Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: Henniker Brewing's first ales reaching retailers
Let's start with a quick review of some statistics:
Number of microbreweries in the U.S. in 1980: 8.
By 1994: 537.
Today: More than 2,000.
Today's number includes several right here in New Hampshire, including one of the newest: the Henniker Brewing Company in, yes, Henniker, founded in May of 2011 by David Currier, Chase Hand and Gregory Bolton.
The process of setting up a brewery involves lots more than just getting the equipment. Once the decision is made to go forward, then the real work begins: Design a brewery; order the equipment you need to make beer; apply for the appropriate licenses; find the people you want to work with; build, build, build, involving companies from New Hampshire to Oregon; and finally, bring in hops, malt, et al, and start brewing - which Henniker Brewing did at the end of 2012.
The brewery is located at 129 Centervale Road in Henniker, and they are just sending their first (very good) beers out into the world. I found these at Bert's Better Beers in Hooksett. Let's take a look:
Amber Apparition American Amber Ale, $7.95, 5.2% abv. Amber ale with hints of dark orange, under a light tan frothy/creamy head that slowly diminishes. The nose is malt, with some slight hops in the background.
The palate is off-dry with medium-plus bitterness (the hops speaking), medium acidity, low carbonation, medium alcohol that is well-integrated, medium body and texture, and flavors of caramel, grain, cereal, coffee, hints of toastiness, and citrusy bitterness with some herbal hints.
Hop Slinger IPA, $7.95, 6.5% abv. We just saw the malt - now the hops. Large, creamy head that slowly diminishes, good carbonation, gold-amber beer, low malt nose, medium-plus hops intensity with citrus and lemon on the nose, floral notes, grapefruit coming to the fore very quickly.
It's a dry beer, with medium-plus bitterness, good acidity, medium carbonation, medium alcohol that is also well-integrated in a harmonious blend, medium body and texture, medium-plus flavor intensity with hops, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, floral notes and herbal notes in the background.
Lots of variety and a good long finish. Good balance, length and complexity.
These guys are doing very good work right from the get-go, and their beers are certainly worth a try. If you'd like to learn more, check out hennikerbrewing.com.
Next Week: A great mid-range Pinot Noir from New Hampshire distributor Pat Dunn, and five beers from Italy (yes, there's more there than Peroni).
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.