When you’re the new kid on a block that is already filled with other fine craft breweries, you need to be unique and different. Even more importantly, you need to brew really great beer. Newburyport Brewing‘s co-owners Chris Webb and Bill Fisher (along with their award-winning brewmaster Mike Robinson) are doing just that and so much more! Not only are they helming Massachusetts’ only “keg and can” brewery and crafting their three flagship beers, they are also finding time to play in an 8-piece funk band.
They explain that they’ve launched the Newburyport (NBPT) brand based on three things: using the best ingredients in the world to brew amazing beer, sharing Newburyport’s vibe and its rich seaport history (the Coast Guard was founded here), and going on adventures with great canned beer in hand.
And yes, music’s also important at Newburyport. They play it. They love it. They are all about it. Music is so much a part of what they are doing that they even include a guitar pick in every six pack that they sell, “just in case.” They even have a stage at their brewery where they can host anyone from local talent to world class players…and that’s where I sat down with Chris Webb to discuss “all things craft beer.”
Having just recently opened, what kind of volume do you expect to do initially?
We have plans to brew 2,000 to 3,000 barrels in our first year. Newburyport beers will be distributed throughout the whole state of Massachusetts by the Mass Brewers Alliance.
You are currently brewing three beers – Plum Island Belgian White, Newburyport Pale Ale, & Green Head IPA. Which is your most popular beer and will we see any seasonals in the future?
In 2013, we are going to focus on our three core beers. Our flagship beer is Newburyport Pale Ale. We will start brewing seasonals in 2014.
The craft beer industry is in the midst of a canning craze. You guys have made a commitment to canning at Newburyport. Why?
We are the only exclusive canning and kegging brewery in Massachusetts. Canning is better for the beer; it’s better for the environment and cheaper to ship. With a beer in a can, it’s easier to bring on life’s adventures.
With the industry of craft beer growing as fast as it is, do you think it can sustain all this growth?
I think it can. We are in the middle of a craft beer revolution. The American public is being educated on better-tasting beer. As more people are being educated on craft beer, the more the industry will grow.
Mike Robinson, an award-winning brewmaster, joined Newburyport Brewing Company in December. How did this relationship come about?
I told my dad in 2011 that Bill and I were going to start Newburyport Brewing Company. My dad told me that I should talk to his loan officer, Mike Robinson, who was an accomplished homebrewer. Bill and I made plans to meet Mike at his home. In Mike’s basement, he had a huge banner with his face on it from Sam Adams Longshot competition for 2010. Mike had other awards from homebrewing competitions. Bill and I told Mike we needed three beers: a Belgian White, an IPA, and a Pale Ale. Mike told us his Belgian White was his best beer that he brewed. Bill and I tasted it and really liked it. We agreed to come back a month later and taste his Pale Ale and IPA. We came back together in a month and really liked the beer that he made. The three of us – Bill, myself and Mike – thought it was a great fit. That is how Mike joined us at Newburyport Brewing Company.
If you had to pick a place to go on a beercation, where would it be?
In the last year, I visited Colorado, San Diego, and Oregon. These three locations are great for a beercation. If I had to pick a destination for my next beercation, it would be LA / Southern California or Colorado. I think Southern California has a great craft beer scène currently. I want to visit Hanger 24 Brewery and Golden Road Brewing.
If you could have a dream 6-pack, what beers would be in it?
My dream 6-pack would include Pliny the Elder, The Alchemist Heady Topper, Newburyport Brewery Pale Ale, Newburyport Belgian White, Bear Republic Brewing Racer 5 IPA, and Lagunitas Brewing Lagunitas IPA.
You and Bill also play in a band called Das Pintos. What’s that all about?
We are in a funk band and play mainly on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Typically, we play at The Grog in Newburyport -we have a show on Saturday, June 8. Last year, we played at the Bleacher Bar in Boston just behind the center field wall at Fenway Park. We have also played Michael’s Harborside and a number of festivals, including the Newburyport Education Foundation Rocktoberfest. You can also find us on YouTube and Facebook.