A new nanobrewery’s flagship beer hits two local restaurants during a special event Friday night

By Kyle Stucker

Hampton-NorthHamptonPatch.com, October 25, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of Hampton-NorthHamptonPatch.com.]

On Friday, Michael Benoit will finally get to break free from an approval and licensing process that has held him “captive” for nearly a year — a feeling Benoit, the co-owner of Blue Lobster Brewing Company, says is both exciting and “nerve-wracking.”

Blue Lobster Brewing Company will be sold on tap for the first time Friday night at the Community Oven and the 401 Tavern as part of a grand opening of sorts for the nanobrewery, located next to the Community Oven at 845 Lafayette Road.

Benoit, who runs the nanobrewery with his wife Roberta and head brewer Dave Sakolsky, said he’s been waiting for the “surrealistic” moment for a long time, as Blue Lobster was incorporated in November 2011 but couldn’t begin brewing anything in their facility until Sept. 8 because of the lengthy delays most breweries face during the state and federal approval process.

The delay has given the company more than a little time to refine the flavor profile of their flagship Gold Claw Pale Ale, and Benoit said he’s anxiously awaiting the moment the taps start flowing at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We want good base beers and something that’s clean, and hope the public loves it,” said Benoit, whose been making craft beer with his wife for 30 years. “Even the greatest chefs in the world have failed restaurants. We’re confident of what we do. I guess our philosophy is to keep our fermenters full and keep our quality good, and then it’s up to our customers.

“Our general philosophy is to not to try to be gimmicky in any form. We try to have good, solid base beers. If anyone’s looking for exotic fruit flavors, they’re probably going to have to wait quite a while for that from us.”

The Benoits and Sakolsky will be at both the Community Oven and 401 Tavern on Friday night to celebrate with residents and discuss the ideologies driving the nanobrewery, which officially debuted at last weekend’s Exeter Powder Keg Beer and Chili Festival, where they sold out within 1 1/2 hours.

The Gold Claw Pale Ale, which is 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, will be the first Blue Lobster variety to hit local taps. Benoit said he thinks it “appeals to a wide variety of people” because it’s drier than most pales due to the fact that a lot of the residual sugars have been fermented out.

This allows more of the hop flavor to “come through,” said Benoit, giving the beer “interesting fruit characteristics.” Benoit said beer drinkers will get a “pine note on the aroma” and “light citrus in the background.”

Gold Claw will be joined early next month by a Black Claw Stout, and Benoit said those are the only beers he currently plans to put on tap in the two restaurants because he doesn’t want to outstrip the company’s supply in their retail store — which will have a double IPA and other varieties once it opens at 845 Lafayette Road on Nov. 8 — and because he wants them to help make Hampton more of an “experience.”

“We want to be as community minded as possible,” said Benoit. “We’re not judging our beer by how far we have to ship it to be consumed. We’d rather serve it in Hampton and have people come to Hampton to enjoy it.”

Benoit said he hopes this will help expand the downtown area and help grow Hampton’s restaurant scene, which has been booming over the past year thanks to a slew of new businesses and breweries.

“People look at it as competition,” said Benoit, referring to the fact that there are a number of new breweries and restaurants in the area. “There’s enough to go around for everyone, and it in itself becomes an event. If you have only really one good restaurant, you have to wait 45 minutes. If you have a number of good places, there’s alternatives [and more people will come to Hampton].

“It’s the same thing about beer. Typically the beer people, if they hit one, they hit them all.”

Once the tasting room and retail store are open, Blue Lobster will sell its beer directly to the public in swingtop amber 750 millileter growlers, swingtop amber 2 liter growlers, and 1/6 kegs. They will also offer specialty bottles.