Concord, NH -
I know that I have long since given up my commitment to signing off posts with the name of whatever exotic beer I was drinking in pursuit of my member mug* at the Moan and Dove in Amherst, but that can be entirely attributed to two factors, neither of which have to do with a lost appreciation of beer.
1) The pirated wifi I was getting at the bar was pulled out from under me sometime in the late spring.
2) Once I figured out that I wouldn’t be in Quabbin Qountry next year to enjoy the spoils of the 24-ounce mug, I made an economic decision to stop actively pursuing the mug list. I liken this to a candidate pulling out of the Iowa straw poll in order to better use funds elsewhere on the trail. Call me the Giuliani of the mug club if you want, I don’t care. Just don’t call last call.
Point being, one of the initial purposes of this blog, before it was unabashedly hijacked by the 2008 primary, was to present a stage for some of the better beers out there. Given the passing of Beer Hunter Michael Jackson over the weekend, I figured I ought to return to that hoppy pursuit on occasion. Plus another stated goal of 3Q is to present life in the Granite State during primary season for those of you who can’t be here for whatever reasons might exist, including but not limited to the following:
You have a job, you are a full-fledged economic libertarian, you think politics blow, you have an aversion to ice and blizzards, you want to be able to get a cup of coffee after 5PM, you enjoy going to bars that have more than four women in them at a time.
All of these are valid reasons not to be in New Hampshire. I, however, fit into neither of those categories. Well, all but the last two, but at any rate here I am.
Concord, baby, where the domes are gold and the women are cold.
So to fill the void I am beginning what will become a regular segment on 3Q where I profile a famous New Hampshire watering hole every couple of weeks. The series will be geographically and stylistically diverse, and will entail hours of research. All suggestions will be welcomed and considered, as will complimentary beers.
Tonight we begin the series with: Penuche’s Ale House, Concord.
Tucked back off of Main Street, as it seems like every good bar in New Hampshire is, through a door and down a flight of stairs sits Penuche’s Ale House in Bicentennial Square. It’s the kind of place where the bartenders, all in their late 20s, rip butts while they pour, take breaks to play photo hunt and Golden Tee, and hang out here even when they’re not on shift. In other words, it’s a family place.
Of course, if you get drunk enough, everyone’s family.
The nice thing about NH, having just come from Taxachussets, is that they allow Happy Hour unlike their southern neighbors. Every day at Penuche’s, Happy Hour is 4-6PM and all drafts are $2. We’re not talking some chump ass draft list, either. Tonight’s selections are as follows, from left to right:
Guinness Stout, Woodchuck Cider, Smithwick’s Ale, Bud Light, Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat, Magic Hat #9, Newcastle Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Bass Ale, Coors Blue Moon Belgian White, Harpoon IPA
And in the guest draft slot: Red Hook Longhammer IPA
This afternoon the bartender told me that the first twelve lines are pretty much always around, and the guest draft switches up every week or so. Last week it was Tuckerman’s Pale Ale. Normally beers are $3, but there is a nightly special for each day of the week.
Monday: Beat the clock. Starting at 9PM, all beers are $1, and prices go up a quarter every half hour.
Tuesday: Kick the Keg. $1.50 drafts of a selected keg until it’s gone.
Wednesday: Hump Day Madness. Pool tournaments and $1.50 aluminum Bud bottles**.
Thursday: $2 You call it. Everything is $2 from 9 to close.
Friday: Promo night. Last week it was $2 Longhammer.
Saturday: Live Music, Happy Hour 9-10PM $2 Drafts.
Sunday: Open Mic Night. Happy Hour 9-10PM $2 Drafts.
The atmosphere is classic ale house. The ceiling is full of air ducts and water pipes, all painted black and highlighted with beer bottle xmas lights. The far wall is plastered with photos from the New Years Eve photos from 2001-2003, presumably at which point they ran out of room, but the funny thing is that I recognize a lot of the people in them just from having been here three times. The only difference is the hair. Nobody (with the possible exception of Bill Simmons) has the same hairdo they had in 2001.
Better yet, the wall behind the bar is stuck with all kinds of bumper stickers ranging from witty to lame to rude. Highlights include:
Bush is a Tyrant!; Attention Republicans: Go Fuck Yourself; Pokey for President; Eat Shit & Die, Yankees!; Ani DiFranco Crew; and Sex is a Weapon.
Boy howdy, is it!
If you are ever bored on a dead Tuesday or whatever, you can always read the Guinness Book of World Records (they have three different copies), or play board games like Taboo, Scattergories and Pictionary. All are available at the left hand corner of the bar.
If you are feeling a little more active there is erotic photo hunt, one pool table, a foosball table, Golden Tee and two dart boards. They sell t-shirts for $10 and softball hats for $20.
Penuche’s is the kind of place where tie-dyed meets Harley-Davidson meets NASCAR; where sleeveless t-shirts meet facial hair meets dreadlocks. In other words, it’s a Man Bar, but an eclectic Man Bar. It is also a cheap bar, and yet sill a high quality bar. I mean, Dead Guy for a buck? How much cheaper can you get? The answer is none. None more cheap.
Penuche’s is located at 16 Bicentennial Square, Concord, NH.
*The Moan & Dove mug club involved drinking the entirety of their vast collection of beer bottles, some 165 of them ranging in price from 4 dollars up to 25, within a one year span. This feat entitles you to an engraved 24-ounce mug, out of which you may drink drafts at normal pint prices for life. I made it to about 110 in seven months, thanks in part to a strong late spring surge intended to set myself up for a late summer finish for full fall mug enjoyment, before I redirected.
**Granted, aluminum Bud bottles are fuckin’ weak, but anybody worth a shit drinks Budweiser out of a bottle. Penuche’s realizes this and doesn’t even offer it on draught.