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May 30, 2014 - 09:00
Seacoast Online

Two things permeated the air at Towle Farm on Wednesday: the sweet, pungent smell of hot, brewing beer, and unbridled joy.

Wednesday was a production day at Smuttynose Brewing Co.'s recently completed brewing headquarters on its new $24 million campus located on the western side of Hampton. Company officials gave tours of the facility while taking in the excitement surrounding the completion of a major project that has gone through many permutations since it first started in 2007.

"This is really where we were meant to be all along," said company President Peter Egelston. "It took us a while to get here, but (we're) fortunate because this is where we were meant to be all along."

Smuttynose, which had been located in Portsmouth since opening in 1994, first began searching for a new home in 2007. A number of locations were considered in and around the Seacoast area, but Egelston and company officials fell in love with Towle Farm because of its character, rustic structures and potential.

The company purchased the land off Route 27 in 2008, although the construction of the new brewing facility and the work to turn the existing 19th century home on the property into a restaurant didn't begin until 2012.

The company purchased the land off Route 27 in 2008, although the construction of the new brewing facility and the work to turn the existing 19th century home on the property into a restaurant didn't begin until 2012.

This Saturday, the brewing facility — but not the restaurant, which will be finished later this year — will be open to the public for the first time, and company officials say it's "exciting" to finally show it off.

"With any big project, you can get stressed because you can get busy (while dealing with issues that pop up), but you've got to take a step back because you're opening a new brewery," said Smuttynose spokesman J.T. Thompson. "You have to take a step back and enjoy how lucky we are to be able to do that, especially on a project like this that is so fun."

Four IPAs were being brewed Wednesday, and Egelston and Unitil officials took much enjoyment out of showing a small group of guests various portions of the process as well as the facility's many energy-saving features.

Egelston said Smuttynose is on a "journey" to "become a more sustainable company" through new equipment that allows it to save electricity as well as get more product out of energy-draining raw materials like its malted barley.

The facility also recaptures and reuses displaced heat and it utilizes "solar tubes" to bring in natural light, the latter of which allows it to use less energy on lighting for the production floor and other portions of the building.

A number of other energy-conscious initiatives are being used in the new facility, which also has LED fixtures instead of traditional fluorescent lights. Carol Valianti, Unitil's vice president of communications, said Smuttynose's conservation efforts are "innovative" because combined they save 11 million kilowatt hours over the lifetime of the equipment.

She said that amount of energy could power 1,500 homes for a year, which she said is "the equivalent of the town of Hampton Falls."

"The number of energy-efficient (parts of the plant) from a geek's perspective is really cool," said Tim Noonis, Unitil's senior business development executive.

Egelston said Smuttynose still has "a long way to go" in its conservation efforts, which will also eventually include capturing methane gas from the facility's wastewater in order to convert it into energy.

 

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