Smuttynose project barrels forward in Hampton
Brewing company gives tour of future home
By Nick B. Reid
Hampton Union , June 23, 2013
[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston, left, and JT Thompson,
known as the company's “Minister of Propaganda,”
stand in front of the historic Towle farmhouse, future
home to an onsite pub/restaurant. [Nick B. Reid photo]
HAMPTON — After nearly 20 years at its Portsmouth location, Smuttynose Brewing Company is moving, expanding and improving in Hampton, with the expectation that the new $16 million facility will be completed by the end of the year.
The move, which came after a years-long search for the perfect new spot, will allow the brewery more efficiency, better tours and retail space, as well as a 95-seat pub/restaurant that has exclusive beers, according to JT Thompson, the brewery's "Minister of Propaganda."
Thompson said the Portsmouth locale, where the company started in 1994, is a utilitarian building in an industrial park situated with construction and manufacturing buildings, never specifically intended to be a brewery.
The new site, which is the former location of the historic Towle Farm — the reason Towle Farm Road got its name — incorporates elements from the 1800s, like the original farmhouse, while also boasting myriad state-of-the-art elements, from solar tubes that light the warehouse as brightly as electric bulbs to specialized German brewing equipment that's in such high demand it's part of the reason the completion deadline was pushed back.
Owner Peter Egelston gestures toward an area where large
brewing equipment will be moving in. [Nick B. Reid photo]
Besides all the production improvements, the new facility is a chance to improve the public interface and offer more of an incentive for people to check out the operation.
"You'll see people walk in and kind of pause like, 'Is this where we're even supposed to be?'" Thompson said of the Portsmouth location.
"We want people to come to Towle Farm, whether it's to have lunch, tour the brewery or see a concert," he said. Hosting concerts isn't necessarily set in stone, Thompson said, but it's an example of the type of attitude the brewery has with its Hampton location, which will also be home to a beekeeping operation — a couple staffers are beekeepers, and Smuttynose might either use the honey the bees produce in its restaurant or package and sell it under the Smuttynose brand. The site also features an apple orchard.
The reason the company settled in Hampton — after a search that began in Portsmouth and involved a number of potential locations including the Newmarket Mills — was all the things the Towle Farm Road site has to offer.
"Minister of Propaganda" JT Thompson and owner Peter Egelston
pose in a hall that will be lined with pairs of 25-foot-tall
fermentation tanks. [Nick B. Reid photo]
"This site is the one we were meant to be in all along," said owner Peter Egelston, noting that he had been casually looking for a new location since 1995.
Thompson said the Towle Farm has an interesting story that's tied to many historic tales in the area.
"We could have flopped down a Butler building (a prefabricated structure)," said Clark James, the owner's representative on the construction project and the company's facilities manager.
But they were intrigued by Towle Farm.
"This isn't a place without personality built in already," Thompson said. "We don't want to strip this place of its previous identity."
The brewpub is actually going in the historic Towle family farmhouse, which was moved about 50 yards and is getting a bit of an expansion in the process.
As the new, bigger brewery is constructed — Smuttynose produced 41,000 barrels of beer last year and now has the capacity to make 61,000 — one of the downsides that owner Egelston struggled with on the property was the increase of impervious material and the storm water runoff hazards that creates.
Owner Peter Egelston points to a spot out back where an apple
orchard will be replanted. [Nick B. Reid photo]
But, Egelston said, a lot of planning went into the project that won't even be visible to the public eye, including a rain garden, or bioswale, that will sop up much of the runoff, an element he's rather proud of. Other "green" steps that were taken — there are several — include a wastewater treatment center that will power one-quarter of the site's electrical usage and electric lighting. It's an anaerobic biodigester in which the brew waste goes in and is eaten by "swamp bugs," as Egelston put it, which then excrete methane gas that's burned and made into energy. Egelston also added that large amounts of refrigeration are required in a brewery, and refrigerators produce a lot of heat — Smuttynose is using that heat on water used in the brewing process, as well as to warm the building itself.
"Starting from scratch, you get a lot of unique opportunities," Egelston said, noting that he had engineers in on the project, which is designed to meet LEED standards, early on.
Unlike the current facility, when you walk into the new brewery the most visually appealing bit of the process is right there for you to see.
A new bottle filler is visible through a window facing the front door, which Thompson said is going to offer significant improvements in the bottling, including longer shelf-life and less taste-spoiling oxygen hitting the beer.
As you walk in the entrance, a state-of-the-art bottling process unfolds before your eyes.
In the main brewing room, there'll be a line of pairs of 25-foot-tall stainless steel tanks in a large room with cathedral-like ceilings.
The old barn outside also has a hidden piece of Smuttynose history in it that owners haven't yet decided how to use. The trailer featured in the background of the Smuttynose IPA label was purchased by the company and is sitting inside awaiting its deployment.
Smuttynose creates beers that are sold in 22 states from Maine to Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. They're working on a collaboration with the Stone Brewing Co., makers of the famous Arrogant Bastard Ale, who were also in town checking out the site.