Brewery Name: Elm City Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: Colony Mill Marketplace, 222 West Street, Keene, NH
Facebook: Elm City Brewing Company, Restaurant & Brewery
Background: I grew up in Keene, NH, and Elm City Brewing Company has been a regional staple for my entire life. Even before I could drink, I would come here for the food. When I was in high school, they ran 35 cent wing specials once a week, and we used to come in and order 100 wings at a time. The fact that they put up with us doing that on a regular basis is really a testament to ECBC’s easygoing nature.
Growlers: Yes. You can get growler fills at the bar. You won’t find anything bottled, though.
The Beers: When I arrived, I found that Elm City Brewing had 10 of their own beers on tap. Since I had never tried any of them before, I naturally had to sample them all.
Session Ale: A little wheaty for my taste, but a solid bite of flavor here.
Peachy Keene: Named after is city of origin, this is a fruit bomb. It basically tastes like peach extract. I’m not sure how it rates as a beer, but it’s a delicious, delicious beverage.
Keene Kolsch: Kolsches have been growing on me lately, and this is no exception. It’s dry and flavorful, and really lives up to that German style. I enjoyed this quite a bit.
Raspberry Wheat: I’m not usually a huge fan of wheat beers, but when paired with fruit they can really be something special. This beer is delicious. It literally tastes like you’re drinking a raspberry cobbler. It’s too sweet to drink too many of, but it’s fantastic.
Kamikaze IPA: Made with all Japanese hops, and everything is big. Big head. Big hops. Big bitterness. The citrus rind on the back end really elevates this though. Very nice beer.
Blurred Lines: This Belgian IPA was probably my favorite beer I tasted. It has that new-wave New England haze and that well-rounded citrus flavor that I love.
Red IPA: It’s hard to say too much about this beer because the style is pretty hard to stand out in, but I’m a big red IPA fan and this beer was a solid representation of the style. Another one of my favorites.
Tilt Yer Kilt: This is a Scottish brown ale, and while I am a fan of ESBs this beer was a little thin for my taste. It tasted more or less like you’d expect: the scotch ale version of an english brown. Whether that works for you or not will probably come down to your general opinion of scotch ales.
Abbey Dubbel: This is a tough beer for me to judge, because I just don’t have a palate for dubbels. I’ll say this though: it’s very strong and very rich, which is what I want and expect from this style.
Baltic Porter: My favorite beer I ever had from Elm City Brewing was a porter, and I think generally this is a brewery that does that style right. It’s dark, rich, and a little smokey.
Vibe: Elm City Brewing is a fixture in Keene, woven into the fabric of the town. It is located inside the Colony Mill Marketplace, an old mill converted into a shopping center. Though some of the other businesses located in the building have met with mixed success, Elm City Brewing has been going strong for what feels like forever.
The beers are mostly classic styles done very, very well, and the more creative beers rarely miss. An IPA made entirely with Japanese hops isn’t something I expected to find in Keene, NH, but I’m very glad I did--it was well worth a try! The staff is very knowledgable and the regulars are friendly. You can easily sit at the bar and watch a few innings of the Red Sox game while sucking down a plate of wings and tasted upwards of a dozen beers.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the look and feel of the brewery, too. The all-brick Colony Mill Marketplace has a very old-world New England feel, and you really do feel like you’re in an old-timey beer hall the moment you set foot in the Elm City Brewery. The pillars, arches, and soaring ceilings lend an ambiance that you just don’t find in a lot of places. It’s a very, very cool setup.
Keene isn’t known as a beer destination, but neither is it far off the beaten path. Those heading up to Vermont for a weekend of beer tourism would serve themselves well to check out Elm City and see what they have to offer. Why not stop off for lunch and sample a few beers? Keene is a great town with more than a few beer lovers (shoutout to Brewtopia!), and this is a brewery that is well worth your time.
Dogs: No. Elm City Brewing Company is a full restaurant, so your dog will have to stay home. [UPDATE FROM THE BREWERY] While dogs are not welcome inside, Elm City informs us that they are more than welcome on the patio! If you bring your pup along, they will be greeted with a fresh bowl of water and a Greenie from Deb, the owner.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$ / $$$. Beer prices are reasonable, and the food isn’t overpriced, but it’s still a restaurant.
Food: Great food that goes above and beyond just normal bar fare. Whether you’re looking for sandwiches, burgers, sausages, or even a creative salad, Elm City Brewing has got you covered. The dining area is very nice.
Brewery Rating: 8/10. Elm City Brewing Company has a special place in my heart, so I fully admit that I may not be able to be fully objective here. But it’s a really great place to sit down and have a few beers while enjoying a food menu that puts most other breweries to shame. It’s a really fantastic brewpub with an amazing ambiance to go along with friendly staff and tasty beers. If you find yourself in Keene and you’re looking for a place to grab a quick pint, you should definitely make a point to check out this great venue.
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