Smuttynose Brewing expands with new 200-barrel fermenter at Portsmouth facility

Posted July 06, 2012, at 6:07 a.m.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Smuttynose Brewing Co. expanded its beer-making operations in Portsmouth this week with the installation of a new 200-barrel fermenter.

The stainless steel tank was crafted in Canby, Ore., by the company JV Northwest, a longtime supplier of brewery equipment to Smuttynose. It was driven cross-country to the Smuttynose brewing facility off Route 1 in Portsmouth, a journey of some 3,183 miles.

The 7,200-pound tank was installed by a crew of contractors using a 12-story crane at approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The new fermenter will allow Smuttynose to produce an estimated 3,500 additional barrels of beer each year, according to spokesman JT Thompson. It joins three other fermentation tanks that were installed in February as part of an expansion plan at the 225 Heritage Ave. facility.

Thompson said the company’s biggest markets are currently New Hampshire, eastern Massachusetts and New York City, but Smuttynose is anticipating new business growth in South Carolina and Virginia this year. He said the company will have a dedicated field sales manager to cater to the growing market for craft beer in the South.

“They’re catching this new wave of curiosity and enthusiasm that’s catching on around the country,” Thompson said.

Measured by volume, craft beer production grew by 13 percent across the industry in 2011, according to information gathered by the Brewers Association and distributed by Smuttynose. Smuttynose increased production 28.6 percent during the same year.

On Thursday, the operation to install the new fermentation tank began with the workers lifting out a rectangular section of the ceiling and maneuvering it onto the ground using the crane. Then riggers attached two sets of green ropes to the fermenter, lifting it into the air, dropping one end to tip it 90 degrees, then lowering it down onto the brewery floor.

Smuttynose was founded in 1994 by brewery owner Peter Egelston, along with others involved in the creation of the Northampton and Portsmouth breweries. The company’s beers are currently distributed in 19 states, from Maine to Florida on the East Coast, and as far west as Wisconsin, according to the brewery’s website.

Smuttynose currently employs an estimated 39 people at any given time, though the number fluctuates based on the season. Thompson said the installation of new fermenters could potentially bring some new jobs to the facility, since Smuttynose could potentially begin weekend brewing shifts.

In the future, Smuttynose’s expansion plans won’t be limited to its facility on Heritage Avenue alone. The company also recently purchased a 14-acre property known as Towle Farm in Hampton. Smuttynose plans to open a new brewing facility at the site, although it hasn’t settled on a final plan for its future operations, Thompson said.

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(c)2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Visit the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.) at www.fosters.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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