Smuttynose's New Goal is to Open in 2011
By Shir Haberman
Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Back in 2008, when Smuttynose Brewing Co. was granted permission to build a brewery/restaurant on Towle Farm Road, owner Peter Egelston said he expected to break ground on the project in the spring of 2009. However, Egelston and his partner, Joanne Francis, have now indicated construction on the 42,000-square-foot facility will probably not begin until early next year.
If groundbreaking for the new Hampton brewery does happen in the spring of 2010, Egelston said he expects the facility to open sometime in the middle of 2011.
"We're at about 75 percent completion of the construction documents," Egelston said last week, "and we're working up a construction budget."
The complexities of constructing this kind of facility, plus securing the necessary financing, had the partners feeling the project was running them rather than the other way around, Egelston said.
"My partner, Joanne, and I looked at each other and said we felt like we were riding on a runaway train and we were the conductors," Egelston said. "I feel good about the choice we made to pull back on the throttle."
That choice will now allow the company to fully evaluate the decision to try for Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the new building and to secure additional funding. With the sponsorship of the town of Hampton, Smuttynose applied for an $800,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant last month.
The money will help Smuttynose finance the installation of water and sewer extensions to the Towle Farm Road location, and also build a water treatment system on the 14-acre site to handle the between 20,000 and 40,000 gallons of water and waste flow the brewery will generate daily.
"It will provide (Smuttynose) with better fire protection and easy access to the public sewer," Town Manager Fred Welch said in June when the proposal was presented to the Board of Selectmen. "It will also be a benefit to any future development in the area," which currently does not have public sewer or water.
However, Egelston said the decision to delay the Hampton project had ramifications for the company's current facility in Portsmouth.
"We are so close to outgrowing the space on Heritage Avenue that we literally are raising the roof to get larger (brewing) tanks in there," he said.
During the first half of 2009, Portsmouth-based Smuttynose Brewing Co. posted a 21 percent increase in volume over the same period last year. Beer sales overall in the United States are slightly down compared to last year; however, one corner of the beer industry — craft brewing — is still putting up healthy growth numbers, and Smuttynose Brewing's growth exceeds that trend, Egelston said.
That is the result of an expansion of Smuttynose's distribution into four new states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — and the introduction of Star Island Single, a new beer. However, the most significant increase in sales has been in New Hampshire, where shipments are 36 percent higher than last year.
Egelston theorizes the awareness of the Smuttynose brand has increased locally as the company develops its plans to build a new facility in Hampton. At the same time, the company continues to add brewing capacity to its current facility in Portsmouth, with two new 6,000-gallon fermentation vessels slated for installation in August.
"We can't stand still here while we plan and build our new brewery," he said. "We're bursting at the seams."