MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Taking the name of its original 1994 pub, STARK BREWING COMPANY (New Hampshire’s first operating brewpub) is the brainchild of brewmaster Pete Telge, who moved to Manchester’s red brick Millyard District and rebranded his bustling basement operation Milly’s Tavern in ’99. Now newly renamed Stark, the rustic brewery also features a distillery.
Down the stairs in an old fabric mill, Stark changed its business moniker from Milly’s Tavern in January ’17. Wood-floored brass tanks and other brewing equipment surround the spacious central bar along with several seating tables. A rear banquet room and full kitchen fill out the interior. Top shelf liquor was available alongside the rangy beer selection.
I had the fried haddock with all fifteen proprietary suds on draught during my enjoyable Friday noon stopover, September ’22.
Brisk Czech-styled pilsner, Puppy Dog, retained light maize-dried barleycorn musk for woodsy Saaz-hopped lemon twist and slight sulfuric divergence.
Grassy hop astringency penetrated the white breaded lager yeast of Mt. Uncanoonic Cream Ale, leaving orange-oiled lemongrass tartness on the backend.
Zesty orange-peeled grapefruit tanginess gained candied pineapple, lemon curd, talc soapstone and floral whims above the white wheat base of Zeus Belgian Wit, one of Stark’s better-known and best designed offerings.
A Zeus Belgian blonde variant, Razz Zeus, brought salty citric-prickled raspberry tartness to herbal cologned straw wheat.
Another divergent Belgian wit, Smokin Iguana Chill – Razz, let its coriander-spiced orange peel sweetness contrast candied raspberry tartness, yogurt-like lemon souring and vinous green grape esters.
Curiously merged Blueberry Pumpkin Pie plied blueberry rhubarb souring to gourd-like earthiness and lettuce-celery vegetalia.
Toasted caramel, roasted tobacco and dewy peat sufficed for Tasha’s Red Ale, an Irish-styled variant with amber grain crisping outdoing subtle honeyed tea spicing.
“Suspiciously smooth” Bo’s Scotch Ale delivered peaty Scotch malting to brown chocolate, waddle seed, raw molasses and chestnut illusions.
Laidback grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering soaked up resinous pine and dewy earthiness for Cascade-hopped West Coast IPA, ManchVegas, a caramel-malted medium body.
Perfumed tropical fruiting guided lightly creamed Zilla, a slightly divergent Imperial IPA placating its expected grapefruit, orange and pineapple tang with brown tea-like mossing above roasted caramel malts.
Bold Tropical Punch Hopzilla allowed pineapple-pureed coconut watering to seep inside sharp juniper vodka boozing (10.5% ABV), picking up subtle bergamot orange, candied lemon and pineapple whims.
Pickled lemon juice, briny pineapple puree and soured melon rind tartness created a Margarita likeness for Firkin Gherkin, a cask conditioned sour ale.
Salted lemony raspberry tartness and tannic vanilla contrasted the spun-sugared cotton candied confection of Cotton Candy Sour.
Maple-sugared molasses treacle dripped onto the brown chocolate-y toffee spicing further sweetening Twinkletoed Barleywhine, a mossy English-styled barleywine with dry burgundy snip and medicinal cherry reminder.
Re-tasted flagship holdover, Milly’s Oatmeal Stout, a dry oats-flaked full body with dark chocolate richness, delicate cocoa beaned coffee roast and latent earthen soiling.