Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I've visited some small breweries in my travels. But none has been as pint sized as Canterbury Aleworks.
This brewery, with it's one barrel system, is so small it can't even be classified as a micro-brewery. It is a nano brewery. And, as such, there are special laws in New Hampshire that apply to this special category of breweries.
A nano brewery is really not much more than a case of a home brewer gone wild. By law, these tiny breweries can produce no more than 2000 gallons of beer a year. The upside is that nano brewers pay a discounted fee for their brewery license and they get a pass on some of the usual brewpub restrictions. A downside is that they must self distribute their beer, but if you can get rabid craft brewers to come to you then that little problem is solved. There is, of course, all kinds of other legal mumbo-jumbo involved but I'm not getting into that.
I have to say this was absolutely the coolest brewery I've ever been to. It is located on a working family farm with chickens and oxen and geese and sheep. The the bacon pod oinked at me and the barn kitties let me pet them. Yeah, I like the animals. Besides the plethora of domestic critters, they grow hops and grain. They also raise bees. I could have spent the whole day wandering around enjoying the farm but I was really there for the beer.
The Aleman - AKA Steve Allman - has taken his brewery off the grid. Canterbury AleWorks is water powered and wood fired. His efforts at self-sufficiency and sustainability also extend to the brewery toilet, but I'll let you discover that particular wonder for yourself.
During my visit, the Aleman himself poured up ten individual and unique brews, including a couple that he pulled directly from the fermenters for my tasting pleasure. It was a pleasure, indeed! I can honestly say I liked every single beer; some more than others, of course, but the Aleman rocks!
In a time when many brewers are competing to make the biggest, boldest, most intense beers, Canterbury AleWorks recipes lean the other direction. All the beers are simply good tasty beers with reasonable alcohol content.
Be Hoppy! (6.5% ABV) is a good solid IPA. Plenty of hoppy goodness without tastebud stripping bitterness. The mostly resin and floral hops meld nicely with mildly sweet malt to make for a good balanced brew. Tasty.
davESBeer (5.7% ABV) is an Extra Special Bitter. I actually had two different tastes of this brew. One from the tap and one from the fermenter. Why? Because the one on tap was somehow off; not in a bad way which is why the Aleman was serving it up. I liked the tapped version but the one from the fermenter was even better and definitely quite different. The beer, as designed, is malty with hints of caramel and brown sugar. It is way less bitter than I expected but it was very good. I liked it.
Y U Do Dhat (5.3% ABV) is what the Aleman describes as an Acci-Dunkel Weizen. It was an accident gone right- Kolsch yeast in the heffeweizen. The crispness of a kolsch mingling with the fruity goodness of wheaty heffeweizen brew made this a really interesting and tasty beer. I think this mistake is a keeper!
Alter Ego (5.0% ABV) is a German AltBier. Creamy in the mouth with nice carbonation. Nutty roasty malts mingle with caramel sweetness complimented but a hint of fruit. A good example of the style. Yum!
Light Ale (5.1% ABV) is a German Kolsch that is crisp and refreshing just like a kolsch should be. A nice grainy back bone with just the right amount of bittering hops. Clean and bright and quite delish!
Old Darn Bard (3.8% ABV) is British Brown Ale. This brew might have converted me from being meh about brown ales to actually liking them. This is a nice light brown ale that is slightly sweet, a little nutty and totally slam-back-able. Exceptional drinkablility in this one! Mmm, mmm, mmmm.
Granite Ledge Stout (4.5% ABV) is an Espresso Oatmeal Stout that has the creamy smoothness of an oatmeal stout with a nice hit of coffee flavor. Roasty and mildly bitter, this brew offers up a mouthful of stout goodness but somehow manages to be light and quaffable. Yep, they roast their own coffee beans, too. Quite nice.
Canterbury Ale (5.5% ABV) is an American Pale Ale. The tap was out on this brew but the Aleman gave me a pull from the fermenter. Despite being at the less than optimal drinking temperature, this was a nice tasty beer.
Val-Halla Weizen (5.4% ABV) is a Bavarian Hefe Weizen. This beer was by far and away my favorite beer. Sweet, wheaty with all the amazing flavors that Hefeweizens are known for. The banana flavor stood out the most but there was some clove lingering in the background and the finish had an almost bubblegum like quality. Fresh and drinkable and, well, simply awesome!!
Multigrain Weisscracker is a, well, obviously a witbier of some sort. A new brew by the Aleman, I got a taste straight from the fermenter. A lovely cloudy as all get out lemon yellow. As the name implies, the beer is grainy, biscuity with a good dose of wheat. Light, fresh and very tasty. I hope I get to taste the finished product. That's good beer!
Uhm, I got so thirsty for a Canterbury Aleworks beer writing this blog post that I busted into my growlitta of Val-Halla . . . nom!