Sunday, October 15, 2017

Concord Craft Brewing

http://wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=3&show=75332&archive=155871 Concord Craft Brewing podcast
http://mofohockey.org/podcastgen/download.php?filename=2017-10-13_bh206.mp3 Non-Flash version of the podcast

The city of Concord is the capitol of New Hampshire, a state with some noteworthy brewing history. As one of the earliest European settlements in North America, beer was brewed in Portsmouth, N.H. as far back as the 1600s. Brewer Frank Jones of Portsmouth was the largest producer of ale in the all the United States in the late 1800s. Budweiser built it's 8th massive brewery in Merrimack, N.H. in 1970, which is also the summer home of the famed Clydesdales. And, of course, N.H. home to nationally distributed and much acclaimed Smuttynose Brewing.
Concord Craft's co-owner Dennis tends bar.
Throughout the 90s to the present day, both extremely small (Earth Eagle Brewings) and very large (Red Hook Ale) breweries have contributed to the steady growth of brewers in the White Mountain state. Currently there are about 70 breweries in the N.H., with more certainly on the way. One of the earliest pioneers in craft brewing in N.H. is the Portsmouth Brewery established in 1991, forerunner to Smuttynose Brewing. New Hampshire breweries have sprung up in far-north Littleton, in tiny villages such as Canterbury, and have proliferated New Hampshire's seacoast. Yet it took till 2016 for Concord to see it's first post-Prohibition brewery.

Opening in January of 2017, Concord Craft Brewing Company was the second brewery in town, following Lithermans Limited, which opened in April of 2016. While Lithermans is located far from the city center, Concord Craft is right downtown, a short stroll from the Capitol Building, and just a block down the hill from Main Street. When the brewery opened, it was heating the mash and boil kettles with steam supplied from the Concord Steam Corp., which provided steam heat to downtown Concord businesses and government buildings since 1938. That sounds quite anachronistic, but there are other breweries that do the same, such as Toronto's Steam Whistle Brewery.


But the Concord Steam Corp., which is thought to be the last wood burning commercial steam provider to public consumers, had gone bankrupt and closed in May of 2017, making it necessary for the brewery to buy their own boiler to power the brewhouse.
The original Bob W and the (some would say) upgraded model!
(My dad would definitely not say that!)
The brewery was founded by the husband and wife team of Dennis and Beth. Both long time homebrewers and beer aficionados, they knew that the transition from homebrewing to commercial production was serious business. So, to ensure that they were ready for primetime, Beth, who is a full-time brewer for the company, enrolled in courses at the American Brewers Guild (ABG) in Middlebury, VT. They also hired head brewer Doug Bogle who trained at the ABG as well, and got his first commercial experience at River City Brewing in Sacramento, CA. He also put in time at New Helvetia in Sacramento, AB InBev in California, Beer Works in Lowell, MA, Cape Ann Brewing in Gloucester, MA, and Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis, MA.

The 15-barrel brewery is located in a building dating back to the 1860s. Located near where the once vital railroad yards were situated, it was initially the home of the Merrimack Farmers Exchange, a grain store, and served many other uses in its 165 year history. Looking at the stark, thick stone walls and the old timbers, it's clearly a building that was made to last! The brewhouse takes up 1500 sq. ft. of the 3500 sq. ft. facility, with another 1000 sq. ft. used for storage, and 1000 sq. ft. in the front for the bar/tasting room.
Note the hockey stick above the bar. Our kind of place!
Concord Craft is licensed as a nano-brewery, a special brewing license allowing them to make up to 2000 barrels a year. Because they serve a light food menu, they're also allowed to serve the public full pours at their tasting room bar. If they didn't offer food, state law would limit them to 4 ounce pours. Dennis told us that they expect to reach 500 to 600 barrels in their first year, and hope to double that amount in 2018. Three fourths of production is sold to outside accounts, mainly in kegs, but they also do limited canning runs of 16 ounce cans as well. They're currently served on draught in about 50 restaurants and bars and the cans are available at roughly 20 retail outlets in N.H. They don't have plans to sell outside of the state just yet. So, if you want to try their well crafted brews, you'll need to get yourself to the Granite State!
Original stone and timbers from the 1860s.
 




The next generation for Concord Craft.
Sophie, an aspiring hockey star, is at home in the cold room.
Non-FDA approved ingredient!
Some of the breweries at a recent NH Brewers Fest.




1 comment:

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