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A gruit named Antoinette is poured from the tap at Earth Eagle Brewings, a Portsmouth nanobrewery that is quickly gaining a reputation for its unique tap list.Ioanna Raptisfirstname.lastname@example.org
Craft brewers had a superlative 2013 in New Hampshire. In 2014, the mission will be to market that success to the rest of the world.
New small, local brewing operations are cropping up across the state, many of them on the Seacoast. According to the state’s online licensing registry, there are currently seven businesses with active nanobrewery licenses. Nearly half are on the Seacoast, including Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth and Blue Lobster Brewing Co. of Hampton. That list doesn’t include the 7th Settlement Brewery in Dover, which opened late in 2013 and is classified as a brew pub.
The nanobreweries, which are limited to selling no more than 2,000 barrels of beer per year, join the forefathers of the craft beer movement on the Seacoast, Portsmouth Brewery, Smuttynose Brewing Co. and Redhook Brewery. And more are on the way.
The license for Stoneface Brewing in Newington is pending, and the Neighborhood Beer Co. gained approval last month from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to open the first brewery in Exeter.
A nanobrewery could also be coming to Newmarket at the redevelopment site of the former Joyce’s Kitchen along the Lamprey River, according to resident and Republican state Rep. Adam Schroadter. The broker for the 13 Water St. development confirmed there are serious discussions taking place with a nanobrewery to occupy part of the development.
Meanwhile, Smuttynose is preparing to open its new, multi-use headquarters on Towle Farm Road in Hampton. Production of its popular Shoals Pale Ale, Old Dog Brown Ale and others will be transferred to Hampton from Portsmouth.
The Hampton brewery will host a launch event on Tuesday for Brew New Hampshire, a nonprofit cooperative marketing effort between the breweries and distributors in New Hampshire to grow the state’s flourishing beer economy.
“We’re trying to promote the greater industry and by doing that, offer another hook for tourism to bring younger people into the state and showcase the benefits of New Hampshire and the beer industry here,” said Scott Schaier, who is organizing Brew N.H. with J.T. Thompson of Smuttynose.
Brew N.H. will team with the state’s Travel and Tourism and Economic Development divisions, as well as industry stakeholders, to raise awareness of all the state has to offer in terms of beer tourism.
Schaier said New Hampshire is trying to catch up to its neighboring states in terms of promoting its local beer industry. He said it is an effort that should help the state overall by attracting and retaining more young people.
“I moved back to the states for beer about a year and a half ago for a job in the New Hampshire beer industry and think this state is one of the proudest beer markets that I’ve experienced,” he said. “There’s a ton of passionate people here and, no matter what segment we work in, we’re all connected by beer and the desire to share our high-quality culture with others.”
Butch Heilshorn, co-owner, manager and brewer of Earth Eagle in Portsmouth, said beer tourism has been a major factor in introducing its creations to a wider audience. Earth Eagle is a nanobrewery quickly gaining a reputation for a unique tap list that includes gruits, which are beers produced using herb mixtures for bittering and flavoring beer.
He credited the Granite State Growler Tours of North Hampton, as well as the Granite State Brewers guild, with raising awareness and appreciation for the movement taking place on the Seacoast.
“They are doing a really good job at bringing brewers statewide together and coming up with marketing campaigns (and) updating the beer brewery map, which I think has been sorely in need of an update,” he said.
Heilshorn said one of the interesting things about the craft beer industry is the collaboration between different brewers.
“One of the very cool things about this brewing industry is it’s collaborative. It’s not competitive,” he said. “All the brewers are of the mindset that the rising tide floats all boats. If we can turn somebody on to craft beer at Earth Eagle, they’re going to be a Portsmouth Brewery customer, and vice versa.”
His business partner, Alex McDonald, helped work on legislation to make regulatory conditions better for nanobreweries. Namely, he advocated for an amendment allowing them to sell pints of beer as long as they have food available.
Before the amendment was passed, nanobreweries with tasting rooms were limited to serving only 4-ounce samples. McDonald said having the ability to sell more beer on the premises helps foster business growth more quickly than selling it wholesale.
One thing he said he would like to see change is the restriction that prohibits a craft brewery like Earth Eagle from selling beer from other breweries in their tasting rooms.
“For small brewers like ourselves, it would be really nice to be able to have somebody else’s beer on tap, and to promote other small brewers,” he said.
Schroadter, who also owns The Stone Church in Newmarket, said a number of liquor laws in New Hampshire date back to the Prohibition era and need some “unraveling and modernizing.”
In February 2012, Redhook hosted state lawmakers to discuss some of the regulatory obstacles to growth and success. Schroadter worked with the Liquor Commission and Legislature to fix aspects of the law that were hindering brewers.
Later that year, the Legislature passed bills expanding the types of ingredients allowed in the definition of beer, allowing the sale of beer at farmers markets and creating the nanobrewery license.
In 2013, Schroadter and Rep. Mark Warden, R-Manchester, founded the bipartisan House Beer Coalition in support of the beer industry. In February, a proposed beer tax was defeated, and later in the year other onerous regulations were eliminated. Schroadter said he will continue to work in 2014 to modernize New Hampshire’s beer laws, but he agreed a movement has begun and now is the time for the state to capitalize on it.
“I’ve noticed in 2013 it’s begun to have a positive impact from a travel and tourism perspective,” he said. “I’ve seen the Seacoast of New Hampshire placed on lists already of the best beer vacations in the country. I don’t know, personally, that we’re quite there yet, but it’s neat to see.”
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