Over the last few years, we've seen tons of new breweries open. While this has been going on, though, I sometimes like to take a moment to remember that some of the companies have been running for nearly twenty years! The new stuff is great, and it's very exciting to see the growth. But it's also important to look back on those who helped get this craft beer thing started...especially when they're still kicking ass and going strong! Over the years, Smuttynose Brewing Co. has grown into a Portsmouth, NH-based powerhouse and will soon be moving to Hampton, NH to continue it's growth...they're also the makers of one of my favorite IPAs in the entire world! Founder Peter Egelston is one of the main men in New England craft beer, having had a hand in founding Smuttynose Brewing Co., Northampton Brewery (with his sister, who now owns it) and Portsmouth Brewery. They've grown leaps and bounds over their twenty year life and have kept up with, and set the bar on many occasions for, innovations in the craft beer world with their Big Beer Series and Short Batch Series, the latter of which they've begun to release in limited 750ml bottles. I wanted to talk to the guy who makes all this delicious beer possible, Smuttynose's Director of Brewing Operations, Dave Yarrington.
Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?
Dave Yarrington: I got into craft beer in college. It was the late '80's and there were some small brewers starting to appear on the scene. I went to school at Colby College in Maine and we were getting beer from Geary's by that point. My degree is in chemistry and I had a professor that encouraged me to homebrew, which turned out to be great advice.
DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?
DY: After my junior year my friend Todd and I spent the summer traveling out west visiting friends and partying way too much (oh Vegas, you evil place...) We stopped by small breweries along the way and really started to get a feel for what was happening in "microbrewed" beer. This was 1990 and supply was limited so anywhere we could find a small brewery we were stoked. The real turning point for me was a long afternoon spent at the Anchor Brewery in SF. We proceeded to be wonderfully hosted (read over served) and were absolutely blown away by just how fresh and beautifully presented all of the beer was. One of the brewers was pouring us beer and he mentioned that a degree in chemistry was probably a good entry point into a brewing career. I then went back to school with renewed focus and 20 years later I'm still at it.
DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.
DY: Since it's a magical beer shop I'm going to choose beers that may not be still available but I really wish were:
Watneys Red Barrel
De Dolle Stille Nacht Special Reserve from 2000
Ballantine Burton Ale
DCB: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?
DY: I don't know about career but I'd probably be a trout bum somewhere out west. I imagine I'd have moved on from my post college life in Jackson, WY complaining about the cost and the overcrowded fishing and made my way ever further north and west. I'd probably be somewhere in Alaska laughing at all the suckers lined up shoulder to shoulder on the Yellowstone River while I'm executing a perfect double haul to take a 30 lb King on a streamer. Wait a minute...why am I not a trout bum?
DCB: Where do you see the craft beer industry going in the next year? And, in that vein, can we get a sneak peak at what new to expect from you in the coming year?
DY: I think it's going to be full steam ahead in the next few years in the craft beer world. Lots of new beer hitting the market and most of it is of great quality. Consumers are going to be loving all the new offerings. Existing breweries are going to need to be vigilant about staying relevant and keeping pace creatively. For Smuttynose that's a big part of why we're building our new facility in Hampton, NH. The 13 acre Towle Farm property will house our LEED certified brewery with state of the art equipment ready to make plenty of great beer.
DCB: Great, thanks so much for your time, Dave! And we're really looking forward to checking out the new brewery and whatever else new you guys have coming down the pipeline...also, I always look forward to knocking back a few Smutty IPAs!