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Stratham man wants to open brewery in Exeter

EXETER — A local businessman has a brewery plan on tap for Exeter.

Joseph Berwanger of Stratham is looking to turn a 4,000-square-foot space in a commercial building on Epping Road into a brewery for German ales.

The brewery, to be called Neighborhood Beer Co., would feature a 1,000-square-foot tasting room while the production facility would fill the rest of the space.

The plan will go before the town’s zoning board of adjustment on Dec. 17. Berwanger isn’t expecting any problems, but he needs a special exception okayed by the town to allow the plan to move forward.

If he receives town approval, Berwanger said he’ll sign a long-term lease on the space inside the newly renovated building owned by Al’s Automotive and Truck Service Center at 156 Epping Road.

Berwanger is no stranger to the brewing industry. He and his buddy Rob Sama brought Chicago’s Baderbräu Brewing Co. back to life in recent years, but Berwanger has decided he’d rather stay here in New Hampshire.

Berwanger began working on his Exeter brewery plan after people encouraged him to open something locally.

“We’re getting out in the beer community and talking to local brewers. We have the ability, especially on the Seacoast, to create a really vibrant craft beer community. I’m pulling together a team of brewers and staff to really do this right,” said the 43-year-old Berwanger, who also owns a consulting firm called OnCourse Business Advisory.

If the zoning board approves the special exception, Berwanger said he’ll immediately begin working on getting the rest of his permits in place.

He plans to create a “pilot brewery” inside the facility to work on recipes and products for the tasting room, which he hopes to open next summer.

Berwanger said the new production facility should be in operation by next fall.

The brewery will likely have a staff of 12 to 14 people within the next three years, he said.

“I think it’s a pretty good plan,” he said.

If the plan doesn’t work out in Exeter, Berwanger said he’s found other locations that could work in nearby towns, including Epping and Stratham.

But his first choice is Exeter.

“The fit in Exeter is terrific,” he said.

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