Here Are the Details On Notch’s Soon-to-Open Salem Brewery & Beer Hall
This summer, you can sip brewer Chris Lohring’s low-alcohol session beers all afternoon in a European-style biergarten along the South River.
UPDATE, July 16:
— Notch Brewing Co. (@NotchBrewing) July 16, 2016
Veteran brewer Chris Lohring rolled the dice six years ago, when he launched Notch, a line of session beers, into a market dominated with high-octane hop bombs, bourbon barrel-aged stouts, and Belgian-inspired sippers. But now, Notch has seen “explosive growth” on the Massachusetts market, and Lohring is on the cusp of opening his own production facility and beer hall in downtown Salem.
Notch will open its own, 5,000-square foot brewery and taproom in July. The move will further increase its output beyond the 8,000 barrels Lohring expects to make at his contract brewhouses this year, up from 5,000 in 2015. And this fall, 16-ounce cans will join Notch’s 12-packs on shelves.
“I always come back to session beer in terms of what I like to drink consistently,” says Lohring, a professional brewer since 1993. “I was kind of banking on that we’d see that with the rest of the beer industry, and we have to some degree. There will always be segment [for session beers].”
At the Notch beer hall and biergarten, guests will experience the range of styles that conform to the session moniker. Defined as under 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, Notch has produced upwards of 40 different beers since 2010. The beer hall will rotate through them on 14 draft lines (likely with fewer offerings to start).
“A lot are very traditional. The Czech Republic, Germany, and the U.K. have all brewed session beers for hundreds of years. Under the current U.S. trend—hoppy, fruity, citrusy—you can still make a session beer people like,” Lohring says.
On the brand-new, 10-barrel brewhouse, Notch will produce beer for its in-house bar, its draft accounts in Massachusetts, Maine, and soon, New Hampshire; and eventually, for tallboy cans. Expect to see more of the Single Series beers, like the unfiltered Zwickel Bier and the dark Czech amber Polotmavý, and favorites like the Mule corn lager and the LP India Pale Lager in four-pack cans.
The Hootenanny Berliner Weiss will also hit cans, and Lohring has plans to expand his sour program once he’s brewing in his own space. The lengthy, very sterile process is a challenge to do at contract breweries, he explains. “We’ll do some kettle sours, some barrel sours, we’ll do fermentation in raw wood with lactobacillus culture,” he says.
Notch will use a mobile canning system, but could eventually install an in-house canning line, Lohring says. The brewery won’t sell 64-ounce, glass growler fills. Instead, recyclable, 32-ounce “crowler” cans will allow for beer-to-go. “We don’t want to have the consumer have the burden to have to bring back the growler,” Lohring says.
Currently, Lohring brews for his draft accounts at Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, and he brews and packages 12-ounce cans at Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, Conn. Those relationships will continue once Notch moves into its own home, so Notch can keep its prices low, Lohring says. “To bring that volume in house, we’d need to be much much bigger to realize the same pricing,” he says.
The beer hall takes up about one third of the Salem property. Outside, along the South River, there is a sun-soaked, 1,000-square foot patio. In European beer hall fashion, guests will order beer and simple snacks, like pickled eggs and pretzels, at the bar and find a seat at communal tables.
The buildout of the taproom involved revealing an extra four feet of ceiling height. The reclaimed beams were used to make the long tables and benches, Lohring says. “It’s a beautiful, soft wood that has a similar light color to it as European beer halls,” he says.
The overall vibe recalls those storied spaces, moreso than an American-style bar. When it opens this summer, Notch will join a legion of new spots in the historic North Shore community, including Far From the Tree cider house, Deacon Giles Distillery, and the soon-to-open Bit Bar.
“I really want our beer hall to be a communal, social, place where people interact with each other,” Lohring says.
Notch, opening summer 2016 at 283 Derby St., Salem, 978-238-9060, notchbrewing.com.