Independent Craft Brewers Look To Attract Visitors And Build Up Local Economies

Aug 8, 2017

Credit James Lee via flickr Creative Commons

The Exchange spoke with two independent craft brewers in New Hampshire, Nicole Carrier, of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, Michael Hauptly-Pierce, of Lithermans Limited in Concord, and director of the new brewery at UNH, Cheryl Parker. UNH is starting a brewing minor in its College of Life Sciences and Agriculture this fall. 

Listen to the full conversation with The Exchange and find links to additional resources. Also, check out Taylor Quimby's article about craft beer for our Only In New Hampshire series, "Is N.H.'s Craft Beer Hype Actually Brewing Big Business?"

Why should people in New Hampshire care about our independent craft breweries, even if they don't like beer?

Nicole Carrier:

Well, first of all, I'd say they should try craft beer, because I feel like there's so much variety in craft beer that there's got to be a beer out there for someone. But, in general, if someone really cares about the state of New Hampshire and [its economy], craft beer in New Hampshire has a $359 million impact on our state. We have over 65 little breweries that are adding all sorts of fun activities and community building in their towns, and also contributing back by adding jobs. 

Michael Hauptly-Pierce:

Part of what we're seeing is that people are more concerned about where things come from. And we went through the 50's, of 'you buy everything in a can, you buy everything in a box, it's Betty Crocker, it's Mother's Little Helper,' and we ended up with box stores.

I think the pendulum is slowly swinging in the other direction, where people, even if they don't so much care about beer, care about the fact that they're not supporting a company that's trying to put all the other companies out of business... It's just good for a lot of reasons. It employs people. If its something like beer, it probably does add vitality, whether it's downtown, or whether it's in an industrial park. 

Lithermans Limited is located in an industrial park. How does that work for attracting business?

Michael Hauptly-Pierce:

Being so close to where 89 and 93 [converge], anytime there's a mass exodus in one direction or the other and people get tired, they get off the highway at that interchange and they Google 'beer,' and I'm 0.3 miles away. So they have to make a couple of turns through an industrial park, but when people are going to the mountains, or people are going to the beach, or people are going to Vermont, or people go to the lake, they stop. And we get a lot of people that have never been here before and say, 'Wow, you're here? You know, we do this every month...you are now part of our route.'

People wandered digitally. They don't just walk around a downtown. They say, 'I'm here, what am I going to do? Let me pull out my phone.' ... So it's worked for us because we're findable. 

Vermont has a well-established craft beer scene. Why is it sometimes considered superior to New Hampshire's craft beer industry?

Nicole Carrier:

Well, [this is] one of my soapboxes here. My background is all in marketing, and I sit back and I just look at our state - I love our state, but if you look at Maine, what do you think? You think 'lobsters' and 'I'm going to go vacation there, and go pick blueberries with my family, and we're going to go hang out by the ocean, and we're going to have some craft beer.' And you think about Vermont and you think, 'Quaint little bed and breakfasts, and beautiful mountains, and craft beer'....

I feel like part of our problem, if you will, as New Hampshire brewers, is directly tied to our identity and brand as a state. So... Maine and Vermont have such cachet, right? And when we think of New Hampshire, it's [about] politics, Man on the Mountain - which no longer exists - and a couple of other things. But we have so much to offer in this state, and I think if we had more of a compelling brand, and if anyone has any ideas [about] how to better market New Hampshire, that will greatly impact and help us breweries in the state. 

What is the new brewing minor program at UNH?

Cheryl Parker:

The first course starts this fall...that's the intro to brewing, and I'll be teaching that. It's going to take students all the way through growing the raw ingredients [up to] production. So it will encompass everything, which is really great when you're talking about jobs, because the jobs aren't just in brewing. They're in agriculture, they're in malting, they're in sales and distribution...

We are actually building a small brewery on campus. The students will be making beer, they'll be doing experiments, they'll be testing out new ideas and gaining some of those skills that are going to be really important for getting jobs. 

How have people received this new brewing program? Are parents or educators concerned about teaching college kids about beer?

Cheryl Parker:

Actually, we've had a really great reception for this program. People are really excited about it. I think one of the reasons is because this is a growing job market...In New Hampshire, we want to keep these students in the state after they graduate. And this is going to be a huge industry for them, whether they want to stay here and open a business, or work for one, or maybe go into malting... I think education is always what's going to help those things.

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