Meet the Brewer: Canterbury AleWorks’ Steve Allman
The seasoned brewer at the Canterbury spot talks shop
With around 70 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 latest profile, meet Steve Allman. He is the owner, brewer and head bottle washer of Canterbury’s AleWorks, a one-barrel, water-powered and wood-fired nanobrewery. Read on to learn all about the 50-barrel-per-year capacity facility and their brewing operations head honcho.
About the Brewer
New Hampshire Magazine: What is your title at the brewery?
Steve Allman: I am the sole owner, brewer and growler washer (unless I can get one of my children or a friend to cover the taproom here and there). I have always been self-employed. I really enjoy the deep value and challenges of a steep learning curve and the complete accountability of having my own business.
NHM: How did you get into the brewing business?
SA: I jumped down the rabbit hole two feet first and haven’t looked back. I had no brewing experience when I started. The whole brewing process has such infinite creative latitude. It is a 100-variable equation that continues to fascinate and challenge me.
NHM: Why did you choose to work in New Hampshire? What do you appreciate about the craft beer scene here?
SA: I was born and raised in New Hampshire. I purchased the property here in Canterbury in 1985 and started building my home and farm. I first designed and built the building that houses the brewery for my woodworking business 20 years ago. We made Shaker reproduction woodenware that I started making and demonstrating at the Canterbury Shaker Village in 1987. I have always had an appreciation for New Hampshire and the variety of experiences and history that makes it great. New Hampshire beer tourism is now a whole new frontier.
NHM: What style(s) of beer are you personally most fond of?
SA: Not so much style, but well-assembled beers are my joy and constant goal. It is such a thrill to taste a beer that has balance, depth, complexity and a great back-story. However, if I had to be stranded on a desert island with one beer, it would be British Bitter.
NHM: What’s your personal favorite of the beers you make?
SA: It was originally the Weihanstephaner yeasted Bavarian Heffeweizen that compelled me to pursue brewing. That yeast is so unique. Right now, I am infatuated with an obscure historic style, Bavarian Damphbier. It highlights the Bavarian wheat yeast in very unique ways.
About the Brewery
NHM: What’s your annual production size, in barrels?
SA: I have a one-barrel brew house and two barrel fermenters. I make one or two barrels of a given style at a time and produce on the order of 50 barrels each year. My business model is a one-man show capitalizing on high-margin, on-site retail sales. Wholesale with such a “nano-nano” scale brew house is very tight.
NHM: When did you open to the public?
SA: After a year of building out the brewery and taproom and getting all the necessary approvals, I opened in the summer of 2012 with no previous brewing experience. At that time, I was the around the 19th licensed brewery in New Hampshire. Now there are 70 some! Who’d-a thunk!
NHM: What sets you apart from other New Hampshire breweries? What’s unique about your style or mission?
SA: Beer is definitely involved, but I focus on selling experience. Beer is such a poetic social mechanism that can seem empty with out a great backstory. The location and the timeless environment of my singularly unique taproom and wood-fired, water-powered brewery gives folks the feeling that they have stepped back in time or have been transported to some far off land. By using “top cropping” ale yeasts, fermented in “open” fermentation, I can save most yeast indefinitely. This draws out the most unique complexity from their flavor contribution.
NHM: How many beers and what styles do you offer at any given time?
SA: I work with about 50 recipes, with eight on tap most weekends. I am working on doubling up my tap-line to offer 16 beers to taste/choose from. Many beers are based on my Boddingtons British house yeast and others are distinctly German inspired.
NHM: What’s your most popular beer?
SA: Whatever is new and seasonal often sells the fastest. IPAs are always a sure thing. There is always a new seasonal or one-off in the lineup that is undoubtedly unlike anything else out there!
NHM: What’s next for your brewery?
SA: I am looking into different possibilities for expanded seating and maybe food/pints. My new open fermenter viewing room will be in operation when I re-open February 3. Folks will actually be able to watch the beer bubbling way right from the tasting room. Also new for 2018 will be 16oz cans where you can make your own fourpack to-go here at the brewery!
NHM: Where can your beer be purchased?
SA: I have considered sending some sixtel kegs out as a lost leader/exposure expense to some of my brewpub buddies. Maybe in 2018.