Merrimack Valley NH Local Beer Spots
The Merrimack Valley is going through a craft beer growth spurt.
Updated September 2015: This story originally appeared in our inaugural Beer Guide in 2013. Since then many more breweries have opened their doors. In fact, in the 2015 Beer Guide we called the Merrimack Valley the new "Hot Spot." Check out the story here to see all of the exciting things happening in this part of the state.
Sean Jensen of 2beerguys.com helps you find the best of the beer scene in the Merrimack Valley region from breweries to excellent craft beer stores.
The craft beer scene in the Merrimack Valley Region of New Hampshire is currently going through a growth spurt. With expansions of existing breweries (White Birch Brewing recently moved into a new location in Hooksett) and new breweries popping up, there is a growing passion for supporting your local brewery/brew pub.
Stop into Henniker Brewing Co. in Henniker to sample its Hop Slinger IPA, Amber Apparition and new to the lineup, Whipple’s Wheat Ale. Founded by former Henniker selectman and state legislator David Currier, Henniker is on path to becoming one of New Hampshire’s favorite breweries. Brewer Christopher Shea joined the team this year and is already driving ahead at full steam, adding new beer styles to the Henniker Brewing portfolio.
Also in the region, check out Canterbury AleWorks, which describes itself as a “one-barrel, water-powered and wood-fired nanobrewery handcrafting world-class ales with local flare.” Located in Canterbury, they are open only three days a week (Friday through Sunday). The beer selection is constantly changing, as the brewery focuses on seasonal beers and “one-offs.”
What’s the Buzz?
Craft focus beer stores. As the market for craft beer increases in popularity, more and more stores are opening up, focusing solely on the craft products, including craft beer, craft cider, craft mead and other locally made products. When you have a chance, stop into one of the craft focus beer stores such as The Beer Store in Nashua, Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett and Barb’s Beer Emporium in Concord (click here for a long list of beer stores). Don’t worry about being overwhelmed by the variety of products — speak to one of the knowledgeable employees and they will guide you around the store.
What’s an insider tip or two?
Keep track of your local bloggers to hear the latest regional news. Typically, bloggers will hear about the latest scoop, even before it hits the major press outlets. If you are into podcasts, check out SBLPodcast for the latest beer news in New England, along with interviews with your favorite breweries.
In addition, keep an eye out for new craft beer destinations opening up. The craft beer scenes in Nashua and Manchester are growing every day. In addition, seek out restaurants that are making a major effort to support the craft beer community, such as Strange Brew Tavern and Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester, Pasta Loft in Milford, River Road Tavern in Bedford, the New England's Tap House Grille in Hooksett and Cask & Vine in Derry. There are so many restaurants recognizing the movement, that it’s difficult to list them all (Editor's note: But we tried anyway! Click here for a list of restaurants and pubs with an emphasis on beer).
Continue to support your local brewery and be on the lookout for new breweries popping up in your neighborhood. With more than 1,500 breweries in the planning stage nationwide, there’s bound to be a shop opening near you.
Sean Jensen is the co-founder of 2Beerguys.com (craft beer enthusiasts) and the Craft Beer Guru for the New Hampshire Craft Alliance. He’s also a craft beer drinker and, most importantly, a craft beer enthusiast. His goal is to inspire and grow the craft beer industry, one beer at a time. Please join him on the crusade at 2Beerguys.com and nhcraftalliance.com.