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NERAX North at Tap in Haverhill

merrvally Nov 7, 2008 05:25 AM

Heading to the NERAX North real ale expo held at the Tap in Haverhill last night, tonight and tomorrow. This is a small festival of cask ales gathered from around New England and "Old" England. The organizers work very hard to first procure a nice selection of cask ales....and then they handle the firkins like babies...tapping them only when they have settled sufficiently and they are at their "brightest." This is not your brother-in-law's beerfest.

I went to the big NERAX in Davis Square this year and it was fantastic. Not a beer rep in the house...if they were there, they were disguised as civilian beer geeks. The beer was delicious and it was a great opportunity to find some new American beers - People's Pint from Greenfield was my big find - and to explore English Ale. And there were a ton of really knowledgeable folk there...happy to share info.

Admission is $10 and I believe you get and a number of pours for that price.

Their site is now listing ales that are "pouring" and those that are still "resting." Nice selection...I hope I get there in time for the Andrew's from Maine!


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  1. ScubaSteve Nov 7, 2008 05:36 AM

    as i live just up the street, i will be there tonight.
    will post later if i can find my way home.....

    p.s. the admission is $10 but from what i read on the website the beers are pay-as-you-go with 1/4, 1/2 and full pints being offered.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ScubaSteve
      merrvally Nov 7, 2008 05:49 AM

      Hi Steve...maybe we'll see you there. I'm going tonight and tomorrow.

      At the Davis Square event, the admission got you a number of tickets, four I think. Then you could use one ticket for a 1/4, two for a 1/2, four for a full pint, etc. And then you could purchase more tickets as needed. But don't hold me to that for this event.

      One of the organizers has recently been advocating Marshall's Wharf from Belfast. I'm looking forward to that, among others.

      1. re: merrvally
        ScubaSteve Nov 7, 2008 06:31 AM

        would love to say "Hi!"

        i'm pretty easy to spot. 6'6" 230# s&p hair glasses and probably some kind of ironic hipster t-shirt.

        1. re: ScubaSteve
          merrvally Nov 7, 2008 07:03 AM

          I will keep an eye out...it will be like meeting a celebrity...MC Slim of the North.

          1. re: merrvally
            ScubaSteve Nov 7, 2008 07:58 AM

            oh no.... not even close.
            but thanks.

    2. ScubaSteve Nov 10, 2008 10:11 AM

      went twice during the 3 day run.

      although i was happy to see an event of this kind just down the street from me i was a little disappointed by the setting, and yes, i know it's All About The Beer. white walls with every light in the house on and no music playing in the keg area was a little off-putting.

      i'm usually a fan of Cask Ale but there were no real revelations for me and nothing that i'd seek out again. two ales, one from Gritty's and another from Sam Adams were noticeably off. one with a prominent sulphur nose and another that smelled, and tasted, of banana.

      they offered two size glasses for rent or purchase ($5), a full pint and a half pint. i got the half pint mainly because it was too cute but found that it also worked to my advantage in the pay-as-you-go serving style. i would ask for a 1/4 pint ($2) and invariably it was almost always filled whereas my companion opted for the full pint and got what i considered shorter pours. it just might of been a perception thing but it was my perception and i liked it.

      i did get to meet a couple of fellow Hounds and that really helped draw my attention from the aesthetics. i will consider volunteering if this event finds it way back to The Tap, if only to influence the staging of the event. and, of course, to Drink Beer.

      7 Replies
      1. re: ScubaSteve
        Dinsdale45 Nov 10, 2008 11:02 AM

        Your experience at NN was like many of mine at the main NERAX event in the Spring in Somerville. I stopped going for years because of the crowds, the expense, and the beer quality then I went back this year and had a crappy time. I'm as big of a cask fan as anyone, but many of the UK beers don't do well coming across the pond and most of them are maddeningly unremarkable regarding flavor. I wound up drinking US beers because they actually had some taste. We had to get in line almost immediately after getting a half-pint because it would take us that long to get back to the front of the line. Then we just started ordering pints, which cut down on variety. I dunno, I want to embrace the real ale shows, but the way they're run just kills it for me.

        1. re: Dinsdale45
          ScubaSteve Nov 10, 2008 11:40 AM

          i was hoping it just wasn't me.
          the crowd, aside from being a sausage-fest, was not a problem. that was probably due to location.

          1. re: ScubaSteve
            celeriac Nov 10, 2008 02:08 PM

            I actually find them very endearing, having been to both the Somerville and Haverhill locations this year. It's my understanding that these events, much more than commercial beer fests, are really a labor of love for the organizers. Personally, I couldn't care less about the lighting, lack of music, and so on. I also had three or four really outstanding beers, which certainly helps. Just my take, and I do have a tendency to prefer the rough-around-the-edges.

            And yes, Nerax North was totally unlike the Somerville one in terms of the crowd size. No lines to speak of, no din to shout over, etc. Both had their merits to me.

            1. re: celeriac
              ScubaSteve Nov 10, 2008 03:02 PM

              i get what you're saying but really, could they just put a little thought into the setting?

              1. re: ScubaSteve
                celeriac Nov 10, 2008 04:15 PM

                I mean, sure they could have. But they're all volunteers running what is essentially a non-profit beer fest! They need to have lives too!

                Besides, I imagine The Tap probably contributes the space for little or no fee--that's why they're the primary sponsor. I don't mean to sound obnoxious, but if you have ideas about how to improve the event, or other venues that would host it, by all means get in touch and help them out! I realize I probably sound like one of their buddies or something, but I just see them as a bunch of folks that work hard on their weekend and after-work hours to bring something unique to the area.

                1. re: celeriac
                  ScubaSteve Nov 11, 2008 06:55 AM

                  absolutely and that is why i'll be volunteering next year. if not for anything than to get my hands on the dimmer switch and sound system.

                  1. re: ScubaSteve
                    celeriac Nov 11, 2008 08:23 AM

                    Awesome! That makes me really happy, since I usually operate under the assumption that all internet-based conversations end in unproductive name-calling. See you next year!

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