Henniker Brewing Co. celebrates State House bicentennial with 200-year-old recipe

  • Dave Currier, owner of Henniker Brewing Co., holds a can of State House Bicentennial, brewed from a 200-year-old recipe. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Bill Dunn, packaging manager for Henniker Brewing Co., changes the pouring machine from 12-ounce cans to 16-ounce beer cans at the Henniker facility. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Dave Currier of Henniker Brewing Co. attaches the plastic wrapping to hold a six-pack together at the facility in Henniker. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, July 12, 2018

A recipe inspired by multiple 200-year-old brews is making its debut this weekend with Henniker Brewing Co.

Using sterling hops and American malts, the beer is made in the style of ales common back when the golden eagle was first hoisted atop the State House in July 1818. Henniker Brewing Co. owner Dave Currier said it is “not a hop-driven beer.”

“We looked at a number of different recipes and came up with our own version of those,” Currier said.

The centuries-old ale will be debut at the Toast to the Eagle this Saturday, which will incorporate a reading of the 13 original toasts given when the eagle was first placed on the dome. Organizers wanted a beer that was “appropriate for toasting.” Currier and Bush think the “State House Ale” is up to the challenge.

It’ll be a busy weekend of toasting in Concord as the fifth annual New Hampshire Brewers Festival comes to the Kiwanis Waterfront Park at noon Saturday. Henniker Brewing Co. will be there too.

But the State House Ale will have a celebration all its own. Head brewer Devin Bush described the beer as “lighter with a crisp finish.” The flavor profile, as he describes it, is slightly “bready” with a honey note.

The recipe for the brew is from New Hampshire, and Bush said all the ingredients are from the United States. And the ingredients have life in the Granite State even after the brewing process: Once the malt has been extracted from the grains, Currier said the company sends the used grain to a farm in Croydon that mixes it into feed for pigs, cows and chickens.

Henniker Brewing Co. made 15 barrels of the brew, or about 465 gallons. They packaged 110 cases of 12-ounce cans, which will be available at area stores.

“This is a nice, easy-drinking beer,” Currier said, and there is a reason for all this work to re-create a 200-year-old ale.

Honoring history

With the bicentennial of the New Hampshire State House fast approaching, state officials have been working to come up with new and exciting ways to promote the history.

Currier, a former state lawmaker, stepped up to the plate with his idea for the Toast to the Eagle, which marks the start of a yearslong celebration leading up to the bicentennial in July 2019.

Currier was talking with House Chief of Staff Terry Pfaff and House Clerk Paul Smith – both members of the State House Bicentennial Commission – about different events they were planning to celebrate the 200th anniversary.

“We asked if we could do a beer for them,” Currier said. “We wanted to make a cream ale which was available back then.”

During colonial times, beer was incredibly popular. It was often safer to drink than water, which was easily contaminated with bacteria before water treatment plants.

It’s sure to be pretty popular Saturday at the State House, as well, where Currier will be with some of the barrels. Other kegs will be sent to Concord-area restaurants that will serve it on tap.

“We’ve made special beers for a particular restaurant or private brews for ski areas,” Currier said. But this one’s special.

As much as the event is about celebrating history, it’s also about bringing attention to the state’s growing beer industry. Currier said an event at the State House showcasing a local brewery shows recognition of a strong industry.

Henniker Brewing Co. opened in early 2013. They were the 17th licensed brewer in the state. There are now over 70 breweries, according to Currier.

“It’s funny how the beer in New Hampshire is in an explosive state,” he said.

Gates open for the Toast to the Eagle at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. and the celebration starts at 3 p.m. There will be a tent for beer serving and an under-21 tent for anyone who doesn’t want a beer. The cost is $5 for a 12-ounce glass or $10 for a commemorative glass.

(Jacob Dawson can be reached at 272-6414 ext. 8325 or jdawson@cmonitor.com)