Thursday, April 8, 2010
The Day I Died and Went to Heaven – Brew England Visits Bert’s Better Beers
There’s no doubt that I’m constantly looking for new package stores that have good micro brew selections. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of them in my general area, though I do get pretty excited when I visit places like Curtis Liquors in Weymouth, Lukes Liquors in Rockland, and Marty’s in Newton. When I heard that there was a place in my hometown of Hooksett, NH that specialized in micro brews, I knew I had to check it out.
With life being so busy these days, I haven’t had a chance since Christmas to go through Hooksett; however, if I needed a reason to go to New Hampshire, Bert’s Better Beers is a very good one. Sarah and I took the opportunity to make a stop at this small specialty store this past weekend, as we were on our way to a family bar-b-que a few towns over.
From the moment we arrived, we were not disappointed- it was if I had died and went to beer heaven!
We entered the store and took no more than three steps before we were greeted by Bert Bingel, the energetic and very friendly owner of Bert’s Better Beers. We introduced ourselves and were invited to take a navigated tour of the store and talk beer with Bert and his business partner Ron.
Bert, a 17 year veteran of home brewing, knew that he wanted to open a store that lovers of beer or even those looking to get into the world of craft beer could enjoy. He said that every day he is getting new beers, and some how manages to find a spot on the shelves for them. He truly appreciates beer, and more specifically the quality of the beers he puts in his store. If a beer is past its freshness dating, they remove it immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s one of the larger, more popular lines of beers, if it’s not of the highest quality or freshness, you will not find it in this store. Bert said “it’s not Bert’s beers, it’s Bert’s Better Beers!”
When you first walk in you’ll see the newest arrivals, which usually never fall short of four or five different beers.
There are three main racks, going left to right, and are sorted alphabetically by style of beer. Mixed in are some familiar New England beers, with many more you probably haven't heard of.
One of the coolest things about Bert’s is that all beers are priced individually, in addition to being priced in six packs. Bert and Ron strongly encourage their patrons to mix and match their six packs. This gives customers a great chance to experience new beers, while reducing the fear of being disappointed by buying too much beer they may not like. Bert's also presorts some mix packs, such as ciders, dark and light beers, or even mead. This is great for people who know what kind of beer they prefer, but would like to check out new brews in that category they may not have known about.
We also happened upon this fun Boston/New York sixer.
This featured three Massachusetts and three New York beers, inspired by Opening Day between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The packs often include food items, tasting glasses, and tasting notes.
They also have an amazing singles cooler, which is found in the back of the store. The cooler houses almost 200 different beers!
They also have a rotating list of tap handles that are used as make shift cooler door openers, which adds to the overall decor of the shop.
You’ll also find several more beers on the sides of the store, including displays of Harpoon’s Leviathan series, Unibroue, and Hooksett, New Hampshire’s first and only brewery White Birch Brewing.
"We are turning the beer industry on its ear," said Bert with regards to his store and owner and brewer Bill Herlicka of White Birch.
What I think is also the most unique is that Bert's gives a short description of each beer they sell. Dispayed in front of each beer, it includes the name, style, IBU, color, description of the beer, and even food pairings, which all help patrons decide which beer to pick. These descriptions are also printed out with each mixed six pack so you can remember why you picked each beer once you get home!
Neither of us has ever seen this kind of attention to detail, nor this kind of regard for the beer consumer's experience with in a liquor store environment. You could literally walk into the store with no idea about beer, and leave with a 6 pack of an aassortment of beer you are sure to love.
If the impressive beer selection isn't enough for you, there is also a cooler at the front of the store that features artisan cheeses. These cheeses are made by farmers such as Boggy Meadow Farm in Walpole, NH, Sandwich Creamery in Sandwich, NH, and Robie Farm in Piermont, NH. Bert’s has beer and bar ware specific art and décor available for purchase as well.
It’s very clear to see both Bert and Ron care about their products and for sure their customers. They don’t hesitate to educate and recommend new beers to customers, without judging or pontificating about their extensive knowledge of beer. They personally sample each beer that comes in the door, prior to it hitting the shelves.
If you’re in southern New Hampshire, or looking for a great place to visit on a sunny afternoon, you must visit Bert’s Better Beers! It’s located at 1100 Hooksett Road (NH-28/US-3) in beautiful Hooksett, NH.
To see more photos from our visit, please click here.