Meet the Brewer: 603 Brewery's Matt Neff
The head brewer at the Londonderry spot talks shop
With more than 60 craft breweries spread across the state (and new ones opening seemingly every week), it's no secret that New Hampshire is home to some great beer. To help you get to know some of the Granite State's favorite sudsy spots, we're implementing a new series of "Meet the Brewer" profiles to introduce you to our top-notch New Hampshire breweries and the men and women behind them.
For our first profile, meet Matt Neff. Matt is the head brewer at Londonderry's 603 Brewery, which has been a local favorite since opening in 2012. Read on to learn all about the 6000-barrel-per-year facility and their head brewing honcho.
About the Brewer
NH Magazine: How did you get into the brewing business?
Matt Neff: Hobby, turned passion, turned career. I was introduced to the craft beer scene at a young age, working at a boutique shop that focused on beer, wine, cheese and butchered meats. (Shout out to Johnson's Marketplace in New Durham!) Combining my love of cooking and science, I began homebrewing when I first turned 21. Timing was fortunate enough that I crossed paths with the owners of 603 Brewery just as they were starting out and I was looking to venture into the brewing industry professionally. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, I was able to turn my hobby into a career. I started off helping hand-label bottles on weekends. With the training from our then-head brewer Ben Miller, I was able to move to cellaring work, then assisting with brews, to eventually taking over as head brewer.
NHM: Why did you choose to work in New Hampshire? What do you appreciate about the craft beer scene here?
MN: I love it here. I’ve moved all over but always ended up back here, one way or another. From our 18 miles of coastline to the peaks of the White Mountains, I don't think there is a better place to call home. Honestly, the craft beer scene in New Hampshire has been a bit behind the times, so to speak. But that's what I enjoy about being here, in this industry, right now. New Hampshire is at the precipice of this exploding industry and we are fortunate enough to be at the forefront. It's a great time to be brewing beer here. Our fans and beer drinkers are supportive and passionate and keep me in love with what I do. I also appreciate the sense of camaraderie in this industry. Most of us realize that at the end of the day, we are all in this together and are always willing to help each other out.
NHM: What’s your personal favorite of the beers you make?
MN: The most fun I've had making a beer with 603 has probably been the India Pale Lager, or our “IPL”. Essentially blending aspects of two of my favorite styles, I was able to take the time and attention to detail to brew a lager base beer with the hop schedule of an IPA, with both substantial kettle and dry hop additions. Old world meets new. Having a very simple grain bill and a super clean lager yeast really allows the hops to shine. I chose to dry hop our IPL with Loral and Citra. Citra is a well-known hop at this point, bringing big grapefruit and tropical notes, but Loral is a fairly new hop. The addition of Loral provides more traditional noble hop characteristics; it is floral, citrusy, herbal and spicy but also has some really unique stone fruit character. The combination of dry hops give a great multidimensional take on a fun style of beer to make.
About the Brewery
NHM: When did you open to the public?
Morgan Towle, 603 Brewery Event Coordinator and Front End Manager: 603 Brewery was started in 2012 in Campton, NH. The public was allowed to stop and and taste, but we quickly had to increase space for production and moved to Londonderry, NH in September of 2013. When we moved to Londonderry, we opened to the public and had a full functioning tasting room. The Brewery was started by 3 best friends who all went to college together, Geoff, Tamsin and Dan (Geoff and Tamsin are husband and wife). They were all Engineer majors.
NHM: What sets you apart from other New Hampshire breweries? What’s unique about your style or mission?
MT: We are very very NH focused. Naming our beers after something to do with the state. Making sure that people associate our brand with our love of NH.
We are a family here at 603 Brewery. We take pride in the relationships that we develop with our customers. We are constantly engaging with our audience in both our tap room and in the field with events and promotions.
NHM: How many beers and what styles do you offer at any given time?
MT: Our tap list and packaged beer is ever-changing. We have 5 styles that are always available: Winni Amber Ale, NH Ale, 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale, White Peaks IPA, and Granite Stout. Then we have 5-10 other styles that we offer in either package or on draft. This includes our seasonals, small-batch experimental brews, large-batch limited release beers, and stuff that we just have fun with. At least once a month, we try to release a new style of beer. [Note: See 603's full beer list here.]
NHM: What’s your most popular beer?
MT: Winni Amber Ale is the most popular beer that we make at the brewery. It was also the first beer we ever brewed at 603, our flagship beer.
NHM: What’s next for your brewery? Any expansions or big changes to note?
MT: 603 Brewery is growing year after year, and, due to that, we are in need of an expansion of our production space. Stay tuned over the next year — you are going to see a lot of exciting things from us, potentially even a new location.
NHM: Where can your beer be purchased?
MT: You can purchase our beer all over the state of NH on draft and in super markets, beer shops and most convenience stops.