Vulgar Brewing Company (Franklin, NH)

I’ve always enjoyed Franklin, NH a bit. One of the quirks of New Hampshire is that if you live in the western part of the state, there’s no direct route to the White Mountains or the Lakes region, instead, you end up taking various shortcut routes through Merrimack County, which usually means driving through one of several classic New England “Former Mill Towns”, be it Plymouth, Tilton, Bristol, or Franklin. Franklin has a rather nice downtown, with a nice library, an old majestic theater, and quite a few buildings lining an old-town Main Street. However, Franklin’s economy hasn’t been all the strong over the last few decades, and often, many of the storefronts are closed up and boarded up. But recently there’s been a lot happening in Franklin. The town has long planned Mill City Park, a whitewater park on the Winnepeasaukee River, has actually broken ground, and some new restaurants are starting to show up as well; you can read up on my visit to Broken Spoon early this Spring. But this trip, our destination was a brewery: Vulgar Brewing Company.

Located on Central street in a building adjacent to a nice outdoor square (Marceau Park), it’s a bit of an odd, narrow space, but it seems to work for a brewery: brewing kettles up front, and seating in the rear. They make good use of the adjacent square, having had a nice outdoor beer garden since the weather turned nice, and it’s even semi-dog-friendly (dogs actually aren’t allowed in the beer garden, but they happily let your dogs sit just outside the beer garden and will even bring out a water bowl for them). So we sat down on one of the long bench tables, and looked over the beer list.

Most of Vulgar’s beer menu is true to their name (from the Latin “vulgaris”, meaning “for or about the common people”), with around a half dozen beer varieties that go for variety instead of extremism: while they typically do have the de rigueur IPA or two on the menu, most of the beers are actually pretty diverese, with a lot of German styles (Pilsners, Rauchbiers, and a Hefeweizen on our visit) and even a nice Belgian Dubbel (shown here). It’s a refreshing niche that’s a nice addition to New Hampshire’s brewing scene. Kicking backing, we enjoyed our beers as we pondered the food menu.

The food menu at Vulgar Brewing is pretty simple: it’s basically “Pizza and Salads”, but they do a rather good job with the pizza toppings, with both a list of standard pizzas (like pepperoni or cheese), and “Pizzas for the Adventurous”, like the “Royale with Cheese” with burger toppings including mustard, a Thai chicken pizza, or even a pulled pork, pineapple, and jalapeno pizza (the “Tropic like it’s hot”). We ended up going with the Wobbly Sausage on this visit, which is basically a minor tweak on the standard sausage pizza: Italian sausage, red onions, sauteed mushrooms, mozzarella, and red sauce. We were quite happy with this: the sausage was a nice, flavorful, and fennel-y sausage, the onions nicely caramelized, the mushrooms fresh, and the crust had a really nice char to it. It’s actually one of the better pizzas we’ve had in central New Hampshire.

Overall, I’m really happy with Vulgar. The beer is good, the pizza is good, and it’s a really nice beer garden they’ve got during the nicer months. And it’s giving us yet another reason to visit Franklin, I hope they continue their success.

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