war on the rocks

Where to Drink Beer This Primary Season

February 5, 2016

Primary season is upon us! If you work in politics and find yourself stumping in an early voting state, chances are you’re definitely going to need a drink. Thankfully, Molotov Cocktail has sampled some of the local beers in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and is ready to help you drown your sorrows or toast your triumphs.

Iowa

Yes, the Iowa Caucus is over, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t sticking around for a couple of days to tie up some loose ends. If you are still in Iowa, or find yourself there for any reason, head over to Toppling Goliath Brewing Company in Decorah. It is a bit off the beaten path, but the beers are worth the trip. Toppling Goliath not only has some of the best beer in Iowa but some of the best beer in the country. In fact, TG’s beer is so good and in such high demand, a bootlegging scheme was recently uncovered, with an unscrupulous individual drinking the Toppling Goliath beer and then refilling it with non-TG brew (and even going as far as to re-wax the bottle) before trading it with unsuspecting recipients.

While some of TG’s more in-demand beers might be tougher to find, the everyday beer from TG is still top of the line. Check out pseudoSue, a bright and refreshing Pale Ale highlighting Citra hops. Also keep an eye out for the Golden Nugget IPA, made with a traditional UK base malt and Nugget hops. This beer is a bit higher ABV than pseudoSue but still provides the beer drinker with a great, assertive hop presence.

New Hampshire

So, you’re on to the first primary in the nation and ready to keep drinking? Smuttynose Brewing Company is the place to start. While you can get Smuttynose in several places around the country, checking out the Hampton, NH brewery is a must. First of all, they have a 9-hole disc golf course on site (however, you can’t drink on the course). Second, they have a beautiful, relatively brand new brewery and restaurant where you can sample some of Smuttynose’s brews and grab a bite to eat. Third, if you need some political bona fides, it already hosted Hillary Clinton earlier in the season.

At the Smuttynose restaurant, you can try a bunch of beers from their regular release series, their big beer series, and their more experimental line from the “Smuttlabs” facility, which produces small-batch beers for local sampling only. You know it’s going to be cold, so grab the Baltic Porter or the Robust Porter. Clocking in at 9% ABV, the Baltic Porter is one of the best beers Smuttynose puts out. The lagered sister beer to a Russian Imperial Stout, Smuttynose’s offering has a smattering of dark roasty flavors as well as a mix of dried fruits like raisins and figs. If you need something a little less intense, the Robust Porter sits around 6.6% ABV but still provides the fruity/coffee/chocolate balance of its more alcoholic counterpart. If you want hops, grab a “Finest Kind” IPA. With citrus flavors practically leaping out of the glass, this well-balanced IPA has an assertive bitterness bite, juicy citrus flavors, and a present malt backbone.

South Carolina

In an escape from the cold weather states, South Carolina provides some good weather to go along with its good beer. Westbrook Brewing Company is located just north of Charleston in Mt. Pleasant, SC and offers several interesting beers. Westbrook’s facility has a tasting room with several of its brews on tap, along with a bunch of beers from gypsy brewer (i.e. a brewer that doesn’t have a home brewery but instead brews beers at different facilities around the world) Evil Twin, which brewed some of its beer at Westbrook.

One of the most popular beers in Westbrook’s catalogue (which is a seasonal beer so check if it’s there before you go) is their Gose. A sour style that was traditionally brewed in Leipzig, Germany but failed to catch on in the initial wave of craft beer, Westbrook’s take has all the key elements: tartness with a wheaty backbone and a bit of coriander and salt to tie it all together. With all the ingredients in balance, it’s the perfect sipper for sitting outside in that warm South Carolina sun. Another popular beer that is a year-round offering is their White Thai Witbier. Leaving behind traditional witbier ingredients such as coriander and orange peel, their wit adds lemongrass, ginger and Sorachi Ace hops to create a distinct witbier. At 5% ABV, this is the kind of beer you can drink all day or pair with a spicy Asian-influenced dish, or my personal favorite, seafood.

Whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or socialist, we can all agree that a good beer is something to enjoy. So if you find yourself in one of these first three early voting states, grab a beer from one of these breweries and find a couple moments to relax. It will no doubt get worse from here.

 

Salvatore Colleluori is a political writer by day and a homebrewer and beer enthusiast by night. He holds a degree in Political Science from the George Washington University and enjoys reading about alcohol, history, and foreign relations. He is also an avid music lover, specifically jazz and the Grateful Dead.