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Assistant brewmasters Craig Yergeau, left, and Bryan Link with a sampling of their creations at Milly's Tavern in Manchester. From left is Fisher Cat Ale, Mt. U Cream Ale, Hefeweizen, Manch Vegas IPA, Bo's Scotch Ale and Milly's Oatmeal Stout. Milly's Tavern is a participant in Saturday's Granite State Brewers Festival at nearby Arms Park. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Big turnout expected for NH beer fest

MANCHESTER -- Beer lovers can sample some of the 100-plus beers being offered by nearly 30 New Hampshire brewers at Arms Park on Saturday.

This much local beer talent concentrated in a single place “is only going to happen once a year,” said Peter Telge, the event organizer and owner of Milly’s Tavern and Stark Brewing Co.

You don’t even need to bring your own glass — just your thirst — to the Granite State Brewers Association Summer Fest.

Breweries from as far away as Littleton (Schilling Beer Co.) and North Conway (Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery Co.) plan to attend the event, which Telge said could draw 1,500 people.

Michael Benoit, owner of Blue Lobster Brewing Co. in Hampton, said it’s a good place to get people to try your product.

“It’s 1,500 potential new customers, especially if we put (our beer) in convenience stores in the area,” Benoit said.

He said most people enjoy their beer on tap at restaurants or bars. But new bottling equipment being shipped from Canada will allow the brewery to reach more customers by selling bottles in stores.

He plans to bring Blue Lobster IPA and Blue Lobster Kolsch, “a very light summer beer,” for people to sample, said Benoit, whose brewery produces about 275 barrels a year.

The largest of New Hampshire-owned breweries, Hampton’s Smuttynose, also is on board.

“Beer festivals, like the Granite State Brewers Association’s Summer Fest, bring together many breweries from all over the state, and this is important because there are some many small, new breweries that don’t have the reach of Smuttynose or Tuckerman,” said Smuttynose’s J.T. Thompson. “Providing interested beer drinkers new beers and breweries is very helpful, but closing these loops depends on bars, restaurants and bottle shops choosing to offer New Hampshire beer to their customers.

“We have to make the beer, but we also need businesses to sell our beer and for beer drinkers to drink it,” he said in an email. “It’s really a three-part equation, and we see festivals and tasting events as great ways to create demand and close loops between the three tiers,” Thompson said.

Telge, whose brewery produces about 1,000 barrels a year, said brewers bring kegs or bottles to pour samples into 7-ounce degradable cups for sampling. Glasses will be available at next year’s event.

New Horizons food pantry and shelter and the brewers association will split the proceeds. Telge serves on both boards.

“New Horizons is, as always, in need of more money because their numbers are up and donations are down,” Telge said. “It’s great exposure and it’s for a great cause.”

A chicken wing competition and food for purchase also are planned. The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m.

VIP tickets, including premium parking, run $40 ($42.39 with service charge) and allow people to enter at noon, an hour earlier than those with general admission tickets, which are $30 ($32.04). Tickets for designated drivers cost $20 ($21.69).


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