Finding Beer in the NH Monadnock Region
The Monadnock Region is slowly jumping into the craft beer business
Updated September 2015: This story originally appeared in our inaugural Beer Guide in 2013. Since then many new breweries have opened their doors. Now you can also visit Mooselick Brewing in Keene and Belgian Mare Brewing in Alstead (read more about Belgian Mare here).
Carla Companion, AKA The Beer Babe, recommends worthy beer spots in Peterborough and Keene.
The Monadnock Region is home to one mid-sized city and a handful of small, rural towns. As such, the beer community in Monadnock is mostly centered around Keene — the heart and population center of the area. Elm City Brewing is the only beer producer in the region, with its restaurant and brewery producing beer since 1994. The beer lineup changes frequently and the beers are made in small batches. Elm City’s classic offering is their Kölsch, a German ale that is light-bodied and has slightly fruited notes.
Though a bit slower to pick up the craft beer wave than the rest of the state, the recent opening of BrewTopia, a bottle shop and homebrew supply store in central Keene, is a much-awaited leap forward. Bringing many beers to the region that were not previously available (including those from Belgium and the UK, as well as smaller New England breweries), BrewTopia is expanding the palates of the region and encouraging residents to experiment in making their own beer. This type of experimentation can often lead to new brewing ventures, which the area is poised to receive with welcoming arms.
There are several craft beer-centric bars in the Mondanock area that are worth a visit by the thirsty traveler. In Peterborough, Harlow’s Pub has a rotating draught list of eight to nine beers that feature New England and NH breweries, including Switchback, Peak, Smuttynose and other locals. The laid-back and psychedelic atmosphere of the pub/restaurant also includes occasional live music and attracts a diverse clientele.
Fritz on Main Street in Keene is another location that successfully combines food and beer, with many bottled beer choices to accompany their two taps. The bottles include locals like Long Trail from Vermont, but extend to selections like Ommegang from New York and Unibroue from Quebec that brew Belgian-style beers. To accompany those beers, nothing beats their Belgian-style fries, served with a variety of dipping sauces.
For those more interested in grabbing a few inexpensive brews and watching a game on one of six huge plasma TVs, the Cobblestone Ale House is your spot. Beer is served with classic pub fare and can be ordered by the pint or pitcher.
Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog, thebeerbabe.com, in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and beer adventures from New England and beyond. Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since. She now also blogs about beer for the Portland Press Herald.