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Authors Brian Aldrich and Michael Meredith of New Hampshire Beer: Brewing from Sea to Summit. Photo by Mike Johnson of FestPics.com.




Meet Brian Aldrich and Michael Meredith

Authors of New Hampshire Beer: Brewing from Sea to Summit
When: Thursday, Aug. 21
Where: Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord
Visit: gibsonsbookstore.com




A beer lover’s guide to New Hampshire
Local authors of New Hampshire Beer spill about the state’s brew scene

08/07/14



 Brian Aldrich started writing about beer in 2010 for his blog “Seacoast Beverage Lab.” That’s right about when New Hampshire started its craft beer boom. Last fall, Aldrich (who is also the beer master at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel) and Michael Meredith, co-host of the Seacoast Beverage Lab podcast, started their own journey in the state’s craft beer industry. The result is a book — New Hampshire Beer: Brewing from Sea to Summit. Released this summer, the book profiles the state’s history in beer, starting with pre-Prohibition era Portsmouth and continuing right up through the many brewpubs and breweries around today.

“You see the human side of the brewing scene, rather just the numbers and facts,” Meredith said.
“The theme of our book is camaraderie and passion, so I would describe [the scene] as friendship and a lot of passion in the industry,” Aldrich said. 
 
Your book features 21 chapters on 21 different breweries. How did you go about selecting those breweries for the book?
Brian Aldrich: The layout of the chapters is chronological, so the first chapter is Frank Jones — arguably one of the biggest breweries in New Hampshire history — then Anheuser Busch, [which] opened in 1975. Our main chapters are focused on the breweries that have been open for more than one year.  
Michael Meredith: The issue that Brian and I ran into was the continual opening of breweries. It seemed like every week there was one after the other. ... That’s why we decided to break the book up into established breweries and a ‘future’ section. … We were able to give people a taste of what was to come.
 
What was the most interesting thing you learned about New Hampshire’s breweries when writing this book?
Meredith: I think the most interesting thing that I came across was that there’s truly no animosity in the scene. ... They all have each other’s backs.
Aldrich: We both visited together probably 10 or 15 breweries in the book, and almost at every stop a brewer would say, ‘Oh, you’re heading to this brewery, say hi to this person for me.’
Meredith: We got a lot of good hints and tips for the future section from established brewers.
 
New Hampshire has quite the beer legacy, especially considering Portsmouth’s history. What do you think Frank Jones would say about New Hampshire’s breweries today?
Aldrich: Frank Jones basically ran the town of Portsmouth — literally, he was the mayor for a while and ran a lot of business. From a business perspective, he established New Hampshire as a true brewing state. I think he’d be proud of what’s going on. His brewery is still well-respected. If you go to Strawbery Banke they have an exhibit on him every couple of years. … Maybe from a business standpoint he’d want to see more growth.
Meredith: I think he would be truly shocked at the sheer number of breweries in the seacoast area. Seeing how he was the only show in town, he would be baffled at the number we see today. As Brian said, if it wasn’t for Frank Jones, none of this might have happened.
 
How has writing this book changed your perception of New Hampshire craft beer?
Aldrich: Though I had four years experience writing [about New Hampshire beer], it was just fascinating how I got the feeling there was good friendship among the brewers. … It’s just a different kind of industry. It’s one where you get to meet and talk with people about their beers.
Meredith: I wouldn’t say my perception of New Hampshire craft beer ever truly needed changing. If anything, my admiration and respect level for the industry has increased tremendously. I was always a casual onlooker of the beer scene and was never given the opportunity to dive in headfirst and see what made it tick. Now that I know, I am pleasantly surprised and excited for what’s to come.
 
When you go to a bar, brewpub, or even a brewery, what do you do before you order a pint? Is there something that you look for?
Aldrich: We get the question of, ‘What beer should I try first? If I go to the Portsmouth Brewery, what beer should I try? [etc.]’ The greatest part of the craft scene is there’s a beer for everybody. … The thing I look for is pure knowledge, [that] a bar or brewery has a proper staff that can promote their own beers. It goes a long way if there’s a bartender that can guide someone that doesn’t know anything about beer. 
Meredith: I don’t usually look at the menu right away. ... When I first sit down I try to take in the surroundings and try to receive what the establishment is projecting as it’s message to the general public. Most times I will look at the people and see what they are doing. This is a great indicator of what the theme of the establishment is. After that, I tend to ask the bartender or server what they are drinking these days. What do they enjoy and why? They spend the most time there, so that makes them more of an expert on their scene than me. I take their advice and order accordingly. 
 
As seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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