Oddball Brewing to Open Next Year
Pembroke's Oddball Brewing, set to open next fall, will be the first brewery in the Concord area.
What do two respiratory therapists at Concord Hospital have in common? A passion for supplying craft beer to the masses, it turns out.
Unlike many breweries, Oddball Brewing Co. will have two head brewers when it hits its targeted opening date planned for November 2015. Mark Ferguson and Bill Walden, both full-time respiratory therapists, have each been brewing different kinds of alcohol for over 14 years. "It's not a new interest," Walden says. His brother started brewing in the late ‘90s, which initially peaked his interest. In 2000, Walden picked up the trade himself, making small batches of wine and eventually beer. It wasn't until he was living in Wisconsin that he realized he wanted to someday own a brewery.
As for Ferguson, he’s been brewing even longer – 20 years. There’s no doubt that between the two of them, they have more than enough experience. Finally Walden told himself that "someday is code for never" and "if we want to do it, we need to do it."
Despite their desire to make craft beer, the two brewers are aware that it will take time to get things settled. They plan to keep their jobs in Concord until the brewery can stand on its own. "We don't want to burden a fledgling brewery with having to pay two people full-time wages," Walden says.
Though they both work in Concord, Walden believes that it wouldn't work as a home for the three-barrel nanobrewery as the building costs and rental rates were too high. Thanks to Walden's wife, they turned their eyes to Pembroke and never looked back.
The spot that they ultimately chose has a bit of NH history – The 1890s brick building has been everything from a pizza parlor to an art studio. For the moment Walden and Ferguson are demolishing the interior to make it functional for modern brewing. "It was a pretty big mess in that place," Walden says. By early spring, Walden hopes to start the build-up portion, where Ferguson and Walden will put in floors, a taproom and other brewery-essential furnishings.
The building means more to Walden than just a lower price in the Suncook Village business district; it invites more people to see the beauty of the town. "Not that we intend to have the populace drunk all the time because that would be awful. … [The brewery] adds one more thing to draw more people into the town. It's a beautiful area,” explains Walden.
This part of the state could certainly use its own brewery. With all the breweries in the state (37 and counting!), the closest brewing to the capital city is about 20 minutes away. Oddball Brewing will help fill in the gap and give Concord area residents a taste of craft beer a little closer to home.