Manchester, NH (Delta Dental Stadium and Able Ebenezer)

Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

Team: New Hampshire FisherCats

Affiliate: Toronto Blue Jays (Double A)

Ballpark Basics: A ballpark of missed opportunities.    

You enter the Delta Dental Stadium at the base of the left field corner. On the ground level you will find the main gift shop. Here the team plays up the state’s role in the political process with team gear sporting both donkeys and elephants. There is a large set of steps that take you up to the main concourse and lets you out in front of the Sam Adams Brewhouse. The left field corner is also the best spot to see the Merrimack River as it passes by the ballpark.  

Besides the Sam Adams Brewhouse the dominant feature of the park is the Hilton Garden Inn that sits behind the left-center field wall.  Guests lucky enough to stay here get an amazing view of the field from their rooms facing the field and a chance to take a dip in the hot tub shaped like home plate.       

The concourse is nice and wide and open to the field. The suites above add some cover from the elements as you walk around the park.  However, the concourse does not wrap around the entire field as it ends at the right field foul pole.       

Best Spot For Beer:

Most concession stands have at least one option for local beer as well as the requisite Sam Adams. Moat Mountain Brewing seemed to be available at almost every concession stand.  However, the aforementioned Sam Adams Brewhouse has the most options with plenty of Boston Beer Co. options as well as some local. With its 85 foot bar and multiple TV’s it is also a great spot to grab a seat and watch a couple of innings from.

Northeast Delta Dental Stadium seems like the ballpark of missed opportunities.  While it is close to downtown it still seems separated thanks to the large swaths of parking. It was built on the banks of the Merrimack River but you really don’t notice unless you are on a specific part of the concourse. A concourse that is cut off at right field even though there appears to be space to continue it around the entire field. Even with these missteps (and even with one of the worst naming rights in all of MiLB) it is a pleasant place to take in a ballgame.     

Before we begin, a note from the bloggers: We almost didn’t have a brewery for the FisherCats.  Sure, there are several in the Manchester area, but they were all closed.  In the middle of a weekend afternoon. Two even had on their websites that they were open till 9pm.  We walked, well over an unshaded mile in hot afternoon sun to discover a note on the door that they were “closed for summer”.  WHAT??? That’s the best season to porch sit with a cold brew and overlook the Merrimack River. Days later, on our way back through the area we passed through the city of Merrimack, 10 miles south and found Able Ebenezer deliciously open for business.

Able Ebenezer

Rating: Triple

Beer basics: A brewery in appearance rooted in the past, but with their eyes firmly on the future.

Able Ebenezer is a history lesson hidden in a brewery. The name comes from a lesser known event in the American Revolution best known as “Ebenezer Mudgett and the Pine Tree Riot”. By all accounts, the riot stemmed from the Crown declaring all reasonably sized white pine trees property of the Royal Navy. This claim on the highly prized lumber incensed the owners of several sawmill yards.  According to the brewery, those who felt they were wronged met at Ebenezer’s home to show their support and raise money for fines. As happens when riled men share a few pints (his home happened to also be a tavern) this rally turned into a call to end the injustice once and for all.  According to Wikipedia, the Pine Tree Riot actually resolved fairly violently, with a midnight raid at the White Pine Tavern where several of the loyalist offenders (and their innocent horses) were lodging. 

Like that beer tie in?  The history lessons continue with their promotion of the “quart” a tribute to George Washington and November 4, 1775 when, as the fledgling Revolutionary Army struggled to survive a harsh winter and severe lack of supplies, General Washington negotiated a quart of beer per soldier per day.  A solution that helped morale, may have kept many from deserting and possibly even helped keep the revolution going. These are just some of the historical tie-ins you’ll find carefully smattered around all Able Ebenezer does. For more info, or just more of these stories, check out their blog. On to the beer!

Beer Breakdown: 

The tasting area itself is two large rooms, a garage which serves as taproom, and another room with store and living room feel, complete with games and a Nintendo set.  Black tables, chairs and barstools abound, and a bookshelf with books on beer, history, and both. Appropriately, the bar itself is beautifully carved from white pine; uniquely treated with a process that involved ship’s epoxy and blow torches so that cold, condensating beer glasses wouldn’t effect it. There were two tv’s, good music and friendly bartenders/owners who made sure we knew everything we could purchase.  The patrons were mostly locals, and apparently regulars who didn’t mind sharing a few of their favorites with us:

Emma Wood (5.0 ABV) – Popular in summer, this gal is banana colored with strong banana notes in the finish. Emma is a Belgian specialty ale, sparkly at first, but mellows as it sits.   

Kilgore Coffee Porter (6.0 ABV) Cola colored with a malted, brown sugar and coffee character, both in nose and taste.  Though dark, this wasn’t a heavy or boozy porter which makes it eminently drinkable even in July.

Burn the Ships Smoked IPA (7.0 ABV) The flagship (pardon the pun) of Able Ebenezer, and for good reason. Burn the Ships is actually a Scottish Ale with appropriate copper coloring, and a hop bouquet.  In a sip, the hop front is noticeable immediately, the middle is smoked meats and the end is again hoppy. Though this did have pronounced white lacing, it was less carbonated than the two before. Good, a little thin, as the hops and smoke battle for prominence. We were told many restaurants have this beer not just on tap, but also worked into menu items (beer cheese, beer batter, marinades etc.) and this beer seems made for such!

Victory Nor Defeat (8.0 ABV)- This Double IPA is AEss most popular in stores, and therefore at the time of our visit, the one they were actively canning.  The hops for Victory were special ordered and are a complex blend of several varietals that are added at various points throughout the brewing process.  Overall this is a slightly darker golden beer with a busy but well blended flavor that is complex without fighting itself. A clean finish with slightly lingering pine resin notes and a light tang.  

Able Ebenezer Brewing Company

31 Columbia Circle

Merrimack, NH 03054

(603) 262-5543