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Beer business bucks up around Independence Day

Union Leader Correspondent

July 02. 2013 10:08PM
Smuttynose Brewing Co. president Peter Egelston poses in the company’s brewery on Heritage Avenue in Portsmouth in August. The company plans to move into a new larger facility in Hampton this fall. (UNION LEADER FILE)

With a billion dollars worth of beer expected to be sold during the days surrounding the Fourth of July, local vendors and brewers are expecting an important increase in business in the coming days.

According to the American Beer Institute, during the days surrounding July 4 last year, $1.36 billion worth of beer was sold in America, and in 2012, the average Granite Stater consumed 44 gallons of beer, good for the second-highest rate in the country.

“It is a very important holiday for us. It is a great time to celebrate all things American with a great craft brewed beer,” said J.T. Thompson of Smuttynose Brewing Co., a Portsmouth based craft-beer company that sells a variety of brews in 22 states.

Saying the summer is usually the breweries busiest time of year, Thompson said that when someone drinks a locally crafted beer they are doing more than enjoying a beverage, they are helping to support their local economy.

“You are celebrating local businesses and your community,” Thompson said.

Part of what makes summer so busy at Smuttynose is that along with producing summer seasonal brews, the brewery is already preparing to make its autumn seasonal ales.

“In the craft brew business you really have to stay a season ahead, because the windows are so small you have to hit the market hard right away,” Thompson said.

But the Fourth of July, which the Beer Institute said is America’s top beer-selling holiday, doesn’t just benefit local brewers, but vendors as well.

“It is a very important time for us, and overall the summer is a very important time for the beer industry, because that is when people like to relax in the warm weather with a nice refreshing beverage,” said Bert Bingel of Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett.

With more than 700 different variations of beer, mead and cider, Bingel said his store sees a good increase in business during the time around Independence Day.

“We see a good uptick in business, and all upticks are important. These kind of big holidays, like the fourth and Christmas, are all important to businesses that sell and brew beer,” Bingel said.

According to the Beer Institute, the average American over the age of 21 drank 300 bottles of beer during the year, an increase of 1.5 percent from the previous year.

“From hops producers to can and bottle makers in communities across the country, beer is an economic engine that contributes more than $246 billion to the U.S. economy. As folks raise a beer this July Fourth in backyards, on front porches and at holiday celebrations, I ask that they salute the millions of Americans who worked to get that beer from grain to glass,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute, in a statement.

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