Upper Valley NH Brew Pubs
Travelers on I-89 have two great options for food and local beer
Photo by Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson singles out two great spots in the Upper Valley you shouldn't miss - Seven Barrel Brewery and Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grill.
Seven Barrel Brewery
In West Lebanon, where I-89 and I-91 meet, there’s a brewery that was founded 19 years ago by craft beer pioneer, Greg Noonan, called Seven Barrel Brewery. The name is derived from the size of each batch of beer that’s brewed by their current brewmaster, Tony Lubold, who previously brewed at the now out-of-business Catamount Brewery in Vermont. With over 50 unique beers and five year-round standards, any beer lover is guaranteed to find something on tap to quench his or her thirst.
The Seven Barrel Brewery doesn’t bottle any beer but you can get 64-ounce reusable growlers to go and a pint of beer is $4.50. The Red #7 Amber Ale is the top seller but regular patrons each have their favorite of the year-round ales and lagers brewed here. A new addition to this brewery is its “Conan the Destroyer” series of big beers that are generally high ABV, move malty and pack a palate punch above the standard brews. The Conan Double Red is intense with a huge lingering malt profile that is not easily forgotten.
While the food can be considered standard compared to most restaurants, it is far better than food served at other local brewpubs. The burger was juicy and well made and paired very well with the ESB and Oatmeal Stout. The brewmaster at Seven Barrel was clear on his brewing mantra, which is to brew consistently high quality beers that people love.
There are no traditional kegs in use. Instead, the beer is brewed and fermented on-site and allowed to age for two to three weeks for clarity and taste and is then moved into large serving tanks that are exposed behind the bar. Refrigeration under the tanks keeps this beer cool but not ice cold and guests are served beer on tap directly from the tanks. This may not be a rare way to serve beer but it is a method that isn’t in place at new brewpubs. There is usually a beer on cask as well as served via the traditional hand pump.
You won’t find extreme beers at Seven Barrel Brewery but there’s always something new on tap, and the use of traditional brewing methods, hops and malts is refreshing. The location makes stopping in a no-brainer when heading to the slopes or for happy hour. The atmosphere is family-friendly and the staff is knowledgeable on every beer available. An excellent choice is the Double IPA made with American and English hops and available on cask. Fresh beer and a knowledgeable brewer at a location that was founded at a time when craft beer wasn’t a hip word and they’re still brewing quality beers 19 years later.
The Seven Barrel Brewery
Open Daily 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.
5 Airport Rd., Colonial Plaza, West Lebanon
Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grill
There aren’t many breweries that grow their own hops, but the Flying Goose in New London has hop vines reaching 15 feet into the air. The hops then go into batches of beer, which are served just a few yards from where hops were originally harvested. This small brewpub also offsets half of their energy costs with the use of solar panels. It’s always great to see breweries that make the most of the land and what Mother Nature has to offer - you can taste this care and attention to detail in their diverse lineup of beers.
The location couldn’t be better. Anyone heading north on I-89 will pass New London on the way to Dartmouth College. After exiting, it’s a mile before you reach the brewery. They take a family-friendly approach where patrons can choose to sit in a quiet restaurant with sweeping views of the mountains nearby, or in an area where the bar is pouring hand-made beers.
Rik Marley is the brewmaster and was previously at the Woodstock Inn, Station and Brewery. He joined Flying Goose in 2009 and maintains a brewery setup below the pub. His space is limited but is able to keep 16 beers in stock and a house-made root beer. Lately, more eclectic brews have been showing up. In total they have 51 beers, and now they are exploring wild yeast and barrel aging programs. Biere de Abstrakt is a Bière de Garde aged in Pinot Noir barrels with Brettanomyces Clausenii (a wild yeast strain). The brewmaster is experimenting with more beers like this that are not standard styles, but can wake up the taste buds and leave you wanting more.
If you’re looking for the most interesting beers, try the Blueberry Wheat, Mickey’s Vyce Black IPA and the winter barley wine called Isle of Pines.
The approach to new beer styles, sustainable energy, on-site hops paired with a very diverse food menu make Flying Goose a top pick for the Upper Valley.
Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grill
40 Andover Rd., New London
Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Adam Jackson, a Florida native and New Hampshire resident after spending a few years in San Francisco, is a project manager by day and homebrewer/beer blogger by night. He proudly reviewed 1,000 plus different beers in one year, and travels the world in search of new beers and new friendships made when sharing a beer with strangers. He lives in Lyme, NH, with his girlfriend and Goomba the Boxer.