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 an OktoberForest event!
Check out our Q&A's above with Backyard Brewery, Bad Lab Beer Co., Schilling Beer Company and Throwback Brewery to learn how each is 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
If it's one thing Bad Lab Beer Co. in Somersworth has (besides tasty brews!), it's a deep love of their community. We sat down with General Manager Evan Eppler to explore BLBC's commitment to people and nature.
Bad Lab Beer Co. (BLBC) That’s a fun name. What inspired it?
Evan Eppler: It’s a lot simpler than you might think and it’s not about dogs! It all starts with home brewing. A complex scientific experiment approached light-heartedly in a less than ideal laboratory, a bad lab if you will. The name is an homage to the days of homebrewing in basements and garages without adequate power, heat, or water sources.
Though our approach has evolved from homebrewing in buckets to our sophisticated brew house, we have stayed true to our roots and the lessons we have learned along the way. Our standards have improved and our ambition has grown. We have always strived to create the freshest beers and inventive dishes—now, we aim to set the standards for sustainability and community partnerships.
The name is a nice reminder of where we started even as we excitedly look at ways to grow and evolve into the future.
What is nature’s role in how Bad Lab operates?
Evan Eppler: Well, quite literally everything. At the very heart of it, humans don’t make beer, nature does. We manipulate the process to the best of our ability to yield a consistent and desirable outcome. Consideration for the natural environment is integral to our decision-making process, whether that’s our water source, where we’re getting our ingredients for the kitchen, the types of hops, malts, and yeast going into our beers, or how we’re developing community partnerships.
In operating a production facility, we have enormous responsibility to make sure our methods have a minimal footprint on our local ecology. We have an environmentally-preferred purchasing policy which lays out the different factors that we prioritize when buying ingredients and goods for the brewpub. We think about everything from the packaging to the effect of transportation to how those goods are produced.
At its core, hospitality ensures that there is a flawless presentation, while making sure all the inner workings of an operation are out of sight. Similarly, the impact of an operation is also invisible to the guest. What gets turned away table side, over-ordered, carelessly dropped, or taken home just to be thrown out is something few consumers consider. It leaves their table and they don’t think about it again. We work to ensure that employees and our guests are aware of not just the source of our product but where it ends up.
Many natural resources go into making our beer and food. There is so much riding on making sure a burger is cooked correctly, tenders are tossed in the correct sauce, or the correct beer is poured. It starts with the education of our staff to understand the importance of those natural resources and getting it right for our customer. Our industry frequently takes more than it gives back and we spend a lot of time thinking about how both ends of it can be improved. We’re in the process of creating a sustainability and social impact program here at Bad Lab to document all of the efforts we’re diligently working on while setting goals for ways to improve in the future.
You’re so enthusiastic about OktoberForest. Why should your patrons care about New Hampshire’s forests?
Evan Eppler: We live in an incredibly beautiful area with an abundance of hiking trails and pristine, forested landscapes. We recognize that it takes attention and work to keep those forests healthy. Here in the brewpub, clean water is a pretty big deal to us. We have been working alongside partners like Piscataqua Region Estuarine Partnership (PREP) and the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative (SFWC) to learn more about our water sources and how to be good stewards of our environment.
The role that healthy forests play in our ecosystem and in our day to day lives is crucial. Be it farming and agriculture, recreation and tourism, maintaining healthy fresh water sources, the care of our coastal estuaries and even the fishing industry, we have some of the best New England has to offer and all of these things rely heavily on the proper care of our forests.
Where does BLBC get its water? How do you use it/conserve it?
Evan Eppler: Our water comes from the Salmon Falls River which is fed by the Salmon Falls Watershed, an area of over 232 square miles shared by Maine and New Hampshire. We try to use only what we need but brewing does require a lot of water. We are constantly re-evaluating our cleaning and brewing procedures to eliminate unnecessary water usage and closely monitor the quality and volume of our waste water output. We started small and have planned facility upgrades to keep our operations as current as possible in eliminating water waste.
We are working with TNC, PREP and SFWC to spread awareness of the importance our forests and watersheds. A valuable tactic in waste reduction in general has been spreading the awareness of it, simply being conscious that there is something to protect. Just by engaging in dialogue about waste with our staff and actively recording food waste, we have seen our numbers start to drop. Our staff has even started a guessing game to see who can most closely estimate the weight of the compost bag at the end of the shift.
It’s not as easy to visualize water waste as it is with compost. To the everyday consumer, water appears and disappears when we need it and not much more thought goes into it. Simply being aware can lead to behavior change. There is a ridiculous saying used on t-shirts and bumper stickers, “Save water, drink beer”. That statement is completely counterintuitive to the issues at hand within the brewing industry, considering that beer is comprised of 90% of water and quite a bit of water is also used in the cleaning process.
What other sustainable practices do your operations include?
Evan Eppler: We are committed to protecting the environment, the health and safety of our employees, and our community. We take sustainability seriously. It is our policy to seek continual improvement throughout our business operations to lessen our impact on the local and global environment.
Last month we rolled out strict environmental policies that will be assessed when we look at adding new vendors and suppliers. Our menu creations rely heavily on local products in the interest of reducing fuel usage. We do not deliver or use 3rd party delivery services for our restaurant. All of our disposable goods are compostable and approved by Mr. Fox who handles our composting. We do not distribute bottled or canned beer which greatly limits waste from packaging. All paper office supplies are minimum 30% post consumer recycled products.
We have evaluated our chemical usage to eliminate common toxic products that are standard within the industry. Our spent grain from the brewery is donated to local farms and the remaining solid waste from brewing is composted as well. Our distributor picks up our kegged product bi-weekly minimalizing unnecessary trips and fuel usage.
In August, we celebrated NH Eat Local Month, which is a state-wide awareness campaign around the importance of local foods. We had weekly specials highlighting different local foods and gave shout outs to each farm in our social media posts. There was such an overwhelmingly positive response to those dishes and our efforts in promoting local foods!
What does it mean to be a brewery in the New Hampshire community?
Evan Eppler: The New Hampshire brewing community supports each other and we all hope to make an impact bigger then ourselves. We collaborate and work with other brewers in the Seacoast region.
We also appreciate that we are part of a community here in Somersworth. It is important to us to have robust partnerships with local groups and area nonprofits. We’ve established a community partnership program emphasizing collaboration in four focus areas: local partnerships, cultural preservation, environmental conservation and sustainability, and social equity.
How can patrons get involved with OktoberForest and other cool efforts with Bad Lab?
Evan Eppler: We love it when our patrons get involved! From attending events at the brewpub, sharing a meal with loved ones, or participating in dialogue about conservation and sustainability, there are myriad opportunities for folks to share in the excitement here at BLBC.
We are especially excited to celebrate OktoberForest all month long! Sign up for our monthly newsletter for information on OktoberForest and our other events and efforts and/or follow us on social media.
Schilling Beer Company knows a lot about water. After all, the brewery sits on the bank of the Ammonoosuc River in Littleton, New Hampshire. We had a chat with Owner and CEO Jeff Cozzens about how his brewery has deep ties to White Mountains and an even deeper commitment to their community.
Schilling is nestled in the White Mountains. What does it mean to operate in what is essentially New Hampshire’s playground?
Jeff Cozzens: We are very much defined by our sense of place in the mountains, directly on the Ammonoosuc River. This setting defines our guest experience at the brewery and even works its way into our wild beer program via our location's unique microflora. It is a tremendous privilege and a great deal of fun to call the North Country home. However, the incredible beauty of the mountains, lakes, and rivers that serve as our canvas--paired with the authenticity of our communities--also comes with a inherited responsibility to safeguard this area.
You brew beer and you overlook the Ammonoosuc River. Needless to say, you think about water a lot. Where does Schilling get its water to make beer?
Jeff Cozzens: We source our water from the town of Littleton, which has a naturally beautiful profile that requires a minimum of treatment and is incredibly tasty in its own right. We are most fortunate to be close to the source.
How important is the taste of your water to the taste of your beer?
Jeff Cozzens: Beer is 95% water. It is unequivocally the most important ingredient in the brewing industry. No water means no beer.
How are you caring for New Hampshire’s forests?
Jeff Cozzens: Schilling Beer Co. is committed to refining and continually re-examining our policies and procedures to reflect best practices beyond accepted industry standards. To maintain and preserve the integrity of our forests, we have developed a comprehensive recycling and waste management program and routinely collaborate with the Town of Littleton and the Department of Environmental Services to ensure responsible stewardship.
New Hampshire is so lucky to have so many amazing craft breweries. What makes Schilling’s beer special?
Jeff Cozzens: We have a different mandate than our colleagues across the state: we brew progressive European-inspired beers. Our purview is to explore the relationship of Old World brewing traditions through our own modernist approach; this involves using different techniques, practices, and in some cases, ingredients than our colleagues. Our attention to decocted and complex European-inspired lagers and to certain dry hopped beers is central to our brewery's identity. We have also committed a significant amount of time, resources and space to build a spontaneous beer program that integrates our unique environment with some of our liquids.
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. 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!
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.
Meet the Granite State Breweries Participating in OktoberForest
Backyard Brewery and Kitchen - Manchester
Bad Lab Beer Company - Somersworth
Belgian Mare Brewing Company - Alstead
Blasty Bough Brewing Company - Epsom
Concord Craft Brewing - Concord
Copper Pig Brewery - Lancaster
Garrison City Beerworks - Dover
Great North Aleworks - Manchester
Henniker Brewing Company - Henniker
Hobbs Tavern and Brewery - Ossipee
Liars Bench Beer Company - Portsmouth
Millyard Brewery - Nashua
North Country Hard Cider - Rollinsford
Northwoods Brewing Company - Northwood
Oddball Brewing Company - Suncook
Out.Haus Ales - Northwood
Post & Beam Brewing - Peterborough
Rek'-Lis Brewing Company - Bethlehem
Schilling Beer Company - Littleton
Smuttynose Brewing Company/Finest Kind Brewing Company - Hampton
Throwback Brewery - North Hampton
Tuckerman Brewing Company - Conway
White Birch Brewing Company - Nashua