Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Portsmouth, NH Beer Adventure – Sam Calagione Book Signing

Sitting in a funky basement space, with a shuffleboard, couches and pictures of naked women behind the bar, I knew that there was something special afoot. I was at the Jimmy LaPanza lounge in Portsmouth, NH (The downstairs lounge area of the Portsmouth Brewery) patiently awaiting the arrival of Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing. Above our heads, a beer dinner was going on, something that I sadly wasn’t able to get a ticket to attend. The brews for the beer dinner were being poured in front of my eyes, and I sighed as I watched tasting glasses of Sah’tea, Kate The Great and Portsmouth’s Aged Barleywine be whisked away to be served upstairs.

I heard about the beer dinner and was instantly beaming that someone as famous as Sam would come to my state – one of my local breweries, to boot – to host the dinner. A few days after hearing about the dinner, I got told about the “after event” where Sam would be hanging out signing copies of He Said Beer, She Said Wine

While waiting, I tried the Portsmouth Brewery’s Thaisenheimer – a beer brewed with Thai spices. It was pale yellow and slightly cloudy, but had a big fluffy head. The smell was spicy. Basil? Sage? I couldn’t place the spices exactly, but the taste was crisp with a citrus backdrop and lots of herbal aftertaste. I’m told this goes fabulously with their curried mussels (one of my favorite dishes there) and I believe it.
When we asked about the Aged Barleywine that was also a Portsmouth brew and on the beer dinner menu, they said they didn’t have enough left to serve the lounge guests. But, an extra taster glass of it was dropped off at our table with a wink and a nod. And let me tell you, it was amazing. It was sweet, alcoholic, and dark – like the color of Grade A amber syrup. It was sticky and resinously sweet. It even had a caramel finish – worth some serious acclaim. I have no idea what the regular schedule for this is to come out at the Portsmouth brewery, but if you see it, sip some, it was a treat to try.
Pretty soon, the beer dinner above ended and the guests, along with Sam, started to trickle in. I met and got to chat with a lot of beer loving people I knew only from the internet, which was rewarding in and of itself. I also got to meet Tod Mott, the head brewer for Portsmouth.
Sam came around and talked to everyone. It was obvious he had enjoyed the beers earlier, and was playful and chill. I had been raving to several people about the Lion’s Pride Brewery, and it got out to Sam that his brews (including 120 Minute IPA) were on tap there. He actually asked me for directions – and it turns out that the place is on the way to Dogfish Head, ME, (of the DFH brewery’s namesake) where he and his wife Mariah vacation.

Mike and I got a picture with him, which made my night, and I did get him to sign a coaster I brought back from the Rehoboth brewpub and the book, which we picked up while we were there. He signed it “Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.”
I also enjoyed talking to Mariah, and found it amusing that at several points during the night, Sam wandered around saying “hey, where’s my wife? where’d she go? anyone see my wife?”
I got to sample a few sips of Sah’tea and Squall IPA, but I didn’t take good notes. The Sah’tea was light and crisp with some savory spice to it (cloves?), and the IPA was very, VERY grassy and hoppy, but had a great malty finish. I still don’t understand how DFH manages to do that. I have a bottle of Squall that I’ll be writing up soon, but I was happy with the chance to try.
I’m likely to also go to another Dogfish event soon at Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, ME this Tuesday. Apparently they’re going to have 21 different Dogfish beers on tap, which might just be a record. I’m looking forward to it – join me if you can!!


Brunswick, ME Beer Adventure – Lion’s Pride Brewery


Red Hook Limited Release -Tripel


  1. One Ford Road

    Looks like it was a lot of fun!
    <3 Lindsay

  2. Cycling Phun

    Had Sah'tea, myself, this weekend. SO good.

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