A few weeks ago, I found myself skiing up in New Hampshire at Waterville Valley. I’ve been going regularly for years now and it’s been interesting seeing the entire area change during that time. One thing I’ve definitely noticed is the increased prevalence of craft beer up there! At first, if I wanted something really good after skiing, I had to bring it up from Massachusetts. As time went on, a gourmet store opened to cater to the skiing crowd and had a good selection of beer...and it was even right across the street from where I stayed! But, alas, it closed within a year or two. The good news? It probably closed because the town grocery just around the corner really stepped up it’s game on all sorts of things, including beer! So did the bars and restaurants in the Waterville Town Square and surrounding areas.
But the last time I was there, a couple weeks ago, the Jugtown Country Store in Waterville Town Square caught my eye with a big shelf of beer as I walked by. Upon entering I found a decent-sized but well-curated selection of craft beer, including a good bit of local stuff. Among them were some brews from Squam Brewing...beer I hadn’t heard of? Well of course I had to get it. Now, to drink it!
This is one beer that changes greatly as you move it around. Sitting, looking at it head on it’s a deep brownish, yellowish flavescent hue. Hold it up, especially near any light, and it turns to a light straw color, clear and crisp looking. With a single finger head perched atop, it looks good...but not particularly hoppy.
Aaaaaand this is one of those times when it seems looks may be deceiving. At 8.5% abv this is a bigger IPA and it seems to be hopped to keep up with that alcohol! You can definitely smell a bit of heat on this one...it is approaching 9%...but the main smell I’m getting is candied citrus fruit. I’m guessing this is some fragrant hops mixing with a big, east coast malt backbone. Only one way to tell!
If you’re looking for a big, bitter tongue number this is not your IPA. The malt is solid, strong and sweet. It’s not assertive, not brash, but smooth and toothsome. The hops are there, but it’s not a ton of early boil hops (which will make the beer bitter). It seems that the brewer reserved the entire load of wonderful little green flowers for the end of boil, imparting tons of flavor from the cones. You can almost chew on this beer; it’s thick and approaching the mouth feel of some barleywines I’ve had. Candied, tropical fruit flavor carries through from the aroma and, accompanied by some alcohol heat, makes this a quite pleasant, warming beer. I’ll definitely pick this up again next time I’m in New Hampshire. Especially as I think this would be a great brew to crack open after a day snowshoeing or on the slopes!