The last time local breweries were as popular as they are now was in 1850 when consumers had no choice but to purchase craft brews from their local brew master. In 1980, there were only 50 registered breweries nationwide, but recently there has been a major trend in interest for local breweries. Today, the brewing industry is a major part of life in New Hampshire which includes a dozen breweries in the seacoast region alone. Organizations like the Granite State Brewing Association and Brew NH are dedicated to helping out local brewers. Consumers have recently created a trend for sampling a product right at the site of production which has promoted a thriving brewing scene throughout New Hampshire. In light of this trend, beer tourism brings more and more visitors to New Hampshire for the purpose of exploring the NH brew scene.
“Many of these places offer music, game nights, classes and other special events. It’s much more appealing and family friendly than just being a place where you sit at a bar. It’s also an industry, that in New Hampshire, is creating many new jobs,” said UNH brewery manager Cheryl Parker.
In addition to being an exciting hobby, craft breweries have a big impact on the local economy, so much in fact that the University of New Hampshire recently implemented a brewing minor for undergraduates. The brewing minor is offered through the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and promises students the ability to have a balanced understanding of the unique industry that is brewing. It focuses on the economics of brewing, running a business, the science behind the art of brewing, and even allows access to a brewing test lab where local brewers can experiment with product quality.
“Employment in the industry, while growing, is also becoming more competitive. Whether you want to work in a large brewery, or open your own business, you will have to hit the ground running and understand the many aspects that the brewing industry encompasses. We are fortunate at UNH to be surrounded by so many experts in the field and successful businesses. One of the highlights of the Introduction to Brewing course is to be able to meet and engage with many of these people about their journey in the industry,” said Parker.
As this industry grows however, product quality is going to be hard to keep up.
“The biggest challenge for local brewers is going to be maintaining a quality product that consumers consistently enjoy, while still trying to expand the business,” said executive director of Beer Distributors of NH and Brew NH board member Scott Schaier. Professional training like workshops from UNH Professional Development & Training and access to the test lab at UNH will be extremely beneficial to local brewers who would not otherwise have access to expensive equipment to test their product quality.
“Maintaining quality is going to be the hardest part of expanding going forward which is why professional training is so important,” said Schaier.
For brewing professionals or hobbyists who are not undergraduates at UNH, the department of Professional Development at UNH offers a wide range of brewing classes and workshops. The first ever NH Craft Brew Conference is coming up on November 10 (https://training.unh.edu/brewing). UNH PD&T is also offering a NH Craft Brewing Startup Workshop November 6 through 10 for anyone who is interested in taking their passion for brewing into business. The now competitive market for craft brewing makes product consistency the most important factor for succeeding in the industry because consumers now have many choices.
“Quality and consistency are critical to maintaining a brewery in a competitive market and there is always more to learn. We hope to provide something for every level, whether you are just considering getting into the business, or you have been brewing for years and want to further refine your quality program,” said Parker.
The economic impact of the brewing industry cannot be denied. According to the Brewers Association, small independent brewers added $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 alone. This number also includes other branches of the brewing industry including wholesalers, retailers, and of course breweries. Additionally, the industry also added 456,000 full time jobs, says the Brewers Association. In New Hampshire the brewing industry contributed $353.5 million to the state’s economy in 2016. Programs like the brewing minor and PD&T workshops aim to sustain the industry with well-educated professionals who will thrive in this expanding are of the regional workforce.
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