As you’d imagine, we get to try a lot of beer here at Barley & Hops. It’s one of the perks of the job… and with inventory changing weekly, we get a ton of new things. So because everyone makes a list at the end of the year, we needed to create the “Best Of” Barley & Hops for 2017. Here goes:
Brewery of the Year: Able Ebenezer, Merrimack. Their Victory Nor Defeat DIPA has been the top seller in the store since we’ve carried it, and their origin story – they’re a local brewery owned by veterans, and handle their own distribution – is awesome. Plus, they make plenty of other great beers.
Beer of the Year: Great North IPA, Manchester. Since the 90s, Rob North has had a reputation as a great brewer. The team at Great North works very hard to ensure the quality of their beer, and they just added a canning line. Great North IPA has been our #1 seller since our opening, and it’s just a great beer.
New England IPA of the Year: In a year where our region got its own beer classification, it seems like everyone is making an NE IPA. Some are easier to get, some are impossible to come by (and aren’t available in the state). But one we get in limited quantities is Two Juicy, made by Two Roads down in Stratford, CT. This is the best NE IPA you can get in NH, and it’s hazy, juicy, and tropical.
IPA of the Year: We love Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co.. Their tasty Call It A Day Double IPA is one worth getting when you can… we usually get a decent amount of it, and yes, we’ll post to Facebook when we get it. It’s the best DIPA made in NH.
Stout of the Year: Our staff loves Xocoveza from Stone Brewing out in California. They just can’t spell it. We’ll let Stone’s website describe it: “Insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.” You won’t find it until next Christmas, though… sorry to get your hopes up.
Seasonal Beer of the Year: Jack’s Abby down in Framingham makes some pretty amazing lagers, and their Copper Legend (available only in fall – it’s an Octoberfest beer) is no exception. It’s the top Octoberfest we get, and it’s always one of the most anticipated seasonal beers.
Sour of the Year: Right down the road in Henniker, Henniker Brewing Company has made some pretty tasty stuff. One of those is their Sour Flower, which is a delicious, super-drinkable sour only available at certain times of the year. We’re always excited to see it (and more excited to drink it outside during warm weather).
Lager of the Year: Post Shift, Jack’s Abby. It’s a simple,easy-drinking Pilsner that is perfect for the end of the day. Another one worth checking out from our friends in Framingham.
Comeback of the Year: Peak Organic: always made good stuff, but this year they elevated their production to another level. Their Winter IPA became a favorite among our staff and customers, and the Juice dry-hopped IPA is always a great choice. Kudos to Peak for their new releases and commitment to excellence.
Rookie of the Year: Their fictional namesake baseball player probably won the Rookie of the Year in his only year in the majors (Roy Hobbs), but Hobbs Brewing Co. in Ossipee put out some delicious stuff in their first year in wide distribution. Swift River American IPA, One Arm Farmhouse Ale, and Ground Level Coffee Milk Stout all turned heads.
Local Brewery of the Year: Laughing Crow Brewery, Amherst. They make small batches on brewer John Harvery’s land in Amherst, and next time you’re in find their beers among our 22-oz “bombers.” Well worth an addition to your fridge!