Local appeal at Able Ebenezer Brewing Co.

MERRIMACK – After serving their country in the military, two friends decided to embark on another journey together, entering the craft beer industry.

“My partner and I met in the Army, and we drank so much beer in the Army we ended up starting to make our own, and it was the hobby that slowly took over our lives,” Carl Soderberg, co-owner of Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. said.

After being stationed in El Paso, Texas, he and co-owner Mike Frizzelle received their discharges is 2011, briefly going their separate ways. Frizzelle went back to San Diego for grad-school and Soderberg moved to New England to take a job at a biotech company. Between that point and 2013, they were homebrewing beer.

Eventually, after reconnecting in 2013, they began talking about opening a brewery of their own. After throwing some ideas around, Frizzelle moved to New England. Once Frizzelle finalized recipes, they saved enough money, and signed a lease on their Merrimack facility around New Year’s Day in 2014.

Before they took over the space, their brewery was a battery warehouse, so they spent the next six months cleaning the facility. Once they opened up shop, Soderberg said they’ve been off to the races every since. After opening June 14, 2014, they celebrated four years of operation last week.

“We’ve been voted best brewery in New Hampshire for the fourth year in a row this past March,” Soderberg said.

Since opening, they’ve expanded production a few times, just recently doubling their capacity. Soderberg said a nanobrewery license allows them to brew up to 2,000 barrels annually, and this year they’ll brew about 1,500 to 1,600 barrels. He speculates that next year, they’ll hit about 1,800

barrels.

He said they won’t put a beer up on the board in their taproom unless it’s perfect to them. Able Ebenezer just released their tenth product to date, and of those 10 recipes, they pour five to six of them at different times during the year in their taproom.

“We’ve always been big on consistency and sticking with good balanced recipes, and repeating it, trying to give people what they want,” Soderberg said.

However, of those 10 recipes, they primarily only distribute two of them, on rare occasion distributing others. Currently, Able Ebenezer distributes to local restaurants and retailers, but for the first three years, only kegged and sold to restaurants. Last year, they installed a canning line and retail in a limited manner.

“Right now, in restaurants and retailers, we have over 100 different accounts we’re dealing with,” Soderberg said. “We run our own distribution.”

However, he said they primarily distribute in the Nashua and Manchester area, with around 80 percent of their distribution taking place in that area.

“We don’t send any beer outside of New Hampshire,” Soderberg said. “New Hampshire drinks every ounce we make, and I know we’re not the only brewery that can say that. We rarely send it outside of the Greater Nashua and Manchester area.”

The “Burn The Ships” smoked IPA, 7 percent ABV, is their most popular brew. The “Victory Nor Defeat” double IPA, 8 percent ABV, comes in at a close second.

“Those two brands are on the production schedule every week and turn over quick,” Soderberg said. “When loading the trucks, for the most part, it’s those ones.”

With seven employees on hand, they always maintain inventory to make sure they’re meeting the needs of those they distribute to. Soderberg said when they opened up back in 2014, they were either the 18th or 19th craft brewery to open in New Hampshire. With dozens and dozens more opening up since, he said from their perspective, the industry keeps growing.

“It’s hard to keep track of all the new breweries opening up,” Soderberg said. “There’s been an explosion in terms of breweries popping up.”

He said the beer industry continues moving toward the smaller side, which is something that’s been seen on the West Coast for a while.

“Beer is becoming more local, more of a community thing than the days of growing to becoming the next Sam Adams and bringing beer coast to coast. Those days might be behind us.”

“You can open an operation and be successful without taking over the state or the world,” Soderberg said.

So, that’s just what Able Ebenezer is doing: providing consistent, local beer brewed right in Merrimack at 31 Columbia Circle.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or

aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.