The Hippo


May 31, 2020








 What’s in My Fridge

Alchemist Brewery Focal Banger American IPA : Hops, hops and more hops — dare I say a hop-lover’s dream? The hops are literally oozing out of the glass or the can, as the folks at Alchemist recommend drinking straight from the can. The Alchemist has long been at the heart of the craft beer movement and specifically the IPA movement. The Focal Banger is the very best of the style. Cheers!

Step into the darkness
Three dark beers to savor on a cold winter’s night


 When it’s cold, I want a dark beer. It’s that simple. Especially on a freezing cold night — and we’ve had plenty of those — I want something with some richness, some complexity and some heft. 

In the summertime, the heat nudges you toward lighter, crisper beers, while the darkness of winter nudges you toward malty beers that invite you to sip and savor. 
Here are three beers I’ve enjoyed recently to help you through the darkest and coldest nights in January and February.
Northern Lights Double Black IPA, a collaborative effort by Great North Aleworks in Manchester and New Realm Brewing Co. in Atlanta: Black IPAs can be hit or miss. It’s challenging to make a beer with the complexity of a dark beer and the hoppiness of an IPA — and to make it work. Allagash Brewing Co. in Maine used to brew a wonderful Belgian-style black IPA, but on the whole it can be a tough brew to master. It’s always confounded me because I love IPAs and I love darker beers, so I should love the melding of the two. Well, I do love Northern Lights, which is remarkably well-balanced: not too hoppy and not too malty. 
The pour is dark; it looks like a stout. The hops stand out on the nose with a lively hop aroma but there’s an obvious richness that’s missing from your typical IPA. The nose on this beer is fascinating. Still, this isn’t an overly heavy beer and the malt does not take over.
Pour this with your favorite steak or roast. And then send me a thank-you note. 
Paradigm Brown Ale by Kelsen Brewing Co. in Derry: This is everything an American brown ale should be: roasty, nutty, complex and velvety smooth. Take your time and savor this brew, which pours almost black and features sweet notes of delicious chocolate, toasted nuts and rich coffee. I love all brown ales but sometimes they can be a little too light, lacking a bit of backbone. I want my brown ales robust. Paradigm delivers. 
At 7.0 ABV this is a big brown, and the warmth from the alcohol is pleasing in late January. But this beer isn’t heavy like a porter or stout. It’s not going to fill you up, but you shouldn’t rush through it either. Savor this one in all its glory. 
I have some difficulty pairing brown ales with food, as the flavor is particularly unique. It worked really well for me with a couple handfuls of toasted almonds as I watched the Patriots.
Imperial Stout by Moat Mountain Smoke House & Brewing Co. in North Conway: My wife wrote, “So good; like heaven in a glass” on the piece of scrap paper on which I was writing notes. Also, she underlined “so good” twice, so yeah. 
She’s definitely not wrong. This beer is tremendous. The pour is black with a thick and rich mocha head. At 9.0 ABV this is a big beer with big flavor but it’s so smooth, it doesn’t drink like a high-alcohol beer. 
I love the rich coffee notes, coupled with notes of dark chocolate and dark fruit. The lingering finish begs you to take another sip. Too much hyperbole? Maybe, but this is a terrific example of the imperial stout style.
Imperial stouts are meant to be enjoyed over a period of time. Sip this over a lazy afternoon or evening or as you enjoy dessert. 
I’ll take a handwritten thank-you note for this one. 
Jeff Mucciarone is a senior account executive with Montagne Communications, where he provides communications support to the New Hampshire wine and spirits industry. 

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