The time from late Spring to early Autumn is a special time to me: camping season! I’ll admit, I’m far from hardcore about it, hence the seasonal limitation. I like to drive into a campsite with friends, set up my tent and enjoy a relaxing weekend. We’ll throw a football around, go hiking and probably fit in a little kayaking or swimming on the river. My location of choice is normally the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, as it’s only a quick two hour drive from Drink Craft Beer’s headquarters in Boston, MA. Lucky for us, we don’t need to bring the craft beer with us, as we can find plenty of great local beer from right nearby once we get there! (Coincidentally, Honest Pint from the Boston Weekly Dig did a cool article on DIY craft beer camping gear you should check out as well.)
The All-Day Drinker: White Birch Brewing Hop Session Ale
No matter what I’m doing, including camping, if I’m drinking beer I want it to be interesting beer. That said, when I’m camping I’m there to hang out with my friends, enjoy nature and cook on a campfire. I want something I can drink a good bit of without thinking too much about it. White Birch Hop Session Ale is perfect for that. Whether you’re hanging out around the campfire, setting up your tent, playing some outdoor games like Baggo or just throwing a Frisbee around this will be your go-to brew. Now I know White Birch is from Hooksett, NH which is not in the White Mountains. But let’s be honest, it’s called White Birch...it seems perfect for camping. Plus it’s easy to find up there and Hooksett is close enough for me!
While you might expect a beer called Hop Session Ale to be a bit lighter, who cares, right? This one pours coppery, reminding me of the bitters I drank in the UK. The cream-colored head surprised me when it sprang way up and took over half the glass on a gentle pour...but it’s a great means to get all the hops straight to your nose!
It’s got a rich, hoppy aroma that you can smell as soon as you start pouring! Behind it you get an English ale yeast, straightforward with a little bit of fruit, and some clean malt. But the hops are the star, as the name suggests.
The first thing you’ll notice here is the mouthfeel...it’s awesome! It’s creamy and full on your tongue without being viscous. I could drink it all day just for that. Throw some amazing hop flavor as the centerpiece, lightly biscuity malt and balanced bitterness and you’ve got you’re all-day drinker right here!
The River Beers - Moat Mountain Bone Shaker Brown & Iron Mike Pale Ale
Heading out on the river for some kayaking, tubing or just swimming? Don’t bring any glass with you! Shards of broken glass plus bare feet is nobody’s friend so leave the bottles at the campsite. Luckily, if you’re in the White Mountains you’ve got a ready supply of big camping-size cans from Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Company. Both Bone Shaker Brown and Iron Mike Pale Ale are delicious. I’ll tell you about their rustic brown today, but definitely keep your eyes open for either one!
This is the darkest brown ale I’ve ever seen! Smell-wise this is one of the richest brown ales I’ve ever had in my life, too! Cocoa and high quality hot fudge are the first things I notice, which is really unusual for this style but I’m digging it. There some earthy sweetness on the back, almost like blackstrap molasses.
With the big smell, I’m nicely surprised by a more restrained flavor. When I’m out in the sun, I don’t want a huge beer. This will hit the spot, though, with a nutty, slightly chocolate flavor and mild carbonation that makes it good to drink from the can.
The Campfire Companions - Woodstock Inn Brewery Kanc Country Maple Porter & 4000’er IPA
Now that you’ve had a fun filled day of hiking, being on the river or just hanging out at the campsite, it’s starting to get late. Let’s switch gears a bit to something with a little more heft. It’s going to get colder and you’re going to need to keep warm. Plus, a little liquid courage is always good if people start to tell some “spooky” ghost stories around the fire. The White Mountains have just what you need, all nicely bottled up from the Woodstock Inn Brewery in Woodstock, NH. Their brand-new 4000’er IPA (just added as a new main-stay beer) is a bit more intense than their normal hoppy offerings, but beer lovers will dig the robust hops and stronger bitterness. Not to mention it comes in somewhere around a hearty 7% abv. Talking about campfires, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you more in-depth about their Kanc Country Maple Porter, made with local NH maple syrup.
Dark brown away from the light, once you put Woodstock’s Maple Porter in front of a fire it looks like the beer itself is ablaze with deep reds and a shallow, lighter than expected head. At 5.6%, it’s not going to knock you out...but it’ll keep you warm.
Once you’re sipping you’ll notice a chocolatey, almost cocoa-ish aroma along with some mineral dryness. This is great, as it’s going to cut through whatever you’re cooking on the aforementioned wood fire. Take a sip and you’ll find a beer with a bit of roast to it and some light maple sweetness. The great part about open-fire cooking is the bit of black you get on those burgers or hot dogs and this is your perfect accompaniment! The dark malt goes great with the grill smoke and the sweetness pairs excellently with any fattiness. Also, you got some lightly-smoky grilled corn with butter? I don’t think I’ve tried a better combination in my life!
So now that you’ve got the local beers you’ll need for some great White Mountains camping, you just need some friends and a plan. We can’t help you there, but I suggest you get on it. It’s a great weekend getaway and a chance to get in touch with some nature. Now let us know what you’re favorite camping beers are and where you like to camp in the comments below!