Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 12, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The plans for the new Smuttynose brewery and restaurant had to go through as strict a review as any other project — and the same can be said about the process leading up to the issuance of its occupancy permit. However, it's hard not to be excited for Peter Egelston, owner of the brewery, and the town of Hampton, which will welcome the 48th-ranked brewery on Ratebeer.com's World's Top 100 Breweries list.
In the end, it is hoped and believed that residents of Hampton will be amazed that they were able to successfully draw such an outstanding company as Smuttynose Brewing Co., while Portsmouth and Newmarket couldn't seem to get out of their own respective ways.
The tale of Smuttynose brewery's future move needs a little background, explaining how a place like Portsmouth can forget how such small companies are the lifeline of economic success. Flash back to the early 1990s on the Seacoast. Recession ravaged the area as the closure of Pease Air Force Base crippled the region's economy.
A then little-known Peter Egelston took a chance and opened the Portsmouth Brewery, New Hampshire's first brewpub, in downtown Portsmouth in 1991. This was long before the arrival of The Gap, Banana Republic and Starbucks. There wasn't a whole lot going on for Portsmouth's downtown at that point in time. But Egelston took a chance, and today his selection of beers are known throughout the nation, if not the world. His microbrewery began in 1994 and has grown to produce more than 15,000 barrels a year, qualifying it as a regional independent brewery.
The Portsmouth Brewery and its sister company, Smuttynose Brewing, helped put Portsmouth on the map as a place to discover, long before a steady stream of television adventurers beat a path to the city. People from across New England actually make an annual pilgrimage to fight for the limited stock of the Portsmouth Brewery's "Kate the Great" Russian Imperial Stout, named America's Best Beer in 2007, according to Beer Advocate Magazine.
That same spirit is now coming to Hampton.
But it doesn't stop there, as Egelston is committed to making "green" beer. His design for the 42,000-square-foot brewery at 105 Towle Farm Road is engineered to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. Egelston even made his bid for LEED certification more challenging by laying out the new brewery in a lesser efficient manner in order to save mature trees on the property. To top it off, Egelston is preserving an old barn on the property by building the new restaurant inside it instead of razing it and putting up a faux Colonial brew pub.
The pending arrival of the Smuttynose restaurant also helps achieve a goal outlined in support elements of Hampton's master plan document, which suggested the town should increase its number of restaurants as a means of creating more economic vitality. Hampton could have done a lot worse than the Smuttynose Brewing Co.
In the end, as the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. As Egelston recently said, when he first looked at the Towle Farm Road lot last August, he had the feeling, "this is where we were meant to be all along."
Raise a pint and celebrate.