Brewing the Best

Hospitality Culinary Trendsetters food and beer copy

At Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery, carefully crafted beers and cuisine

make this a top culinary destination for food and drink lovers.

By Stef Schwalb

From 2008 through 2016, Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock, N.H., has been voted best restaurant in the White Mountains by New Hampshire Magazine. It’s also been featured in The New York Times and Fodor's Travel Magazine – with good reason. Located in a converted train depot, the aptly named “Station” serves exceptional food and drink, as well as an exciting range of live entertainment. It’s also part of an amazing property that includes the brewery, featuring a delectable variety of homebrewed beers, as well as comfy guest accommodations.

Ideally situated near numerous area attractions, ski resorts, and the sparkling Pemigewasset River, Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery is a year-round destination travellers continue to be drawn to. “We at the Woodstock Inn spend a lot of time in R&D for menu items. We try to set new trends rather than follow them, bringing an element of entertainment to an already exciting dining experience,” says General Manager Keegan Rice. “We are a fun, family restaurant, and we appreciate when tables can interact and get wowed on a culinary level.”

A full country breakfast is part of the guest’s stay, and that alone could be worth a visit! The experience includes heavenly house-made sticky Hospitality Culinary Trendsetters burger copybuns and local roasted fair trade coffee, plus entree. One of the signature dishes is the Womlette, a Belgian waffle baked with an omelet on top. “You know when you go out and can't make your mind up about what you want to eat? This is one of those menu items that covers all the bases in a playful way,” explains Keegan. “We also feature house beer-braised pulled pork in some omelets and make house beer-braised corned beef for our red flannel hash (probably the best you have ever had), which features potato, carrot, and beets.”

The inn coined the term ‘Guacandaise’ too; that’s an avocado-infused hollandaise. The English muffins they use are quite different than the norm, since they are three times the typical size. The maple syrup is local, as are the eggs, which are free-range. The inn serves 20 different kinds of Eggs Benedict, plus 22 different kinds of omelets, ranging from basic to surf and turf.

There are plenty of exciting items for lunch and dinner, too. For example, the restaurant makes its own bratwurst, which is complemented by a house-made Oatmeal Stout Maple Mustard and Drunken Onions, onions caramelized with the addition of oatmeal stout. “We use local beef for all burgers, which comes from PT Farms in Haverhill, N.H.,” says Keegan. “The bread we serve with entrees and use for sandwiches is Spent Grain Beer Bread made in our bakery. We use spent grain from the brewing process, molasses, apple juice, and wheat flour.”

One of the signature dishes, Death By Burger, is served on a massive spent grain beer bread roll and includes18 oz. of beef, five slices of cheese and ten slices of local bacon. “We have our own cheese made with our signature Pigs Ear Brown Ale,” adds Keegan. “It is an alpine cheddar cellared locally.”

Other amazing items include: duck wings; the house-made BBQ sauce made with Pigs Ear Brown Ale, beer-roasted shallots, and other secret ingredients; the signature salad dressing, an Oatmeal Stout Balsamic Vinaigrette; and the Red Rack Ale Chili, which is made with Red Rack Ale and has won multiple chili cook-off awards.

Brewed to Perfection

As beer continues to evolve in the culinary space, The Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery is leading the charge. “Cooking with beer is just as synonymous today in American fare as wine is to French fare. There are many elements of the beer-making process that lend incredible flavors to food,” notes Keegan. “The unfermented malt can be used as a natural sweetener and is integrated nicely in a delicious mashed potato. Hops can add a nice herbal aroma to things as simple as hummus, and beer itself can be utilized in many avenues, such as deglazing pans, where wine was traditionally used. Typically, a malty brown ale is best with red meat, nice hearty steaks; a nice stout with chocolate desserts; and a nice pale ale or a mild IPA with a burger. Pairings are used to complement each other to allow the flavors of both to shine, more so than they would individually.”

NEW Hospitality Exterior copyIn addition to tasting beers straight from the source, inn guests also enjoy in-depth brewery tours. They are offered daily and are included in some packages. “It is our comedic approach to showcasing our brewery in one hour,” enthuses Keegan. “We go over the process, ingredients, and packaging, all while keeping an open forum for questions, one-on-one with a brewer.”

For those who want to get even more immersed in the subject, there are unique “learn to brew” experiences too. “When we built the brewery in 1995, we already had the inn and guest rooms here, but really it was from the realization that craft beer was a new and exciting beverage, which no one really knew too much about,” reveals Keegan. “We took the opportunity to promote an extremely fun way to showcase craft beer and explain the process hands-on. Most of our guests for the Brewer’s Weekends are return customers. It provides an unbeatable value, and the camaraderie between the guests is just exciting to watch.”

The brewery continuously works on new selections each season and a number of factors contribute to the process, including collaborating with local purveyors. “Our seasonal selections, such as the Kanc Country Maple Porter and the White Mountain Weasel Wheat, both use local maple syrup. Also, we do grow some hops here right onsite and source some hops from a friend’s farm in Sugar Hill, NH. As far as new ideas for each season, it varies,” says Keegan. “The initial way is we give our brewers the opportunity to create. If we have the space to do a new and exciting batch, we will, and give the brewers’ discretion. Our distributers play a big factor into what we create. They know what sells, what doesn't and what they think the next big thing will be regarding beer type and flavor profiles, so we always take their lead. Finally, we listen to our best customers. Craft beer is beautiful, people love it, and they tend to get really engaged, so we take guidance from them too.”

The Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery is big supporter of the area and has several local partnerships as special add-ons, including skiing and yoga for guests to experience during their stays. “The White Mountains offers something nowhere else in New England does – accessibility,” concludes Keegan. “Just two hours from most of New England’s major cities, this region has all of the natural beauty and any activity one can imagine. When you combine access to exciting local ingredients, a demographic that loves craft beer, and superb outdoor activities, you define the perfect recipe for a food/beer destination.” 

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