Hops are part of the picture. Water is 95 percent of beer's ingredients.
Brewer Supply Group Hops are part of the picture. Water is 95 percent of beer's ingredients. © Jake Keeler

Stories in New Hampshire

OktoberForest in the Granite State

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. Get to know your local brewers and join us for and OktoberForest event!

Backyard Brewery and Kitchen, located in Manchester, prides itself on brewing beers that are darn delicious and memorable. We sat down with Brewmaster Paul St. Onge to chat about how forests help shape his beloved brews.

Logo for Backyard Brewery in Manchester, New Hampshire
Backyard Brewery Logo for Backyard Brewery in Manchester, New Hampshire

nature.org: Hi, Paul. How has nature inspired Backyard as a brewery?

Paul St. Onge: All of our staff here are huge outdoor enthusiasts. Our name, Backyard, is a nod to the days of endless summer nights spent with friends outside… We are avid hikers, bikers, and beachers here.  

nature.org: How important is the taste of your water to the taste of your beer?

Paul St. Onge: It’s critically important. Beer only has 4 ingredients (usually)- Water, Yeast, Hops, and Barley. Without good, clean water, the quality of your other raw materials are moot.  

nature.org: Where does Backyard Brewery get its water? What does the water footprint of your production look like?

Paul St. Onge: We get our water from the Manchester Watershed at Lake Massabesic. It’s excellent, clean, and neutral water. We then further treat that water to de-chlorinate and remove any potential sediment from pipes along the way. In terms of production, water is used for everything - cleaning tanks, brewing beer, condensing exhaust gases, and hydrating us on the dog days of summer!

Brewmaster Paul St. Onge (right) and the owner of Backyard Brewery in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Backyard Brewery & Kitchen Brewmaster Paul St. Onge (right) and the owner of Backyard Brewery in Manchester, New Hampshire. © Doug Rathburn Photography LLC

nature.org: Do your operations include any sustainable practices?

Paul St. Onge: We recover and recycle used water or other processes in the brewery whenever we can. Additionally, we monitor and ensure all of our effluent water is neutral going back into the cycle. We try to be as respectful and waste-less as possible with all of our water processes.   

nature.org: You’re partnering with us for OktoberForest to raise awareness about the connection between healthy forests and clean water. Why else should people care about forests?

Paul St. Onge: Besides it being our source of nearly everything - food, recreation, raw materials, and all forms of plants and animals, people should care about forests as a general respect for and reverence to this earth that we are graced to be living in. Our forests are our homes, and we should treat them as such.

nature.org: What gives your beer a “New Hampshire” touch?

Paul St. Onge: I feel like I try and cater to all styles of beer and beer lovers. I want someone to come in and find something they truly enjoy, regardless of their experience in drinking craft beer. I’d like to think that all of my beers are unassuming and pleasant - just like New Hampshire residents!

nature.org: Speaking of nature, we love your logo! What’s the story behind it?

Paul St. Onge: Thanks! It was actually designed internally by one of our Chefs! We think it came out excellent as well. We know hops don’t grow on trees, but it was just too perfect of a logo to play with. Subtle, yet detailed at the same time.

We asked Nicole Carrier, co-founder and president of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire, and current president of the New Hampshire Brewers Association, to share her story.


Logo for Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire
Throwback Brewery Logo for Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire © Throwback Brewery

nature.org: Hi Nicole. 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.

nature.org: 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!

Nicole Carrier, co-founder of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire.
Throwback Brewery Nicole Carrier, co-founder of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire. © Throwback Brewery

nature.org: 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

nature.org: 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).

nature.org: 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.


Supporting Forests and Water Thank you to the New Hampshire Brewer’s Association for it’s support of OktoberForest! © NHBA