Meet the Brewer: Throwback Brewery's Chris Naro and Nicole Carrier
Throwback Brewery's Chris Naro and Nicole Carrier talk about their most popular brews and new kitchen expansion.
Chris Naro with the tanks. Courtesy photo
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 Chris Naro. Chris is the lead brewer of North Hampton’s Throwback Brewery, a popular brewery that is dedicated to crafting delicious farm-fresh beers and food from local ingredients. Read on to also hear from co-founder and president Nicole Carrier, and learn all about the 1,100-barrel-per-year capacity facility.
About the Brewer
New Hampshire Magazine: What is your title at the brewery?
Chris Naro: Lead Brewer.
NHM: How did you get into the brewing business?
CN: I started as a home-brewing banker, and began my career by volunteering at Throwback Brewery. It quickly turned into a full-time job, and the rest is history.
NHM: Why did you choose to work in New Hampshire? What do you appreciate about the craft beer scene here?
CN: I grew up in Plymouth, and I’ve had a strong connection to New Hampshire my entire life. I love the land, the people and the small-town, friendly feel of the entire state. I love being in an area where the beer industry feels like family. The New Hampshire beer scene is still growing, and innovating, at a fast rate. The amount of New Hampshire-brewed beer sold in the state is on the lower side as compared to most of the country, but I look at this as an opportunity for us. We have more room to grow, and time to expand and innovate. We have amazing breweries all around us, and new breweries are opening every other month, which is helping to satisfy the growing demand from New Hampshire consumers for well-made, passionately crafted beer.
NHM: What style(s) of beer are you personally most fond of?
CN: My favorite styles of beer start with, but are not limited to, anything late-hopped with strong citrus, floral tropical notes as well as baltic porters, imperial stouts, pilsners and sours ranging from barrel/foeder fermented to kettle sours. I love beers that manage to be very well balanced, while still having layers of flavor.
NHM: What’s your personal favorite of the beers you make?
CN: There are a few styles that I really enjoy brewing. Personally, I love brewing our Hog Happy Hefeweizen, which is a German-style wheat beer. This beer takes a bit more time and several extra steps to make, but we think the results are well worth it. We are able to create a more complex malt flavor and mouthfeel. We use a method called decoction, which entails mashing in and moving some wort to the kettle to do a quick boil, and then moving the wort back into the mash tun for the final saccharification rest. I also really enjoy brewing IPAs and imperial stouts for the sole reason that they produce an outlandish amount of flavor and aroma through out the whole process. I am always excited to taste and smell the beer from start to finish.
About the Brewery
NHM: What’s your annual production size, in barrels?
Nicole Carrier: We brewed around 1,100 barrels in 2017.
NHM: When did you open to the public?
NC: We got started in a small warehouse space, opening to the public in July of 2011. We were actually the first little brewery in the state with a tasting room. In July 2015, we moved our operation across the street into a picturesque 1860s post-and-beam barn on a 12-acre farm. At the same time, we opened a farm-to-table restaurant, began farming and expanded our brew house from 3 to 15 barrels.
NHM: What sets you apart from other New Hampshire breweries? What’s unique about your style or mission?
NC: Throwback Brewery is unique among craft breweries in New Hampshire because we have a very distinct mission of crafting beer (and food) from ingredients grown from within 200 miles of us. Depending upon the beer, we are 70-99 percent of the way there, which is something very unique in our state. Last summer and fall, about 50 percent of the produce served in our restaurant came from our farm. Our space and vibe is also pretty unique. We are on a beautiful farm that includes a few acres of planted fields, a hop yard, heirloom chickens and pigs, Nigerian dwarf goats, miniature donkeys, geese, a beer garden, games for the kids and solar panels that help power our beer. Folks can sit in our beer garden and eat a kale salad while watching the farmers pick the kale for the salad. They can be drinking a beer, and look out and see the pigs that are eating the spent grain that went into making that beer. Or, they might be eating bacon that came from the pig. We are trying to build a full circle of sustainability here. At the moment, we are still the only 100 percent women-owned brewery in New Hampshire. Hopefully one day that will change.
Photo of Throwback Brewery by Melissa Boulanger
NHM: How many beers and what styles do you offer at any given time?
NC: We have 15 taps for our beer. We like to offer a variety of styles and flavors because we like drinking all kinds of beer. However, more importantly, we also want to ensure that anyone who likes craft beer will find something here that they really enjoy drinking.
NHM: What’s your most popular beer?
NC: Since we are a brew pub, we love to experiment with different flavors and styles, and we make a lot of different seasonal beers. Our most popular beers include our Spicy Bohemian (jalapeño pilsener), our Cheek Squeezer (kettle-soured blonde ale with cherries) and our Watta Melon (watermelon blonde ale). For the past few years, we have sold the most of our Donkey-Hoté (double IPA).
NHM: What’s next for your brewery?
NC: We are coming up on our 7th birthday, and have a pig roast (with all the fixins’) planned on July 1 to celebrate. Check the event out here.
Given the popularity of our restaurant, we are also just now finishing up a kitchen expansion, which is doubling the size of our kitchen. We continue to invest in our farm, our desire to live the embodiment of our name and being a model for full circle sustainability. We hope our passion continues to make us a “must stop” destination in New Hampshire for innovative, farm-fresh beer and food.
NHM: Where can your beer be purchased?
NC: We are in beer stores and restaurants throughout the state.