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Saturday, April 30, 2016

‘Brew Hampshire’ follows local craft beer movement; documentary debuts in Merrimack on Monday

By TINA FORBES
Staff Writer

MERRIMACK - Amid the craft beer renaissance mixing small business, local flavor and innovation, two New Hampshire filmmakers set out to explore the brewing culture in the Granite State, creating the feature-length documentary "Brew Hampshire."

The film is now on a mini-tour, starting with a sold-out release party at Able Ebenezer in Merrimack on Monday, followed by a screening at an indie film showcase at Starlite Cinemas in Rochester at 1 p.m. May 21 and Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville, Mass., at 1:30 p.m. May 22. ...

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MERRIMACK - Amid the craft beer renaissance mixing small business, local flavor and innovation, two New Hampshire filmmakers set out to explore the brewing culture in the Granite State, creating the feature-length documentary "Brew Hampshire."

The film is now on a mini-tour, starting with a sold-out release party at Able Ebenezer in Merrimack on Monday, followed by a screening at an indie film showcase at Starlite Cinemas in Rochester at 1 p.m. May 21 and Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville, Mass., at 1:30 p.m. May 22.

"Being a New Hampshire native, we set out to explain what is New Hampshire through beer - how it reflects New Hampshire, and how New Hampshire reflects its beer," said Bryant Naro, filmmaker and beer enthusiast.

The husband-wife team of Naro and Meagan Frappiea of Slate Roof Films launched the project two years ago, inspired by the passion and tenacity of New Hampshire brewers. They started with Throwback Brewery, a restaurant and nanobrewery in North Hampton, where Naro's cousin worked as an assistant brewer.

"People there had left behind other careers and followed their passion," Frappiea said.

The couple created a short documentary on Throwback Brewery in 2014. Founded by Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier in 2010, the brewery focuses on local flavor, using ingredients from within a 200-mile radius.

Naro is a New Hampshire native, and while Frappiea is originally from Vermont, she's been in the state for the past 10 years.

"I call it home, and she does, too. New Hampshire definitely has an entrepreneurial spirit, deeply rooted in community and small business," Naro said.

As stated in the film, the number of breweries in the state has grown rapidly, from 18 in 2010 to more than 50 in 2016. However, "There have been breweries in New Hampshire for many, many years," Naro emphasized, citing Elm City and Smuttynose Brewing Co., both of which opened in 1994.

Across the U.S., the number of craft brewers now tops 4,000, according to the Brewers Association, but New Hampshire is unique in some respects, such as how it treats nanobreweries.

In 2011, New Hampshire was the first state to distinguish nanobreweries from microbreweries, which means a brewery that produces fewer than 2,000 barrels per year can become licensed for a lower fee than microbreweries, which can produce up to 15,000 barrels per year. The change saves the smaller brewers about $1,000 a year.

While "Brew Hampshire" has been shown at festivals and special events over the past few months, the May 2 event will include distribution of the DVD and Blu-rays for the first time.

"Able Ebenezer is kind of our release party," Naro said.

Featured in the film, Naro and Frappiea followed the progress of Able Ebenezer for a year and a half; from homebrewing in their garage and building and launching the commercial facility to their one-year celebration last summer.

Supported by a Kickstarter campaign that helped bring in nearly $9,000 for production, the project was funded by Frappiea and Naro. For information and updates about Brew Hampshire, or to purchase a copy of the film (available May 2), see www.brewhampshirefilm.com. The trailer can be viewed online, as well, at www.brewhampshirefilm.com/trailer.

"Brew Hampshire" includes interviews with Able Ebenezer owners and brewers Carl Soderberg and Mike Frizzelle; homebrewer and co-host of the Tap Handle Show podcast Michael Hauptly-Pierce; and owner and brewer of Earth Eagle Brewing in Portsmouth Butch Heilshorn.

Other featured interviews include the "minster of propaganda" for Smuttynose, JT Thompson; Smuttynose founder Peter Egelston; Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier, of Throwback Brewery; brewer-owner of Canterbury Aleworks Steve Allman; White Birch Brewery founder Bill Herlicka; and Scott Schaier, executive director of the Beer Distributors of New Hampshire.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph. com or @Telegraph_TinaF.