New Hampshire breweries are celebrating the essential connections between healthy forests, clean water and good beer.
If you like beer, you should love forests.
Fall is when New Hampshire really shines: colorful leaves, brisk, sunny days, trees dripping with ripe apples, and festive gatherings galore. This season, The Nature Conservancy is joining the fun with OktoberForest, a collaboration with local breweries to raise awareness about the important role that forests play in our water supply.
Check out our Q&As above with The Copper Pig and Throwback Brewery to learn how these breweries are unique in the brewing world and what they are doing to ensure that the Granite State continues to be a sustainable place for both people and nature.
Located on the banks of the Israel River in Lancaster, The Copper Pig has quickly become one of the Granite State's most beloved breweries. We sat down with co-owner Darrell Bodnar to chat about how forests help shape his beloved brews.
Hi there, Darrell. How’d Copper Pig Brewery get its name?
Darrell Bodnar: Our brewery gets its name from a Copper Pig weather-vane that sits over the barn in Vermont where we brewed all our early beer and where we originally wanted to start the brewery.
The Copper Pig is nestled in the White Mountains. What does it mean to operate in what is essentially New Hampshire’s playground?
Darrell Bodnar: It is the best place on the planet to live, which course means it's the best place to make beer and drink beer. The local community is the greatest. And at the same time, we get to enjoy all the visitors from across the globe throughout all the seasons. We even have a map of where our visitors call home.
How has nature inspired you as a person and a brewer?
Darrell Bodnar: I love exploring nature and photography. There is an endless supply of beauty and discovery in the area. The water is great (90% of beer) and we try to source as many ingredients locally as possible. The names of many or our beers is inspired by our local natural landmarks, including one of our always-on-tap staples, Kilkenny Irish Red, named after the Kilkenny mountain range to east.
You brew beer and you overlook the Israel River. Needless to say, you think about water a lot. Where does Copper Pig get its water to make beer?
Darrell Bodnar: We actually use local town water. It's very high quality and perfect for beer. We double filter all our water and use UV disinfectant to remove all possible contaminants. Of course, we add our own minerals based upon each recipe to ensure the perfect beer.
Do your operations include any sustainable practices?
Darrell Bodnar: We are able to capture a significant amount of water used in the brewing process and are able to reuse it. One process that many breweries fail to do is reclaim the plate chiller cooling process, which literally saves thousands of gallons of water annually. All of the spent grains are donated to local farms to be used as feed with the exception of those we keep ourselves for special dishes, breads, and even our Copper Pig dog biscuits that we give away to our furry canine friends on the patio. They usually go quick, so ask you server for one!
This is your second year partnering with us for OktoberForest to raise awareness about the connection between healthy forests and clean water. Why else should people care about forests?
Darrell Bodnar: Besides the amazing people who live here, the beauty and lore of New Hampshire is its natural resources. It is truly beautiful and offers so much for people to do and experience. I feel sometimes I may take it for granted. To help preserve this natural beauty for generations to come, we proudly support The Nature Conservancy and all they represent and do.
New Hampshire is so lucky to have so many amazing craft breweries. What makes Copper Pig’s beer special?
Darrell Bodnar: We are very proud of the beer and food we serve. We have been voted WMUR's viewer choice best brewery 3 years in a row, and there are some amazing breweries in our state. I believe there are over 90 breweries now. The Copper Pig has always been part of the communities we serve. We try to support as many initiatives, fundraisers, and events that we can. This is where we live. These people are our friends and family. We want to support them as much as they support us.
With so much changed during the pandemic, how can folks get ahold of your tasty brews?
Darrell Bodnar: You can stop by and visit us Thursday-Sunday. We have regular staples as well as a large variety of rotational offerings. You can enjoy a point or a flight with us and take a growler or to go.
We asked Nicole Carrier, co-founder and former president of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire, and current president of the New Hampshire Brewers Association, to share her story.
Hi, Nicole. So, how’d Throwback Brewery get its name?
Nicole Carrier: The name Throwback is a nod to our mission as a company. We are a throwback to the pre- prohibition era, where there were numerous local breweries making beer using materials available around them, and serving that beer to their community. We are a throwback to those times – a community-oriented brewery / tavern using local ingredients. The name also has a double meaning, which is to “throw back” a beer with friends. We love the shared experience of throwing back a tasty craft beer with our friends, our families, and our community, so that aspect of the name is important to us as well. Finally, when we started, we were a true throwback to ancient Egypt – all the way up to pre-Colonial America, where, before beer became a manufacturing process, the women made the beer.
Why do brewers like you care about New Hampshire’s forests?
Nicole Carrier: We have a saying here at Throwback Brewery—‘No Farms, No Beer’—reminding everyone that beer is an agricultural product. We could just as easily replace the word Farms with Forests, to raise awareness that without forests, there would be no beer! Beer, after all is about 90-95% water. And healthy forests are essential for filtering and protecting streams that end up being an important source of high quality water.
Where does Throwback Brewery get the water it uses to make its beer? What does the water footprint of your production look like?
Nicole Carrier: We get our water from the Aquarion Water Company.
Brewing is a very water-intensive process. We need water to not only make the beer, but to also cool it down, and then to clean the tanks out once we are done. On average, for every 1 barrel of beer we craft, we produce almost 4 barrels of wastewater, and this is with us saving the water used to cool down the wort. More specifically, for every batch of beer we make, we save about 20 barrels of water, which is then used in the next batch. This come out to about 65,000 gallons of water saved a year!
This is your fourth year participating in OktoberForest (and was also the very first!) – Why is this partnership so important to you?
Nicole Carrier: One of Throwback's core values is to "Love our Community and Planet," which aligns very nicely with the core values at the Nature Conservancy, making it a great partnership! The OktoberForest event is particularly near to our heart as it raises the awareness about the import role forests play in providing clean water, as beer is 90++% water, and more than 40% of our water comes from forests. No forests, no beer!
How are you caring for New Hampshire’s forests?
Nicole Carrier: Since starting Throwback Brewery, we have focused on developing and implementing sustainable practices that help protect the environment, and, thus, New Hampshire’s forests. Here are just a few of the ways we lessen our impact on the local and global environment:
- Solar Power. In May of 2016, we installed a 48kw solar array, making us the largest solar-powered brewery in NH. This array enables us to offset burning 4,692 gallons of gas per year. And, since we installed the system, we have saved 143,780 lbs of C02 emission which, to use more forest-y terminology, is the equivalent to us planting 3,622 trees!
- Sourcing Local. By growing our own crops here at the farm and striving to use ingredients within a 200-mile radius in all our beer, we are dramatically reducing our carbon footprint by cutting down on transportation emissions and use of fossil fuels.
- Recycling. We take recycling very seriously in our brewery and restaurant - seeking products made from recycled materials and even upcycling many elements of our original 1860s barn to create the gastropub and brew house you see here today. We compost as well as feed kitchen prep scraps and spent-grain from the brewing process to the pigs, goats, and chickens here on our farm. In addition, we prevent a lot of glass waste with the help of our wonderful customers who frequently reuse their refillable glass growlers to bring beer home.
For more information, please see our website.
This sounds like more than just business to you…
Nicole Carrier: Yes! We founded Throwback Brewery with the mission of trying to source everything from within 200 miles of here. Something that might sound easy and common practice – but we are the only brewery in NH who’s mission is to make farm-fresh beer from local ingredients. Today, the ingredients for our beer are sourced 65-99% within that radius (depending on the beer).
In addition to clean water, do forests provide other benefits?
Nicole Carrier: Forest provide so many other benefits besides clean water. I needed a break from work the other day, so I took my dog Barry White with me to do a quick hike up Mt. Major. Being outside in the woods provides the ultimate form of relaxation and escape for me. I really don’t think there is a better way to recharge then to get some fresh air and a bit of exercise while enjoying the beautiful landscape of New Hampshire.
Lastly, with so much changed during the pandemic, how can folks get ahold of your tasty brews?
Nicole Carrier: We sell beer to drink here and to go in our socially-distanced pub. Key beers stores around the state also carry our beer in 16oz cans and 4-paks. Finally, we offer beer available for takeout, which folks can order online.
Meet the Granite State Breweries Who Participated in OktoberForest in 2020
Concord Craft Brewing - Concord
Copper Pig Brewery - Lancaster
Northwoods Brewing Company - Northwood
Oddball Brewing Company - Suncook
Polyculture Brewing Company - Croydon
Post & Beam Brewing - Peterborough
Throwback Brewery - North Hampton
Tuckerman Brewing Company - Conway