A Superb Beer

I spend a lot of time in Woodstock, New Hampshire. (For those who are interested, the music festival was outside of Woodstock, New York.) In addition to being a great gateway to the White Mountains, where I love to go backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and touring, the town is also home to the Woodstock Inn. The Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery is a microbrew with four main ales, an equal number of so-called "specialty" brews (including an amazing root beer), and five seasonal offerings. I tried one of the "specialty" ales, their Pemi Pale Ale, which is named for the Pemigwasset River Valley where the Inn is located, over my birthday. As you can see from the following review, I liked it a lot. You will probably see the remainder of the Woodstock line reviewed here as I get the time, and the beer.

Woodstock Inn Brewery: Pemi Pale Ale

Tasting conditions: It was stored for a while at room temperature in dark conditions for a while before I had the chance to drink it. Traditional 16oz pint glass. I enjoyed it as the second drink of the morning on my twenty-first birthday.

Eye: The first thing that caught my eye about this one was the label. While it’s a fairly traditional Woodstock Inn bottle and label, the logo on this one is a large spotted fish (a trout, perhaps?) drinking a pint. The other noticeable thing was the amount of head. As you can see from the picture, this one was pretty frothy. While I usually poor straight in to see how much head there is, I had to pout this one in three pours into a glass a third again bigger than the beer to allow the surge to settle. I will say that after the initial pour, the head settled fairly quickly, and in the time it took to write this, the head has almost completely collapsed. As to the color, this is on the dark side for a pale ale, closer to the red ale region. It’s a middling brownish honey.

Nose: A touch of hops added to a bready aroma gives you the nose of this beer, which is quite subtle.

Mouth: My first impression was that this is an incredibly bitter beer. I almost tossed the beer after the first sip it was so bitter. It definitely should have been drunk a bit colder than I drank it. However, behind the bitterness, it almost tastes like a stout with a nice chocolaty-fruitiness that is quite pleasant. The second sip allowed the bitterness to retreat. My theory was that the head held most of the bitterness. A taste of just the head confirmed my theory. Unfortunately, a lot of the complexity retreated with the loss of the head. It was still there, but much more subtle. In its place, a good, honest beery-ness with a nice hopiness came to the fore. A pause to write allowed some nice sweetness to come in on the tail. There’s a lot going on here, far more than I can describe.

Conclusion: This is one of the better beers I’ve had, and throughout my travels, I’ve had many. The subtlety of this beer is exquisite, and the flavors amazing. This bottling will definitely be a staple of my pantry for a long time to come. I simply can’t say enough about this beer. Next time I’m in New Hampshire, I will have to pick up a growler and make some syrup. The complexity suggests, to me at least, that this could make wonderful beer syrup as well as a great cocktail focus. While it might not carry as much punch as a spirit, the complexity exceeds many whisk(e)ys, and if you could bring out the goodness of that first sip without the overwhelming bitterness, you would have a wonderfully complex drink.

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