Home Garage Turned Nanobrewery
The Northwood police station is about the size of a country post office. In fact it used to be the post office. My destination is the Out.Haus Ales brewery, but my first stop is the police station to get my bearings on Route 4, or First New Hampshire Turnpike, or Antique Alley — your choice. First built in 1801, this highway connects the Seacoast to Merrimack River settlements like Concord. The people and businesses are rooted into this two-hundred-year-old stretch of road like birch trees along the edge of a creek. On this day I was pointed towards both directions of the thoroughfare.
The Out.Haus Ales brewery is tucked behind Pirate Mechanical. A huge black and white sign declares Out.Haus Ales and an equally large sign loudly reads BREWERY Back of Building. This is not my first visit. The first time I was here the owner, brewer, bartender, and distributor of this one-man show, Tom Albright, had just installed his three-barrel system. The result for me was no beer.
All of Tom’s brews take place in what used to be his garage. In 2013 he made the full conversion to licensed nanobrewery, operating a one-barrel, one-man business. Now he distributes all over New Hampshire, delivering his bottles himself to various Granite State locations including Hooksett, Wolfeboro, Manchester, Meredith, Nashua, Portsmouth, and Hampton. His homebrewed bottles carry the label “Out.Haus Ales,” a name originally used to describe the location of his house, which friends referred to as “out in the middle of nowhere, like an outhouse.”
All over Northwood people advocate at least four other places and/or people you must encounter. The Out.Haus is on all of their lists. On my second visit a power outage ensues from heavy winds. I open the white metal door to the nanobrewery. Hunkered in the gray darkness with a vast frizzy colonial beard, mountain man hair, philosopher glasses, and wearing a kilt is Tom. He shouts into a cell phone and we both laugh at this nonsensical moment. We catch up, reminiscing our earlier phone conversation, and share another laugh as no power results in no beer for me, again.
Tom’s beers are currently found in at least eight stores around New Hampshire, so I end up buying his beer at two local spots. I studiously assess them while writing. Indeed, the Stout is smooth as a Guinness and not too heavy. The Coffee Blond is a dream come true. The coffee comes in as a subtle wisp; not weak, just subtle. It may be Out.Haus’ finest hour. The IPA is a not too hoppy take on this American staple. Speaking on the camaraderie of New Hampshire brewers Tom commented, “We all do IPAs, but no two are the same.”
Tom’s winter beers are out, the Chocolate Chile Stout, Coffee Oatmeal Stout, and the Smoked Porter leading the charge. The cold weather still finds Tom in his kilt though he declares, “I wear pants when I’m sledding.” Like most establishments in these parts, Tom seeks out local products whenever he is able. Locally sourced maple syrup is brewed into his IPAs and he has experimented with chamomile from a farm in Hooksett.
Tom is an exceptionally likeable man, well known in this town of entrepreneurs and small business owners. The average workday seems to be about 12 hours. He’s no different coming in at seven in the morning, brewing by eight and cleaning by six or seven at night. Sundays he gives himself back to his family. His average answers to questions are done in about eight words. I ask, what is his flagship beer?
He answers, “The Stout.”
“Why?” I ask.
“It’s my favorite,” he says.
“Why is that?“
“It tastes good,” he reasons, with a captivating whisker filled smile. And taste good it does.