Neighborhood Beer Co. closing its doors

Neighborhood Beer Co. in Exeter announced this week that it will close on Saturday.

EXETER — Neighborhood Beer Co. is being forced to close amid financial troubles just three years after opening its craft brewery on Epping Road.

The brewery announced this week that Saturday will be its last day.

“It’s been an amazing three years, but due to business challenges, we have no option but to close our doors,” the brewery said in a statement posted Tuesday on its Facebook page.

The closure follows legal action taken in recent weeks after the brewery allegedly failed to pay all of its rent this year and now owes $56,009, which includes late fees.

A.P.R & R. Inc., which holds the prime lease for the property at 156 Epping Road, filed an eviction notice in Brentwood Circuit Court last month stating that the brewery had to vacate the building by Nov. 1.

A complaint was also filed in Rockingham County Superior Court saying that the brewery hadn’t paid rent on time since Nov. 1, 2017, and hasn’t made a full payment since January.

The brewery features a production brewhouse, 1,000-square-foot tap room that seats about 50 patrons, and space for fermentation and packaging.

“We started out the business with a very aggressive distribution-focused strategy. The business has changed quite a bit over the last three years,” said Joe Berwanger, the brewery’s president and founder.

Berwanger said Neighborhood Beer Co. was one of the first 15 breweries in the state when it opened, but there are now more than 80.

He was hopeful that talks with a couple of restaurateurs would have positive results, but they fell though.

Berwanger said he’s been working with investors and the bank to keep things running, but that it’s become too difficult.

Exeter has also seen more restaurants open in town, which include Sea Dog Brewing Company, since the brewery began operating.

“There are a lot of market pressures happening all at the same time,” Berwanger said.

Canning costs have also increased about 10 percent this year because of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports of aluminum, he said.

The brewery once had about a dozen employees, but the staff has been cut in half.

The property is owned by 156 Epping Road LLC, which has leased out the space to the brewery through A.P.R. & R. Inc.

“We worked with them over the course of the year trying to help them get on their feet. It’s an unfortunate situation, but hopefully someone steps in to revive the business,” said Michael Lampert, who owns 156 Epping Road LLC and A.P.R. & R. Inc.

The brewery signed a five-year sublease agreement for the space in May 2014. It had the option to extend the sublease for two five-year extensions.

Under the terms of the agreement, the brewery was required to pay $48,000 a year during the first year with the rent increasing 2.5 percent for each subsequent year, court documents said.

rockinghamnews@unionleader.com