Brewery now on tap at Woodstock Inn Station
NORTH WOODSTOCK - Standing behind the bar at the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery on Jan. 31, owner Scott Rice had a big grin on his face as he filled a tall glass with Pig's Ear, the brewery's signature brown ale.
He wasn't speechless, but the joyful sounds coming from his vocal cords were not recognizable as words. The people in the crowd - friends, patrons and Rice's wife, Peggy - in front of the bar were excited, too, as the ceremonial first pour from the inn's new brewery was set on the bar for all to admire.
That first pour represents one of many, as the inn ramps up production at the 30-barrel brewery. The brewery has come a long way since Rice poured his first locally brewed beer in 1995.
That pour also marked the completion of the $3 million construction and renovation project, finished a little more than a year after ground was broken.
With the new brewery, located directly in back of the inn on Main Street, Rice and his crew are able to bottle its beers on site and expand the offerings. Rice said that he expects to have a couple of new varieties out this summer, the 4,000-Footer IPA and a summer brew. The 4,000-Footer, he said, is inspired by the White Mountains' 48 peaks that are 4,000 feet and higher. By summer, customers will be able to purchase their favorite products in 22-ounce bottles. Previously, the beers were bottled at Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine. The new brews will join the present offerings of more than a dozen seasonal and year-round beers, including the award-winning Pig's Ear Brown Ale and Pemi Pale Ale.
The Woodstock Inn celebrated another milestone in December. Scott Rice has been in business for 30 years. The new main bar opened this summer. There's an expanded function room, too, and Rice said that bookings for weddings are coming at a good clip.
"We had one of our best summers last year, and this winter is shaping up to be our biggest winter ever," Rice said recently.
With the expansion, he expects to add on to his staff, hiring 15 more employees.
As part of the project, the existing dining areas and bar in the Inn and Station got a makeover, with the reconfiguration of the restaurant spaces making way for the 150-seat function hall. The Woodstock Station now seats 300, and the Clement Room Grills seats 60.
The expansion and renovations were financed through a package deal, with the Northern Communities Investment Corp., the SBA, Union Bank and the Grafton County Economic Development Council taking part.