B1rthr1ght Brew1ng Hits the Ground Running

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Something feels different in the air in the quaint, sleepy downtown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Could it be the throngs of new faces dipping into the local businesses along the historic main roads? Town gossip about wood fired pizzas and local beer? A subtle scent of hops and malted grains in the air? Thanks to B1rthr1ght Brew1ng Company, the answer is all of the above. B1rthr1ght Brew1ng opened at 57 S. Main Street in early February 2018 after years of planning and preparation. It is the first brewery to open its doors in the town of Nazareth, and it has already taken a lead in breathing fresh air into the historic downtown. We recently visited the brewery to check out the new space, imbibe some brews, and chat with brewmaster Wayne Milford.

img_1879Wayne has an impressive resume when it comes to brewing. He has over 20 years of brewing experience under his belt, including a long stint with Dogfish Head, a tour of brewing with some heavy-hitting European breweries, and designing and establishing six different craft breweries around the country. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has a degree in Intensive Brewing Science from Vermont’s American Brewers Guild. At long last, B1rthr1ght Brew1ng represents Wayne’s time to fully embrace his knowledge and passion with a brewery of his own. Ask Wayne about his brewing technique, and his love for all things beer becomes immediately palpable. His expertise extends to all aspects of the brewing process, including harvesting, testing, and utilizing his own yeast for brewing. Although he considers himself an “IPA guy,” his brewing skills extend to many varieties of beer, ranging from lagers to sours to Belgians. img_1876The philosophy behind B1rthr1ght Brew1ng encompasses not only excellent beer, but also sustainability and contribution to the local community. Wayne and his family are now Nazareth locals; the three “1s” in the brewery name represent Wayne’s three children who were a part of the brewery from its very beginnings. Similarly, B1rthr1ght Brew1ng embraces family and community through developing the “Birthright Cycle,” which will create a symbiotic partnership with local farmers and vendors to minimize waste and maximize the grassroots community feel of the brewery and Nazareth as a whole. Tasting the local flavors through freshly brewed beer is one of the greatest parts of local craft brewing, and B1rthr1ght Brew1ng is truly capitalizing on it. Wayne is currently brewing off-site and is (im)patiently waiting for his brewing equipment to arrive at B1rthr1ght within the next five weeks or so. We can’t wait to see the Cycle fully in action.

img_1871We found ourselves in hop heaven while sampling their draft beers. We tried three varieties of IPA and a pale ale. One of our favorites was The Constable, their double IPA. This beer captured everything we love about IPAs — a bright juicy snap that quenches your thirst with a floral bitter finish, coming in at 8.4%. Endlessly quaff-able. We also loved Mosaic Mirrors, a double dry hopped double IPA at 8.2% ABV that showcases big fruity flavors, a soft, smooth mouthfeel, and a hefty dose of dry hopping with mosaic, citra, and moteuka hops. The beers all showed maturity in flavor profile and reflect Wayne’s decades of brewing experience. He spoke mysteriously of some more exciting brews to come in the near future, but for now we will have to wait and see what he has in store.

img_1880Now, on to the pizza. Oh, did we not mention the pizza? Yup, they have skilled chefs, a big open kitchen, and a wood-burning oven serving up thin crust, perfectly crispy gourmet pizzas that are top notch. We tried the “Sir Mallard Newton” (that name!) which features duck confit, figs, caramelized onion, baby arugula, balsamic, and lardons. It was stellar. You can also find some salads and sammies on the menu.

img_1878B1rthr1ght Brew1ng truly captures the spirit of craft brewing through its impeccable beers, delicious food, and commitment to the local community. Swing by for a beer (or three) and chat with any of their friendly and passionate staff to hear about it for yourself. Their official grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will be Wednesday, April 18th from 5-7pm. Congratulations to Wayne and his team on this new adventure!

Cheers,

Bethany and Mike

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

Plan a Beercation to Vermont and Maine

Hey, Lehigh Valley! Looking to take a beer-inspired vacation in Vermont and Maine? We have a plan for you to make the most of your trip, including where to stay, what to do, and of course, what to drink. We took a trip a couple weeks ago and whittled down our adventure to the perfect plan for a 5-7 day beercation in beautiful New England, home to the best of the ubiquitous NE-style IPA. If you time it right, you can also get some great hiking and fall foliage in, or you can hit the slopes at one of the many nearby ski resorts. Here’s your itinerary:

Day 1: Hit the road and head up to Woodstock, VT. Look for a historic New England-style bed and breakfast, a local ski resort, or even one of many campgrounds in the area. If you have enough time,  you’ll be able to hit some breweries on your way north. Newburgh Brewing Company and Keegan Ales are just a few minutes off 87, as well as a flurry of other breweries in New York State. Choose your pit stops wisely since you have to get back in your car and drive a few more hours. Don’t drink and drive, kids.

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Enjoying the Rock Art Brewing’s Ridge Runner at the top of Mt. Ascutney

Day 2: Enjoy the village of Woodstock! Woodstock is quaint, historic, and full of New England charm with a heavy dollop of artsy, free-range organic pottery types. They are also home to a noteworthy beer store that has lots of unique finds and a load of local Vermont beers – Woodstock Hops and Barley.  Once you’re stocked up on beer, cruise over to Mt. Ascutney and either hike the full climb or drive up the mountain and hike the 1 mile to the summit and observation tower for stunning 360 degree views. If you are interested in museums, the Billings Farm & Museum offers history on Vermont’s rural life, with farming demos and livestock. After your exercise and/or education, Head over to Harpoon Brewery Riverbend,, which is about 20 minutes southeast of Woodstock.

95f416ea-f7cd-46db-a8e5-5cb0c61beb7a-1This is an outpost from Harpoon’s main gig in Boston, MA. It sits right along the Connecticut River at the border of VT and NH. It is delightfully quiet and low-key during the mid-week, off-season time and has excellent beers and delicious house-made soft pretzels (mmmmbeercheese). Head back to Woodstock for dinner at Worthy Kitchen which focuses on farm food and craft beer. We sipped on some local New England beers and Vermont hard cider while munching on poutine and wings.

 

Another Vermont brew at the Quechee Gorge

Day 3: Head east and visit the Quechee Gorge, which sits along the Connecticut River at the divide between Vermont and New Hampshire. Pull over and walk onto the bridge that spans the gorge for a beautiful (and slightly terrifying) photo opportunity. The Quechee Gorge Village is adorably kitschy (and it’s fun to say “kitschy Quechee”) and houses a Cabot cheese store (yum!), alpaca store (with live alpacas you can pet), bakery, souvenir shops, and most importantly, Vermont Spirits distillery. We were impressed by the distillery’s unique gins and spirits infused with Vermont maple syrup and honey. Once you get your fill of kitsch, cruise a bit farther east to River Roost Brewery, which is a small brewery with free (!) samples of 4-5 beers on tap. They had a great selection of NE IPAs when we visited. They don’t pour full pints, but across the road at Big Fatty’s BBQ, you can grab a pint and some amazing barbecue – we recommend the brisket mac ‘n’ cheese.

Day 4: Time to make your way over to Ogunquit, Maine. We found a great bed and breakfast in the oldest building in Ogunquit and had a wonderful stay – Black Boar Inn. Heading east through New Hampshire, you can make a pit stop or two at some fantastic breweries on the way. Don’t miss Henniker Brewing Co. which was one of our favorites of the trip.  It is tucked away in rural NH and we loved its friendly staff, cozy and comfortable vibe, and delicious brews. You can also find a number of breweries in Manchester, NH — however note that many of them don’t open until 4pm, so you’ll have to time your visits accordingly. Once you’re settled into your room in Ogunquit, you can ditch your car and get around the town and beach on foot. It has a stunning walking path right along the water that takes you through Ogunquit and up to Perkins Cove, where you can find the ultimate lobster roll for a classic Maine meal.

Day 5: Depending on the length of your stay and willingness to drive around Maine, one option would be to spend the day in Ogunquit and enjoy the boutique shops, restaurants, and ice cream shops while relaxing on the beach. Another option would be to make the 50-minute drive up to Portland, ME, which is one of the meccas of craft beer in New England. There are loads of them — you could spend a whole weekend there and not run out of breweries to sample.  Prior to heading into Portland, we had chatted with some locals about their favorite breweries to visit in Portland, and Bissell Brothers was mentioned quite a bit. One local said that it will probably be mobbed, as it is the “hot brewery” this year. Portland apparently has one brewery every year that all the cool kids go to, and this is the year of Bissell. Well, sometimes we want to feel like cool kids, so we planned our first stop to be Bissell Brothers. We arrived five minutes after they opened, walked in the door, and immediately walked back out. It was a big, airy space that was positively swarming with customers. If you’re up for a long wait and crowds to get a killer pint, it may be worth it. We didn’t want to spend half the day waiting in line so instead headed into Old Portland. We grabbed a lobster melt (so good) at Eastender and imbibed from their small but mighty list of Maine brews, finally getting a pint of Bissell Brothers (it was delicious) and an IPA from Maine Beer Company (also delicious). We then made our way to Liquid Riot Bottling Co. in Old Portland along the waterfront and nabbed seats that overlook the wharf. They had an awesome DIPA – the Beer Has No Name (+1 for Game of Thrones reference) that went down perfectly with a bowl of New England mussels and cockels. You may run into signs for Sebago Brewing Company — this would be one to skip. It was impersonal and felt like the Applebee’s of craft beer, housed in a Comfort Suites in Portland. Driving home from Portland we’d recommend two pit stops – one for lobster rolls, and another at Barreled Souls Brewing Co.. We loved the atmosphere at Barreled Souls — cozy, dark interior and a lawn area outside with Adirondack chairs and cornhole. They boasted some of the most unique beers we saw on the trip, with lots of funky sours and barrel-aged monsters.  Finish up your evening with artisanal pizza and craft beer at Cornerstone, a walk on the gorgeous Ogunquit beach at sunset, and some hilarity at the local piano bar.

Day 6: Try to quell your state of depression when realizing it is time to head home after such an idyllic beercation. Heading back down to PA, you can make one or two more pit stops at breweries in NH. We visited the largest brewery of the trip, Smuttynose Brewing Company. It’s a great choice to stop if you are in the area and interested in checking out a larger production system and a range of high quality beers (and lots of cute merch with the Smuttynose seal logo). They have a great on-site restaurant which is perfect for lunch. If you have more time, you can also visit the fishing village town of Portsmouth, which is home to a few craft breweries and a lovely waterfront. Five hours later, you’ll arrive back in the Valley, ready to brag to your friends about your amazing beercation.

This trip is easily adjusted for length of stay/activities/time of year. We can’t wait to visit the area again, especially Portland, ME to check out more of their craft beer scene. Thinking of having your own NE beercation? Tell us about it below!

Local beer and beautiful beach. What more do you need?

Stoneface Brewing Co. Full Clip IPA

We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we walked into Un-Dun; your friendly neighborhood bottle shop/cigar shop/vape lounge/sex shop in Lebanon, NH. But we wound up finding a huge selection of unique New England beers. One in particular that the owner was raving about was the Full Clip IPA; a limited release from Stoneface Brewing Company in Newington, NH that he claimed was one of the best beers he’s had. Apparently distribution of this local favorite is so limited that he is only able to get one case at a time a couple of times per year. But you’re in luck if you live near Newington –   you can buy 4-packs of the good stuff right at the brewery.

After the glowing recommendation, we picked up a cold one and headed to a sunny lakeside picnic area in Pillsbury State Park to try out the Full Clip with a cigar and it definitely did not disappoint!  It is light and crisp with a pleasing aroma of grapefruit and pine which you can smell as soon as you pop the can. Stoneface added an English ale yeast to their flagship IPA recipe that brings a little peppery spice to the table.  The malts are very nicely balanced, not too sweet, and allow the hops to truly be the star of the show.

Bottom line: This is a great beer that left me wanting even more of those juicy, citrusy hops. If you love IPAs, this one will definitely not let you down.

Smuttynose Brewing Company

Heading home from vacation sucks. But drinking Smuttynose does not. Fortunately for us, their brewery is tucked in the woods of Hampton, NH which happened to be right on our route home. This one huge brewery handles all of the brewery’s production and distribution.  Additionally, visitors can head over to the Hayseed restaurant adjacent to the brewery. A historic home with outdoor seating, it offers the perfect setting to get pints of a ton of Smutty beers and well as some guest taps while enjoying a bowl of smoked New England seafood chowder.

Where are we? Smuttynose Brewing Co. Hampton, NH

What are we drinking? We tasted everything that they currently have in their taproom: the Finest Kind IPA, Octoberfest, Really Old Dog brown ale, Rhye IPA, Pumpkin Ale, Robust Porter, Weizenbock, and the Orville farmhouse ale.

Standout brews: You can never go wrong with their flagship Finest Kind IPA, but two of our other favorites were the Orville and the Wiezenbock. Both are productions of the Smuttlab, an experimental branch of Smuttynose that focuses on unique, small-batch beers. The Orville is a farmhouse saison with a rich complexity of sweet, tart, and peppery notes. The Weizenbock is a pretty traditional dark wheat beer with a pleasing yeast-y backbone. We also had the DIPA #4 at the Hayseed which was a hoppy, piney double IPA well worth a try.

How’s the vibe? This is a big, regional brewery with highly refined beers. The tasting room area is a little small and gets packed, so time your visit to be during off-peak hours. The outdoor seating at the Hayseed is a great place to hang out for lunch or just a few pints.  Overall, an excellent brewery to visit if you’re in the area!

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!