In Morning Edition's series, Radio Field Trips, we're traveling across the state to bring you stories of New Hampshire life and culture.
This week, we thought we'd grab a beer. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley and producer Mary McIntyre visited an up-and-coming craft brewery in Concord.
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(Editor's note: we highly recommend listening to this story.)
The brewing room at Lithermans Limited Brewery is filled with people working together on a new recipe.
Whirring, complicated looking machines line the walls. This includes four giant, metal tanks that stretch from floor to ceiling. Co-owner Michael Hauptley-Pierce says usually all four of the shiny tanks are full at a time.
He says the brew his apprentice is working on this morning is one of their most ambitious yet.
The name of the new brew? Pink Boots Made for Walking – just like the song “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra.
It’s obvious right away music has a huge influence in the production and packaging here. Posters of labels from their signature brews line the walls of the tasting room – each named with a music pun.
Some of the names include Red Raspberry Beret, Bowow Yippee Oh IPA, Tangled Up in Bruges. You get the idea.
Michael and his business partner Steve Bradbury Jr., who’s better known as Doc Jones, have a history long before brewing. Doc says the two actually started out as a hip-hop group.
“It all started over a connection for music,” Doc says. “Years ago in other careers, we ran into each other and NOFX was playing on the radio. And we started talking about music, and it kind of took off from there.”
But Michael says the music never really went that far.
“I guess there wasn’t quite as much demand for overly intellectualized, critically Caucasian, Libertarian hip-hop,” Michael says. “And we just didn’t hit that niche.”
But soon after, the pair began home brewing together for fun. And although their obscure hip hop group wasn’t working anymore, their experiments with craft beer were.
“I loved it, and the beer wasn’t horrible,” says Michael. “I mean it wasn’t great. I actually still have a bottle of it. But for a first home brew, it was not horrible.”
And slowly over time Lithermans grew into a business with a tasting room, signature recipes and a group of regulars.
A long list of over a hundred brews are scribbled onto a beam behind the bar. It includes every one the pair has made together.
The process of coming up with names for their signature brews seems a bit like songwriting.
“I mean they come up all the time,” Doc says. “We joke around where it’s like of you better write that one down. It’s a good one.”
Michael says lyrics will jump out at him while listening to music.
“Almost like it was highlighted, and it’s like that’s a beer name right there, or a bad pun on that is a beer name,” Michael says.
Wherever the ideas come from, the partnership is working. The brewery is expanding, and it’s coming up on its second anniversary.
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