Brew News: Call it a cask comeback! There’s no shortage of beer treats to share on Valentine’s Day

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Casks are back!

Casks are making a comeback, and with Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, there’s no shortage of rare treats to indulge in — from barleywine blends and sweet stouts to fruited sours.

Able Ebenezer

Last Friday (Feb. 5), Able Ebenezer Brewing Company in Merrimack released Man of Talent (6.5 percent), a milk stout. It’s described as rich with dark chocolate notes, and a touch of sweetness from the lactose. It’s available at the brewery and via Able’s distro direct service. Order online at

Great North

Great North Aleworks in Manchester has a number of new beers on tap, including its fourteenth batch of Hazy Rotation (5.8 percent), their rotating New England IPA. This batch is made with a blend of Amarillo, Citra and El Dorado hops, which lend it aromas and flavors of candied pineapple and juicy navel orange. Brewers say it has a soft mouthfeel and a light finish. It’s available on tap in the tasting room, in growlers to-go and in cans.

Head to the taproom to try out their newest version of their barrel-aged English-style barleywine called Cave Bear (10.7 percent). Brewers aged the original beer, created by the 2017 New England Regional Homebrew Competition winner Phil Nerboso of Norfolk, Massachusetts, for two years in bourbon barrels and blended it with a fresh batch of barleywine. The result, brewers say, is a rich, bright and complex example of the style. 

Cave Bear is available, both its original version and the barrel-aged version, in the tasting room and in cans through a limited release throughout New Hampshire and Mass.

Ancient Fire

As we near Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to check out two new meads coming out at Ancient Fire Mead and Cider on Feb. 11. As we reported in the last Brew News Mashup, Only The Sexy People (7 percent) and Sparks Will Fly (7 percent) are made with cacao nibs and various fruits to get you in the mood.


Daydreaming Brewing Company in Derry is releasing two new beers next week. 

Keep your eye out for Vemily (5 percent), a German pilsner named after a couple, Vinny and Emily, who asked brewers to produce an easy-drinker for their upcoming wedding. Vemily is the brewers’ take on a classic German pils, made with 96 percent pilsner malt, a touch of Munic and balanced with Saaz hops. The result, they say, is a balanced beer with subtle bready and herbal notes. It’s available on draft only at the Daydreaming taproom.

Also out next week is I Know This Isn’t the Bitter Guys (3.5 percent), an English Mild, which will be available in cask only, at the taproom.

It’s made with a base of Maris Otter barley, combined with biscuit, brown, Caramalt and a bit of roasted barley, making a traditional English Mild that is clean and crips with a subtle bready and roasty flavor, according to the brewers. This batch will be served entirely on the brewers’ in-house hand pump, which allows all the subtle flavors to be amplified by natural carbonation at 54 degrees.

Making low-ABV, English style cask beers has been one of the primary objectives of Daydreaming since it opened in April. This is the second batch of Mild, after the first one was a hit. But taproom regulars keep asking “where’s the bitter?”, which inspired the name.


Stark Brewing Company in Manchester released two beers, which are on tap now. 

The darker of the two is Bourbon Barrel Aged Bo’s Scotch Ale (10 percent), a barrel aged version of their house Scotch Ale. It’s described as big, sweet and malty, with a hint of smokiness in the background. They’re aged in Stark’s own bourbon barrels.

Also out is DDH Cask Zilla Double IPA (8.8 percent), a smooth double dry hopped DIPA made with American hops and dry-hopped before casking.


Last Friday, (Feb. 5), Lithermans Limited in Concord re-released Throne of Gold (6 percent), a passion fruit and tangerine sour ale.

Feb. 12 will see the return of LL Cool Haze (8 percent), the house double IPA, followed by All for the Biscotti (9 percent) on Feb. 13, the latter of which is a big, rich imperial stout with chocolate and almond, plus a hint of coffee from Revelstoke Cafe in Concord.

Next up is Strangelove (6 percent), a pink guava and chardonnay sour ale, which is out on Feb. 19. And on Feb. 20, Lithermans is releasing Sails to the Wind (11.5 percent), a blonde barleywine aged in rye barrels.

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Ryan Lessard

Ryan Lessard is a freelance reporter.