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So Much Changes in So Little Time

This past Saturday, I returned to the Seacoast NH beer circuit I'd too neglected.  When Kate became pregnant, we decided to let our Smuttynose big beer subscription lapse.  What would I do with all of that delicious beer and a jealous wife?  Clearly, no good could come of it.  Should I have been suprised that the Saturday social held for the Scotch Ale's release drew a larger crowd than I recall from the mostly after-work Friday socials?  Probably not.  The fact that barrels and tankage are squeezing out every last but of available space only amplified the sense of crowdedness.  It was cool to see a couple little kids at the social.  We weren't the only ones dragging our youngster around.

The suprise is the depth, vibrancy, and frankly economic scope of the Sea Coast's beer scene.  Yes, there's now a beer bus tour.  And I've been keeping tabs on the nanos popping up like weed's along route 1.  It just didn't resonate as a success, until I walked into my favorite NH brewing story, Throwback, a few minutes before scheduled close to find not only a sizeable crowd but a staff.  Yes, it was GABF weekend, but there was a staff.  I remember when Throwback was Annette, Nicole, and a handful of fermentors named after muppets.  The brewery still operates out of what's effectively a shed in a charmless industrial park.  I know it's moving to a postcard, but the concept that the small brewrey who's only touted expansion to distribution is a couple farmer's markets has grown to support not only the acquisition of property but also some significant combination of volunteer and paid labor is just staggering.  NH is definitely taking care of it's own.

The vibrancy of course continues with Blue Lobster, who is doing a good trade in growler fills while focusing on brewing ABV beers that seem just a bit too boozy for mass consumption of a 64 oz fill. 

Its also quite impressive that the scene is supporting some expansion into higher end dining, via Kittery, ME's Black Birch while Portsmouth adds more and more tap space with a British Beer Company, and Whym.  The food and tap list at Black Birch were both excellent.  The quality is excellent, modern, and entirely unpretentious.

I was quite cynical about a craft beer having a bit of a bubble, especially along the 19 or so miles of NH's seacoast.  Given the vibrancy we witnessed on a mild fall Saturday, I'm happy to find myself so pleasantly incorrect.  Cheers!

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