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Throwback Brewery Taps Into Sustainability For Its Craft Beer

These days, more of the buying public is looking for healthier, more natural, more sustainable alternatives to the products they use and the food and drink they consume. From biodegradable storage containers to paper to straws to farm-raised, free-range poultry, the average consumer is searching for a more grounded answer to daily life’s questions.

Even the simplest question at the end of a hard day: “Which beer should I have to unwind today?”

Lucky for the conscientious imbiber, a resource like Throwback Brewery of North Hampton, NH, exists. What started as a passion project and sustainable outlet for an MIT engineer, Annette Lee, and her MBA friend and co-founder Nicole Carrier has blossomed into a full-fledged craft beer and farm-to-table restaurant enterprise serving the North Hampton and surrounding communities with a focus on giving back to the Earth and the people around them.

Carrier spoke with The Business Download about all the goings on at Throwback Brewery. 

Photo Courtesy Nicole Carrier

“My co-founder and I, we always were like one of the only folks back in the ‘90s that were, like, loving craft beer,” Carrier explained, laughing.

“You know, so we, like, we were always into craft beer. My dad was into craft beer and would bring me craft beer in college and stuff like that. So, we sort of got hooked early.”

Referring to her co-founder Lee’s ambitions, who was at the time working in environmental engineering, Carrier explained how a preference for craft beer became a hobby and then a livelihood.

“She worked with a whole bunch of homebrewing guys … It’s like, engineers and brewing go hand in hand. It’s like that, you know, science brain, right? So, we started homebrewing, [in the] early 2000s, like, and we fell in love with it. She fell in love with the science, and I like, I love to cook. And so we made a really good team.”

Photo Courtesy Nicole Carrier

Fast forward 10 years later, and a change in career for Lee led to the two friends finally diving headfirst into craft brewing. 

“She was looking to leave her job and start something different. And there’s really all kinds of ideas by me; some of them are pretty funny, like, she’s like, ‘I like to grow organic flowers!’” Carrier said. “And I’m like, ‘Maybe you should focus on something a little more problem-solving.’” 

“So, she came up with a brewery! And I thought I would just cheer along on the sidelines,” she continued. “And then I thought, you know what, like, I’m the MBA half, like my skills and her skills made a perfect match. And so we decided to launch a little brewery in 2010; we sold our first beer out of a tiny warehouse space in July of 2011.”

In 2011, Throwback Brewery was only the 13th craft brewery in New Hampshire. Now, there are more than 100. 

Photo Courtesy Nicole Carrier

When asked how this affects the way they do business and what Throwback Brewery has done to differentiate itself from the growing crowd in craft brewing, Carrier doesn’t miss a beat.

“Well, I believe that, you know, any business needs to be differentiated. But I also believe that craft is very personal,” she said. “And its people, you know, the craft beer owners are very visible, and I feel like people sort of get to know the owners and their values and what they’re all about.”

“And they sort of naturally go towards those places, those hubs that feel very comfortable to them,” Carrier continued. “So, what that means for us is that, like, we’re, we’re still the only 100% women-owned brewery in New Hampshire.”

Photo Courtesy Nicole Carrier

The company also strives to run a  sustainable business, owning 12 acres, with about five acres dedicated to organic farming. It conserves water, composts restaurant scraps, and has a 48 kW grid-tied solar array. In 2022, the brewery was even named New Hampshire’s first sustainable craft beverage producer by the New Hampshire Sustainable Craft Beverage Recognition Program.

Pivoting to their mission to be a sustainable, eco-conscious company, Carrier explained how they approach their business with an eye toward locality and the freshest sourcing possible.

“We started with a very distinct mission to try to get as many ingredients as local as possible,” she said. “That applies to our food. That applies to our beer.” 

“So, it’s like all those people that go to the farmers market that want to know every single ingredient that goes into their meal, right?” Carrier continued. “Those people that really care about sustainability and care about their body, and like what goes into it, we definitely attract those kinds of people.”

Photo Courtesy Nicole Carrier
Throwback Brewery’s commitment to being good stewards of the land around them and the community that supports them is more than just a noble goal. To Carrier and Lee, it’s the only way to do business — it’s the only way they know how.


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