In Mexico, premium tequilas have been produced and enjoyed for generations, but today their popularity reaches beyond the borders. "According to the Tequila Regulatory Council, tequila has seen the largest incremental rise in consumption among spirits, both in the U.S. and worldwide," says Sergio Ramos, business partner at Mixteca in Durham, New Hampshire, and Zapoteca in Portland, Maine.
This summer is not vacation time for Tod Mott. By the time the dog days of August arrive, the former Portsmouth Brewery maestro—along with his wife, Galen—hopes to have officially opened Tributary Brewing Company, a new, 15-barrel (bbl) micro-operation located at Post Office Square in Kittery,Maine.
The number of breweries in the United States has grown faster in the past few years than anytime in history. Every day a handful of bootstrapping entrepreneur with big dreams brew, package, and distribute their creative passions in a bottle, can, or keg with the ultimate goal of getting someone to try it. Without the benefits of big-budget mass marketing, craft breweries rely on word-ofmouth and the grass-roots approach to gaining popularity. As beer lovers know, when we try something we like, we’re happy to spread the word.
Following the second annual Taste Tours Tuscany last spring at Casali di Bibbiano, a magnificent Italian country estate and winery, I headed to Umbria, a lesser-known but equally wonderful wine region. My trip was focused on learning more about Sagrantino, a red wine grape that has been making a lasting impression.
Starting in the 1990s, American brewing has undergone a steady resurrection from the decades-long decline since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. By the late 1970s, the industry was dominated by a handful of heavy hitters, with only 79 registered breweries nationwide. By June of 2013, there were 2,538 registered American breweries, an increase of over 400 since 2011, the year New Hampshire passed a law making it easier for small-scale breweries to operate. From bitters to Belgians, stouts to sours, and just about every pale and porter in between, America has most definitely rediscovered its brewing voice.
Gluten free, lighter than most craft beer, and lower in alcohol and calories than wine, hard cider is fast becoming America’s new brew. Not since the young, passionate days of the craft beer industry have we seen such breathlessness to get into the game. Research firm IRI recently reported sales of cider increased more than 65 percent from October 2011 to October 2012, compared with wine sales increasing 5.6 percent and craft beer 13 percent during that time period.
“We have 166 taps between the three bars,” says Joe Kelly, owner and visionary of Thirsty Moose Tap House in downtown Portsmouth, which opened last July. The upstairs bar was first to open, followed by the downstairs events area, which caters to anyone looking for great live music, private parties, and more of a lounge atmosphere. Kelly, a serial entrepreneur, had the idea for this concept after a trip to California and a visit to the well-established Yardhouse. “I truly expected someone else to build this type of restaurant sooner,” he says. “Portsmouth is the best town in the area to live, work, and own a business. Fortunately, the timing was right and we secured an awesome space.”