from Stoneface Brewing Company, which was the perfect replacement for orange juice, and cut the fatty burger and sweet French toast wonderfully.
I was, quite honestly, too stuffed to move after my breakfast hash burger (and a little of my lady-love’s burger, too…) but I managed to waddle my way out the door after brunch, and oozed my way aboard the Hop Hunter –one of the Granite State Growler Tour’s two buses. The bus was manned by Dave Adams, one of the owners of Growler Tours, and a great gentleman to grab a pint of beer with. As the bus followed Greta the Growler Getta
–Growler Tour’s other bus– out of the parking lot, and my body fought to digest everything I had eaten, Dave filled us in on the history of the Hangover Cure Tour and then gave us some splashes of what the normal Growler Tours would consist of, laying out rich historical stories about seacoast New Hampshire and the booze soaked incidents that caused much of the history we learn in school. (Dave and his co-owner, Mark, have crafted a great tour full of some excellent tidbits of history, and I have been meaning to catch a tour with them for a while. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a blog post about that in the coming months, too!)
Eventually, we pulled into the sleepy mill town of Newmarket, past the ever present brunch line in front of the Big Bean (a well-deserved line, as I can attest), past the Joinery’s granite façade (another place that slings a delicious brunch, as well as superb dinners), and then behind the library to come to a stop at the new little store
front that will house an expanded Panzenellas Pizza, a fresh food market (with a nice beer selection), and Deciduous Brewing Company. Newmarket is a really up-an-coming town right now. It has a rich little food scene, a great bar in the Stone Church, and with the addition of Deciduous, it’s going to have a superb brewery, too!
As we walked up to the door of the brewery, we were met by a piece of paper proudly displaying Deciduous Brewing Company’s badass logo, which had been finalized just two days before we arrived. Their front room was
sparse, and clean, as can be expected from a brewery that hasn’t even received their brewhouse yet. There was, however, a fireplace on one side, and in his opening welcome, Dave Sakolsky mentioned the plan to have couches lined up around it, which sounds just lovely to me. Salkolsky and one of his partners in the brewery, Frank Zagami, explained where the tasting room’s bar would lie, and what they envision the layout looking like, and then they took us out back. As the crowd passed Sakolsky – who was holding the door for us – nearly every
person present shook his hand or gave him a hug, thanking him for coming back to the NH beer scene. Inside the brewhouse, Zagami received a similar treatment, and a bright smile throughout the experience (I think I did too), happily offering answers as they were asked.
To one side of the back space of the brewery, as we entered, rose a tower of blasphemously empty kegs, already adjourned with “Deciduous” along their sides, while right in front of us rose the ranks of Deciduous’s
future cellar, which consists of four 15 bbl fermenters and a bright tank. Around the corner from the stack of kegs, however, sat the gem of the brewhouse, and probably one of the best barrel cellars I have ever seen a
brewery start out with. Sakolsky told those gathered that the barrel with a manway and some of the others were from Boudreaux, while the rest of the collection included Armagnac, and Cognac barrels. He said he had lots of plans for the gathered barrels.
The barrels got me giddy, and then some growlers and wine glasses were brought out, and Sakolsky said that all they had for us to taste today was fruited Berliner Weisses, and I was very happy. The first growler popped was a passion fruit and raspberry weisse that Sakolsky said he had cooked up on his “apartments stove top.” Its color was nuclear red/pink, it was gorgeously clear, and it smelled of fresh strawberries with a twang, which I guess is what passion fruit smells like… When tasted, the beer was bright, jammy, and delicious on the palate, with just the right amount of tartness to brighten everything up. It was phenomenal.
If they only poured that, I would have been happy, but Sakolsky had another treat for us, a blood orange and lychee Berliner Weisse of the same recipe, but with a different fruiting. The beer was a chalky yellow, and smelled delightful. My palate was, admittedly, a little muddled from the breakfast, but the beer tasted fresh, delicate, and delicious, and it displayed a touch more of the wheat malt than the passion fruit-raspberry variant had. Sakolsky said that they were planning on brewing American Weisses (Fruited Berliner Weisses/Florida Weisses) from the get-go of the brewery, alongside delicious hoppy things, some mixed fermentation offerings (!), farmhouse ales (!), and some delicious variants of porters.
The brewing space was spacious, though it had a gaping hole that the brewhouse would fill. The far right corner of the space was being prepared to act as a cold room, Sakolsky told the gathered crowd. The space’s ceiling was quite high, and a massive cold room door lay on the floor just in front of the empty kegs, hinting at just how massive the cold room would be.
All in all, I came away from the experience giddy like a school girl for Deciduous to open. They said that, as long as the docks over in Oakland don’t run in to major difficulties unloading the brewhouse, Deciduous should be up an operating in May or June. I hope I will hold in there till then… The folks at Deciduous were extremely accommodating, definitely excited to show the crowd about their space, and already pumping out some phenomenal beer. From a superb brunch experience, to an excellent and informative ride, to a great first look at a new brewery, the Hangover Cure Tour was a great success for me. Cheers and Beers to WHYM, Granite State Growler Tours, and Deciduous Brewing Company for putting together such a stellar event!
Find out more about all three awesome beer businesses here: