As you enter Pembroke from the south on Main Street, moments after you cross the Suncook River you are struck by the unmistakable clocktower on the left and small shopfronts ahead. Before you know it, you are fully in the grip of a quintessential small New England town. Just before passing the clocktower, turn right onto Glass Street, and Oddball Brewing will be on your left. It’s a small building, but stands out with its “BEER” sign on the side, plus a few modest “Oddball” signs. One hundred years ago, it was a saloon, more recently an office building.
My wife and I ventured here for the first time following a late May birthday party in Pembroke. On that nice almost-summer day, we opened the front screen door to find the proprietor engaged in conversation with a seated couple and their dog. All were friendly and my wife and I were quickly sipping a couple of beers while sitting near the serving area. She chose a saison and I had a Belgian blond. As we chatted the dog would occasionally come over and lean on my leg for some petting.
After such a pleasant visit, I returned a week later to try more of their beers. Both of my visits were on weekends when they were not brewing. I asked if they ever had customers hang out while they were brewing. They replied that the building would make that difficult since it got pretty hot inside when brewing.
The building is naturally divided into three areas. Just inside the front door is the first area: the taps, a small bar for serving, some seating and a bathroom. A bit further in, the building divides into two floors. Up half a flight of stairs is another small seating area; down half a flight is the brewing and canning area. A common ceiling covers all the areas, yielding some spaciousness and letting all see down into the brewing area.
Oddball Brewing originally opened in 2015, launched by Bill Walden and Mark Ferguson, two enthusiast home brewers who met while working as respiratory therapists at Concord Hospital. After six years running the brewery, a variety of factors caused them to move in other directions, putting Oddball up for sale. Enter Chris Glenn and Joe Friolet, also enthusiastic brewers. They bought the facility and worked with the original owners for a while to learn the ropes and idiosyncrasies of the space, finally opening on their own, brewing many of the same recipes while slowly adding their own.
When I returned for my second visit, they had eight beers on tap, which is their norm — though occasionally they might have fewer. Eight beers on tap, hmmm — obviously I needed a flight of all eight! That’s what I ordered and they were happy to oblige. I stood at the bar and chatted as I drank.
So, a brewery in New England in 2022 with eight beers on tap? Probably several are IPAs, right? Thankfully, no, they have avoided that trend. Only one of their beers was an IPA, and it was only singly hopped, not doubly nor triply. And actually, it was not an extremely hoppy IPA. I personally found it delicious, though big IPA fans might differ.
While delicious, it was not my favorite. Out of eight beers, I enjoyed them all, and that’s a somewhat rare occurrence for me. I expected that perhaps the Nymph Belgian Blond would be my favorite, and while it was good, its mild flavor was really squeezed into the background by many of the others who had their flavor turned up to eleven or beyond. The Vow of Silence Trippel was a delicious cousin to the Belgian Blond — a cousin that had a gym membership and pumped a lot of iron. Outstanding flavor.
The Suncook Lager was also good but I think my favorite was the Blue Nova Blueberry and Basil Saison. The flavor was delicious and a bit mysterious, in fact I had to ask Chris and Joe, “OK there’s fruit in here, but I’m not sure what…?” And they filled me in. It was decidedly not a sour, and was not as sweet as some fruity beers can be. The combination of basil and blueberry produced a very pleasant but not obvious flavor. It also was not in-your-face powerful – let’s say 10.5 instead of 11.
But truly I would be very happy with a growler of any of their beers.
Six of their eight beers were available in cans, they allow mixing of cans into four-packs, and they’re happy to fill clean growlers labeled with either their logo or NO logo. So after you’ve found your favorites following a flight, it’s easy to take some home.
|Vow of Silence — Trippel||10.5|
|OddAle — Olde English Ale aged in Rum Barrels||10.1|
|Siren Stout — Irish Imperial Stout||8.2|
|Ball Bearing IPA||7.1|
|Blue Nova — Blueberry and Basil Saison||5.7|
|Top Down Wheat||4.8|
|Nymph Belgian Blonde||4.0|
|Oddball Beers in late May 2022|
Oddball Brewing is located at 6 Glass Street, Pembroke NH 03275.
They are open: Friday 3-7 p.m., Saturday 1-6 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m.