There’s nothing quite so American as the idea of choice—enjoying what you want, when and how you want it. And flights of beer, with their meandering genealogies and jazzy changes in tempo and tone, embody this ethic perfectly.
Ever-growing craft breweries show no sign of slowing down
Hitting the road with Granite State Tours With all 14 passengers safely aboard Greta the Growler Getta—ﬂagship of the North Hampton, New Hampshire–based Granite State Growler Tours—lead tour guide Mark Chag quickly sets the day’s whimsical tone. “Just your luck!” Chag brays in trademark New England brogue. “Getting on a bus where the blind guy’s driving and the deaf guy’s answering questions!”
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.
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.
“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.”