When I first moved to North Conway, N.H. in 2015, I was immediately told to “Check out the Moat — it’s where all the climbers and outdoors people go to hang out.”
Coming from Philadelphia, the concept of going out to bars with friends and meeting new people wasn’t new to me. But now that I was in a small, rural mountain town, I had assumed there wouldn’t be much of a nightlife to discover.
The front doors of the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery (3378 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, N.H., moatmountain.com) led me to a small vestibule with clear floors, offering views of the brewery tanks below. Inside was lively, both locals and tourists enjoying house-made beers, nachos, and burgers after a day of adventuring in the mountains. I had been to plenty of beer bars in Philadelphia, but the concept of a brewery-restaurant combination was new to me. In the years to come, I’d learn that this concept wasn’t an anomaly, but a staple in cities and mountain towns throughout New England.
Brewpubs, which are defined by the Brewer’s Association as “a restaurant-brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site and operates significant food services,” draw beer lovers from up and down the East Coast to places like Vermont’s Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Idyltime, or Trillium Brewing in Massachusetts. Of course, there are also plenty of breweries throughout the region that have gained national and international recognition, but they don’t quite offer the same in-house experience as places like the Moat, where guests can enjoy a full food menu with their pint.