Ahh, the last state and hike in the hiking and beer pairing segment of my blog. I hope this blog finds you getting ready for spring hiking, or with a great brew nearby.
For this blog, I will highlight one of my favorite states: New Hampshire! I have been visiting New Hampshire since I was in second grade, mostly for snowboarding. As my interest in hiking has grown, New Hampshire has truly become a destination, as well as a workplace, for my hiking endeavors. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this state via its trails. It is without doubt that New Hampshire is grand and magnificent.
Here it is:
Bondcliff and Woodstock Inn Brewery’s Kanc Country Maple Porter
Let me start right away by saying that “The Bonds,” which are located at the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, are possibly the most spectacular places I have ever been. I have only been there once, with Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mountain Leadership program. On that trip, I met some of the most amazing people ever; it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
The location known as The Bonds consists of three mountains: Bondcliff, Mount Bond, and West Bond. None of these are easy to access. These mountains are the most remote peaks in the White Mountains, but that is the beauty of this hike! In fact, from The Bonds, not a single road can be seen. However, the one “Bond” closest to our beer pairing is Bondcliff.
A fair warning: this hike is a big one. It is my recommendation to get an early start. It is not for the faint of heart. Starting at the Lincoln Woods parking area, just off the Kancamagus Highway (NH rt. 112 – a short ride northeast of Lincoln, NH), a day hike to Bondcliff takes about an 17.6 mile out-and-back; a very long day hike. If that long of a day hike isn’t your style, the Bonds can be visited in an overnight or a two night backpack, using a combination of wilderness camping (following Leave No Trace practices, of course) and a stay at Guyot campsite, with an option to exit over the Twins to an access road off of rt. 302 or on the Zealand Trail past Zealand Hut and out to Zealand Rd.
To get to Bondcliff, start at Lincoln Woods, taking the Lincoln Woods Trail. The Lincoln Woods Trail provides streamside views of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. Most notably, just off the Lincoln Woods Trail, you have the option of taking a .4 (one-way, .8 round) mile detour to see Franconia Falls! This is a beautiful waterfall with a deep swimming hole. Just past the intersection of the Lincoln Woods Trail and the Franconia Falls Trail, is the intersection with the Bondcliff Trail.
Despite this being a long and hard hike overall, the Lincoln Woods Trail and first 1.4 miles of the Bondcliff Trail (formerly known as the Wilderness Trail), are very flat. It is very easy to cover this mileage in great time. After that however, it is pretty much straight uphill, on rocky trail, to get to Bondcliff. Be sure to bring your trekking poles! However, whatever effort is required for this hike, maybe a short night’s sleep and burning quads, is paid off in view. The view at the summit is mega!
The summit of Bondcliff is expansive, flat, and rocky, creating a great lunch spot. The treeless summit provides a 360 degree view with a particularly deep glimpse into the Pemi Wilderness to the east, while
the vertical cliff on the west side plays off the steep view of Mt. Bond’s rise to give the sensation of vertigo. A true wonder! This summit also provides the hiker with the opportunity to get the famous photo atop one of Bondcliff’s rock outcroppings.
Return the way you came up and head into Lincoln for our beer pairing! Or, if you choose to make it an overnight, be sure to check out this pairing after picking up your car at the trailhead.
After a big hike like the one up to Bondcliff, what would one drink? Well, after a long day like that, I know I’d like something full bodied and filling to help ease that post-hike hunger. If you feel the same, then look no further than Woodstock Inn’s Kanc Country Maple Porter. Woodstock Inn is located along rt. 3 (or Main Street) in North Woodstock, just southwest of Lincoln on rt. 112.
So, I have to be completely honest, as I don’t want to lead you astray. Woodstock Inn’s beers are not the kind of beers that knock your socks off. However, that’s not to say they’re not good. In fact, while I haven’t sampled all NH breweries, Smuttynose is the only one that has ever “wowed” me (maybe one or two brews from White Birch too). Unfortunately, those two breweries are located in the lowlands of NH, with few hikes close by. Woodstock Inn’s beers are very solid, drinkable brews, that would satisfy any beer craving, whether after a long day of hiking or a long day of sleeping. I will say that
Woodstock Inn is a top notch eatery and watering hole, however. A great place to be with friends. Additionally, the location is unbeatable, central to some amazing hiking in the area (including but not limited to Franconia Notch and anything along the Kancamagus Highway). Woodstock Inn has a wide selection of hearty food that can cater to any eater, but particularly tired hikers. The menu is eclectic, and the portions are big. The bar is big, and the environment is casual, so this is a must stop for anyone in the area. Be forewarned, it get’s crazy crowded during high visitation times (ski weekends, public school breaks, etc.).
But back to the beer; that’s why were here, isn’t it? The Kanc Country Maple Porter is a full bodied American Porter, that is dark and roasty. However, my favorite aspect of this beer is the maple character. The maple character does not smack you in the face. Rather you have to use all of your senses, dive deep into the dark liquid, and find it. When you do, you’ll love it. As the beer warms, it becomes more apparent. As soon as you catch your first whiff of the maple in the aroma, the beer is enhanced for the remainder of the glass. The maple character in this beer is kind of like the character of NH maple syrup. When people think maple, they think Vermont. However, New Hampshire maple syrup has a place in the world of maple, you might just have to look a little harder to find it. If you do, you’ll find the good stuff. This beer showcases that New Hampshire can hold their own when it comes to beer and maple. A great beer to satisfy your post hike beer desire, as well as connect you to New England culture and history (Maple and the “Kanc” short for Kancamagus, i.e Kancamagus Highway, Pass, and Railroad).
Unfortunately, this beer is a seasonal. So, if you can’t get your hands on this porter, I recommend reaching for a Pig’s Ear Brown Ale or Old Man Oatmeal Stout.
More info: http://www.woodstockinnbrewery.com/home.php
If you haven’t made it to New Hampshire, you have to go. It is truly an outdoor playground. With hiking, swimming, skiing, climbing, etc. there is something to do year round. With so many amazing peaks to summit, it was hard to choose just one. However, I can guarantee that Bondcliff will not disappoint. Additionally, Woodstock Inn is always jam packed, and for good reason. So, if you like hiking, definitely go to New Hampshire, but don’t sleep on their beer either.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my “Pairing: Hiking and Beer” series. I hope they have been a guide for your hiking and beer pursuits in these three great states. While I hope you replicate these pairings, I hope even more these posts have just been a platform from which you spring your own explorations of hikes and beer, wherever you are!
Maybe, just maybe, there will be some “special edition” pairings in the future!