Manchester takes pride in having the tallest building in the whole state of New Hampshire. It's also the largest city in the state. So, naturally they have a bar, Strange Brew Tavern, with the largest number of taps in the area as well. They advertise 65 beers on tap at www.strangebrewtavern.net, but it was closer to 45 last night during my visit. This isn't nearly the selection you would find in nearby Boston, but when the bar is a three-block walk from your hotel, it's much more convenient.
Walking into the non-descript building just off the main street in Manchester, I wasn't expecting much, but once you enter and see the taps packed in tightly behind the bar, you know this isn't a place to come drink bad beer. Excitedly, I saw they had several selections of Harpoon on tap, which is a beer you can only find up in the New England area as a general rule. I've tried and tried to find it anywhere in Texas, in bottle or tap, and nobody can get it. I've even emailed the brewery directly, and they explained they don't have plans to distribute to Texas at this point in time. I blame the stupid Texas alcohol laws. The brewery is based in Boston, and if you are in the area, I strongly recommend their signature IPA, as well as their Hefeweizen.
To start, the Harpoon Winter Warmer. It's another Christmas style ale style strong on the cinnamon and nutmeg, and I can't get enough of it. It was at this moment of ordering that a grumpy old man next to me complained "It isn't winter yet." I explained that I was from Texas, and if it was 30 degrees outside, then damnit, it's winter. And let me drink my beer.
Next up was the Otter Creek (Vermont) Stovepipe Porter. It had potential, but was served too cold. I tried to let it sit for awhile to bring out the flavor more, but I was thirsty. Overall an average porter.
Old Thumper (Maine) Cask Conditioned came next. It was a traditional pale ale, but with the extra cask goodness. It was a nice and smooth beer, but after the last two beers, I think my taste buds were burned out a little bit. Above average still.
After this I went back to the Harpoon Winter Warmer. Did I explain it was $2 pint night for local beers? That was the best part since all the local beers are not local to me. The locals seem to really like this place on Tuesday nights.
Next up: Milly's Tavern. The only brewpub in Manchester, and I'm sure they have claim to some kind of New Hampshire record as well.
11 Below Brewing
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