An important aspect of “local” = Help your neighbor
For brewer Mark Deering of Merrimack Ales (Lowell, MA), reaching out to the tens of thousands of people affected by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions (September 2018) was an obvious move. Deering, a native of the area affected by the incident – in which overpressured natural-gas lines caused explosions and fires, homes and businesses were damaged and had to be evacuated, and one young man died – knew that his workplace could help raise money for those displaced, some of them for months.
Brewery founder Adam Pearson and his team at Merrimack Ales quickly came up with MV Neighbors IPA, with the goal of donating a portion of the sales of this brew to the people in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover who were affected by and displaced because of the explosions. Response to MV Neighbors has been so positive that Merrimack Ales brewed a second batch for the benefit of those affected. (Note: Eastern Mass readers, find MV Neighbors at the brewery’s taproom and at local retail outlets.)
Deering details several other community tie-ins the microbrewery participates in: One involves research into and testing of more environmentally friendly cleaning and sanitizing technology, a nearly-constant process at a brewery. Merrimack Ales teamed with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) to test and analyze electrochemical activation in the cleaning and sanitizing of brew kettles and fermenters. The brewery plans additional work with UMass Lowell/TURI to modify processes and analyze costs.
Another local project: Merrimack Ales’ Rosie’s Coffee Stout, which incorporates coffee from Rosie’s Café/Peak Coffee Roasters in its dark brew.
Deering describes how the craft-beer/microbrewing environment has changed since he got into the business just six years ago: “Market-wise,” he says, “people are buying more, better beer. New England and the Boston area is also getting more of a ‘beer culture,’ like the more-developed one in, say, San Diego. Now when you ask someone around here, ‘What kind of beer do you like?’ they know styles and things and know what to tell you.
“Another difference is that business is tighter, shelf space is very tight. Places are brewing smaller batches – nanobreweries will have to rely on staying competitive and remaining really consistent.”
LoveLocalBeer asked Deering: “What’s the one question that no one ever asks you but you wish they would?” He grins and says, “No one ever asks the brewer, ‘Do you want a beer?’”