A Trip to Hobbs
It never fails me; on the winding drive north on Route 16 from the Seacoast, I always get to Ossipee before I start to feel like I missed the iconic Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Company. And, like clockwork, I will almost immediately see the billboard proclaiming that the tavern is only ten miles away. Knowing that amazing beer awaits me at the end of my journey fills me with excitement and carries me those last few miles.
With two years of brewing and serving up delicious rustic fare under its belt, Hobbs Tavern has become an iconic part of the Lakes Region. The original brewer, Scott Travis, handed over the reigns in early 2016 to up and coming brewer Randy Booth. Booth, a New Hampshire native who trained at breweries in Colorado, has been putting his mark on the brewery for the last few months. His enthusiasm for the craft is palpable; he has an appreciation and deep respect for this work. All of that translates into exceptional beer coming out of the gleaming, beautiful brewery.
With two-story ceilings, this seven-barrel brewery boasts shiny new equipment from Craftwerk in Michigan as well as some reclaimed equipment from nearby brewery, Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company. The brewpub and event space are equally impressive—nearly 35,000 feet of pine were brought in from local sources as well as custom-made wrought iron details that were installed to create the rustic yet stunning ambience.
The road to resurrection of the building was quite arduous. The original structure was built in 1885 by the Hobbs family, a family with New Hampshire roots dating back to the 1600s. Because of the age of the building, major renovations were necessary, including replacing the entire electrical system. Despite these difficulties, Hobbs Tavern was fully renovated over the course of 13 months with a crew of only six people. The finished space is magnificent. From the massive fireplace and couches when you first step in to the tavern to the breathtaking event space upstairs, every detail carries thought and meaning. Even the antiques that line the walls are heirlooms salvaged from another Hobbs’ family property.
The pub usually has 10 or 11 house beers on tap, with guest taps including cider and mead from nearby Sap House Meadery. During my visit, I did get the opportunity to try Silk Road, a delightful ginger hefeweizen. Randy is looking forward to pushing the envelope when it comes to new beers: he is hoping to introduce a sour and a gose, styles he brewed regularly in Colorado when working for Wiley Roots Brewing Company that haven’t quite caught on in New Hampshire yet.
Hobbs Tavern was originally opened with a high-end, white tablecloth atmosphere in mind. After a few months, management decided to go for a more laid-back feel, which suits the space perfectly. The menu includes classic tavern fare, with comfort foods as the prominent feature and a couple of fun twists. The pastrami is cured in-house and piled high on a grilled sub roll. The mushrooms that adorn the flatbread come from nearby New Hampshire Mushroom Company, alongside chevre and truffle oil.
Being situated right on Route 16 brings in many people traveling north towards the mountains or south to the Seacoast. One of the most laudable things about Hobbs Tavern, according to general manager Rob Finneran, is that they were able to create an atmosphere where both the locals and vacationers feel at home.
I can certainly attest to feeling at home here. From the warm reception I got when I first arrived to the last drop of beer, I felt welcome. I’ll be making the trip back soon to pick up a growler of River Drifter, their traditional German pilsner, and some more of that mushroom flatbread.