BrewReview: 603 Brewery and Beer Hall
By Steve Solito
BeerSeekers on the job: Steve, Nick and Brandon
The whole state of New Hampshire has just one area code: 603. Having grown up there I don't think twice about it, but I know some people from more populated areas find that amusing.
Representing a whole state with your brand is a bold move I think! Right off the bat you give yourself a name to live up to; a high standard to hold yourself to.
The founders of 603 Brewery clearly did not take that lightly when they began their journey into the craft beer world in 2012. The co-founders of 603 started off by traveling the state of NH selling their brew from the back of their cars.
To learn that and then go to the Beer Hall in Londonderry, NH, and see where that hard work has taken them is inspiring. And we got the chance to do just that while also celebrating the release of their Toasted Pumpkin Ale - a wildly popular fall brew. Keep reading for more on that release, but let's dive in!
The first time I went to 603 Brewery, it felt like a small brewery off the beaten path, a bit deeper into less traveled areas of Londonderry, NH. That was back in 2016. In 2019 they moved to their new, significantly larger Beer Hall across town, and this place is legit!
Before I talk about the place itself, it's important to mention the location. This is clearly a brewery that's on the rise with such an upgrade as far as their brewery and beer hall goes, but the location itself adds to their bright future.
They find themselves smack dab in the middle of a very large and brand new development called the Woodmont Commons, just 2-3 minutes from I-93. Next to the Hall are beautiful apartments with way more to come in the surrounding plots of land from retail, to restaurants and more.
They are literally on a brand new road named Main St... There aren't many "Main Streets" being created from scratch these days, so this is truly the development of a fresh downtown that is in progress. Not a bad place to be located.
The actual Beer Hall comfortably holds well over 100 people in non-COVID times, but with the space they have, it doesn't seem like adhering to the new restrictions has been very difficult. They have done a great job of spacing people out both indoors and out on their front patio.
Inside they have two bars working - neither of which you can sit at currently, but it makes for quick work from their team to get beers over to you. There's a solid merch section off to the side, and in the back are giant glass windows giving you a great view into the brewhouse where the real magic happens. If you want to catch a game there, they have plenty of TVs for that as well.
Their front patio is well equipped to handle the cooler weather coming soon with patio heaters already firing up. The indoor and outdoor spaces blend together nicely with half doors/windows that open up to create sort of a bar between the two spaces.
Lastly, we've been told (but haven't experienced) that their additional outdoor space in back of the brewery doubles their capacity. Sounds like a great place for events once life is back to normal, but it is still utilized on weekends now too.
The space they have bodes well for them to get through COVID times while setting themselves up nicely for whatever the future holds! Now onto the beer!
The Beer (and Food!)
We were able to try quite a few beers while there, but our real purpose for making the trip was to celebrate fall being upon us with the release of their Toasted Pumpkin Ale.
Real quick, my personal favorite was their E09 Czexican Lager, part of their experimental series of brews. It's pretty straight forward that if you like Czech Pilsners and/or Mexican Lagers, you'll like this one. It was very drinkable with a light body, a slight breadiness to it and a hint of green apple flavor.
I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention the incredible food we tried!
Our good buddy Parker Wheeler, who is an events manager at 603, joined us on our excursion and filled us in on some great details about anything related to 603 (you'll see more of him in our 603 Brewery video coming soon!), which included info on their phenomenal executive chef's background.
We tried to cover our bases with the food, sharing Korean BBQ nachos, buffalo chicken and pesto chicken pizzas, chili pumpkin wings and orders of fries with beer cheese for dipping. My favorite was the nachos, but truthfully the whole spread was incredible.
But enough about me. Let's get to the real picks here!
E09 Zest Friends Forever (sour Berliner Weisse, 3.8%)
Brandon, Nick and I collectively selected this one. As Brandon put it, he typically likes a tropical fruit explosion in the form of a hazy IPA. Going for a Berliner Weisse eliminates the hoppy profile that we're all fond of, but Zest Friends Forever was a pleasant surprise.
ZFF is characterized by supreme drinkability; it tasted like a carbonated orange juice/seltzer mix that was very refreshing, but not laughably light. Loaded with orange and apricot, ZFF poured a nice slightly orange color and was on the low end of the ABV spectrum at 3.8% (not entirely surprising).
Some sours and Berliners can be overly tart and draw out a pucker-face, but not this one. It had just the right amount of fruitiness and wasn't overbearing in any way. If you're looking for a nice surprise in your next flight, this could certainly be the one!
Steve, Brandon, and Nick's Pick
Toasted Pumpkin Ale (8.2%)
We had been planning a trip up to 603 to celebrate this beer since we first interviewed Parker back in June (check out our Industry Insiders video if you haven't seen it). Anticipation built. Summer made way for fall. The time finally came... and the Toasted Pumpkin Ale did not let us down!
Some pumpkin beers can be a little too sweet at times and lose their beer edge. Toasted Pumpkin was smooth with a great, natural pumpkin flavor, but what really shined through was the vanilla finish. For the real details on this great Fall beer, including our interview with 603 and some takeaways from the gang here at BeerSighted, you will need to stay tuned! Look for the video to be released next week (week beginning 10/5).
Plain and simple: 603 Brewery is on the rise! We'll have more general thoughts on the brewery and our soon-to-be-released video as well. In the meantime, stay up to date with everything 603 Brewery is doing by visit them online at 603brewery.com. And make sure to give them a follow on social media @603brewery. Cheers, BeerSeekers!