Meet the Brewer: Michael Potorti of Beara Brewing Co.
Local craft beer with an Irish influence
Meet the Brewer: Beara Brewing Company’s Michael Potorti
With more than 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 Michael Potorti. Michael is the founder and head brewer of Beara Brewing Co., a taphouse where beer is inspired by the local dairy and grain products of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland. Read on to learn all about the 300-500 barrel-per-year capacity facility and its head brewing honcho.
About the Brewer
NH Magazine: What is your title at the brewery?
Michael Potorti: Founder and brewer as well as host of the “Craft Beer Storm” podcast. (Read more about the podcast below.)
NHM: How did you get into the brewing business?
MP: I lived in England and went to Ireland a lot to try the Irish Bread — it’s delicious! So I asked, “Why doesn’t anyone in the US use this grain to make good Irish beer?” When I relocated to New Hampshire for a job, I saw the craft beer scene was booming, so I started homebrewing with genuine imported Irish barley. The rest is history.
NHM: Why did you choose to work in New Hampshire? What do you appreciate about the craft beer scene here?
MP: I am a CPA/auditor, so I landed a job in Portsmouth as director of audit for a company, but after I started homebrewing, I knew my passion was in making beer. I also enjoyed local craft beer and spoke to many brewers who were very helpful with getting me started.
NHM: What style(s) of beer are you personally most fond of?
MP: I do like IPAs (hops rule) but I also enjoy stouts, hefeweizens and really good pale ales — we make those too. It also depends on my mood and what I’m eating as a meal.
NHM: What’s your personal favorite of the beers you make?
MP: I like all of them, they are like my kids — I can’t pick a favorite. I really like our Outer Limits DIPA with Galaxy hops and our bourbon oak barrel aged beers.
About the Brewery
NHM: What is your annual production size, in barrels?
MP: It’s 300-500 barrels-per-year
NHM: When did you open to the public?
MP: I opened the taproom in November 2014. We started to homebrew and people liked the beer. Then I did a Kickstarter and raised $11,000. My job was outsourced so I took the 401K and opened the brewery and taproom.
NHM: What sets you apart from other New Hampshire breweries? What’s unique about your style or mission?
MP: I use genuine imported Irish barley as the base for all our brews. I believe it is of high quality and it shows in the great beers we are producing.
NHM: How many beers and what styles do you offer at any given time?
MP: We have six tap lines and are constantly experimenting with new ingredients, hops and more.
NHM: What’s your most popular beer?
MP: We have several popular beers. Our stout sells the most in taproom however, our two DIPAs Outer Limits and FeKiT!, sell well too. When we barrel age beer in Jim Beam barrels that disappears quickly too.
NHM: What’s next for your brewery?
MP: Expanding marketing through social media to get more traffic into our taproom. A lot of people say, “I didn’t even know you were here,” which is very annoying! I did start the “Craft Beer Storm” podcast to promote our brewery, but primarily because I was tired of seeing three things: One, the beer sections in supermarkets consisting of 90 percent “Big Beer” and 10 percent local craft beer. Two, 90 percent of tap lines going to Big Beer or “Crafty” beer, sometimes no tap lines for local beer. Three, me walking into restaurants and bars and being told that they don’t work with breweries who self-distribute.
NHM: Where can your beer be purchased?
MP: Our beer can be purchased in our taproom in Portsmouth and at bars and restaurants in Southern New Hampshire and the Seacoast Region.
“Craft Beer Storm” With Beara Brewing Co.’s Michael Potorti
With the number of craft breweries on the rise both in New England at large and right here in New Hampshire, there’s no question that there are a mounting number of related laws and regulations. With laws on self-distribution, brewery sales and sampling varying from state to state, craft brewers and hobbyists alike are navigating a growing industry to provide consumers with the finest beer they can get their hands on. Beara Brewing Co.’s Michael Potorti is throwing himself on the front line, discussing any and all things craft beer in his new podcast, “Craft Beer Storm.” The podcast dives into the industry and its trends through the more recent innovations, as well as direct-to-consumer beer market and the challenges faced in the growing business. Potorti’s first episode aired on September 30 with three new episodes per week, ending on Friday with a “Craft Beer News” segment.
“I’ve found that going into the stores and restaurants, the shelf space is all big beer. There’s not really a lot of room for craft beer. This prompted me to take a different approach to marketing and media.” says Potorti. “I think it’s the wave of today and the future. A lot of people want specific information. A lot of people go online, and if you need a solution to a problem, you go to your phone.” Although the episodes focus heavily on local consumption and production, the podcast has welcomed its fair share of seasoned guest speakers.
Locally, Potorti has invited a collection of residential leaders in the industry. From Bill Herlicka, founder of White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, to Dave Yarrington, a former Smuttynose executive who’s now at Dover’s Chapel + Main, there is a wealth of information concerning the scene and what’s to be expected in the future of craft beer. On a wider note, all the way from Germany, Potorti welcomed Andreas Wagner of PrBrau to discuss his origins, German Purity Laws and the overall beer scene in the region. Other guests included James Loughran and Caoimhe Nugent of the Loughran Family Malt in Ireland. The family supplies craft brewers with locally sourced ingredients, as well as harvesting their own on their farm just outside of Dublin.
Comparing notes and talking about laws, Potorti and his guests are setting their sights on becoming “ambassadors of the planet.” The craft beer scene is incredibly interconnected, and with an ever-changing assortment of styles, regulations and updates, you’ll need a place to consume not only the beer, but the information that comes with it. “Craft beer or local beer, get out to your local brewery, these guys work hard. Brewing kicks your butt — it’s a process!” says Potorti.