With 370 acres of terrain, major upgrades over the last five years and three peaks to play on, Loon Mountain has become one of New Hampshire’s most popular destinations. Just a few miles down the road, Waterville Valley boasts an impressive 2,000 feet of vertical drop in its 220 skiable acres, good enough to host a number of World Cup races over the years.
These two mountains share one major attraction in common: a brewery just a few miles away that offers the type of hoppy and hearty beers that are the perfect prescription after a cold, muscle-beating day on the hill. The Woodstock Inn and Brewery serves some of the tastiest hand-crafted beers in the state—and is the local’s favorite après spot.
The Woodstock Inn and Brewery is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Photo Courtesy of The Woodstock Inn and Brewery.
Butch Chase, the head brewer and operations manager, has been in charge since day one. He started at The Woodstock Inn as a bartender, when it was just a restaurant. Turns out the clientele ordered way more Sam Adams than Coors. The light went on in the proprietor’s head: people in New Hampshire like good beer (seems like a “duh” moment, but the craft beer market was still in its infancy in the mid 90s). Chase was asked to learn about brewing and helped build the brewpub.
Chase, who had one foot out the door heading toward air traffic control school, didn’t need much convincing to stay on and learn the process of beer making and helped open the brewery.
“It was an easy decision,” Chase said. “I didn’t want to live in a city. Didn’t take much convincing at all.”
He’s done pretty well for himself over the last 15 years—winning several medals for his beers and being featured in the New York Times. Now he’s living his perfect life, riding Loon and Waterville 50-plus times a year, hanging with his family in an idealistic country setting and making some of the best beer in the state.
“It’s awesome, professionally and personally,” Chase said, before detailing his life that sounds like a near perfect balance of work and ski-bum living. “I make my own hours, come in early and get some runs in later or if there’s fresh snow, come in later.”
If you sit at the main bar on a Friday or Saturday night—live music begins at 9 p.m.—you’ll have the pleasure of being served by Chase. Feel free to offer feedback on the beers or ask him what food to order with your favorite brew. He’s kind of a geek about that and loves food and beer pairing, wine be damned, even if it’s not a trend that has wholly caught on in the beer world.
“You can really go a lot of different directions with food and beer,” Chase said, before narrowing the scope to a few tried and true favorites:
Fresh off the slopes, there’s little better pairing than a Pig’s Ear Brown Ale and the Plebian Burger ($11.99) made from nine ounces of locally produced fresh ground beef and topped with Buffalo mozzarella and caramelized onions. This beer, despite its dark color, is a session drinker and is light on its feet to match the juicy richness of the burger.
For those ordering a Pemi Pale Ale, which has enough hops to mesh with some serious spicy food, the Sweet Potato Ravioli ($8.99), served in a sweet and spicy chili glaze is the pick.
On really, really cold days (when does that ever happen in New Hampshire?), the hearty Station Chili ($8.99) is in order, the Old Man Oatmeal Stout will be an apt companion. Just like the chili itself, the stout has layers of flavors that will evolve throughout the palate.
Insider Tip: The locals (including pretty much all of the area’s ski patrollers) hang out in the cozy tap room in the back while visitors tend to head to the main bar. Either way, all appetizers are half price and beers just $3.50 from 3 to 5 p.m. daily. Just make sure you change out of your ski clothes if you’re planning on staying from ski hour to late night: “Unfortunately, they’re still a few here at midnight in their ski pants,” Chase said.