Candia Road Brewing Co. (Manchester, NH)

With many frequent trips to SE NH or Boston, we often find ourselves looking for dinner options around the greater Manchester, NH area. Manchester has a lot of great options, but a recent favorite of ours is actually brewery that’s been around a while, but only recently known as Candia Road Brewing Company.

I’m not sure of all the details of the deep history of Candia Road Brewing Company, but originally Candia Road was branded as Nepenthe Ales and was one of the perennial micro/nano breweries that would show up at regional beer festivals and have some pretty good offerings. But back around 2018, Nepenthe rebranded as Candia Road Brewing Company (conjecture here, but probably to remove confusion with the Baltimore-based Nepenthe Brewing), reworked the tap room a bit, and since then have been turning out some of the Manchester area’s better beers. The spot itself is quaint, since Candia Road obviously used to be a single-family residence, and both the tap room and brewing operation are a bit crammed into the converted space, spilling out into a rather nice beer garden out back. And while parking on-site is a bit tight most days, the liquor store next door seems amenable to spillover parking.

Candia Road maintains about twelve rotating selections of their own beers brewed on-site, but a handful of beers are regular sightings, including Sidewalk Chalk, their name for their fruited gose that’s brewed with a rotating selection of fruit. This time, the flavoring was guava, and this worked really well, a nice, refreshing, slightly salty gose that was a nice draft for a warm day on the patio.

But one of the hidden attractions of Candia Road is that while their menu is definitely on the “bar food” end of the spectrum (burgers, hot dogs, and various examples of the Frialator arts), and the kitchen is really tiny (basically a ~8 foot square area behind the bar), the burgers in particular are good. Really good. Served up in the smash burger style, the burger patties are smashed and crisped, and served on toasted buns. They’ve always got that basic smash burger, and a black bean veggie version of it, on the menu, but usually have a few special topping burgers on a rotating basis. On this visit, that was the Jalapeno Popper Burger, a basic smash burger topped with jalapenos and a bit of cream cheese. I really liked this combination, the burger itself is probably one of the best smash burgers in the area, with a perfect crisp to it. The bun has just enough toast to give things some nice texture, and the toppings added a nice bit of spice. The fries are also some of the better in the area, cooked just to the perfect level of crispiness.

So, the food isn’t terribly fancy, but quite delicious, and it pairs extremely well with their beers. And, quite frankly, I’d have to go pretty far to find a better smash burger. So Candia Road is definitely one of the better choices for burgers in the central New Hampshire region.

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