Stoneface Brewing Co.
Pete Beauregard was a senior communications undergrad at the University of New Hampshire when he first started brewing his own beer in 1999. He had heard his professor, a homebrewer himself, talking about the process in class and was fascinated. It wasn’t long before he equipped himself and set up his own homebrewing operation in a house on the infamous Young Drive.
Beauregard was walking back from his summer job at Pier II in Portsmouth (since demolished) and noticed Stout Billy’s, a local homebrew supply shop that's also closed in the intervening years. At the time, Pete was in his senior year at UNH and was just getting introduced to craft beer – this was back when Sam Adams was still the lone wolf blazing the trail for people like him. “I got a kit, just a bunch of buckets and I brought it home,” says Beauregard.
Once he finished his first batch he bottled it up for his own enjoyment and brought a six pack to work one day. He enjoyed them at the end of the night with a seemingly less-than-friendly line cook. “I didn’t think he liked me very much but it turned out he liked me just fine – he was just busy and sometimes I’d give him a hard time,” laughs Beauregard. However, the line cook was impressed and said he would buy it in a store. And that was Beauregard's "ah-ha!" moment.
Fast forward to today. Stoneface Brewing Co. has been open since November 2013 and has been serving beer since February 2014. They are now a more established presence on the seacoast and in stores around the state. The tasting room is often packed to capacity on the weekend and the “bunch of buckets” has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art 15 barrel brewing system equipped with multiple 30 and 15 barrel fermenters; affectionately called by Beauregard as “the cool shiny stuff.”
“The capacity of the brewery right now is about 3,000 barrels annually,” he says. “We plan to just keep on brewing these beers and to make sure they stay relevant and tasty.”
To that end, Stoneface is constantly tweaking things and experimenting with their specialty beers in what they call the Sandbox Series. “A lot of this stuff is just an experiment to see ‘what does this ingredient do?,’” Beauregard explains. "The fact that we get to practice art everyday and have the luxury of people who enjoy what we do is pretty rad.”
The India Pale Ale (IPA), American Pale Ale (APA), Porter and Red Rye IPA are the most widespread and steadily available, but patrons should also keep an eye out for other releases such as Mozzacalypse or Mandarina Wheat. The words "flagship" and "seasonal" aren’t used very much in the brewery. “We just kind of brew what we feel like making that day” explains Beauregard. “We really don’t pay much attention to the calendar.” Although some people might consider this style to be aloof or problematic, it doesn’t seem to affect business. As Pete pointed out, people will still try and buy their imperial stout in the summer months and their lighter beers are still enjoyable in the winter.
Stoneface is also always looking to collaborate with other breweries whether that entails questions about the business or actually creating a beer together. “Generally speaking, people are interested in helping not only because its fun but also because they want to keep everybody safe,” Pete says, citing high pressure, boiling liquid and chemicals as common brewing workplace hazards. He adds, “It's important to keep those relationships going… not only do they want to help us from a safety perspective, everybody knows that if we help each other everybody’s beer improves… if we can all learn from each other, we can all make better beer, which means that NH becomes more interesting.” Currently a collaboration with Redhook is in the works to be released this fall.
Despite being the CEO Beauregard is still able to find time to be involved in the brew process. “Most of the stuff that I do is around recipe design, sensory analysis, more of the science stuff,” he says. But back in the days of Young Dr. and Stout Billy’s, Pete never saw himself here. After 14 years in the tech industry he’s now doing what he truly loves. “We never came in here thinking we’re going to be millionaires. If we were solely interested in money we would’ve stayed at our old jobs,” Beauregard says. “Coming here and doing this is really about sharing something with people that are like minded and hopefully people like it.” It’s a business model that seems to be working. “Most of the time people have been digging our stuff and that takes the place of a corporate bonus."