The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








Jason and Margot Phelps, co-owners of Ancient Fire Mead & Cider in Manchester. Courtesy photo.

Ancient Fire Mead & Cider

An opening date is expected in the coming weeks. Visit the website or call for updates.
Where: 8030 S. Willow St., Building No. 1, Unit 7-2, Manchester
Anticipated hours: Thursday and Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Visit: or call 203-4223

Fired up
Ancient Fire Mead & Cider to open in Manchester

By Matt Ingersoll

 In 2003, a cancer diagnosis and recovery period left Londonderry native and then-software engineer Jason Phelps with an opportunity to pursue a dream. Fast forward 15 years, and Phelps is cancer-free — and a full-time homebrewer. He has taught classes, won awards and is getting ready to introduce his meads and ciders to the Granite State market for the first time.

Ancient Fire Mead & Cider, a new craft meadery and cidery coming to Manchester, was recently given the green light by the state to start making product. Phelps said they have set their sights on opening their doors in the coming weeks. 
In addition to pouring many of his own signature creations, Phelps and his wife Margot will be serving a small menu of foods, hosting onsite tours and distributing product to other retail stores, restaurants and bars across southern New Hampshire.
“I had been into microbrew beers since the mid-’90s, so I was curious and wanted to see what I could make at home,” he said. “After I made my first beers and they came out pretty good, I started experimenting with cider and mead, using apples and honey I would just pick up at stores and farmers markets. I even started sharing it with my friends and I remember somebody said to me, ‘Oh cool, you made mead,’ and I said, ‘I made what?’ I didn’t even know what it was at the time.”
The experience opened up a whole new world for Phelps, who over the next decade began forming relationships with other people in the local home brewing community. He began writing blogs, attending conference and joining clubs, and people started asking him if he would ever go commercial with his meads and ciders. 
Ancient Fire will have a 20-seat capacity that will include bar seating, four high-top tables and two low-top tables.
“We will have three product lines,” Phelps said. “One would be the draft meads, which are typically going to be around 7 percent alcohol and will have some level of carbonation to them. … The second one will be what we call our dessert meads. Those won’t be carbonated, and will be sweeter and contain substantially more alcohol, maybe around 13 to 15 percent ... and then the third product line is going to be cider. … We’re a little bit out of cider season, [so] cider is going to come into the mix later than the meads, based on what product we can actually get.”
Phelps said a few of the ideas in progress for the draft meads will include a dry hopped passion fruit flavor, a Concord grape flavor — like an “adult grape soda,” he said — and a mead flavored with pineapple and chili peppers. 
A traditional semi-sweet mead with fermented honey and watered yeast is also going to be part of the starting draft lineup.
“We’re hoping this will be one that will help people who are not really familiar with mead and aren’t really sure whether they like fermented honey ... to really understand and get them truly in touch with that particular ingredient,” Phelps said.
He said the taproom menu is also going to include a few light food options, like a house-made cheese dip with crackers, a cheese and meat plate, a chicken and ranch wrap with mixed greens, cups of soup and chili, bagged snacks like chips and pretzels, and bottled sodas and waters. Ancient Fire is going to be open three nights a week and is planning to host tours in its production area on Saturdays.
“Our vision with that is that it’s going to be a guided tour,” Phelps said. “We want to go through some history of mead and cider ... and a little bit about us and the ingredients. We anticipate having a couple of different honeys that people can taste on the tour as well. ... We’re also going to show you and point out to you what everything is and what it does, to hopefully give people a basic understanding. The tour is going to finish with a flight in the tasting room.”
Phelps chose the name Ancient Fire out of his love for historical and nature documentaries and for a name that is reflective of the importance of the sun in producing each of the necessary ingredients to make his drinks.
“My mother ... had this documentary called The Seasons, and they make it quite clear that our early ancestors understood the cycle of the sun having to do with these really interesting changes depending on where in the world you are,” he said. “At one point, the narrator talks about a metaphor for a carnival ride ... and says, ‘We, like they, circle the ancient fire,’ meaning the sun. So I started associating ‘ancient fire’ with what I was doing and everything I was making.”
Once Ancient Fire opens, Phelps said, you can expect to find its products at other local retailers like Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett and Craft Beer Cellar in Nashua on days when the taproom won’t be open. 

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