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Hopping Industry: Craft beer trend growing in New Hampshire

By Mathew Plamondon - Staff Writer | Jan 8, 2019

Telegraph photo by Mathew Plamondon After a day of canning fresh craft brew, co-owner of Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. in Merrimack Carl Soderberg, shows off his work.

NASHUA – Fans of beer in New Hampshire have reason to be happy about a growing trend within the state, craft brewing.

The Granite State is on the cutting edge of this fast-growing industry, which has seen steady growth throughout the country. Not only is it pleasing to those who enjoy partaking in the adult beverage, but it’s also helping boost the state’s economy.

Craft breweries have been popping up all over the country, with an industry growing at a considerable pace over the past decade. New Hampshire is no exception to the trend, as one of the top states in the country in in regards of increased growth.

According to C+R Research, there has been an exponential increase in craft brewing over the past 10-plus years. As of 2018, there were 7,082 craft breweries around the country. In 2007, there were 1,511 nationwide.

The neighboring state of Vermont is at the forefront, with 11.5 breweries per capita, topping a list of only eight states ahead of New Hampshire, where there are 5.6 breweries per capita. With the increase in breweries in the Granite State, there has been a correlation of economic growth that comes with it. New Hampshire has seen an economic impact of $356 per person because of its breweries, per capita.

Unlike Vermont, New Hampshire is seeing much more growth. Within New England, the state has seen the highest increase. Since 2015, the industry has seen a 33 percent growth in the state, falling behind just five others.

Carl Soderberg, co-owner of Merrimack-based Able Ebenezer Brewing Co., believes that New Hampshire residents have come around over the last five years to the trend. Soderberg said, over that timespan, New Hampshire has caught up with its neighboring states.

“New Hampshire was kind of behind the curve. We’re surrounded by states that are known for really good high-quality craft beer,” Soderberg said, “between Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

“I think at this point five years ago, it was kind of night and day between the two beer scenes,” he added. “Now, I think New Hampshire holds it own.”

Able Ebenezer, who was voted Best Brewery by The Hippo four years in a row, has been a part of the craft-brewing in New Hampshire since June 19, 2014. Soderberg said he’s seen a lot of changes in the industry since. He cited a change in the beer industry, in general, as to why craft breweries have taken off.

“The craft beer industry is starting to become as decentralized as the wine and spirits industries, so theres a lot of us out there putting up a higher quality product,” Soderberg said about the major shift in the industry. “And, there’s a consumer base that is willing to spend more money per a pint.”

He said that in past decades, beer was treated as a commodity, and however cheap a brewery could make the beer was the way the industry was run. This ran in contrast to the wine and spirit industry, where consumers were willing to spend much more money per pint.

Soderberg said that smaller breweries, with their ability to experiment more thus crafting unique “local” flavors, caters to those looking for higher quality beer that they can feel is their own. This, he believes, has helped the growth throughout the state.

“I think one of the benefits of being smaller is you can play around more, you can put a lot more into the beer,” Soderberg said. “I think people like having that local craft beer that’s theirs, and for us, we’re very happy being a nano-brewery that serves the Greater Manchester/ Nashua area cause I feel like this is the sweet spot.”

Soderberg said those reasons, as well as the nano-brewery act introduced in 2011, makes it easier for those looking to open their own small-scale craft brewery, have helped drive growth in the industry throughout the state.

Even if the craft beer trend levels off in the future, Soderberg believes the industry has changed, and craft brewing is here to stay.

“This isn’t a fad, this is what craft beer is going to be going forward,” Soderberg said.

Mathew Plamondon may be reached at 594-1244 or mplamondon@nashuatelegraph.com.


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