HAMPTON — Gov. Maggie Hassan paid a visit Tuesday to Smuttynose Brewing Company’s new Towle Farm Road facility to help celebrate the launch of Brew NH, a partnership among the newly formed Granite State Brewers Association, Beer Distributors of New Hampshire and the state in an effort to promote the local beer industry and beer tourism.
So far, 24 breweries and businesses representing nearly every region of the state have joined the effort, and are featured on a digital tour map available at the new website, www.nhbeer.org.
Peter Egelston, founder and president of Smuttynose, said the beer companies are very competitive with each other in the marketplace, but understand when there is a need to come together.
He said the private-public partnership will benefit everyone involved, not least of all consumers and visitors to New Hampshire.
In the early 1990s, beer tourism in the state consisted of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack and Egelston’s original brewpub, the Portsmouth Brewery downtown.
“Now you can really plan a whole vacation around visiting breweries,” Egelston said.
This includes a recent number of nano-breweries that have cropped up in no small part due to favorable legislation recently passed and supported by Hassan.
Hassan said the industry is one the Legislature has been paying a great deal of attention to because it is fast-growing, creates jobs and attracts visitors to the state. She said it also brings together the manufacturing and tourism sectors the state continuously tries to promote.
“This is a really terrific project and partnership because it brings attention to a high-quality, locally made New Hampshire product,” Hassan said.Jeff Rose, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, said the project will help ensure New Hampshire is well-poised to build on the momentum being seen in the craft brewing industry in the state and nationwide.
Rose said more than 1,000 jobs in the state are associated with the craft brewing industry representing a $350 million impact to the state.
According to an analysis released by the national Brewers Association in December, small and independent craft brewers contributed $33.9 billion to the United States economy in 2012.
Rose said local breweries and brewpubs are often points of pride and congregation in a community, and the Brew NH effort raises the awareness level beyond that.
The groups also hope to get more New Hampshire residents to drink New Hampshire beer. J.T. Thompson, minister of propaganda for Smuttynose, said only 1.3 percent of beer purchased in New Hampshire was made by New-Hampshire owned breweries, a significantly smaller percentage than in the adjacent states of Massachusetts and Vermont.
“Having this association and this community of everybody sharing for the greater good is good for all of us,” Nate Sephton, owner and brewer with 7th Settlement Brewery of Dover said. “We challenge each other to make better beer and increase local sales.”
Thompson said being involved in the NH Beer project is partly self-serving. With the new facility nearing completion, Smuttynose wants everyone to visit.
“If our brand grows, we can help other brands grows and vice versa,” Thompson said. “We’ve been in the industry in the state for a long time, and we feel we have the opportunity to be a leader and help things grow.”He said he thinks the effort can also help grow a stronger sense of pride around New Hampshire.
Bill Herlicka, founder of White Birch Brewing Co. of Hooksett and president of the newly formed Granite State Brewers Association, said they are currently planning several events for 2014, and will continually add information to the website to continue attracting beer drinkers from around the world to the Granite State.