Kirsten Neves and Nik Stanciu were 24 years old in 1998, and weren’t sure their career paths were heading in the direction they wanted to follow. Nik was a scientist and Kirsten was thinking about law school. Nik & Kirsten moved to the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire and took jobs at a local ski area.
They wanted to be in business for themselves, but what would it be. They fell in love with the mystique of Mount Washington and Tuckerman Ravine and had been doing some home brewing of beer. Then there was the epiphany. Let’s start a brewery and name it after the summer and fall hiking destination and most famously, spring skiing Mecca…Tuckerman Ravine. As another maker of fine beer would say, “brilliant”!
With a well thought out business plan and support from local bankers (who must have been beer lovers), Tuckerman Brewing Company was started in 1998. The first facility on Main Street in Conway was built, the recipe developed (Nik the scientist at work), and the first batch of Tuckerman Pale Ale was brewed! At first it was Kirsten and Nik working with friends at the brewery.
Long story short, the American style Pale Ale was fantastic. The label, six-packs and cases featured the famous photo of the 1937 Harvard/Dartmouth college ski slalom race in Tuckerman Ravine. The beer developed quite a following, and a legend was born. At the start they worked with New Hampshire Distributors and White Mountain Distributors to grow the brand, and soon outgrew their brew house.
What to do? Move! In 2004 Tuckerman Brewing moved into its snazzy new digs at 64 Hobbs Street in Conway. Ah, breathing space…for a minute! What would our beer brewing entrepreneurs do with all that room and storage? Put Nik the scientist back to work and create another recipe of course! The new Headwall Alt, a German brown ale, was tested and hit the shelves in January 2005. Again the packaging reflected Nik and Kirsten’s love of the Ravine, with another vintage shot of a lone skier on the “Headwall”. The Headwall Alt is always very popular at tastings and festivals. By the way, look for the Pale Ale and Headwall Alt in an attractive mixed 12-pack!
What was missing in the Tuckerman family of beers? A Seasonal that pays tribute to the tallest peak in the Northeast! Nik and Kirsten also wanted to try something really dark. How about a stout? In 2007, the first batch of the 6288 Stout was brewed. The 6288 Stout is an American style stout, with a full smooth body and wonderful hoppy flavor. The alcohol content is 6.3% and the elevation of Mount Washington is 6288’. Coincidence? We think not! It is sold in four-packs and has a beautiful label that features the tower of the Mount Washington Observatory. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 6288 Stout goes to help support the Observatory and their weather and science endeavors. This seasonal always sells quickly. Get it while it lasts!
In 2011, TBC broke out the original Headwall Alt recipe that never went to market, a big, malty, full-bodied Sticke Alt, and called it, ALTitude...Alt Beer With Attitude. This limited release fall seasonal comes in at a whopping 7.3% AVB, but is very smooth because of the addition of rye to the grains. The packaging features a 1980's shot of a skier at the top of Tuckerman Ravine. The photo was taken by Mount Washington Valley photographer Brooks Dodge of Jackson, NH. He is the grandson of the legendary Tuckerman Ravine skier and AMC huts man, Joe Dodge.
Tuckerman Brewing has a silo for malted barley storage and a new 40 bbl fermentation vessel. A new "Hot Liquor" water storage tank takes a step out of the water purification process. What was once one brewer is now four, working at the maximum capacity of eight brews a week! Maybe someday TBC can replace the old, mostly reliable bottling and packaging line. If you’ve ever taken a brewery tour, you know what we mean!
Lots of changes are happening for the brewery in 2014- we just moved to a bigger building at 66 Hobbs St, we're adding extra equipment that will get us to 10 brews per week, and we'll be opening our new Tasting Room and tap house any day now. Stay tuned for the new tour and tasting schedule!
Tuckerman Brewing is available in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and more recently Maine. Nik, Kirsten and the crew are producing about 8,000 barrels of beer a year. That’s approximately 70,000 cases! It’s four simple contents, water, malt, hops and yeast and a lot of love and hard work. It’s the little brewery that could!