Updated: Dec 29, 2018
This is an archive copy of what was originally posted on Facebook.
The Fall leg of the Great Brewery Tour kicked off last night at Stoneface Brewing Co. in Newington, NH. It was a long drive from Cincinnati to Newington, but the leaves were turning and you couldn't beat the scenery across upstate NY into New England. Newington is way up north, on the Atlantic... the Stoneface Brewery's lot is on a river, and on the other side of that river is Maine. So think of where the Atlantic Ocean, Maine, and New Hampshire meet, and you're at the Stoneface brewery.
Stoneface Brewing Co. - Newington, NH
Brews are available on tap and to go at the taproom, and throughout much of Maine and New Hampshire.
New Hampshire doesn't fool around, and neither does Stoneface. When you enter the state, and on every license plate, their slogan screams out "Live Free or DIE!" There's no middle ground... commit or be gone. Stoneface's brews reminded me of the same attitute. My first sample of the night, per their suggestion, was their Double Clip double IPA (7.8%), the big daddy of their flagship Full Clip IPA. They're not fooling around with this one... this is a double IPA for people committed to a having a full bodied double IPA. A hazy golden pour, with a BOLD (read: BOLD) hoppy flavor that is not for the faint of heart (nor those "I don't like them too hoppy..." people). This brew hit you right between the eyes... yet it wasn't obnoxious. A fairly strong piney flavor towards the end, but a pretty clean finish (no bitter aftertaste). I enjoyed it, but for me this was a sipper, and then on to something else...
Next up was their nitro fed Porter (5.5%). Nice and creamy with hints of chocolate and coffee, this is the kind of brew I prefer on a fall day where it's a little chilly, the leaves are starting to blow around, etc... which it was. Very smooth and drinkable, I nursed a pint of this through my set and it hit the spot.
I thought I was wrapping up the night with a black lager, but it turned out to be their Barrel Aged Black Lager (7.7%)... which returns us to the "do or do not, there is no try!!!" theme. Aged for 9 months in bourbon barrels, the bourbon and oak flavors were boldy out front on this one, but with a clean finish and without the sort of sappy body this genre can sometime struggle with. I've had other barrel aged brews where the bourbon was very apparent but not in a good way... perhaps too sweet... but this one was way up front, yet very enjoyable and drinkable.
I ended up circling back around for one more, and finished up with the flagship Full Clip IPA (6.5%). Very aromatic with an implied fruitiness, this would be the beer to transfer to if you started with their Double and then wanted to tone it down, but just a bit, for a few more pints.
The Stoneface brewery is a big converted warehouse space with the brewery taking up most of the space, and a sizable taproom up front (see photo). Beer hall style, lots of picnic tables, a long bar, and festive, loud atmosphere. The crowd crossed all demographics, including young families with young kids. The menu looked and smelled fantastic, but as you might recall by now I don't eat before gigs, so I can only report on the high praise of the customers. Despite being literally a stone's throw from the sea, the menu focused mostly on interesting meat dishes... pulled pork quesadilla, brisket, Miso pork belly, steak bomb fried, etc. There was a fish and chips entree as well. The dishes all looked generous and artistically presented.
It was a fun place to kick off a tour, and if you find your self in nearby Portsmouth, Hampton Beach, or heading to Maine, it's well worth the stop (and only minutes from I-95). Afterwards I drove to nearby Hampton Beach, and slept on the beach before heading an hour south to Boston....
Next up... Friday night at Down The Road Beer Co.'s Kick Off the Fall party...