Cask & Vine in Derry, New Hampshire
Cask & Vine is a popular spot for locals in Derry, N.H., where the population hovers around 33,000. They come for the ambiance (soft lighting, no televisions, an oldies and jazz soundtrack) and the refreshing take on seasonal small plates (crab cakes, duck sandwiches, lobster salad sliders). Oh, and there’s also 12 constantly rotating draft lines with plenty of local and regional beers, like Throwback Brewery’s Just Beet Wit, From the Barrel’s Zeds Dead Mosaic Pale and Coffee-Oatmeal Stout from Out.Haus Ales, which sold the first-ever keg of the same beer here.
Despite its success, when Alana Wentworth and Andy Day decided to open Cask & Vine in the historic community two and a half years ago, some folks thought they were nuts.
“There are always people that doubt, but downtown Derry has the potential to be amazing,” Wentworth enthuses. “At the moment, there are many vacant storefronts, but the past three years have seen a slow-but-steady filling of these spaces. The location is ideal because there isn’t anything else like it around. You have to travel to Manchester, Portsmouth or Boston to find the [same combination of] craft beer, wine and food.”
More than just serving great beer, though, they’re trying to further the movement for it in New Hampshire. And Day and Wentworth’s passion for beer actually extends beyond Cask & Vine. The pair also owns The Drinkery, a bottle shop with locations in Derry and nearby Londonderry.
“We’ve tried to be at the forefront of craft beer, challenging our distributors and our customers to expand their palates, and we’ve even spearheaded movements to change laws,” Day says. “This year, after a couple of years of fighting in Concord, we helped change the statute regarding minors on bottles, and Founders Breakfast Stout will now be available in New Hampshire for the first time.”
For residents craving more variety closer to home, Cask & Vine was a welcome addition to the local beer scene. In fact, Tony Yergeau, a 31-year-old Cask & Vine regular, first met Day when the co-owner started introducing him to beers at The Drinkery, and the two became fast friends. (Day would eventually host Yergeau’s bachelor party at Cask & Vine, and served as the justice of the peace for the wedding, too.) When Yergeau found out Day and Wentworth were opening a restaurant, he happily contributed to their Kickstarter campaign without a second thought. Fast forward a few years, and Yergeau estimates that he and his wife have visited their favorite spot for 135 Fridays in a row—just another happy couple supporting New Hampshire’s greater beer industry.
“[Day and Wentworth have] created a platform for the best of the best to put their beers in front of discriminating palates,” Yergeau says. “They do this by specifically having two taps dedicated to local beers. Cask & Vine is the kind of place where you might be tasting a beer, and then you turn to your left and you’re talking to the guy who brewed it.” ■