Brewery Name: Aigean Ales
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 250 Commercial St Unit #2001, Manchester, NH.
Facebook: Aigean Ales
Background: Aigean Ales has been open since early 2017, but, despite the fact that the taproom is just ten minutes down the road from my place of employment, I didn’t hear about them until October. In a way, this fits the Aigean Ales motif: they’ve cultivated a sort of speakeasy vibe for themselves, and they relish being one of the city’s hidden gems. For the owners of the brewery, this isn’t a full-time job: it’s just something they love doing. They aren’t trying to get rich brewing beer, they’re more interested in creating a great space where beer lovers can enjoy the creative concoctions they’ve cooked up.
Growlers: Yes, there are growlers available for purchase in the taproom. Due to New Hampshire’s growler laws, they can only fill their own glassware, so if you’re coming from out of state you should be aware of that.
The Beers: Aigean Ales has six tap lines, so you can usually count on a pretty good variety of beers to try. When I stopped in, they had a couple of sours, a stout, a table beer, an IPA, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve talked about it before on the blog, but there’s nothing better than when a brewery isn’t afraid to branch out into a bunch of different styles. Sure, I like a good IPA from a brewery that specializes in that style, but I also like to see what a brewery is really capable of and taste a bunch of different beers.
Dogs: Unsure. The owners have an adorable yogurt-loving pup who wanders around inside the taproom, so you might be alright as long as your dog is well behaved. On the other hand, the brewery is located inside one of Manchester’s old mill buildings in a sort of mall-like area, so dogs might be a no-go. I’d say use your judgment.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Pretty much standard prices for tasters and growlers, no surprises here.
Food: No food. The brewery’s entire public space amounts to a bartop and a couple of chairs against the wall, so this isn’t a place where you’re going to settle in with beer and food. It doesn’t sound like they have any immediate plans to expand, but you never know!
Final Thoughts: I love a place that feels like a secret. A place that makes me feel like I’ve stumbled upon something that not many people know about. The word is starting to get out about Aigean Ales, but the taproom has stayed true to the vision of its owners. Not only does Aigean Ales offer great beer, but they also offer great conversation, and a real sense of enthusiasm for what they do. There aren’t too many breweries these days where you can just sidle up to the bar and learn about the brewery’s entire backstory straight from the owners themselves, so treasure places like Aigean Ales when you find them!
Brewery Name: SingleCut Beersmiths
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Astoria, New York
Background: One of my wife’s oldest friends lives in Astoria, so we always like to visit and catch up. Unfortunately, school prevented a lot of our travel, so we decided that now (after graduation) was the best time to visit. My wife’s friend had told me about this brewery that had opened up called ‘SingleCut,’ and said I should check it out. Astoria has a lot of fun spots to check out, so it only made sense that a brewery would open up there. It is also still a manufacturing area, which is what allows neighborhoods to have fun things like breweries.
I had started to hear about SingleCut from Shane, and I recently got to try their beer down in DC. This trip seemed like the perfect chance to check out this hop-forward brewery.
Growlers: Yes (also crowlers and cans).
The Beers: SingleCut had a number of beers on tap when I visited. These are the ones I managed to try:
Vibe: Sometimes you walk into a place and it just has it right. The music is good, volume is nice, setup is nice, it seems clean, and you say, “hey, we can stay here for a few hours.” SingleCut has all of that going for it. It’s a very low-key bar. They have a large collection of vinyl records, which they rotate throughout the day. The music is at just the right volume--you can listen if you want, but still have a conversation without forgetting what you were saying. The brewery has a nice rock-and-roll theme with that classic aroma of hops just tossed into the boil.
The beers are all wonderful, and they brew a wider variety of styles than I have been exposed to. Today, you usually hear about a brewery only if they have a good IPA. And that is the most popular style right now, but it gets to be a little much when places don’t offer something for everyone. I have walked into many breweries with 12 beers on tap, and 11 of them are IPAs or some form of really hoppy beer. That isn’t even great for a hop fan. You try 3-4 hoppy beers and you can’t taste it after a while. And if you don’t like hops, you don’t enjoy the brewery. My wife hates hops, and a brewery visit gets nicer if she has the chance to choose between multiple non-IPAs. That’s the mark of a great brewery. Yes, they can do one thing well, but what else can they do? SingleCut is another example of the type of brewery I love, where I find them for the hops but like them because of everything else.
Other than the tap list, there are the normal selections of games for people to play. And the staff was really attentive and helpful if you had questions of wanted to try anything. Overall, just a great Saturday drinking experience. They also had a projection of a fish bowl on one wall. I don’t know why, but I felt that was a bonus for me.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Overall reasonably priced. You can easily spend a full Saturday afternoon here without breaking the bank.
Food: They have a small kitchen featuring BBQ and some tacos. Definitely a good snack to keep yourself going if you plan on being there for a while.
Final Thoughts: This is my new favorite brewery in New York. It has all the great beer I want in a fun, casual environment.
Brewery Name: Peekskill Brewery
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: Peekskill, NY
Background: Before California was DC and before DC was New York for me. I grew up just a few miles from Peekskill and know it pretty well. Took my driving test there when I was 16 and worked some early-in-life food service jobs in the area, too. I hadn’t been back in quite some time, and while I was gone the beer scene arrived.
It’s no San Francisco or Burlington but I’m glad to see the craft brewery movement starting here. I won’t lie, I’d have been pretty bummed if this brewery was disappointing, but I’m happy to say that it was extremely enjoyable. Really glad I was able to stop by and am looking forward to increased distribution and maybe another visit in the future!
Growlers: Growlers are available, but for a pretty limited amount of the taps. About half of what’s pouring is available to take home growler-style at any given time, it seems.
The Beers: Peekskill has a pretty wide-ranging taplist, which is always a fun way to go into tasting. I have become so accustomed to super hoppy beers that I sort of expected to be a little lower on their IPAs and pale ales, but to my pleasant surprise they were some of the best ones I tried. As you can see, I decided to try every beer they had (13 when I was there), but here are a few of the highlights:
Vibe: Peekskill Brewery has a pretty successful industry-chic vibe going for it. Lots of black metal, stainless steel, and large scale wall art and drawings. There is an upstairs seating section for a meal-oriented experience and a decent size bar with additional seating on the main level.
They seemed a bit short-staffed when I visited, but the folks who did help me were great. They encouraged small pours and spent a good amount of time talking us through their recommended tasting order. It’s always a major plus to have a craft brewery experience that involves staff being excited about their product.
Once you get past all the visual aspects, there is a little bit of a pub vibe going on with big, long wood tables, big beers, and a really good level of noise when they fill up. The chalkboard beer list, wall drawings, and extremely well-done can art confuse your senses once more into more of a studio vibe this time. All of these different elements somehow work really well together and give Peekskill Brewery a really great vibe.
Dogs: No dogs inside, but this was another cold weather visit for me. It looks like they may have some space outside for seating when it's warmer, but was hard to tell with snow on the ground
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. Truly middle of the road. I expected everything to be about a buck cheaper, but certainly wasn’t put off by the pricing. Full pours run between 6-8 bucks and food is fair as well. The small pours are affordable if you’re going for a full spectrum too!
Food: GREAT food menu here. In my mind, a best-of-both-worlds menu as far as brewpubs go. They’ve got that upscale bar menu going, with apps like beer mac n cheese, carnitas nachos, and fried pickles, but also offer wings, burgers, and a few larger scale dishes like fish and chips. Everything is priced pretty fairly, and portions seemed real solid (admittedly I did my classic liquid dinner, unfortunately).
Final Thoughts: Really happy to see a good craft brewery pop up in my original stomping grounds. For whatever reason, it seems like the huge swath of New York between the finger lakes and the city are late to the beer game, but hopefully Peekskill Brewery is a sign of good things to come. Without a doubt some of the better beer I’ve had from the region, and the brewery is a great place to stop and hang for a while.
Pete: Aslin has always been a favorite of mine. Ever since my first pilgrimage out to Herndon, it has had my support. I have gone there on my birthday, after a long week, or even just because a release looked good, and this trip coincided with my graduation from law school. It seemed like the perfect time to get out to the brewery to check out a can release.
I started to visit Aslin when they only offered crowler releases in very small batch numbers. Now they have a huge line for stacks and stacks of their cans. The place has become unrecognizable ever since the city informed the brewery that they could no longer serve on-site anymore. That was sad, but that space was always tough to be in because it really was so small.
As the brewery grew in popularity, the ability to sit and enjoy a beer at the bar waned so it was getting harder and harder to spend time there. For a while, the best way to enjoy the brewery was to get in and get out with crowlers to drink the beer elsewhere. Luckily they have decided to open a tap room in Herndon and keep their first location as a brewery only spot. That seems to be the best move for all parties (including the other businesses, which were likely unhappy with the amount of parking taken up by the brewery patrons during releases), so stay tuned for an eventual post on their new location.
Shane: Pete has obviously been high on Aslin for quite some time. He selected several Aslin beers in our 2016 Beer Draft. He has been visiting Aslin since they first burst onto the beer scene. He’s even included a handful of Aslin beers in our regular writeups. To say that Pete is an Aslin fan would probably be a gross understatement. So when he let us know that he would be including a slew of new Aslin beers among his next tasting selections, I was pretty excited. Especially when I learned that among them would be a few different fruit beers and a collaboration with fellow mid-Atlantic powerhouse RaR. The final beer in this batch is a brew from 3 Stars, which we visited earlier this year during our Washington, DC Beercation and were very impressed by. I’m pumped to have the opportunity to try another beer from them, and I can’t wait to crack into this excellent selection provided by Pete. Is it weird that six of the seven beers are from Aslin? Sure, maybe. Is Aslin so awesome that I don’t care? Yes, definitely.
York: I see you got some Aslin, eh, Pete? I have waited in a line for beer exactly twice in my life. Both were Pete’s fault. Both resulted in beer that made me stop complaining about lines. The most recent of those experiences was at Aslin (during our last beercation), and it yielded all-stars like Master of Karate and Stellar Parallax, so it’s safe to say an Aslin focus definitely sounds good to me. Even more so, I love the mix of styles here. IPAs and double IPAs in a huge range of ABVs and not one but two Wild IPAs--which has become a real favorite style of mine. RaR and 3 Stars are two of my top breweries in the DC area that I make sure to seek out any time I’m nearby, so getting a beer each from them makes this batch even more exciting. I don’t know that I’d have previously said that a batch from almost entirely one brewery was preferable, but this lineup looks about as good as any.
York: Big batch of big flavors here! We’re all a bit IPA-heavy, but it’s hard not to be when there are so many good ones to choose from. I tried to pick a few different styles here, including a prototypical West Coast IPA (that I don’t fully expect the guys to dig, but it’s good to branch out a bit). The others include some really neat hop combos featuring Huell Melon, Moteuka, and Hallertau Blanc. In addition to the four IPAs, I threw in an equal number of funky beers.
The saison and gose worlds are slightly separate for me from the true sour realm, and they’re styles that I struggle to pin down sometimes. I find huge variation in flavor profiles among saisons, and goses seem to be on a similarly wide spectrum that includes beers that remind me of everything from a kettle sour to a sparkling ale. These four run across all different spots on that spectrum, and a few are further complicated by adjuncts like passionfruit and boysenberry (turns out that’s real). Modern Times and Local Brewing have been featured by us before, but this is the first time I’ve been able to snag two Alvarado Street (a major player in the San Francisco scene as of recently) as well as an IPA from Temescal (one of my personal favorite young breweries in the bay area). All I ask of Shane and Pete on this one is to not judge anything by style or description before they give it a go, because many of these really surprised me in flavor, complexity, or both!
Shane: To say that I’m excited to try this batch of beers would be a dramatic understatement. Alvarado is a brewery whose great reputation has made waves all the way over on the east coast, and I can’t wait to try not just a big, juicy IPA from them, but a kettle sour as well. On a similar note, the Modern Times gose is calling my name. I’ve been huge on goses recently, and, when done well, I would count the style among my favorites. To have a delicious looking one coming our way from Modern Times, a brewery that has already made serious waves during our previous tastings, is all I could ask for. I’m intrigued that York has chosen a couple of saisons in this batch, given that none of us tend to be huge fans of the style. That said, I trust York’s palate, and we’ve been surprised by some absolutely incredible saisons before. I’m very excited to get started.
Pete: Brian has done a great job finding a mix of beers from different breweries without repeating himself too much. I am happy to see more Modern Times, because everything they make seems to be wonderful (also, I have a hard time following whether their releases are coffee or beer). I like seeing him also take a chance on some saisons. I am always a fan of the style and I am always looking for new ones to set a different trend for me. We (of course) have a full complement of IPAs as well, ranging from the classic West Coast to a take on New England IPAs. Overall, I am excited for this batch.
Drink With Us
Three friends. Three corners of the country. One passion for beer.
Heady Topper. Focal Banger. What Could Be Better than a Trip to The Alchemist?
The Hills Are Alive (with Incredible Beer) at von Trapp Brewing
Get Out of the City and Into Woods Beer Co.