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New Hampshire brewery legislation update & brewery news

Discussion in 'US - New England' started by FrankLloydMike, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. I had started a thread on the old forum about some new breweries and brewery-related legislation in New Hampshire, but there have been some new developments, so I wan't to update and revive the discussion. It's mostly all pretty promising stuff, and good news for the beer scene in New Hampshire.

    First, here are some of the brewery-related bills currently under consideration:

    HB1172: scheduled for March 7 vote, committee recommended to pass as amended
    - This bill authorizes nano brewery licensees to sell their products at farmers’ markets.

    HB1208: scheduled for March 7 vote, committee recommended to pass as amended
    - Increases the size of servings that may be consumed on the premises of a nano brewery. (removed in amendment)
    - Prohibits the liquor commission from requiring federal label approval for New Hampshire beverages.
    - Repeals a prohibition on advertising in certain publications by liquor licensees. (amended to prohibit advertising targeting under 21)

    HB1236: scheduled for March 7 vote, committee recommended to refer to interim study (probably no action this session)
    - This bill allows beverage manufacturers, nano breweries, and brew pubs to obtain up to 5 on-premises licenses.
    - This bill also repeals certain employment and business interest restrictions on liquor licensees.

    HB1411: scheduled for March 7 vote, committee recommended inexpedient to legislate (recommend killing bill)
    - This bill establishes a committee to study small brewer relationships with distributors.

    As I said before, I'm not exactly sure what HB1411 will do, or what the effects of the portion of HB1236 relative to repealing the employment restrictions would have on the brewing industry and beer drinkers, but otherwise these bills all sound like no-brainer good ideas to me. I was especially excited about removing the label approval for beverages; allowing nanobreweries to serve 16 oz. beers, which would enable true taprooms in the state; and allowing breweries to have up to five locations in the state--a small, regional brewpub chain like Sebago in Maine or Beer Works in Mass--whether new or additional locations of existing breweries (a handful of Smuttynose Brewpubs, for instance)--would be a welcome addition in plenty of cities and towns as far as I'm concerned.

    I'm disappointed that the serving size will remain small, so no true taprooms will be appearing, but I'm hopeful that breweries will be able to sell beer at farmers markets, that the liquor commission will no longer have say over in-state labels, and that we may still see brewpubs/breweries with a few locations throughout the state.

    Original post from 01/27/2012 regarding new breweries:
    There have been some promising developments in the brewing scene in New Hampshire recently.

    Candia Road Brewing Company/Nepenthe Ale House has started distributing bottles of their pale ale and stout (and possibly their IPA) from their brewery in Manchester. I saw that they're doing a tasting at Bert's tonight. I tried the stout last weekend and it was very nice, with good hop bitterness balancing the malty sweetness.

    I haven't been able to find a ton of information about these guys, but they're operating out of the same building as the homebrew shop owned by former Manchester Brewing owner-brewer, Kevin Bloom. The bottles name a different brewer, though. The dual Candia Road/Nepenthe name is a bit confusing, but the Ale House part makes me wonder if they have any plans to open a taproom in the future. Like the former Manchester Brewing, the bottles at Candia Road/Nepenthe are very attractive.

    If you lump Hooksett into Manchester, Candia Road makes the Queen City a three-brewery town for probably the first time in a century. I think the city/region could still use a Switchback-style entry-level local beer, but I think Switchback and Tuckerman Pale Ale fill that void in Manchester pretty well as it is.

    Speaking of taprooms, a new nanobrewery is planning to open up in Hampton. Blue Lobster Brewing Company just got approval from the town and is planning to open a brewery and taproom (serving food from an outside vendor) sometime this spring/summer.

    That will add to the already vibrant Seacoast brewing scene, along with Smuttynose, Portsmouth, Redhook and Throwback.

    On top of that, Smuttynose is building their new brewery in Hampton and Woodstock is expanding so they can brew all their bottled beer on-site. I haven't heard anything more about it, but there's also the news from the fall about a possible Henniker Brewing Company.

    Update regarding new breweries:
    I've also just read about Earth Eagle Brewings, which is planning to open a Portsmouth brewery that will in part focus on gruits. I believe one of the guys behind it is also the owner of A&G Homebrew Supply. The idea of a gruit brewery on the Seacoast is really exciting. And as EnronCFO pointed out in the old thread, just south of the border but also in the Seacoast region, Riverwalk Brewing Co. is getting ready to open in Amesbury. Sort of nearby, Bow Lake Brewery sounds like they are hoping to move from avid homebrewers to a 1bbl brewery.
     
  2. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Savant (375) Maine Oct 28, 2011

    Farmers markets and no having to have federal label approval. Awesome. Brew free or die.
     
    dasenebler likes this.
  3. 05Harley likes this.
  4. Very good to hear things are moving along in the right direction. My wife and I moved to NH last summer, after living in Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and Anchorage, AK, and the beer scene/state of affairs here was slightly alarming, but it seems to be going in the right direction!
     

  5. I saw that the bill as passed applies to all breweries in the state, not just nanobreweries as originally written. Very good news, indeed.

    Now, I really hope they stop requiring label approval from the state Liquor Commission, and I'd really like to see the bill passed to allow multiple locations for breweries. While some chain brewpubs sometimes get flack on BA, I really think something like a Beer Works, Sebago or McMenamin's would be great in getting brewpubs into communities that might not otherwise see them. Given their proximity, I could even see a Beer Works or Sebago brewpub in New Hampshire. Of course, allowing the Portsmouth Brewery to have multiple on-premise licenses might also allow it to expand production at another site.
     
  6. Alexmc2

    Alexmc2 Savant (345) New Hampshire Jul 29, 2006

    Great news. I'll be moving up to NH in a little bit over a month. Since I've spent every vacation there over the past 4 years, I feel like I know the place already and its great to see things moving in the right direction.
     
  7. Things are definitely moving in the right direction. New Hampshire was a bit slower than Maine and Vermont to get into craft beer, and localism in general--no huge surprise given that it's a much less agricultural than either of those states or even Mass., but I think it's really begun taking off in the last few years.

    What part of the state are you moving to? The Seacoast is definitely the craft beer/buy local hotbed in the state, but I think the Merrimack Valley has been catching up a bit.

    On a side note, I was sad but not surprised to see that HB1236, to allow brewpubs and breweries to have up to five on-premise brewing locations in the state, was sent to study, which means it's probably dead. Not that they necessarily would have done this, but I believe the bill would have allowed some place like the Portsmouth Brewery with capacity issues to open an overflow brewery off-premise.
     
  8. I was disappointed with this decision myself.

    It appears the biggest hang up the Liqour Commission has with this bill is the belief that the State will lose future revenue.

    The Liquor Commission states this bill allows beverage manufacturers and breweries to obtain up to 5 on-premises locations under the same name and license, and the annual fee shall not exceed the annual fee for a single location. The Commission states revenue will decrease by an indeterminable amount due to allowing up to 5 locations to be under a single license, instead of requiring a license for each location. The exact fiscal impact cannot be determined at this time.

    Why are they not considering the added revenue of customers frequenting these establishments and pumping money into the local economies!?!

    I guess we have to keep our chin up and forge forward with more studies and diplomacy, f#$k...
     
  9. Agreed. I also don't understand how the state loses revenue. My understanding (and this could be way off) is that the argument is that under HB1236, if Brewery A opens a second location, they don't have to pay for a second license, so the state is missing out on the revenue from a second license. The problem I have with that, though, is that it presumes that without Brewery A, another brewery would have opened in its place.

    I'm not an economist and this is just a hunch, but I think that's precisely wrong. My assumption is that at the least, allowing an already established brewery/brewpub to open additional locations means that you could end up with something like a Smuttynose Brewpub or Beer Works in a city like Manchester, or in a small tourist/college town like Meredith or Hanover. My guess is that breweries like that that already have name recognition and capital would be better able and more willing to take a risk in opening a new location than an upstart. And at best, the success of secondary locations--and the greater knowledge of and demand for craft beer by people in those towns--would give brewers and others greater confidence in opening an entirely new brewery, which would net the state a new license fee.

    On top of that, of course, you're right that the secondary locations would generate meals taxes for the state. I just don't see how the state loses revenue on this.
     
  10. I am an economist and you're looking at the revenue side in a holistic manner, which is the incorrect viewpoint. The liquor commission is not concerned with total tax receipts to the state, but their portion. They view forms of alcohol as imperfect substitutes, and liberalizing beer production/consumption will reduce hard alcohol consumption, and thus, their take.
     
  11. Fair enough, and thanks for the professional opinion! Aside from the overall tax receipts, though, would the other portion of my argument be true? I'm not sure about this, but I think breweries currently can have only one location in the state. That means, that with the exception of someone like Peter Egleston who owns two distinct breweries, a brewery cannot open a second location even for an additional fee. Given that, I don't see how the Liquor Commission is losing money on this. I don't see how an existing brewery opening an additional location precludes a new brewery from opening, just as I don't see how prohibiting additional locations presumes new breweries (and their associated fees) will open. I'd be curious in your professional opinion.

    In the end, though, I don't really care what the Liquor Commission thinks, and I don't think the legislature should either--they should be looking at overall revenues, not to mention what is in the best interest of consumers and the economy of the state. Of course, I'm not really expecting much wisdom or reason from the current set in Concord.
     
  12. In a perfect world, no one should care what the NHLC thinks, but unfortunately, they operate as monopolistic industry group, with governmental powers. It's all bullshit, but because it's a government organization, it's treated as legitimate, despite logic or data.
     
  13. I'm afraid this conclusion is sad but true. Living here in NH and watching these bills run their course for greater freedom atleast gives us hope that change is within sight.

    After all, we are the "Live Free or Die" state (chuckles).
     
  14. What was it that Lenin wrote... "The means of inebriation belong to the whole of society." Something along those lines. Liquor may be a state industry in New Hampshire, but it's clearly not working in the best interest of the whole of society (or at least BA society).
     
  15. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Savant (375) Maine Oct 28, 2011

    Does NH have a tax on beer production per barrel? I thought I read it was around $0.30 a gallon which is about $33 a barrel of taxable income.
     
  16. This link is pretty informative and does list it as $0.30/gal.
    I reference it often.

    http://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/new-hampshire-beer/
     
  17. Alexmc2

    Alexmc2 Savant (345) New Hampshire Jul 29, 2006

    Moving to the Keene area.
     
    LostTraveler likes this.
  18. I'm less familiar with beer in the Keene area, though that corner of the state is really beautiful, and probably tied with the Seacoast in terms of interest in local products and that sort of thing. The Monadnock region around Keene, is a bit more off the beaten path than the Pioneer Valley across the border in Mass or Brattleboro in Vermont, but I think they all sort of blend into a really nice, laid back area of open space, dotted with a few small cities, and plenty of tiny villages. Not that you asked for advice, and you might already know some/all of this, but here's my assessment of beer in the area:

    In New Hampshire, there's only one brewery in the region--Elm City, which is a brewpub in an old mill just outside downtown Keene. I visited for the first time recently, and loved the vibe and the beer was solid. It's not the Portsmouth Brewery or Moat Mountain, which are probably the two best brewpubs in the state (in my mind), but it seemed like a great local spot. I haven't visited, but there's a new beer store in downtown Keene, so that bodes well for the interest in good beer. Harlow's in Peterborough has a pretty solid, but short, rotating taplist, and I think the place would do well as a brewpub, especially in a town like Peterborough.

    Just across the Connecticut is McNeill's brewpub in downtown Brattleboro. If you like English-style or cask beer, you should check it out. I've also read that the folks behind Here for the Beer are planning to open a brewpub, to be called Whetstone Station, literally on the New Hampshire border at the edge of the Connecticut River in Brattleboro. There are plenty of breweries just to the south in Massachusetts. Some of my favorites are the People's Pint in Greenfield and Element in Millers Falls.

    Enjoy the move!
     
  19. A little off-topic, but I just saw that the River Road Tavern in Bedford has Goose Island Honker on-tap. Since it was announced that Redhook would be brewing some of Goose Island's beers for the East Coast a year ago, the beer still wasn't available in the state. I didn't hear that they were now available, but it's good news as more and more breweries are (slowly) entering distribution in NH.
     
  20. A local bottleshop, Somersworth Village Market, just announced yesterday the arrival of a bunch of Goose Island 22s and sixes. Don't remember the exact ones, but at least 4 or 5 different brews.
     
  21. I just read that Henniker Brewing Company has hired a head brewery, and they hope to be brewing by August. James Moriarty, currently of Cape Cod Beer and previously of Pennichuck, will be the head brewer. The piece also mentions that they'll be packaging in 12 oz. bottles, which will make them the first new brewery in New Hampshire to use that format since Tuckerman, maybe.

    So it looks like New Hampshire will add three new breweries this year--Henniker, Blue Lobster and Earth Eagle.
     
  22. We have an amazing bottle shop in Keene (Brewtopia) and a good craft beer community. The bars are lacking but that hopefully will be changing in the near future. Check out keenebeer on FB and let me know if you want to get together for some tasting.
     
  23. It would be great if they take a good at (or taste of) Maine Beer Co., Marshall Wharf, and Oxbow, because over the past few years, the new Maine (and Vermont) small breweries have been kicking NH's butt. It would be nice for NH to have a small brewery on par with the aforementioned.
     
  24. Yeah--the pace of new breweries in those states--and even in Mass--has been much quicker than in New Hampshire, but this sounds like good news. Unlike Mass, where the market seems to be getting over-saturated, I think there's plenty of room--and demand--for new quality breweries. White Birch and Throwback have been very successful in their local markets, in the Merrimack Valley and Seacoast respectively. That's evidence to me that more people in New Hampshire are both looking for craft beer and want to support local breweries.

    But I agree--I hope these new guys look to our more brewery-endowed neighbors. While there are plenty of very good (and excellent) breweries in Vermont, I think Maine is a better example of a state where the locals (and tourists) are supporting some very good and diverse, but fairly easily accessible breweries. Someone recently told me that breweries, including brewpubs, in Maine have to distribute a certain portion of their beer, which might explain why it's easier to find beer from small breweries in Maine like Oxbow and Marshall Wharf than their counterparts in Vermont. The same law may not exist in New Hampshire, but given that it's a few years behind in terms of support for local beer, I think that model still makes sense there.
     
  25. Wasn't sure if I should post this in the Portsmouth thread, over here or on a new thread. But two, new Seacoast breweries recently got all their approvals, are brewing and have announced opening dates for next month.

    Blue Lobster Brewing Company, based in Hampton, is planning to open their brewery and tasting room November 8. They'll be debuting Excess is Not Rebeliion, a 7.8% Galaxy hopped double IPA, at a chili and beer fest in Exeter this weekend. Their brewer, David Sakolsky, apprenticed at Hill Farmstead and White Birch, I believe. Between Throwback, Blue Lobster and Smuttynose's planned move next fall, the Hampton area is turning into an extension of the long-time New Hampshire brewing capital of Portsmouth.

    Earth Eagle Brewings, based next to A&G Homebrew Supply in downtown Portsmouth, plans to open their brewery and tasting room on November 17. According to their Facebook page, their “empyreal ales and wonder gruits” will be poured from six revolving taps in their rustic tasting room, and they'll "dedicate much of their efforts toward experimental and ancient beers."

    In addition to those two, Great Rhythm Brewing Company debuted their Resonation Pale Ale at the New Hampshire Brew Fest a couple weeks ago. According to the Wire, co-owner and brewer Scott Thornton has worked at Mercury Brewery for a few years, and they're currently leasing space/time at the Ipswich brewery to brew their beer while looking for a long-term spot in Portsmouth. That might include a brewpub in the future.

    More in the center of the state, Henniker Brewing Company, is on course to open later this year, too, I believe. As far as I know, they'll be the first new brewery in the state to package beer in six-packs in at least a decade.

    The year began with Candia Road Brewing Company/Nepenthe Ales opening in Manchester (and I didn't know what to expect from these guys, but they're brewing some very good beers, including a couple killer pale ales/IPAs, like Solo Springer). Then Prodigal Brewery vastly expanded their brewery and should be ramping up production in the coming year. And now it looks like we'll see four new breweries in the state this fall... we'll end 2012 with 20 breweries in the state, not including Anheuser-Busch. I'm not sure when New Hampshire last had so many breweries, but I'm very excited to try all the new beer.
     
    Rochefort10nh likes this.
  26. Of these new breweries, I'm most excited and intrigued by Blue Lobster. This could be a game changer in the NH beer scene. Of course, actually being able to find Prodigal beers in a store would be quite awesome as well!!! It's been a long, long time coming.

     
  27. Digging on the Blue Lobster as well. Really looking forward to sampling the Galaxy hopped double IPA.
    And the flip top growlers are awesome!
     
  28. Blue Lobster will be available at the Community Oven and the 401 Tavern in Hampton next week. The tasting room will open on 11/8. I am really excited, I have talked to the head brewer more than once and he has promised some very hoppy beer.

    I think that Earth Eagle brewing will surprise some people and they shouldn't be ignored. Alex and Butch have some interesting recipes and they debuted some really solid beers at their open house last winter. The tasting room over there looks awesome, and I am really excited for their debut.
     
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  29. Did anyone make it to the Powder Keg Beer & Chili Fest in Exeter over the weekend? I couldn't make it, but it sounds like it was a good time, and Blue Lobster's kegs kicked, so that sounds promising. Prodigal and Great Rhythm were also there, along with a bunch of others. I'd be interested to hear thoughts of anyone who went--on the fest and on the new beers.
     
  30. MRclean

    MRclean Zealot (75) Massachusetts Oct 10, 2012

    Another NH nano is on it's way. I just got a tweet that the "603 Brewery" got their federal approval today. Website says they are setting up shop in Campton.
    http://603brewery.com/
     
  31. Do you know anything about them? This is the first I've heard of them, but it's good to see a new brewery opening in the White Mountain/Lakes Region--an area that doesn't have a ton of breweries. I'll be curious to learn more about them, and of course try their beer when they open.

    I've also heard of a couple other places that are looking to open (or possibly even open?), but can't find much info on:
    That's a lot of new breweries open, opening or in planning... very exciting!
     

  32. Just looked into Canterbury AleWorks a bit more. They have a Facebook page, and according to the Concord Monitor, they're having a grand opening November 11, but it looks like they already opened for growler fills over the weekend. Yet another new brewery to look forward to trying!
     
  33. drocpsu

    drocpsu Savant (265) New Hampshire Dec 25, 2006

    I'm friends with one of the founders of 7th Settlement Brewing. He and his co-founder started out as homebrewers but have been wanting to open a brewpub locally (Dover, NH) for quite a while now. They've spent a lot of time dealing with the challenges of incorporating a brewery in NH and trying to forge a path as a community-supported brewery, (think CSA for beer). They've very big into the "support [buy/eat/drink] local" scene and I believe plan to source as much from local/regional growers as possible.

    I think they've found a space in one of the mills in downtown Dover that they're planning to open up in. If all goes according to plan, we might end up with 2 brewpubs in downtown Dover within a couple blocks of eachother, (once the Barley Pub also moves into their new space and starts their brewing operations). Exciting times, but makes me wonder if Dover can sustain 2 brewpubs.
     
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  34. That's very exciting. I love the idea of a brewpub in an old mill--returning a bit of (delicious) manufacturing to town. As far as whether Dover can support two brewpubs, I'm not sure, but I like to think so. Dover, after all, is bigger than Portsmouth--or Keene, or North Conway or lots of other towns with at least one brewpub. Of course, it lacks the college in Keene and the tourists in Conway and Portsmouth. But it's close to UNH, Portsmouth and plenty of other cities and towns in a region that has really embraced local businesses lately.

    At one of the Seacoast breweries I visited over the weekend, someone mentioned that the growth in local breweries isn't exciting just for beer lovers, but for brewers: it will put the region on the map as more of a beer destination. I think that's certainly true generally and could be true in Dover more specifically. Right now, the Barley Pub is one of the best bars on the Seacoast, but most people don't leave Portsmouth to visit it. Once it has a brewpub, I bet a few more will. But if there are two brewpubs in Dover, I bet a lot more people will head up the road to check them out.

    Plus, as more people (and businesses) are priced out of Portsmouth, I think places like Dover, Kittery and Newmarket will continue to get more interesting. Just look at the Children's Museum, which moved from Portsmouth to Dover a few years ago. As far as I'm concerned, Dover already has a shortage of worthwhile bars for a city of its size (plus the surrounding towns), so if a brewpub can provide a good atmosphere as well as good beer, I'd say it's overdue.

    Of course, I could be wrong on all those things. But I hope (and wouldn't be surprised) that, between the region increasingly becoming a beer destination and Dover becoming more interesting and desirable, Dover can (and will) support two brewpubs.

    In any event, I'm looking forward to hearing more about 7th Settlement... any idea when they're hoping to open?
     
    Bierman9 likes this.
  35. My understanding is that 7th Settlement will brew just a couple house beers (that may rotate throughout the year), but they will also have guest taps. A wise decision for a new business IMO. Also very excited to see what the new Barley Pub space will be like.
     
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  36. drocpsu

    drocpsu Savant (265) New Hampshire Dec 25, 2006

    Hopefully! I love the idea of having 2 different brewpubs in Dover, (I'm walkable to downtown). While population-wise, Dover is larger than Portsmouth, the downtown area is reasonably small and fairly lackluster, in my opinion. I agree that there's few worthwhile bars here, so I'd love if their (7th Settlement) and the reinvented Barley Pub will start to improve that. Though, I loved the old Barley Pub, so we'll have to see how the changes go.

    As for timing of 7th Settlement potentially opening, I'm not sure.
     
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  37. Just saw this on 7th Settlement's Facebook page:

    Also, 603 Brewery in Campton just got all their licenses, and are starting to fill their fementers this weekend. They plan to open shortly after New Years.
     
  38. drocpsu

    drocpsu Savant (265) New Hampshire Dec 25, 2006

    I talked to my friend last weekend and e abe me the update with the lease update as well. Pretty exciting!
     

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