As we all know, when glorious weather comes this time of year, it must be celebrated. And so it was last Friday, when the sun was bright and I had time on my hands. No better way to celebrate than a drive through beautiful countryside followed by a stop at another confluence of craft, art, chemistry, and joy. Also known as a micro-brewery.
This time, Henniker Brewing Company, a scant 26 miles from Manchester. I always forget how close it actually is. Maybe it’s the dramatic difference between downtown Manchester, largest city in New England north of Boston, compared with downtown Henniker, which could easily be Stars Hollow. (Is my inner Gilmore Girl showing?) Or maybe it’s the gradually changing countryside, which goes from city to suburbs to widely spaced homes to farmland to wooded stony hillsides. In any case, the transformation provided by those 26 miles is always enjoyable.
I knew that Henniker Brewing served no food but welcomed carry-in, so, not being a fan of beer on an empty stomach, I stopped at Sonny’s Main Street Restaurant for a steak bomb to go, with mushrooms and hot pepper relish, of course. And who should I bump into as they emerged from Sonny’s, but a trio of photography instructors from Manchester, of all places. (A chance encounter at a shop door – very Stars Hollow.) After grabbing lunch they were returning to a workshop they were teaching. They assured me that the food at Sonny’s was great. Absentmindedly, I neglected to ask whether they shared my taste in steak bombs.
Sonny’s has a back porch overlooking the Contoocook River, almost as glorious as the neighboring porch one building east at Daniel’s Restaurant and Pub.
I grabbed my steak bomb, warm from the oven, and headed to Henniker Brewing.
As I arrived, a food truck from Tommy’s Pizzeria was setting up. Had I known, I might have forgone my steak bomb. On the other hand, my bomb was ready and warm, no waiting. As soon as my beer was ready, I was good.
Henniker Brewing offers a friendly and welcoming space – dog-friendly, child-friendly, food carry-in-friendly. They blur their indoor space with their outdoor space, with a roll-up garage door opening onto outdoor seating warmed by a firepit and some tall overhead propane heaters. Out back they have a large beer garden with plenty of tables and a few sets of corn-hole. The sun was great when I was there, but they admitted that it can be a bit much in the height of summer.
Henniker Brewing Company has been making beer since 2011.
Henniker Brewing serves no food, but often has food trucks and is always welcoming to carry-in, be it a hot pizza or leftovers from home. In my case, my fresh steak bomb from just down the road was perfect.
They serve flights of 4-oz. pours, full-size 16 oz.-pours, will fill clean growlers (and sell growlers), and sell four-packs of cans.
I had a flight of six, which they serve creatively in a muffin tin. Tasty!
For my flight, I chose:
Dinger – American Lager, 4.2% ABV
Crisp, clean American Lager. Far right in photo.
Kolsch – Kölsch-Style Ale, 4.6% AB
Brewed in a style traditional to Cologne Germany since 1906, this beer features 100% Pilsner malts, German Magnum, and Saaz hops, keeping this beer light and refreshing. Far center in photo.
Picnic – Sour Ale, 5% ABV
Boasting a blend of peach and blackberry. Near right in photo.
Miles & Miles – Session IPA, 4.9% ABV
Dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops. Named in honor of Derry, New Hampshire’s Captain Alan B. Shepard, in memory of his golf shots on the moon, when he joked to Houston, this ball is going “miles & miles…” Near center in photo.
Double Roast – Imperial Coffee Stout, 10% ABV
Brewed w beans from Union Coffee Roasters in Milford. Near left in photo.
Flap Jack – Brown Ale, 7% ABV
Double Brown Ale with local Maple Syrup. Far left in photo.
Below, some of my impressions…
Kolsch – quite good, a very flavorful and uncomplicated ale, but perhaps with some barely detectable hints of other flavors. Just enough to make you wonder momentarily what they might be, then forget them as you take another sip.
Dinger – like the Kolsch, but simpler, less flavorful, somehow blurred in the direction of Budweiser.
Miles & Miles – a very good pale ale. I brought home a 4-pack.
Double Roast – very dark in color (almost no light passed through the small glass) with a powerful coffee flavor.
Flap Jack – Less dark than the Double Roast – some daylight passed through – so a dark brown color. Also milder & more balanced. It had a bit of sweetness, though the maple was extremely subtle.
Henniker is also home to the most amazing used book shop north of Boston, the legendary Old Number Six Book Depot. This is a three-story barn where every nook and cranny is filled with more books than you would have dreamed possible. Looking for something no longer in print? There’s a good chance they have it, even multiple copies. Over the years I have found many treasures there. This time, though, amazing will power, I left with only a single paperback espionage novel. Whew!
Just the Facts
Henniker Brewing Company is located at 129 Centervale Road, Henniker NH 03242.
Phone: (603) 428-3579
Hours, Tap Room: