Meet the Brewer: Great North's Rob North
The brewer-owner of the Manchester 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 latest profile, meet Rob North. Rob is the brewer, owner and occasional janitor of Manchester's Great North Aleworks, a popular spot celebrating its second anniversary this month. Read on to learn all about the 5000-barrel-per-year facility and their head brewing honcho.
About the Brewer
NH Magazine: How did you get into the brewing business?
Rob North: I was a long time homebrewer who got my professional start as the first assistant brewer at Newburyport Brewing in Newburyport, Mass.
NHM: Why did you choose to work in New Hampshire? What do you appreciate about the craft beer scene here?
RN: I moved to New Hampshire in 1996 as a recent college grad looking to pursue a career in IT, where I met my (to-be) wife Lisa, who moved here a year after I did. Between the friends we’ve met, the history, the proximity to major cities, and the natural spaces New Hampshire has to offer, we love it here and consider it home.
The craft beer scene in New Hampshire is a very collegial one, in large part through the efforts of the New Hampshire Brewer’s Association. We have many friends who own or work for other breweries who we see more as collaborators than competitors. New Hampshire breweries are making some world-class beer and folks are taking notice — it’s an exciting time.
NHM: What styles of beer are you personally most fond of?
RN: As a beer lover I like to be able to have more than one pint in a sitting, so I usually gravitate towards flavorful, lower ABV beers. Hoppy pale ales and Belgian-style witbiers are staples found in our fridge.
NHM: What’s your personal favorite of the beers you make?
RN: Tough question — all of our beers have a special place in my heart, and all for different reasons. But having to pick one…Tie Dyed is my favorite to brew, given that the beer is both delicious and highly drinkable, and also since it was the first beer we made at Great North whose recipe development was a true team effort. It was such a hit back in the summer of 2016 that we promoted it to a year-round beer.
About the Brewery
NHM: When did you open to the public?
RN: Beer started to ship to stores, bars and restaurants throughout New Hampshire on Monday, August 31, 2015. By the end of that week, Great North’s beers could be found from Keene to Portsmouth, Salem to Berlin, thanks to our distributor Amoskeag Beverages. We opened our tasting room for the first time on Saturday, September 5, 2015 — Labor Day weekend.
NHM: What sets you apart from other New Hampshire breweries? What’s unique about your style or mission?
RN: Great North Aleworks' mission is simple: to craft flavorful, food-friendly beers while maintaining a fanatical devotion to quality. We feel that great beer should be accessible — you shouldn’t have to stand in a crazy line for it.
All of what we’ve achieved so far would not have been possible without having attracted an amazing and talented team of brewery industry veterans and passionate beer enthusiasts who share this vision.
NHM: How many beers and what styles do you offer at any given time?
RN: We have three year-round beers: Great North IPA; Tie Dyed, a dry-hopped pale ale; and RVP, our robust vanilla porter. We also have rotating special releases throughout the year such as Tragically Hopped double IPA and our pilsner, Northbound. [Note: See Great North's full beer list here.]
NHM: What’s your most popular beer?
RN: Great North IPA.
NHM: Where can your beer be purchased?
RN: Our beers are currently available in New Hampshire and Connecticut. We plan to expand into other New England states over time.
NHM: What’s next for your brewery? Any expansions or big milestones to note?
RN: We're celebrating our second birthday on Saturday, August 26, 2017, with what we call our Birthday Bash at our tasting room. This year we’ve invited some of our brewing friends to come hang out and bring one of their favorite beers they brew. They will be available for ticket holders to enjoy. We’ve also acquired the unit next door to us, increasing our space by 50%, which will allow us to expand our tasting room and brewing operations.
Click here for more info about the brewery's anniversary celebration. Happy birthday, Great North!