One-Man Garage Brewery
Big Water Brewery's brewer (and full-time teacher) Ben Jones does it all - brewing, bottling and distributing. Find his beers at a number of stores around the state
Ben Jones teaches eighth grade general math and algebra at Laconia Middle School. That means he spends his days dreaming up ways to help students learn those two notoriously frustrating concepts. After Jones leaves the classroom, he brings that same creative spirit and energy to his garage.
That’s right, his garage.
A home brewing expert for 16 years, Jones runs Big Water Brewery out of his house in Salisbury, NH. All the magic happens in his garage, where you’ll find a three-barrel brew system, twenty 50-gallon barrels and 3,400 22-ounce bottles of beer.
“Because my roots are from home brewing, I always brewed what I liked and that’s what I have continued to do,” Jones says. “And so far, the flavors I have offered have been popular.”
Jones is one of few brewery owners who operate as a one-man band. He does the entire process of brewing, bottling and distribution by himself. He does all of this, by the way, while teaching fulltime.
Five of Big Water’s creations are currently available in 16 statewide here in New Hampshire. One of the nanobrewery’s most popular offerings is the Blueberry Cream Ale – a light, refreshing summer brew with a sweet, fruity aroma and taste. Jones first makes a cream ale before infusing the delicious blueberry flavor.
“The cream ale by itself is a great one to have on its own, but it’s even better with the blueberry flavor,” Jones says. “It’s an all-around warm weather beer.”
Retail stores have also hounded Jones to make more of his unique Belgian Triple Ale. This beer, originally a spontaneous experiment, carries a lively and spicy flavor after being aged three months in a pepperoncini barrel. Jones says the beer takes on the zesty characteristics of pepperoncini, but isn’t too spicy too handle.
The Belgian Triple ended up being more popular than Jones expected. He says the pepperoncini batch sold out quickly and he is “highly considering” making it again soon due to public demand. In the meantime, Jones says he is still offering his more conventional Belgian Triple and Double ales on a regular basis.
Another distinct flavor Big Water offers is its sour beers. The Petite Sour and Old World Sour beers will be available this summer. These unusually tart brews are made in homage to an old-school Belgian process.
Haven’t delved into the world of sour beer just yet? It’s likely not exactly what you’re imagining. Sour beer is made by allowing wild yeast to contaminate the beer during the brewing process. Brewers commonly do this by storing their product in open-air containers so bacteria can intrude into the liquid and feed off of its sugars. This technique leaves behind a sour-tasting solution, which is much more approachable than you may think. It’s not like biting into a lemon – the taste is much more complex.
Modern brewers make sour beer (or Lambic) and carry on the tradition dating back to Belgium in the 16th century. Back then they did not have the stainless steel barrels or sterile, airtight containers we have today that protect beer from wild airborne yeast contamination.
Jones says sour beer is trending right now and it will continue to be a staple on his menu.
If sour beer isn’t for you, Big Water has plenty more for to choose from. The Aztec Ale is a joining of chocolate, vanilla and dried red peppers, making a flavorful, spicy pallet. You can find Aztec Ale, along with Big Water’s Belgian and Blueberry Cream Ale, in select stores this summer (see the list below).
It’s understandable if you don’t feel like trying to tackle one of Jones’ algebra problems. We don’t blame you. However, his craft beer is another story. Big Water Brewery is getting local beer lovers excited, as more and more local breweries are popping up close to home.
Where To Find Big Water’s Brews
Co-op Food Store
45 S Park Street, Hanover
Co-op Food Store
12 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon
Concord Food Co-op
24 S Main Street, Concord
Barb's Beer Emporium
249 Sheep Davis Road, Concord
Bert's Better Beers
1100 Hooksett Road, Hooksett
5 Mill Street, Meredith
855 Union Avenue, Laconia
Colonial Village Market
54 Park Plaza Avenue, Contoocook
River Hill Market
189 Carter Hill Road, Penacook
The Beer Store
433 Amherst Street, Nashua
Craft Beer Cellar
108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua
Smoke N Barley
485 Laconia Road, Tilton
Park & Go Market
18 Old Rte. 11, Wilmot
Vista Country Store
10 Hurricane Mountain Road, Intervale
Frye's Country Store
1642 E Main Street, Center Conway
Lebanon Café and Home Brew Supply
90 Hanover Street, Lebanon
Lazy Dog Beer Shoppe
27 Buttrick Road, Londonderry
Epsom Circle Market
1921 Dover Road, Epsom