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Littleton's Schilling Beer Co. completes major expansion

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2018 9:35PM
From left, John Lenzini, head brewer; Stuart Cozzens, chief operating officer; and Jeff Cozzens, chief executive officer; of Schilling Beer Co. are seen here Friday in the company's newly built brewery on Mill Street in downtown Littleton. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

LITTLETON — In its never-ending quest to make a world-class brew, the Schilling Beer Co. has taken a big step forward with a major expansion that includes facilities for making what is possibly some of the first spontaneously fermented beer in New Hampshire.

Opened in September 2013 in a former grist mill on the northern bank of the Ammonoosuc River, Schilling Beer was an instant hit with both the public — TripAdvisor gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on 651 reviews — and the connoisseur, scoring a 4.1 out of 5 rating with Beer Advocate.

Also soon apparent at Schilling, which is the creation of brothers Jeff and Stuart Cozzens and John Lenzini, all of whom hail from Traverse City, Mich., was that after just three months of opening, the business had effectively run out of space.

In 2016, Schilling announced it had purchased two buildings immediately adjacent to its existing brew pub, then razed them and began building a 7,500-square-foot space with expanded facilities for brewing, retail and packaging.

The brewery, which is inspired by a Scandinavian farmhouse, also has a 20-barrel brewhouse; stainless and oak-cellaring areas; a quality-control lab; a tasting bar with fireplace; and a merchandising center that, along with an exterior deck, overlooks the Ammonoosuc.

On the lower level of the building, Schilling has installed its “koelschip” equipment. Koelschip is a Flemish word for a type of shallow cooling pan, said Jeff Cozzens, Schilling’s chief executive officer. It “brings the outside in,” literally, by permitting native wild yeast and micro fauna that are in the air to come through open, but screened windows and ferment the boiled wort in the pan.

The koelschip is part of Schilling’s new sour-beer program. Schilling already produces and will continue to make progressive, European-influenced small-batch beer, some 120 varieties since 2013, said Lenzini, who is the head brewer, as well as the Resilience line of American pale ales.

Lenzini said with the expansion, which was scheduled to be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Schilling is now a small, versus very small brewery. However, it remains classified by the State of New Hampshire as a micro-brewery, meaning it produces less than 15,000 barrels a year.

Lenzini, Jeff Cozens and his brother Stuart, who is Schilling’s chief operating officer, said they expect the expanded Schilling brewery will make a little over 3,000 barrels a year, including many one-off batches, the overwhelmingly majority of which will be either consumed or sold onsite.

By keeping everything in-house, Schilling can offer the best beer to its patrons, said Jeff Cozzens, serving it at the ideal temperature and in glassware that brings out its best qualities.

“We don’t want to simply talk about being a world-class brewery, we want to be one,” said Jeff Cozzens, and the new, expanded brewery will help Schilling along that path. He qualified that “being world class is very different from being elitist,” adding that craft beer is for everyone and that Schilling’s knowledgeable staff can find the right beer for every palate.

Stuart Cozzens said the expansion will also create about a dozen new jobs. During the peak summer season, Schilling has about 60 full- and part-time employees, he said.

Jeff Cozzens described the expansion as “an entirely self-financed project with no outside investors, and, yes, it’s in the seven figures.” He declined to get more specific.

While the number of new breweries entering the New Hampshire market has not slowed down, Lenzini said Schilling’s real competition is itself and its challenge is to consistently make an outstanding beer.

Some breweries are trying to be “all things to all people,” said Jeff Cozzens, “but not us.”

“There’s a maturity process that breweries go through. We’re comfortable in our own skin, and we know where we’re going to.”

Business General News Littleton

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