“The way I see it, the nano brewery license is kind of like an introductory license,” said Ivan Bass, liquor examiner with New Hampshire State Liquor Commission. “They can try it and maybe see how they like it. Then they move on to a bigger license.”
Bass said the number of breweries in the state has gone up dramatically in recent years.
In 2008, there were only five breweries and nine brewpubs. Brewpubs must make under 2,500 barrels per year and are full-service restaurants. Now, five years later, there are 19 breweries and 10 brewpubs.
“This has been a golden age for the beer consumer,” said Bill Herlicka, president of the Granite State Brewers Association. “There has never been a point in the history of beer where the consumer has had so many choices to choose from. I think this is why craft breweries have kind of taken off.”
Herlicka expects 2014 to be another big year for new breweries.
One new local brewery is already in the works. Kelsen Brewing Company in Derry is looking at opening on High Street next month.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity,” said Erik Olsen, owner of Kelsen Brewing. “Everyone in town has been very helpful and friendly, and is making the process very easy.”
Olsen said Kelsen just received its federal brewing license, which all breweries in the United States must obtain. Kelsen is applying to be a mid-sized brewery with the state.
Although the number of breweries in New Hampshire is increasing, some say it trails behind neighboring states.
“In Vermont, 20 percent of every craft beer sold in the state is made in Vermont,” Herlicka said. “In New Hampshire, about 1.3 percent of the craft beer sold in the state is made here.”
Herlicka said there are a number of reasons for that.
“New Hampshire’s dominant brewing is at its brewpubs,” he said. “That means there is great beer consumed at great locations, but it’s not available elsewhere. The dominant form of sales of beer in New Hampshire is from grocery store chains. They primarily sell six-packs and seasonal 12-packs. But New Hampshire brewers haven’t made beer to fit that format.”