Craft beer brings big bucks to local businesses

NASHUA – Ken Unsworth and Dean Baxter, co-founders of Millyard Brewery in Nashua, are tapping into the continuously growing craft beer industry.

“We were number 57 in (New Hampshire), as far as breweries go in April of 2016,” Unsworth said. “Now, there’s over 80 breweries two years later.”

In fact, just five years ago, there were fewer than 20 craft breweries in New Hampshire, according to www.brewersassociation.org.

As the number of breweries grows, so does the economic impact. The association states that craft beer led to $353 million worth of economic activity in the Granite State last year.

The most recent national statistics show the industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, with more than 450,000 jobs.

Aside from Millyard, downtown Nashua features several breweries and/or bars that specialize in craft beer. Among others, these include Martha’s Exchange, Odd Fellows Brewing Co. and The Flight Center.

“The movement is real,” said Joseph Hyatt, brewery consultant with Hyatt Brewing Co. LLC. He’s been consulting for Millyard for about five months now and said in terms of the economy, the craft beer industry is a very interesting story with the amount of breweries continuing to open. He also said the amount of people willing to drink craft beer is growing.

“There’s a crazy movement because of community. People who live in an area want to find their local brewery and come and drink there,” Hyatt said.

Still, when neighbors come in for a beer, Unsworth said some have it in their mind that they want a Bud Light.

“They come in and I say these are the beers I have on tap – they’re all made right here,” Unsworth said. “The beer that comes out of these faucets have never left the brewery, technically, because the kegs are sitting next door until they go into your glass.”

Although the majority of sales are made out of their taproom, he said their beer is also actively being poured at around 10 other local restaurants and pubs.

Getting back to the craft beer movement, he said a restaurant may have eight to 10 taps, with the majority of them being taken up by domestic beers commercial beers. However, they have one or two open for the local breweries. It’s just a matter of competing against other breweries to get that spot on tap.

“I don’t just hit a button and everything makes beer for me,” Unsworth said. “I have to physically pick up the grain and dump it into the mash tun, which a lot of breweries still do, but the larger breweries…they have conveyor belts.”

Making the beer

“They say owning a brewery is 80 percent cleaning, 10 percent paperwork and 10 percent brewing,” Unsworth said. “They’re lying. It’s 90 percent cleaning.”

Hyatt said four main ingredients go into crafting beer: water, grain, hops and yeast. Right now, the brewery can to turn out about 85 gallons of beer per week.

“To start at the beginning, we have hot water we take and put into a mash tun,” Unsworth said. “The mash tun is where we add all the grain and let it steep for an hour, let’s say.”

They’ll hit different temperatures during this process which may take up to three hours, depending on the beer.

Hyatt said one can pull out enzymes at different temperatures, which allows one to alter the flavor.

“This is where craft comes in,” Hyatt said.

“It can be a really simple process, or it can be as complicated as you would like to make it,” Unsworth added.

He said when “doughing in,” which means dumping the grain into the mash tun full of water, one wants to make sure not to get what’s called “dough balls.”

“The nerd-out aspect of that is, you don’t want to ‘dough ball’ because inside a grain, there’s endosperm, and endosperm is what’s able to be converted into sugars,” Hyatt said.

Once they’re done converting all the starches to sugars, everything goes into the boil kettle, where they then add all the hops and any adjuncts, whether coriander, chocolate or anything else. Once they’ve added to the boil Unsworth said to think of it like welding.

So, while the brewery concocts different combinations of craft beer, Unsworth said at the moment, they have about 17 recipes they actively brew, depending on the time of year. Whereas a lot of towns have their own local breweries, Millyard is a “nanobrewery.”

“It allows us to make up to 2,000 barrels a year,” Unsworth said. “Just to put it into perspective, we made 156 barrels in our first year of operation.”

At the moment, Millyard has three employees, Unsworth, Baxter and their brewmaster, Matt Hart.

“It took quite awhile to get open, but once we got open here it was an immediate reception from the community,” Unsworth said. “Everybody is really happy there’s something like this in town.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

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