New Hampshire is often overlooked by my fellow Massachusettsian beer-drinkers and life-lovers, and this is a shame. All we tend to know about the Granite (or Marble?) State is that there's no sales tax but high property tax (or perhaps vice versa), and it's got either a nice, long coastline or, if that's actually Vermont, then it's got skiing and syrup. Either way, or maybe both ways I guess, it's a decent state, and we should pay more attention to it.
Connecticut is starting to earn a bit of attention—gotta get my hands on New England Brewing Company's Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA—and then I guess there's whatever happens in Rhode Island, but for the most part, beer geeks in the upper-right-hand corner of our fine country focus on 20 or so famous breweries in Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. Whereas New Hampshire's stature in the beer world took a big hit a few years ago when Portsmouth Brewing stopped producing their cult-favorite Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout, which was one of the region's original "stand in line like a dope in the middle of a workday" beers. (Head brewer Tod Mott split in 2012 and took the recipe with him; he's also the creator of Harpoon IPA, and recently opened Tributary Brewing in Kittery, Maine).
But even after the departure of Kate the Great left New Hampshire without any signature trophy beers to buzz about on beer message boards (there are beer message boards!), Smuttynose Brewing, also in Portsmouth, still makes several very-good-to-great beers. They were founded in 1994, which means it's been around since before the IPA mania that took over high-end American brewing for a good dozen years or more near the end of the last century and the start of the current one. This is why is took them nearly 10 years to produce a year-round IPA, Smuttynose Finest Kind, which is a serious contender for the title of best widely accessible IPA brewed in New England.
The 6.9 percent alcohol-by-volume Finest Kind employs six different hops—Magnum, Simcoe, Centennial, Santiam, Cascade, and Amarillo—which I sometimes think can be kind of unnecessary and showy, or even defensive, like when I put both red and green bell peppers in my black bean soup just so I can claim to be serving much more than a bag of boiled and blendered beans. But the first whiff of Finest Kind indicates that every part of the recipe is doing serious work; it opens super-juicy, with lots of citrus and tropical fruit in equal measure before sticky pine resin comes in to settle things down a bit. The flavor follows the aroma, with a more pronounced grapefruit element emerging along with lemon, orange, and a bit of biscuity malt until the pine comes back on the very long, dry finish.
Am I saying you should go to New Hampshire? Look, I'm not saying you should go to New Hampshire. But New Hampshire's mostly OK, and Smuttynose is available in several dozen other states these days, and I'm definitely saying you should track down some Finest Kind.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
The Concourse is Deadspin's home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter.