Brewery Name: Neighborhood Beer Company
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: 156 Epping Road, Exeter, NH (just off exit 9 on Route 101)
Facebook: Neighborhood Beer Co.
Background: Neighborhood was founded to bring German-style beers back into style. The brewery specializes in “American interpretations of authentic German-style beers,” which bucks the recent New England trend of “all IPAs all the time.” They’re a not your typical New England beer company, and they take pride in it.
Growlers: Yep. You can pick up growlers from the fridge or have them filled right there.
The Beers: I want to preface this by saying that I am far from an expert in German beers. One of the things that drew me to Neighborhood in the first place was the fact that they are so far outside the norm as far as what breweries are doing in New England these days. There aren’t hazy IPAs. These aren’t high-gravity stouts. They’re classic German styles, sometimes updated, sometimes not, designed to give people a taste of a little something different.
Hallowed Hammock Blonde Ale: Tastes very much like a classic kolsch. That’s not my favorite beer style, but this was pretty tasty. Kolsch fans will definitely want to give this one a try.
Obstinate Goat: I really had absolutely no idea how to judge this beer. “Ur-Bock” is another wholly unfamiliar style. It's almost pilsnery? Wheaty and VERY light. It tastes very, very German, which I think is a testament to Neighborhood. That’s what they do, after all.
Boss Flamingo Bronze Ale: According to the bartender I spoke to, this is Neighborhood’s flagship beer. And I have to say, it’s real tasty. Smoky but sweet. Like smoking a cigar while chewing bubble gum. I know that sounds weird, but if you taste it, you’ll understand.
Junkyard Pedigree: This was probably my favorite beer I had there. It’s an awesome, well-rounded copper ale with none of that metallic funk that some coppers seem to have. And best of all, it’s damn strong.
Forbidden Firecracker: I’ve had this particular beer before, and while I’m not a huge fan of pilsners in general, this is definitely above average to me. It’s not a strong beer by any stretch, but a 5.6% pilsner will do the job just fine, thank you.
Familiar Stranger: It’s a very nice blonde and it goes down nice and smooth. Blondes aren’t really my style, so I’m not sure I feel qualified to comment beyond this. If you like blondes, I’d give it a go.
Magnetic Reflection: This is a really good, easy to drink dunkel. Very malty but also very smooth.
Baroque Butterfly: I don't know what a "keutebier" is but it's pretty dang good. I wish it was a little more tart and a little less wheaty. But damn tasty.
Vibe: I stopped in after work, and the taproom wasn’t too crowded. I imagine that it gets a little busier as the night goes on, but I was able to get a seat at the bar pretty easily and strike up a conversation with the bartender, who was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. The taproom itself has a cool, open setup, with tables scattered around the fairly expansive dining area and even a couple armchairs to lounge in.
I do wish it had been a little easier to learn about the beers themselves--obviously it’s not reasonable to expect the entire staff to know the ins-and-outs of the brewing process, but since Neighborhood prides itself on bringing lesser-known German styles like “keutebier” and “ur-bock” to America, it would be nice to be able to learn a little more about what exactly those beers represent. This is a minor complaint, though. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive, and hey--if you want to know what a keutebier is, everyone has a smartphone these days.
I’m kicking myself for not trying the food. The menu includes a big selection of artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches and pretzels, giving Neighborhood a real “beer hall” feel. Given that they specialize in German beer, I imagine that’s what they were going for. Well, mission accomplished. This is a great space, with delicious beer and a fantastic vibe. I look forward to having the chance to come back!
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$
Food: Yes. And I have to say, the food looks amazing. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to try some next time I stop by.
Final Thoughts: As I said at the beginning, German beer has never been my forte, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I enjoyed the beer offerings at Neighborhood a LOT. I’m always eager to try anything new, especially if it’s in a style that I’ve never tasted (or, in some cases, even heard of) before, and Neighborhood delivers new experiences by the barrel. If you find yourself driving up route 101 past Exeter, pull off and pop in for a flight. You won’t regret it.
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