Two Pints Takes the Road Less Traveled

img_0542This past weekend we found ourselves trekking up to New England once again, though this time heading to Boston for the weekend to celebrate Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th (!) birthday. It wouldn’t be a Two Pints trip without a smattering of brewery visits interspersed with family time. One of our favorite past times is seeking out local breweries in areas we pass through on our way to our various destinations — it helps break up long drives and gives us an opportunity to visit breweries we may not otherwise get to see. We were excited to see that Two Roads Brewing Co, located in Stratford, CT, was just a few minutes off Route 95 north, about a third of the way through the state and just under three hours from the Lehigh Valley. Looking back over our extensive Instagram collection, we were surprised by how many Two Roads beers we have enjoyed and shared – they have been consistently solid with top-notch flavors.

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The brewery itself did not disappoint! It is housed in the former Baird press manufacturing building which was erected in 1911. The brewery makes great use of the space, stylishly blending a modern, open-air taproom overlooking the brewing area while maintaining the historic feel of the original building. The large, rectangular bar sits in the center of the taproom with seating on all sides, surrounded by some smaller tables spaced throughout. The taproom creates a jovial inviting atmosphere perfect for enjoying their beer. Speaking of beer, we didn’t have a beer we didn’t like from the ten we sampled in our flights. We tried most of the year-round options, including their best-selling Honeyspot Road IPA, Worker’s Comp Saison, Road2Ruin Double IPA, and the Nitro Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout — out of this group, the Double IPA and the Coffee Stout were our favorites. It’s not east to find a perfectly balanced double IPA that doesn’t leave you feeling punched in the mouth by hops, but is bitter enough to leave you craving your next sip; however, Two Roads has absolutely mastered that art in the Road2Ruin.  The coffee stout was also a delight — strong and flavorful cold-brew taste with a clean finish, perfect for the chilly weather.  We also imbibed some of their more limited releases.  img_0540-1We were impressed by the Miles 2 Go, an unfiltered pale ale brewed using decoction mashing, an intensive multi-step mash process thought to be the best method to fully release the malt flavors. The labor paid off in this beer, as it had an incredibly full flavor of hops as well as the sweeter malt taste — it was far more complex and interesting in taste than your standard pale ale. We love our history, so it is exciting when brewers pay homage to old methods of the craft. We also sampled a pilot release beer, the Field Yield Pale Ale. This beer was brewed with fresh citrus and floral-forward hops grown and harvested from the brewery’s own hopyard. It is described as having “fresh and hoppy effervescence,” which is accurate — the freshness of the hops give it a bright, bursting, yet light bitterness with clear notes of citrus and grapefruit.

All in all, we were downright bummed to have to leave Two Roads to continue on our journey. It is a fantastic brewery to visit with a great vibe and even better beers. Excitingly, Two Roads recently broke ground on Area Two Experimental Brewing which will be built adjacent to the current brewery and will feature Brett, sour, and spirit-based beers. It is set to open in Fall of 2018, so keep an eye out for their new releases.

Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews of Trillium Brewing, Downeast Cider, and Harpoon Brewing! Check out other brewery reviews here.

Cheers!

Bethany and Mike

Local Brewers Collaborate Earlier than Planned

Eight minutes earlier, to be precise. When two of our favorite local breweries come together for a collaboration beer, we get pretty damn excited. The intrepid minds behind Bonn Place of Bethlehem and Lost Tavern of Hellertown got together and released Eight Minutes Early, a full bodied double cream ale with vanilla, cocoa, and Monocacy Creek Coffee served on traditional draft or nitro. On its own, it is rich and smooth with a strong coffee backbone brewed with the rare and difficult to find Souther Star hops from South Africa. However, this beer shines brightest when each brewery introduced their own unique twist to a cask version with variations aptly named Fire and Ice. Bonn brewed the Fire version which introduced cinnamon and cayenne peppers to finish it off. The additions really round out the beer and add some kick. The spice is subtle but builds slowly on the palate and after a couple sips you will notice a pleasing burn.

Lost Tavern brewed the Ice cask, which added spearmint and peppermint to the original brew. This one is truly unique and complex akin to a peppermint mocha coffee. You can definitely skip that piece of gum for the ride home.

To try both cask varieties, you’ll have to visit both breweries, so be sure to plan ahead. While you are at Bonn Place, also give the Nice Item Northeast Pale Ale a try. It’s a cloudy and dank pale ale loaded with hoppy goodness and represents a rare departure from Bonn’s typical English-style beers. At Lost Tavern, be sure to also check out the recently released Udderly Lost – a toasty, chocolate-forward milk stout.

Check them all out at Bonn Place and Lost Tavern and let us know what you think! It’s always a blast to have a beer and chat with Sam from Bonn and Tony of Lost Tavern. And don’t forget – it’s BYO pink flamingo at Bonn Place, so follow the flamingo link to find the cheesiest lawn ornament to add to Sam’s burgeoning collection.


Check out our other posts featuring our favorite local (and not so local) breweries here!

Cheers,

Mike and Bethany

Henniker Brewing Co.

Deep in south central New Hampshire is Henniker Brewing Company, in the town of Henniker, west of Concord and right by Pat’s Peak ski resort. At five years old, the brews reflect maturity and complexity, with accolades from local and national competitions. While staying classic with New England style hoppy beers, they also offer some more malt forward options, including a porter, tripel, and quad.

  • Where are we? Henniker, NH at the Henniker Brewing Co.
  • Why are we here? Cruising through NH on our fall getaway

  • What are we drinking? Miles and miles dry-hopped IPA. Hop Slinger IPA. The Only Way IPA. Working Man’s Porter.
  • Standout brews – Damn Sure IPA was excellent – strong and hoppy with a lightly malty character. The Flap Jack maple double brown is set to be released next week. We got a sneak preview today and loved the subtle maple flavor from Vermont maple syrup (from the Henniker Brewing’s accountant’s tree farm!) without the cloying sweetness usually associated with maple syrup.

  • How’s the vibe? Despite being in an industrial building, the wooden bar and family-style tables lend a cozy charm. The open garage bay lets it lots of fresh NH air and light.
  • Bottom line? Perfect spot for awesome brews and relaxed atmosphere. Staff are quite knowledgeable and make you feel welcome from the start. A great NH gem!

River Roost Brewery

If you ever find yourself tucked along the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, this little spot offers a great sampling of classic New England hoppy beers. Open since February 2016, pales and IPAs are clearly their specialty, and today they had five hoppy varieties for us to try.

  • Where are we? White River Junction, VT at River Roost Brewery
  • Why are we here? Cruising around central Vermont as part of our fall getaway

  • What are we drinking? Samples of their five beers on tap – Swamp Monster in Love pale ale, Front Porch Pickin’ IPA with local malt, Mo’rilla IPA, Mas Verde IPA, and Feet First: Idaho 7 single hop IPA
  • Standout brews? Our favorite was the Swamp Monster pale ale due to its classic northeastern hoppy bite but complex flavor profile.
  • How’s the vibe? Relaxed and small, standing room only. They serve free samples and growler fills only, but you can grab a pint of their stuff at Big Fatty’s BBQ across the street. Staff was friendly and knowledgeable.
  • Bottom line? A great spot to try some high quality local brews and grab a cold growler to go.

Harpoon Brewery, Vermont

  • Where are we? Windsor, Vermont
  • What are we doing here? Checking out the local Harpoon Brewery tap house as part of our annual fall getaway
  • What are we drinking? Mike – a flight with the Dark dunkel (because he likes to say “dunkel”), Flannel Friday, Hoppy Adventure, and Nana’s Nightcap porter. Bethany – a flight of UFO White, Take 5 session IPA, Flannel Friday, and Oktoberfest

  • Standout brews? We loved the Flannel Friday (how hipster of us) for its caramel malt-forward taste with a lightly bitter finish. We also enjoyed the Dark dunkel for being toasty and flavorful but extremely drinkable. Also because you get to say dunkel.
  • Hows the vibe? Very Vermont-y, with stacks of firewood, mountain bikes on the wall, and a cheese shop literally next door. Spacious but cozy and comfortable. Friendly staff, but unresponsive to Mike’s jokes about dunkels.

  • How about omnoms? Get the homemade soft pretzel with a horseradish mustard and beer cheese made with Harpoon beer and local cheese (yup, from the cheese shop next door).
  • Overall recommendation? Come for a solid beer selection, delicious pretzels and cheese, but leave your lame jokes at the door.

The Best of Allentown: HiJinx, grain., and Cork and Cage

This past weekend Mike and I spent a beautiful fall day in Allentown exploring three of the best spots for beer in the third largest city in Pennsylvania: HiJinx Brewery, Cork and Cage bottle shop, and grain. restaurant. Allentown has been experiencing a bit of a revival through an influx of new restaurants and businesses in addition to the shiny new PPL Center in the middle of the city, which hosts the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, our professional hockey team. Our three stops highlight some of the best of Allentown for beer enthusiasts, but there is far more to check out in the city if you find yourself in the area.

We started our journey at HiJinx, which is located in an unassuming small business incubator building, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, on the outskirts of downtown Allentown. With humble roots in a 400-square-foot garage, Hijinx brewmaster Curt Keck has expanded from a single barrel brewing system to a 10-barrel system in 2014 with distribution with many bars in the area. His beers have also grown in complexity and originality over the years, which was clear during our visit. We recently enjoyed their offerings when we attended the Lehigh Valley Brewers’ Guild Beerfest several weeks prior. At the brewery, they offer a (very affordable) sampling flight of all six draft beers, which we happily imbibed.
We especially loved the CitraSqueeze IPA, which is brewed with only the Citra hop variety, giving it a bright, bitter and full-bodied flavor profile. We also loved the Mischief Night Pumpkin Ale, which is an imperial pumpkin that was not overly spiced, as many pumpkin beers can be. It was dark, smooth, and malty with just enough pumpkin spice flavor to remind you what season we’re in.

All that beer sampling gave us quite an appetite, so we then headed over to grain. restaurant on Hamilton Street in the center of Allentown’s downtown district. The restaurant scene in the Lehigh Valley has been steadily growing and improving over the years, with many options for everything from cozy pub fare to fine dining throughout the region. We had been excited to try grain., as we are longtime fans of the Bayou in Bethlehem, which shares the same owners. They offer a unique menu with classed up comfort food, like soy glazed pork belly (a must!), chicken and waffles, and root beer glazed brisket. Their beer menu is a real winner with plenty of beers you don’t typically see in your average local restaurant. Moreover, they have 24 beers on tap and a solid bottle list, so you will definitely find something you like. We hit up the draft list – Mike enjoyed some Sole Turbo Nerd, which is a fantastic IPA from a local brewer. I was smitten by an experimental beer from Victory, the Blackboard #4 Hazelnut Oatmeal Porter.

The hazelnut flavor was overt in smell and taste, which, paired with the chocolatey porter backbone, made the beer taste like it was infused with Nutella. My fingers are crossed that Victory will send this experimental beer to the bottling line!

One of the best parts of dining at grain.? Cork and Cage, which is the bottle shop right next door  to the restaurant. Cork and Cage is owned by grain. and is jam packed with an unreal selection of beer, ranging from local PA varieties to hard-to-find Belgians. They even have a couple of taps to offer growler fills in addition to their bottled selection. Mike and I were like kids on Christmas morning in the store, and before we knew it, we had armfuls of different cans and bottles to take home. The staff at Cork and Cage was knowledgeable and helpful in directing us to limited edition or difficult to find items. Check out our finds below!

See any ones you like?

If you find yourself in Allentown, be sure to check out one-or all- of these awesome stops for beer lovers.  Swing by these Allentown gems and let us know what you think!

Cheers!

Bethany

In Our Fridge: Einstök White Ale

Put on your viking horns and get ready for a killer beer hailing from Iceland, the Einstök White Ale. After spotting the White Ale only twice before at different bars, I was incredibly excited to find this recently stocked at a nearby Wegman’s to imbibe at home. Einstök, which is derived from the Icelandic word for “unique,” is an up-and-coming brewery located near the northern coast of Iceland in the fishing village of Akureyri. At just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle and surrounded by rugged Icelandic mountain wilderness, Einstök brews with what must be some of the purest water on the planet – and it shows.

The White Ale is a traditional Belgian-style wit beer brewed with Bavarian Noble hops, Wheat and Pilsner Malts, and Oats. It is light-bodied, crisp and well balanced, but truly shines with its refreshing citrus and coriander finish that really got me hooked.  The addition of oats seems to smooth out the flavor and add more depth than the typical wit beer. I generally prefer higher gravity beers and do not often get very excited about wits, but this beauty truly stands out from the competition due to its clarity and brightness in flavor. At a modest 5.2% ABV you can drink these all afternoon without overdoing it.

Harness your inner viking.

Other offerings from Einstök include the Arctic Pale Ale, Doppelbock, Toasted Porter, and Arctic Berry. I really look forward to trying more from them and hopefully one day getting to Iceland to check out their brewery. Their slogan is “Drekktu, Sigradu, Endurtaktu!” – Drink, conquer, repeat! Sounds good to me.

If you see this beer, pick some up and let us know what you think. Don’t forget to check out our other beer reviews here.

Cheers!

Mike and Bethany