Even though our tasting room is closed for the season, you can enjoy the fine brews of the Belgian Mare Brewery. Just visit any one of these fine New Hampshire retailers:
Beer Store, Nashua
Bert's Better Beers, Hooksett
Craft Beer Cellar, Nashua
Craft Beer Cellar, Portsmouth
Gilsum Village Store, Gilsum
Gomarlo's Supermarket, Swanzey
Hancock Market, Hancock
Hannah Grimes Marketplace, Keene
Lazy Dog Beer Shoppe, Londonderry
South Acworth Store, Acworth
Top Shelf Brews, Hampton
Tuckaway Tavern, Raymond
Walpole Grocery, Walpole
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
We have reached to the end of the open season for the tasting room at the Belgian Mare Brewery. The weekend after Thanksgiving will be our last weekend open until Spring. We will be open all three days from 11am to 4pm. So stop on by 207 Gilsum Mine Road, Alstead, New Hampshire for some fine brews and the release of a new special brew!
Friday, October 17, 2014
|The Belgian Mare Brewery's first born!|
Greetings Dear Reader! This is the second in our series of posts about the individual beers created here at the Belgian Mare Brewery.
Today we are focusing on the yet another of the uniquely flavored ales and lagers has found its niche in the beer market; all the while giving beer raters and the style police fits! It is the very first beer brewed at the Belgian Mare Brewery: Hemlock Stout!
Hemlock Stout gets it name from the ubiquitous New Hampshire hemlock tree. Traditionally, tips cut from the branches of the hemlock tree have been boiled to make a tea that was believed to have healthful or even healing benefits. Also, inhaling the vapors of boiling hemlock tea was believed to relieve the symptoms of respiratory distress. The stout part comes from it being based on an old cream stout recipe that I had always enjoyed. Combining the two: Hemlock Stout!
Like our other beers, this beer is created in a very traditional manner employing bottle conditioning and extended cellaring. By design, this beer is very lightly carbonated (think "real ale"), so don't over chill it, or it may seem flat. Serve at about 55F for the best results. The interplay between the hemlock and the dark roasted barley creates a strong flavor and the long cellaring keeps it smooth.
The Hemlock Stout is also a good beer for ageing in the cellar. While all bottle conditioned beers undergo some level of taste evolution, this beer is a real treat for those that patient. Over the course of a year, the interplay of the hemlock and dark roasted barley will slip and turn with often dramatic results. Several customers (individuals and restaurants) have purchased multiple cases so as to take advantage of this characteristic.In some cases, they are storing cases at different temperatures, room (70F) vs cellar (55F), and comparing the resulting flavors on a monthly basis. Getting reports back from these customers has been one of the joys of running this brewery.
Approach with an open mind and you will be pleasantly surprised!
Monday, September 15, 2014
|A best seller!|
Greetings Dear Readers! We have now been open for three months and I want to thank all of you for making this project a success! It appears that our uniquely flavored ales and lagers have found their niche in the beer market; all the while giving beer raters and the style police fits!
In honor of that success, I have decided to create a special profile for each of our beers. I decided to start with our most popular: Pale Ale.
Pale Ale has quickly become the Belgian Mare Brewery's most popular beer. However, many people come to it with incorrect expectations. They expect the overblown hop character and bitterness-for-bitterness-sake of the modern American style pale ale that leaves kinks in your tongue. But that is not the case with our pale ale!
The Belgian Mare Brewery's Pale Ale harks back to the British pale ales of the 19th century. It is a smooth, bottle-conditioned ale. The aroma is malt with a bit a fruitiness and a hint of hops. But it is the flavor that sets it apart from the crowd. It is like nothing else on the market. While malt and hops are there, the overall character is that of a smooth and pleasing spiciness with just a hint of bitterness on the back of the tongue. It is this spicy character that really makes our Pale Ale unique. It is an easy drinking beer that goes well with nearly any type of meal.
I am proud to say that many customers have told me that felt that our Pale Ale is the best pale ale they have ever tasted. One of these is a genuine "I rode to school on a double-decker bus" Englishman who said our Pale Ale reminded him of "Merry Olde" England. Another, is a sales representative from a distributor who has been surreptitiously purchasing the Pale Ale from one of our retail outlets!
The Belgian Mare Brewery Pale Ale has been a big part of our success so stop on by any of our retailers and give one a try. Or stop by the brewery for a free sample!
The Belgian Mare Brewery is currently open to the public 11am-4pm Sundays.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Wow, been a crazy three months! Thanks to everyone who is helping to make this brewery venture a success!
With the summer crowds thinning and the days getting shorter, we will be going to our fall hours: Sundays 11am-4pm. We will stick with these until it gets too cold to open!
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
We are back to our regular schedule:
3-7pm Friday & 2-7pm Saturday and Sunday.
Also check out our fine brews at our awesome retailers:
Gilsum Village Store
South Acworth Store
Craft Beer Cellar, Nashua
Craft Beer Cellar, Portsmouth
The Beer Store, Nashua
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Due to a scheduling conflict, the brewery will be be OPEN only on Friday, July 25, 3pm-7pm this weekend. The brewery will be CLOSED on Saturday and Sunday. Next weekend we will be back to our regular hours. Sorry for any inconvenience!
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Greetings, Dear Reader,
After one month of sales, the Pale Ale is our best seller, though the Hemlock Stout is close behind. The Pale Ale has found a strong fan base with the "Real Ale" aficionados and any others with an appreciation of good beer. Best served at about 55F, just pour it into a glass, let it breathe for a a few minutes, then enjoy!
The Red Bitter was also a strong seller. The combination of Chinook and Goldings hops wit a hint of dark roasted barley has proven a popular combination. A great brew for enjoying ice cold from the fridge.
Our newest offerings, Britton Mine Black Ale and New England Cream Lager are also finding their fans. The Britton Mine Black Ale is a cream stout with plenty of roasted grain character. Long cellaring make for a smooth drinking stout.
The New England Cream Lager is a creation of my own three hands. Some of you may remember me mentioning the early versions of this brew in this blog. It has the refreshing lager character, but is more full-bodied than a traditional lager. The addition of Chinook hops gives it a little extra bite. Like nothing you have ever had before!
Below is a full listing of the brews we currently have in stock. So stop on by this weekend (3-7pm Friday, 2-7pm Saturday & Sunday) and have a taste and pick some up to take home!
BELGIAN MARE BREWERY BEERS
207 Gilsum Mine Road, Alstead, NH, 03602
Below is a list of the current offerings from our own wood-fired brewery in East Alstead, New Hampshire!
Traditional English “real ale” style lightly carbonated ales. Best consumed at 55°F for full flavor:
HEMLOCK STOUT: A dark, robust cream stout flavored with the addition of New Hampshire hemlock tree tips. The hemlock and dark roasted barley provide a strong flavor; long aging in the cellar makes it smooth.
PALE ALE: A traditional English pale ale. Crystal malt character & a hint Goldings hop bitterness, combined with light carbonation and long cellaring, create a mild, refreshing ale.
BRITTON MINE BLACK ALE: A full-bodied ale with the tang of roasted grains and the smoothness of long aging in the cellar.
More strongly carbonated ale and lager. Best served chilled:
RED BITTER: A traditional English bitter brewed with Goldings hops and updated with the addition of Chinook hops. The forward hop aroma and bitterness is balanced by a strong malt base. A hoppy ale with Old World character.
NEW ENGLAND CREAM LAGER: A full-bodied, yet refreshing, lager with the bite of Chinook hops!
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Just a little note to let everyone know that we will be open our regular hours on the 4th of July weekend!
Thanks for a great first month! It was a lot of work but well worth it. This place really keeps me jumping; so I have let the posting frequency slip a bit. All apologies!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Wow! What a great opening weekend we had! It was great to have so many old friends show up to support us and meet so many new friends. The Hemlock Stout definitely carried the day, with the Red Bitter and Pale Ale garnering about equal support.
We will be open again this weekend: Saturday Noon-6pm and Sunday 2pm-6pm. Until further notice these will be our regular hours. Our address is 207 Gilsum Mine Road, Alstead, NH.
So come on out and sample our brews and pick up some to take home with you!
|Our new sign!|
|The sales area, ready to go!|
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Greetings Dear Reader, I just wanted to post a little note and let everyone know that the brews are conditioning well and everything is set for opening day. We will have three beers available: stout, bitter, and pale ale. Each is from my own recipe and will be like no beer you have ever had before.
So remember the opening date: Saturday, May 31st Noon-6pm and Sunday, June 1st 2pm-6pm.
See you there!
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Many have asked how the brewday goes at Ye Olde Belgian Mare Brewery. So I decided to put together the following narrative for the general edification of the beer-drinking public.
The typical brewday starts with the filling of the boiler. The boiler is filled with pure well water to a depth of 29 inches. This translates to approximately 120 gallons. Allowing for losses in the mashing and boiling phases of the brewing process, this initial 120 gallons will translate to 100 gallons of beer in the bottle.
Once the boiler is filled, the fire is started in the firebox. The Belgian Mare's boiler is direct-fired with wood, so getting the water up to heat can take a couple of hours. This is no problem as we still have to mill the grains.
Grains are milled in a modified Maltmill that has a hopper with about 75 lbs. capacity built into it. Originally this mill was powered by a hand crank, which is the reason why one of my shoulders is so much larger than the other. Recently, our welder friend, Perley, loaned me a 1950/60s vintage low speed/high torque drill. This three-handled, cast-metal encased beast turns at 350 rpm and has enough torque to twist the head off the Statue of Liberty (not that one would want to do such a thing). Thus it is the perfect tool for powering our grain mill.
I measure out the proper amount of grains for the recipe of the day and run them through the mill using the aforementioned drill to power the mill. As the grains pass through the mill, they drop into a 5-gallon bucket. As they bucket fills, it is poured into the mashtun in preparation for mashing.
The mashtun is an insulated stainless steel vessel with an oak false-bottom. The false-bottom is essentially a floor above the actual bottom of the mashtun. It supports the grains and has holes drilled into it to allow water to pass through.
Once all the grains are milled and the water is up to heat, hot water is run into the mashtun to start the mashing phase. To take advantage of gravity during runoff, the mashtun is situated higher than the boiler. A small electric pump is used to run hot water into the mashtun. Other than the drill on the mill, this is the only mechanized part of the process at the brewery.
As the hot water enters the mashtun the grain is stirred to ensure that all the grain is wetted and ready for the mashing process. Once all the grain is wetted and the temperature is correct, the cover is placed on the mashtun and it is left alone for the next 90 minutes. During this time, enzymes contained in the grains convert starches to fermentable sugars. Once the mashing is complete, the sugar-laden liquid is drained from the mashtun into the boiler. Hot water is also cycled from the boiler to the mashtun to wash any remaining sugars from the grains.
When the runoff is complete, the fire under the boiler is increased and the sugary liquid, now called wort, is boiled for two hours. Boiling sanitizes the wort and causes proteins to precipitate. During the boiling process, depending on the recipe for the beer I wish to make, hops will be added at intervals. Given the size of our brick firebox, once the wort starts to boil, the gate on the fire box can be closed and the wort will continue to boil for two hours without any additional fuel being added to the fire.
Once the boil is finished, the wort is allowed to cool in the covered boiler. Since everything has been sanitized by the boiling process, as long as we leave it alone, we do not have to worry about infection during cooling.
When the wort reaches the correct temperature, usually the next day, it is run from the boiler to a fermenter in the cellar. Since this is the “cold side” of the brewing process, the fermenters have to be cleaned and sanitized before the wort is run into them. As the wort is being run into the fermenter it is allowed to aerate (splash around) to help with the start of the fermentation process. Once all the wort is in the fermenter, the proper amount of yeast is pitched into the wort. Then we wait until the yeast is done creating the alcohol and esters that make the beer what it is.
When the yeast is done, it is time to bottle! Once all the freshly brewed beer is in bottles, the hard part begins: waiting. Since our beers are naturally conditioned and carbonated, they need a lot of time in the bottle. During this time the yeast finishes up the last of the fermentation process and gives the beer its finished flavor. None of our beers are ready in under one month and they may take up to three months to fully condition and carbonate. But, trust me, it is well worth the wait.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Greetings Dear Readers,
The opening date for our brewery has finally been set. I know that all of you have been waiting with bated breath for this moment, so let us delay no more!
The opening date for the Belgian Mare Brewery will be Saturday, May 31st. The public area will be open from Noon to 6pm.
I realize that this date is later than I had initially hoped, but we had some problems with getting labels and other things. Given that, I decided to play it safe and set the date back a bit so that I would be sure of having everything ready to go.
There is a plus side to the date getting set back. Our third brew was just approved for sale. With this later opening date, it just might be ready for sale...I can't promise, but it just might be...
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Greetings Dear Readers,
Much has happened since last I posted. The first batch of supplies has arrived and the first beer was brewed. This past weekend, that first batch was bottled and the second batch cooked up.
Things went well, though not always smoothly. Sometimes equipment did not function as hoped and had to be reconfigured or repaired on the fly. I have found it advantageous to keep my tools and a box of extra fittings and such near at hand at all time during the brewing process. This is all part of the learning process and was not an entirely unpleasant experience.
Already the experience is starting to pay off. The first brew day lasted, if you count gathering up supplies, from 9:30 Saturday morning to 1:30 Sunday morning! The boiler was fired at 10:30am and was out at 1:00am Sunday morning. Any way you look at it , it was a long day. By contrast, the second brewday went from 9:30am to 7:30pm. A big improvement.
Once things had cooled off, I ran the wort into one of our custom built (read: homemade) fermenters. The wort was still a bit on the hot side, but the yeast I use is high-temperature tolerant. Still. I was worried. I need not have been. I pitched the yeast about 8:00pm and by the next morning I was witnessing the biggest blowoff I had ever seen. Better to have a mess to clean up than have the yeast die and the beer go bad.
The first bottling session was also an adventure. I started by tasting a bit of the beer. It tasted good, and if it tastes good going into the bottle, it has been my experience, it will taste good coming out of the bottle. Due to ice outside the cellar doors, things got started a bit late. Yet once the bottler was up and running I was able to crank out the bottles rather quickly. Those Italian gravity/siphon bottlers are sweet machines but one must be willing to take the time to understand how it functions and get set up properly. In our era of ubiquitous plug-and-play devices, this is an anachronism.
So now I have one batch nestled in its bottles, slowly conditioning. Another batch is in the fermenter awaiting its date with the bottler. We are well on our way to having some real product and being a real business.
We are looking at a target of late April or early May for being open to the public. As this date is finalized, I will be sure to let you know!
Thursday, March 6, 2014
It is now official: We are New Hampshire's newest, smallest, and most haunted brewery! Hard to believe we have been working on this for over five years. In retrospect, for all the horror stories going around, the liquor commission people were quite helpful and easy to deal with. And now we are legal and it is time to get going!
|Finally in hand!|
I am not sure exactly when we shall open to the public, it may be a bit later than we had hoped, but it will be in the not too distant future and I promise to let all of you know!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
I am a bit late posting this but...we passed the state inspection! In the end, it went much easier than we had anticipated. We were given the go ahead to start brewing and once we submit the last of the paperwork, we will be a real brewery! So right now we can't sell anything, but soon we will be able to sell and distribute. When we will be open to the public is yet to be determined (we still need label approvals) but we will post as soon as we have a firm date.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Friday, January 31, 2014
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I hope all of my readers had a happy holiday season and a good New Year. The blog just passed 12,000 views. What a milestone. I never thought we would have that many people view our humble writings. Thank-you to everyone who has stopped by to check out what we are doing here in sunny Alstead, New Hampshire.
A quick update is in order: We have our first round of both state and federal paperwork in. On the federal side, we have received a request for additional information. Nothing big, and I can easily provide what they are asking. But it is a good sign because it shows that they are looking at our application and have not rejected the whole thing outright!
Work on the final touches of the brewery continues with today seeing the final fitting of the false bottom for the mash tun. The photo is not the best, but the false bottom is made entirely of white oak with stainless steel fittings. It is a thing of beauty! As an aside, the hook visible in the photo is hand made of iron. Our chicken dug it up at the old forge site. Chickens make pretty good archaeologists.
|The white oak false bottom.|
Things are starting to move fast!
Until next time, Cheers!