Local Libations Road Trip

A tour to Tamworth Distilling and Hobbs Tavern

Chocorua rye whiskey from Tamworth Distilling

I had family in town, and we were in need of a short road trip. My family is not so much of the drinking type, but I need to flex my elbow to keep it in shape. You understand me, good people. So I found a compromise — a beautiful, meandering drive up to a distillery, then on to a brewpub for lunch and a direct route home. Easy. Destination — Tamworth.

Tamworth is a town about equidistant from the White Mountain National Forest, Lake Winnipesaukee and the Maine line. That puts this small town at a perfect crossroads to create a beverage oasis, and that is just what we found.

Tamworth Distilling is housed in a meticulously restored building, but the real oooh-and-aaah factor is the still itself. Tall and copper and turreted and multitowered, it looked like something Willy Wonka would hide from Slugworth, and it definitely drew attention to itself just on the other side of a mammoth piece of glass as I entered the tasting room with mom, Auntie La and Uncle Vin.

The copper still at Tamworth Distilling

As we tasted our way through a few spirits, for the sake of literature, we were given a sensory tour of their locavarian landscape. All spirits are made in-house (not always the case elsewhere) — even base spirits for cordials are made from house-milled local grains. Their still is like a transformer, minus the sound effects, and can produce brandy, gin, whiskey, and almost anything else they desire. Their offerings are ever-changing with ingredient availability, and they offer food in season at the Lyceum next door. I especially enjoyed the Chocorua rye whiskey, and the Sweet Lips Cherry Bounce, which came from a George Washington recipe.

As the mere mortals in my group required victuals, we proceeded to Hobbs Tavern, just down the road. The restaurant has just the kind of vibe you want — wide pine, plenty of space, fireplaces and an award-winning brewery onsite. We were seated, and I quickly recognized the manager as my first restaurant boss from 1999! She remembered my mom, we all got to chatting — that is the kind of place Hobbs is.

The fact that the writer’s IPA at Hobbs Tavern & Brewing Company “disappeared” before he had a chance to write down notes indicates that it wasn’t exactly terrible.

Somehow, both my brisket sandwich and my Pitch A Tent double IPA disappeared before I had much of a chance to take notes, but I recall a pleasant sensation, like one might experience after enjoying something that was properly made. I wasn’t driving.

Both Hobbs Brewing and Tamworth Distilling are available virtually everywhere in New Hampshire where potent potables are purchased and poured.

If you have the means, I highly recommend them. They are quite choice.

As we journeyed home, we passed Tamworth Camping Area. Most of the year, this is not a beverage destination location. But the second Saturday of every September, and the Friday before, they host the New England Homebrewer’s Jamboree. This fundraiser for Make-A-Wish gives you the opportunity to sample homebrew from all over New England, enter a homebrew contest, listen to live music, camp, and support a worthy cause. More information can be found at homebrewersjamboree.com. I hope to see you there, I will be the one typing an article at the last minute. Cheers!

About the Author

Michael Hauptly-Pierce is a co-founder of Lithermans Limited in Concord and an avid ranter. He also co-hosts “The Tap Handle Show,” a podcast all about beer, where racier rants abound. Learn more at lithermans.beer and thetaphandleshow.com.

Categories: Beer Features, Food & Drink