Woodstock Inn Brewery Pig’s Ear Brown Ale
By: Benjamin Welton
North Woodstock, which is adjacent from Lincoln in Grafton County, is a nice place to vacation. New Hampshire is nice in general, but this little central-west corridor is particularly beautiful. If you like to ski, then there’s Loon Mountain. If you enjoy staring at leaves like some sort of brain-dead somnambulist, then you can do that in North Woodstock September through November. If you’re the type of glutton who just wants to binge and purge on good grub, then by all means stop at the Common Man or the Gypsy Cafe.
But since we’re not in the tourism business, let’s talk about beer. The Woodstock Inn Brewery, which does indeed double as a rural inn (rooms start at $117), is the type of microbrewing operation that likes to keep things local. And rustic – you can’t forget about rustic. As evidence, let’s examine the Pig’s Ear Brown Ale. At 4.3% ABV and sporting a muddy hue, this brown ale tastes the way your grandpappy tried to make it back during Prohibition. If it weren’t for the law, your grandpappy might be able to afford a night at the Woodstock Inn.
First Impression: At the sake of punching down, the Pig’s Ear Brown Ale could do with an aesthetic update. Pigs are great and all, but poorly drawn pigs giving buyers the stink eye aren’t exactly as enticing as ham, bacon, or pork chops. Other than that, this beer walks the line of the thoroughly mundane.
Pour: The Pig’s Ear pours amber brown with a creamy head that lingers. In fact, it lingers longer than you’d expect, which is a good thing. In aromatic matters, this beer has a unique smell. One could label it as either caramel or roasted nuts. Those with more sensitive schnozes might point towards dirty socks, while I’ll stick with baked beans, an old New England standby.
Taste: According to the website, the Pig’s Ear Brown Ale won the Grand National Championship in 2004 and 2006. The category was brown ales and the judges then were tasked with finding the best beers at the United States Beer Tasting Championships. I can taste what they were getting it, but I just can’t buy it completely. This beer is flavorful, with fat malt hits that swim around in the mouth. But, that being said, this beer is only a better-than-average brown ale. It’s comparable to a brown trout: you’re glad it’s not a rainbow, but you were hoping for a golden.