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Enjoy Unique, Custom-Brewed Beer Made in the Heart of the Lakes Region

Christine Randall - January 25, 2011

If you enjoy a refreshing glass of beer and are not overly impressed with the quality and flavor of the majority of beers mass-produced and distributed nation-wide by mega-large companies, you probably find yourself seeking out the hand-crafted selections made by microbreweries or even trying to make your own beer from a kit.  Here in the Lakes Region, the newest (and currently the only) microbrewery in operation is Squam Brewing, located near Squam Lake in the small town of Holderness.

Squam Brewing debuted its first commercially distributed beer, Asquam Amber Ale, on August 2, 2010.  It was soon followed by four other varieties:  Halcyon Steamer Stout, Golden IPA (India Pale Ale), Bobhouse Bitter, and most recently, Winter Wheat.  The beer is hand-crafted and hand-bottled in 22-ounce bottles, and it has been available for the past several months in a number of selected stores throughout the Lakes Region and the Concord area, including Chase Street Market in Plymouth, the Holderness General Store, Case N’Keg in Meredith and Laconia, Smoke N Barley in Tilton, and Barb’s Beer Emporium in Concord.

With the establishment of the Squam Brewing Company, owner/brewer John Glidden Jr. has successfully transformed what was a part-time hobby into a full-time commercial venture.  John first learned to brew beer using small kits from the Fermentation Station in Meredith about three years ago, and as his interest grew, he continued to learn more about brewing techniques and equipment, and he started to refine and tweak recipes to suit him, in addition to gradually increasing the size of his batches.

Following his graduation from Tufts University with a degree in Environmental Engineering, John worked in his field for a brief time, first as a consultant and later for the State of New Hampshire, but the not-yet-30-year old soon came to the realization that what he really wanted to do full-time was to make beer.

“I decided that I wanted to be doing something that I was really interested in,” John explains, “and that was brewing really good beer.”

So John left his job with the State in August of 2009 and took a five-day course with the Manchester Brewing Company the following month, which he said was very beneficial in guiding him through the paperwork necessary to get federally licensed to open and operate a microbrewery.  In addition, John also had to obtain several local and state permits and licenses necessary to open his business.

John incorporated Squam Brewing as an LLC in October 2009, and he began to renovate and insulate a small part of a barn on his family’s property in Holderness to accommodate a microbrewery, which he refers to as a “nano” or small-scale microbrewery.  He obtained a 55-gallon BoilerMaker kettle for brewing and several 42-gallon fermenters for the fermentation process as well as other equipment and brewing supplies, and by the time the final permit was granted in July 2010, Squam Brewing was ready for business.

John welcomes visitors to the microbrewery with a little advance notice, and he is enthusiastic when he explains the brewing process from start to finish, from the selection and grinding of the grains to boiling, cooling, and fermenting, and then the final steps of adding a selected amount of priming sugar to the liquid to produce carbonation, followed by bottling, labeling, and aging.  The entire process involved in producing each batch of beer takes a total of about six weeks before the beer is ready for distribution.

With five fermenters available, John says that he is able to keep several different varieties brewing at the same time, and he estimates that he brews once or twice a week and bottles once or twice a week, working about 35-40 hours a week.

Because he hand-bottles and hand-labels his beer and is currently the only employee of the business, John prefers to use 22-ounce bottles for efficiency, and each features a different colored cap.  The labels are quite creative and original, depicting scenes from the Squam Lakes region.

The beers range in alcohol content from the standard 5% to 8.5%, which is reflected on the label, and each label reads “Bottle Conditioned Beer,” which John explains means that you can find a small amount of sediment at the bottom of each bottle leftover from the brewing process.

“You probably don’t want to pour that last ¼” or so of liquid at the bottom of the bottle into your glass,” John advises.  “But I call that minute amount of sediment “nature’s goodness,” and it’s the way beer was intended to be.”

During its first five months in business, Squam Brewing distributed and sold over 214 cases of beer to local stores.  Starting this month, John is planning to increase his distribution area to include stores in all of the counties in the State of New Hampshire, excepting the farthest one north, Coos County (although this could always change in the future).  John also plans to introduce another flavor of beer this spring, and his goal is to continue to develop new recipes over the coming months.

Squam Brewing LLC is located at 118 Perch Pond Road in Holderness, New Hampshire.  For more information (including more locations where the beer is available for purchase), log on to or call John at (603) 236-9705. 

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