Take the Hill

We’ve officially boxed up 2015. It was one hell of a year for Able Ebenezer, and we couldn’t have done it without you and your support. With that, I would like to share with you what we’ve accomplished:

This was a big year for us on the brewing side of the business, as we needed to increase our output in order to keep up with growth. In essence, we reached the top end of our current production capacity, and sold every ounce we produced; not one drop of our inventory lasted long enough to reach its expiration date. We consider this quite a feat, since we maintain no bottling or canning operation; all of our production volume goes into kegs. To facilitate this growth, we increased our keg inventory by the hundreds and doubled our cold room space (since it is our standard is to keep everything we produce cold until it pours from the draft). Throughout, we maintained our superior quality and freshness.

A year ago, we distributed our products actively to roughly 20 local restaurants within the Merrimack River corridor running from Nashua to Concord. Today, we distribute to over 60 restaurants across a territory spanning east/west from Portsmouth to Peterborough, and north/south from Laconia to Nashua. Numbers? We ran well over 800 individual deliveries, moving over 1,100 kegs (or nearly 12,000 gallons) in the process. We also welcomed the addition of a new delivery vehicle to assist with the heavy lifting: Able 2, a Jeep Renegade outfitted to carry up to 12 kegs (shown in the photo above).

The Ale Room
Many of you are familiar with our on-site bar at the brewery, where we share the full Able Ebenezer experience with you and yours. This small bar has been one of the most fun parts of our operation, as this past year we hosted several special events with some of our partnered restaurants, unveiled our outdoor seating area, welcomed Jimmy’s Food Truck, debuted Jake’s N64 in the living room, and watched as our live music night on Monday’s grew into a local staple. By the numbers? We moved around 9,000 gallons of beer through this venue, most of it going into the nearly 8,000 growlers we filled. Even as I write this now, the Ale Room is full of people enjoying playoff football over a pint or flight with friends and family.

So yes, 2015 was one hell of a year...but we have higher expectations for 2016.

Throughout my time in the Army, I viewed military operations as 3-part exercises: Setting Conditions, Taking the Hill, and Defining the Next Mission. Thus far, our demand has vastly outpaced our ability to keep up; we’ve been limited by production capacity, storage space, keg inventory, and the simple availability of time (after all, there are only 4 of us). As such, we’ve had to make sacrifices, such as taking products off draft in our Ale Room to free up inventory for restaurants, and wait-listing new restaurants to ensure our current partners never lose their access to product. We've learned from these sacrifices, making adjustments and maneuvering the company into a position where we can move forward without limitation. We have set our conditions.

“You must be slow in deliberation and swift in execution” -Napoleon Bonaparte

Tactical patience has paid off; now the time has come to pull the trigger. No more wait-lists. No more holding back. This is a “Take the Hill” year for Able Ebenezer.

Next month, we will begin increasing our production once again, as new brite tanks arrive in mid-February. This will put us in position to triple our capacity and thus, begin to actively grow restaurant partnerships once more.

In 2016, we will double our distribution operation. To support this effort, we’re happy to announce the addition of a new member to our team. Chris Clement - a fellow military veteran - has accepted our offer to join the movement, coming over from our friends down the street at Anheuser-Busch. Chris gets his boots on ground with us next month.

We also recently completed our mobile app - AbleOPS - which is designed to track all of our inventory throughout our network, process orders digitally, and calculate consumption trends at our partnered restaurants to streamline production rhythm and inventory planning. In true Able fashion, this app was designed and built by us, in-house. In the future, we plan to roll AbleOPS out to restaurant managers so they too can view our available inventory and place orders instantly via their computer or mobile device.

Ale Room
Will still be open 7 days a week; same hours, same good times.

With that, we cannot thank you all enough for taking up the cause alongside us...and we’ll need you again as we move forward this year. Together, we will continue to grow the movement, and Take the Hill in 2016.



I'm Thankful

With operations at the brewery shut down today, I find myself reflecting on our journey thus far, and can’t help but feel thankful.

For me, this journey didn’t begin last June when we opened our doors, nor did it begin when we started building the facility in December 2013, nor when I came up with the idea for Able Ebenezer in early 2013, nor when I started homebrewing years ago. For me, it began in 2008 out in the desert of West Texas, when a fellow brother-in-arms and dear friend gave me a book.

Reading Atlas Shrugged granted me a new perspective on life; a perspective that was magnified by my time in the military. Some out there would call this book controversial or offensive; some may even judge me for placing it in such high regard. Spoiler alert: I don’t care, nor do I think about you at all.

Written words are a special thing; they preserve thoughts and ideas for the generations to come, ensuring they don’t become lost. I have found I learn something from every book I open; whether or not I agree with the author’s idea is irrelevant. Within Ayn Rand’s story, I found individual strength, purpose and passion; it made me a better soldier and more capable leader. Above all, I discovered meaning for my life: I wanted to build something; something which would make the world a better, happier place.

Now, several years later, as I sit here amidst the rare silence and calm within the brewery, I must express how astonished I am to look at what we’ve built thus far. 17 months in, we’ve already maxed out our production capacity (don’t sweat; more tanks are on the way), and have our products pouring at well over 50 local restaurants - and counting. It has taken a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, as it does to build anything of meaning (just one of the lessons I learned from Atlas).

Yet, this - the success of the company - isn’t what I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for those who chose to join this journey. They are the ones who didn’t see a naive man foolishly dropping a solid career in pursuit of a silly dream. They are the ones who saw someone with a vision - someone who believed in something.

I am thankful for Mike, who has been a battle-buddy, partner, mentor, teacher, confidant and friend. There was no “good” reason for him drop everything and move to New Hampshire to build this with me, yet he did without hesitation (I did have a slight advantage; he found the same as I in reading Atlas). I owe him more than I can describe in words.

I am thankful for Jake and Heather, who joined us at an uncertain time in the company, and committed themselves to build this into something meaningful. They understood our vision, and believed it could be done with the right amount of work. Without them, there would be no Able Ebenezer.

I am thankful for my father, who has been a mentor and supporter from the beginning. He has always been there for me - through good times and bad - and has believed in my “crazy” ideas. His belief in me is why I've pursued the "craziest" ones.

I am thankful for the restaurants who have given us a chance within their draft lineups. Since we only keg our products, we have to compete for these hotly contested lines. While we have still been told “no” more than “yes,” we owe a great deal of appreciation to those who have given us a shot; the opportunity to prove what we could do. We work tirelessly to ensure we don't let them down.

I am thankful for our customers, many of whom have become friends. While it’s obvious for a business owner to say he’s thankful for his customers, since they ultimately pay the bills, I mean it differently: They too see our vision, share our beliefs and have voluntarily joined our cause. It is they who, out of all the products they could spend their hard-earned dollars on, choose to spend them with us. They have become insurgent salespeople, spreading the word about our work. They mitigate moments of doubt, and make challenges easier to overcome. Above all, they remind us everyday why we built this place: to make people happy. We love you guys.

Finally, I am thankful for the book I was given back in 2008. If you haven’t given it a read, maybe it's time. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Cheers.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserve and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours.”

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Owner | Engineer | Brewer

La Mére Marianne

Back in the spring, we quietly began work on a project with Peter Agostinelli, Executive Chef at Bedford Village Inn. I say “quietly” simply because we weren’t sure where this would go, or if it would be a success. The idea was to combine the culinary expertise of an award-winning kitchen with the art & science of beer design into a single product; an ale unlike anything tasted before.

After a few collaborative sessions, and several experimental batches, we found what we were looking for: La Mére Marianne. The first kegs will be tapped on Friday, October 30th. 

The final design brings malts and hops together with fresh, locally harvested apples, brown butter, sage, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar and thensome prepared in BVI's kitchen. What results is a fragrant, smooth, creamy and savory ale that is well-balanced on all fronts, and sits at a sessionable 5% ABV. As you would expect, she pairs beautifully with a wide range of meals.

At the conclusion of our first meeting with BVI’s leadership, I asked them to name their favorite book. Following confused looks, they cited Auguste Escoffier’s "Le Guide Culinare" (or "A Guide to Modern Cookery") of 1903. Much more than just another cookbook, this work redefined the restaurant world, standardizing and streamlining kitchen practices; it is still used today in culinary schools to train the next generation of chefs. Peter explained this book laid the foundation for the robust and diverse restaurant industry we now enjoy.

Within that book is a culinary style centered around cooked apples, brown butter & chef-specified seasoning which can be used in many dishes: "a la Mere Marianne." Escoffier, a proud native of France, chose to name the dish for his country’s Marianne; the female symbol created by the people to represent their cause during the French Revolution. She is the personification of reason, liberty, equality and fraternity - the antithesis of tyranny and oppression - and her image lives on to modern day. Strong, noble and determined, she embodies what it means to be Able.

This recipe inspired both the design of the ale, as well as its name. Freedom is a beautiful thing; it fosters creativity, collaboration, growth and progress, all of which are embodied in this beer’s journey. Therefore, the mother of free France, Marianne, is a proper symbol to represent our combined work.

One batch - and one batch only - of La Mére Marianne has been produced; she is sure to go quickly. With that, we give our thanks to the fine people at BVI for the opportunity. We all look forward sharing this endeavor with you. Cheers.


Burn the Ships: Chapter Five

Gibraltar, 711

The Umayyad commander looks out across his army, which is now gathered on the beaches beneath a great mountain of limestone. Having just landed on the southern shores of Hispania, their faces show signs of concern, uncertainty and above all, fear. He addresses the men:

“My warriors! Whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea; before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy.”

While Tariq ibn Ziyad does not have the resume of an conqueror, he is about to lead a campaign against a tyrant whose army outnumbers them nearly 10 to 1. Now, against these impossible odds, there is nowhere to go but forward.

“Remember, that I place myself in the front of this glorious charge which I exhort you to make.”

Tariq’s origins are humble to say the least. He is born a slave in the year 670; a role he maintains for most of his life. Throughout these years, he cultivates a reputation for being innovative, industrious and intelligent. It is the Muslim Umayyad general and governor of North Africa - Musa bin Nusayr - who sees potential in the slave Tariq, granting him his freedom, as well as a position within the army stationed at the coastal city of Tangier. Musa was wise in selecting Tariq, as it does not take long for him to rise through the ranks, becoming commander of the entire military garrison at this strategic port lying on the southern entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

The politics in Tariq’s part of the world are complex at the beginning of the 8th century. Two prominent religious movements have been growing rapidly: the Christians out of Europe, and Muslims out of Arabia; their borders beginning to intertwine around the Mediterranean.

To the north of Tariq’s post in Tangier, across the narrow strait of water separating Europe from Africa, lies the Visigothic Kingdom, who controls the entirety of Hispania (modern-day Spain, Portugal and southern France). Having separated from the Byzantine Empire of Rome, the Visigoths are enduring the pains of cultural transition. Over a century earlier, the sitting Visigoth king converts from Arian Christianity to Catholic Christianity, sparking decades of religious tension across their kingdom. Tensions turn into disputes; disputes into civil wars. Arian Christians, Jews and Muslims throughout the kingdom become targets, initially being lowered in social status or forced to convert. However, towards the end of the 7th century, they become enslaved or executed. After a slew of rulers enter and exit from power, it is King Roderic who violently takes control of the empire in 710.

Roderic is a seasoned military commander; a skill he uses to acquire the throne. Roderic leads his army into the capital of Toledo, seizing it by force and executing much of the standing leadership, including the sitting king himself. This move divides the kingdom, which Roderic mitigates with brutal, tyrannical rule.

“At the moment when the two armies meet hand to hand, you will see me, never doubt it, seeking out this Roderic, tyrant of his people, challenging him to combat, if God is willing.”

The oppressed begin fleeing the Visigoth Kingdom by the thousands, many arriving as refugees in Northern Africa.

The only Christian settlement in Northern Africa is the massive coastal city of Ceuta, lying directly east of Tangier on the same strategic strait. Ceuta, while considered part of the Visigothic Kingdom, is separated from the turmoil occurring back in Hispania, and continues to thrive as a nearly independent center of commerce and culture under the leadership of Count Julius. It is Julius who willfully accepts these refugees; each wave bringing with them graver tales of the violent intolerance occurring in their homeland.

Despite the religious tension to the north, the Christians of Ceuta and Muslims of Tangier are peaceful as neighbors. Julius, becoming increasingly distraught over the state of his homeland, dispatches correspondence to the Tangier commander, Tariq ibn Ziyad. He wants Tariq to assist him in removing the sacrilegious king, Roderic. He even offers the one asset the Muslims lack to take on such a quest: a fleet of ships.

“Should I fall before I reach Roderic, redouble your ardor, force yourselves to the attack and achieve the conquest of this country, in depriving him of life. With him dead, his soldiers will no longer defy you.”

General Musa - the same man who freed Tariq years earlier - has doubts about the proposed invasion, primarily due to the size and reputation of the Visigoth army. He eventually agrees, once Tariq states his intention to lead the expeditionary force himself. Thus, the plan to invade Hispania is set in motion.

And so it was, on the eve of the invasion, Tariq’s Muslim army peacefully marches into the Christian city of Ceuta. Their ranks are joined by thousands of Jewish and Christian refugees-turned-warriors,  increasing Tariq’s strength to 12,000. Together, they make final preparations for battle.

If I perish after this, I will have had at least the satisfaction of delivering you, and you will easily find among you an experienced hero, to whom you can confidently give the task of directing you.”

Looking due north across the strait, they can see their target: the lone mountain that appears to shoot out from the sea - known from antiquity as the northern Pillar of Hercules. Mere miles away, this small peninsula on the southern coast of Hispania will host the main assault. Under the cover of darkness, they depart from Ceuta aboard Julius’ ships.

“If the absolute want to which you are reduced is prolonged ever so little, or if you delay in seizing immediate success, your good fortune will vanish.”

Tariq successfully lands his men on the narrow beaches of the peninsula in the early morning of April 30, 711, and issues the order to set fire to the ships. The men obey without question, and begin gather around him as the vessels begin to burn.

Now, looking out upon the army from atop his horse - an army of Jewish, Christian and Muslim soldiers - as their ships fade away into the Mediterranean, he speaks.

“Do not imagine that your fate can be separated from mine, and rest assured that if you fall, I shall perish with you...or I shall avenge you.”

The words Tariq conveyed to his men that day illustrate the bold nature of leaders who are unwavered by risk; those who scoff at fear when taking on a cause greater than themselves. He was willing to lead the invasion; willing to destroy their only means of retreat; and willing to fight alongside his men for something they all - regardless of their religious differences - believed in. Anyone can set fire to a boat, but it takes a great leader - one who believes in their quest enough to place themselves in decisive battle - to achieve glory.

Although the odds were against them, Tariq believed that together they would be victorious. As they marched north into the mainland of Hispania to face Roderic’s force numbering over 100,000 strong, his men believed it too.

Less than two months after landing on the beaches, his vision is realized. They defeat Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete, killing the oppressive leader himself in the midst of the battle. Tariq’s words become truth, as the remaining Visigothic forces loyal to Roderic succumb to fear and fall into disarray.

Within the year, Tariq’s army marches into the Visigoth capital, Toledo; the gates opened by Jewish slaves who welcome them as liberators.

In 714, Tariq is invited to retire to the Umayyad capital of Damascus, where he lives freely and peacefully until his death in 720. The mountain where he landed would be named in his honor following the invasion. Jabal Tariq - which translates to “Mountain of Tariq” - becomes a metaphor to describe something of unmovable strength, resilience and confidence. The name still remains today in its anglicized form: the Rock of Gibraltar.

With that, this great leader - a slave from northern Africa who won his freedom and rose to lead an army - claims his spot in this saga. Tariq ibn Ziyad united an army that should have never been, and led them to victory, with one action: burning his ships.

Read on:
Chapter 6

Owner | Engineer | Brewer

Burn the Ships: Chapter Four

Narragansett Bay, 1772

At times, a line needs to be drawn.

The small yet fruitful Rhode Island colony is one of the key centers of trade in the America’s. With direct access to the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean, her largest settlement - Providence - has grown into one of the most lucrative ports for trade with both fellow colonies and nations abroad.

While merchant trade is booming throughout the 1760’s, Rhode Island - like many colonial settlements at this time - has begun to earn a treasonous reputation with their British rulers. Throughout the Seven-Years War, colonists from in-and-around Providence were known to have secretly aided the French, while withholding goods and funds from the British.

Once England has achieved their decisive, yet expensive, victory against the French in 1763, Parliament begins developing methods to raise funds to pay off their enormous wartime debts, and strengthen defenses throughout their colonial holdings. This was accomplished the best way they knew how: taxes. New taxes, duties and fees began to appear in the colonies throughout the 1760’s - many of which will go on to gain notoriety. For the merchants and sailors in Rhode Island, this meant new customs taxes on the import and export of goods. To enforce them, the British began utilizing their powerful navy - a wartime asset - to police civilian commerce.

The Sugar Act of April 1764 imposed the first post-war tax on maritime merchants, and was heavily enforced by the British Navy, who used it as an excuse to halt and board colonial ships, often times confiscating cargos or outright stealing goods under the barrels of their guns. Tensions begin to rise, and a breaking point comes in July.

The HMS St. John - one of Britian’s patrol ships - has been stealing goods from merchant vessels she stops under the authority of the Sugar Act. In response, a large crowd of citizens are able to storm and capture Fort George on Goat Island, which lies off the off the coast of Newport on the eastern side of the bay. They proceed to arm the cannons and open fire on the HMS St. John. While the St. John is able to quickly flee the harbor, the event foreshadows what is to come.

Naval containment around Narragansett Bay strengthens to the point where local fishers and merchants are rarely willing to venture out into the waters. The towns around the bay have thus become filled with droves of able sailors in desperate need of employment, and a local economy that has slowed to a crawl.

On July 4, 1765 - the King’s birthday - the HMS Maidstone, one of Britain’s larger vessels patrolling the waters off Newport, stops a merchant ship coming into port from abroad for what they describe as a routine inspection. Once aboard, the crew seizes their cargo and much of the crew. Later that evening, a longboat loaded with crewmen from the Maidstone comes ashore in Newport to celebrate the days catch. Upon landing, the boat is immediately overwhelmed by a crowd reportedly numbering over 500 citizens. They scatter the British crew and proceed to drag the boat out of the water and up the street to the center of town. On the lawn of the Newport commons, the people set it set ablaze.

The situation intensifies.

Additional taxes are levied in 1767 as part of the Townshend Acts. One of the first seizures under the new laws is a ship belonging to future Founding Father, John Hancock: the Liberty. British officials in Boston accuse Hancock of avoiding required taxes under the Acts and thus, without trial, his ship is confiscated and refitted to serve as a naval warship under the ironic name HMS Liberty. While charges against Hancock are eventually dropped, the ship remains with the British Navy.

The Liberty is then given her first assignment: she is to head south to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The latest of his majesty’s vessels patrolling commerce in the bay, she becomes the next target of the citizenry around Narragansett Bay.

On July 17, 1769, the HMS Liberty halts and seizes two vessels from Connecticut bound for Providence, along with their captains, under “suspicion of having done an illicit act.” Two days later, the captain of the Liberty - William Reed - is captured by locals while ashore on leave, and subsequently forced to order his men to abandon the ship. Locals then row out to the vessel and cut the anchor lines, allowing her to drift aground. The ship is immediately consumed by the citizenry; her masts cut down and the ship burned. The Newport Mercury - a local paper - reported the fires lasted on the beaches of Newport for several days. The two captured vessels, their captains and cargos are subsequently released from captivity.

Not seeing the writing on the wall, the British increase choose to tighten the noose: rather than entertaining methods to ease colonist’s economic hardships, security is simply increased yet again in the waters around Rhode Island. More Redcoats, and more naval warships.

One of the new vessels dispatched to the Narragansett Bay is of French origin, having been turned over to the British following the end of the Seven Years War. The HMS Gaspee arrives in March of 1772, and does not waste time in bringing down the hammer on the rambunctious and rebellious Rhode Islanders. She and her commanding officer, Lieutenant William Dudingston, gain a reputation of ruthless enforcement, stopping every vessel entering or leaving the harbors of the bay. Those who attempt to avoid or flee the Gaspee are simply fired upon until they submit. Resembling a privateer rather than a lawful naval vessel, they capture cargos, crewmen and vessels, and levy heavy fines to all those merely suspected of illegal activity. Without investigation or trial, many local merchants lose everything at the whim of Lieutenant Dudingston.

The Gaspee - a two-mast schooner - is smaller than other traditional British warships. Yet, what she lacks in size, she makes up for with maneuverability and speed; assets which make her nearly impossible to avoid in the complex waterways of the Narragansett Bay. She also sports eight heavy guns, giving her more than enough firepower to overtake any merchant, fishing  or packet vessel. As such, none dare to challenge her in either fight or flight; once approached, all simply submit to the Gaspee.

It is not long before complaints begin to flood into the office of Rhode Island Royal Governor, Joseph Wanton. Not only was the Gaspee hindering trade, confiscating property and detaining colonial citizens, her crew was reportedly coming ashore to forcibly gather supplies from local farmers. In exploring the matter, the Governor finds that in the first 2 months, the Gaspee has stopped and ransacked over 200 civilian vessels, yet found only 2 in violation of the King’s laws. While he has attempted to quell the previous conflicts between the British Navy and his people, Wanton is unable to continue ignoring the situation. He authors a series of letters to Lieutenant Dudingston, demanding he come ashore to present his commission and answer for his actions.

Bluntly, Dudingston refuses. In a letter he writes in response, the British Lieutenant informs Governor Wanton he is under order of the King and thus, answers only to him and his chain of command; he owes Governor Wanton and the people of Rhode Island nothing. Wanton’s appeals to Dudingston’s superior in Boston, Admiral Montagu, are met with similar apathy.

Rhode Island is on her own.

June 9, 1772: It’s a hot summer day on when a packet boat makes it's way up the bay. Captain Thomas Lindsey is guiding his ship, the Hannah, to Providence from Newport. As they venture north, something appears on the horizon that sends fear shooting through Lindsey: Through his sightglass, he spots the full sails of the Gaspee come into view, as she begins to turn west onto an intercept course. Lindsey makes a fateful decision, setting full sails himself in an attempt to flee the pursuing Gaspee.

It becomes clear, however, that the Gaspee far outmatches Hannah on speed. Captain Lindsey watches as the she comes within the range of her forward guns, and begins issuing warning shots. Lindsey, facing the loss of his ship by either seizure or cannon, is forced to make another decision. Looking out across the waters before him, the experienced sailor has an idea. He immediately orders his crew to turn the Hannah east towards the shoreline town of Warwick.

Aboard the Gaspee, Lieutenant Dudingston is confident: simply another colonial vessel attempting to bypass his patrol; yet another he will catch, detain and discipline. He continues pursuit, anticipating the same outcome he has grown accustomed to: Hannah’s inevitable surrender in the midst of his overwhelming power and speed.

Abruptly, and without warning, the unexpected occurs.

The smaller, lighter Hannah glides and weaves over the waters of the bay, which, unknown to the British crew, are becoming increasingly shallow as the tide begins to move out in the late afternoon. Suddenly, Dudingston and crew are violently thrown from their feet as the weight of the Gaspee runs aground on the sands off the coast of Warwick near Namquit Point. Lindsey watches from the stern of Hannah and breathes a sigh of relief as his ship continues north to Providence as the sun begins to set over the bay.

With little damaged - aside from his pride - Dudingston is unable to do much of anything. Stuck in the calm, shallow waters of Namquit, he and his crew simply prepare to spend a quiet evening in the bay as they wait for the tide’s return in the early hours of the following morning.

A few miles to the north, the Hannah arrives in Providence in the early evening. Captain Lindsey, without hesitation, begins regaling his story of evading the infamous Gaspee, leading her to run aground off Warick. John Brown - founder of Brown University, and a leading merchant in Providence who himself has fallen victim to the British patrols - sees in this an opportunity for justice. He organizes a small posse of men, leading them through the streets of the city with a drummer in tow. As word of the Gaspee’s incapacitation spreads, men begin to join their ranks in droves.

One such man is Abraham Whipple - future Commodore in the soon-to-be Continental Navy. The mob enters a tavern where he and Brown begin devising a plot to ensure the Gaspee will never again harass the colonial citizenry. Their plan? To destroy her.

In a letter written in 1839, Ephraim Bowen - the final survivor of the attack on the Gaspee - reminisces the events of that night:

“About the time of the shutting up of the shops soon after sunset, a man passed along the main street beating a drum and informing the inhabitants of the fact, that the Gaspee was aground on Namquit Point, and would not float off until 3 o'clock the next morning, and inviting those persons who felt a disposition to go and destroy that troublesome vessel...About 9 o'clock, I took my father's gun and my powder horn and bullets and went to Mr. Sabin's, and found the southeast room full of people, where I loaded my gun, and all remained there till about 10 o'clock, some casting bullets in the kitchen, and others making arrangements for departure, when orders were given to cross the street to Fenner's wharf and embark; which soon took place, and a sea captain acted as steersman of each boat, of whom I recollect Capt. Abraham Whipple, Capt. John B. Hopkins, (with whom I embarked,) and Capt. Benjamin Dunn. A line from right to left was soon formed, with Capt. Whipple on the right and Capt. Hopkins on the right of the left wing.”

Ephraim Bowen
Affidavit, 1839

In total, 8 longboats set off from Fenner’s Wharf in Providence Harbor. Brown, emphasizing stealth, has the men muffle the oars and row-locks by wrapping them in rags. No one speaks as the men, totalling nearly 70 in number, quietly row 5 miles through the darkness to Namquit Point, where the Gaspee still calmly lies.

The longboats approach from the west, making it within 60 yards of her hull before a watchman takes notice.

“Who comes there?” he calls out; the men do not respond.

He calls again, “who comes there?” Again, no one answers as the boats continue their approach.

Lieutenant Dudingston, awoken from the shouts, steps onto the deck from his quarters. Upon seeing the boats, he demands they identify themselves. Whipple, mere boat lengths from the Gaspee’s hull, finally responds: “Surrender, God damn you!”

A shot rings out from the longboats below, and Dudingston falls to the deck; the round passing through his arm and lodging into his abdomen. At once, men begin hastily climbing the Gaspee’s hull, pouring over her deck and down into the holds below. It is over in minutes. The British crew, caught by unimaginable surprise, give up control of the Gaspee without a fight.

The wounded Lieutenant Dudingston crawls back to his quarters where he listens to the chaos outside as his ship is overtaken. Brown and Whipple find him sitting slouched on his bed when they enter the cabin. They order one of the rebels - a doctor by the name of John Mawney - to tend to the wounded lieutenant.

Once his wounds are dressed, the crew, their belongings and their leader are ferried to Warwick. It’s a little past 3 o’clock in the morning when they land on the beaches, and turn around to see the Gaspee set ablaze. Dudingston, who is put up in a shoreline home to recover, witnesses the flames of his ship raging for hours from his bedside window.

Word of the burning spread quickly. Leaders within the British government are appalled, immediately ordering the formation of a commission to track down, capture and try those responsible back in England for treason. The investigation takes months, but can never gather enough evidence from locals to bring charges against any of the dozens of rebels who burned the Gaspee.

The Gaspee Affair goes on to gain notoriety in the colonies, highlighting both British oppression to colonial commerce and the citizenry’s ability to take a stand and say, “no more.” Furthermore, the resulting investigation crossed a new line with the Americans: the commitment to send citizens back to England for trial rather than in the colonies by a jury of their own peers. Rather than listened to, the colonists were being silenced.

This event, occurring mere months after New Hampshire’s Pine Tree Riot, becomes the second domino to fall in a series of conflicts that will lead up to the American Revolution. Namquit Point is renamed Gaspee Point, where to this day the town of Warwick celebrates the burning of the Gaspee each year with days of events, including the burning of a Gaspee effigy in the waters of the Narragansett Bay.

“Burn the Ships” is about the relentless pursuit of what one believes in; the willingness to put everything on the line for something greater than one’s self. When a line needed to be drawn, the people of Narragansett Bay drew it by setting fire to many of his majesty’s ships, the HMS Gaspee serving as their grand finale. There was no going back to the old, oppressive rule of the British; only forward to the new, free rule of the people.

Read On:
Chapter 5
Chapter 6


Independence Day

July 5, 2008, Fort Knox KY.

July 5, 2008, Fort Knox KY.

July 4, 2008: I am stationed at Fort Knox, KY, training with the Armor Officer Leadership Course. 5+ months of day-in, day-out training; most of which out in the mud-caked slopes of northern Kentucky. The guys I am enduring this with will attest to the fact that it’s a grueling course, but they will also tell you that it was one of the best experiences of our lives.

I haven’t seen many of them since we graduated, we formed bonds that will last a lifetime, and still keep in touch. While the course was months in length, you could count the total number of days we had “off” on two hands. One such day was Independence Day, and I remember it well; it was my first as a Lieutenant - a leader within our nation’s military.

The day was filled with a number of celebratory activities scheduled at Knox, up in Louisville, and around the local area. That night, there was to be a party at the airfield including a large fireworks display, loads of food, and live music headlined by ZZ Top.

We didn’t go.

Instead, we spent the day gathered at a common on post, grilled cheap burgers & hot dogs, shared jokes at one another’s expense (usually LT Hoover’s), and drank good beer. Why skip all the festivities that evening? 4am the next morning was our hard time to get back out to the field for tank gunnery. Instead, I packed my ruck and fell asleep to the booming sounds of fireworks off in the distance.

Independence Day has a special meaning for me. Prior to the Declaration, the colonies each had their own individual struggle with British rule. But on July 4, 1776, we, as a nation, came together as one voice against tyranny and oppression. Merchants, farmers, sailors, blacksmiths, cobblers, artisans, statesmen and barkeeps decided as one: enough is enough.

Once word of the Declaration reached General Washington on July 9, 1776, he was not in a celebratory mindset. His army, having successfully ousted the British from Boston a few months prior, was now occupying New York City in hopes of defending it against an imminent British invasion. He personally reads Jefferson’s words to his men in the streets of the city, while British naval ships gather in the bay by the hundreds. The short, simple declaration motivates the men, and they immediately go back to work preparing defenses in and around the city.

Washington and his army would eventually lose New York, as well as many major battles to follow. Even when the war was at its most bleak - when British leadership began celebrating defeat of the rebellion, and signers of the Declaration were scattering across the colony for fear of capture and execution - the volunteers and militiamen of the Continental Army continued on. No longer were they simply rioting against unjust laws; they were defending their country.

As such, this is a day to remember what it took to win liberty, and what it takes to preserve it.

Today, we will celebrate the bold risks and sacrifices of those who, in 1776, were willing to put their lives on the line to live free. I welcome you to join us, as hundreds of our friends and fellow patriots will gather at the brewery to raise a glass in honor of them.

As an American, you are independent; free to live life your way. Freedom is indeed a beautiful thing, but it takes work at all levels - soldiers and civilians - to preserve it.

So, to me, Independence Day is not a day of gluttony, drunkenness and explosions. It’s the day to celebrate the freedom we work so hard to keep.

At dawn on July 5, 2008, I climbed into the turret of my Abrams with my fellow Lieutenants - men willing to voluntarily give themselves to the cause of “defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic” - and we went back to work.

Miss you guys; Scouts Out.



Competition vs. Passion

I am often asked by customers if I have heard of new breweries who just opened. While I wish I could visit every new brewery that comes online, it wouldn't leave much time for my job at this one. The question of whether or not I have heard of them is usually followed by: "Do you think they are going to do better? You guys afraid of competition?" And so on.

Since the Nano Brew law passed in 2011, some incredible breweries have popped up around New Hampshire—including us. With so many new places opening, some may think it would cause rivalry, emulation, competition, or even jealousy. Yet, that couldn't be further from the truth.

So, I answer their questions the same way each time:

There is no competition in works of passion. You either have it or you don't; the passion makes the product unique. Anyone willing to open a business and showcase a product that demands a great deal of time, effort, thought and passion has my admiration, and my business. Our goal here at Able is create the best beer we can; beers that we love. It is simply a privilege to share that work with you.

We brewers are driven by a dedication to create a products we are proud of and enjoy; not a product that is slightly better than the guy next door. After all, what is “better” changes from person to person. I believe there is a simple unspoken respect with all brewers: if you put all of yourself into a product (not literally), then you have done your job. I look forward to finishing my first beer design and getting it on tap so I too can share my work with fellow NH brewers.

While there may be some friendly rivalries, this is not a cut throat business. We love and respect one another’s work, and raise a glass to anyone willing to take the leap. For this very reason, I am happy to be a part of this company and industry. It’s just fun.

With that, I’ll cheers my next pint to creating something that is designed shared and enjoyed, not gloated over. After all, beer always tastes much better with friends than with enemies.

Renaissance Man

A Surprising Year

Where are we now?

One strong dolly, an over-worked Transit Connect and a few ratchet straps later, I’ve witnessed Able Ebenezer come quite far for a self-distributing brewery just now marking it's first year. For me, it has been an adventure doing what I love...and I cannot stress enough how incredible it is having found work that I truly love.

After leaving the US Army in December 2013, I began bouncing around between jobs, seeking something that had purpose...something I believed in. In June, I was laid off from a role when they could no longer offer the 30-35 hours of work per week they had able to give. This was when I met Carl, and heard about the opportunity at Able Ebenezer. I knew nothing about brewing or the complicated distribution business, but I did know was I was willing to work tirelessly to learn it, especially with a company that had purpose. I was surprised when I was hired.

Joining this company a just few weeks in, I was given opportunities and learning experiences that aren't close to being fully realized. If a year ago you had asked me how to make a great beer, or how to logistically keep track of accounts that span most of Southern New Hampshire, I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to respond. The answer is “very carefully.”

Through that careful hard work and your support, we have created quite a name for ourselves in these first twelve months. From tasters up to pints, from grilled cheeses to hot dogs, and from a couple restaurants to over 40. Thinking back, I remember seven establishments seemed like far too many to keep track of, but am now finishing out the year with forty-two. Overall, this year has been full of surprises for me.

To quote the man I always turn to:

"History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again."

-Kurt Vonnegut

While we don't know exactly what is ahead of us, we know it will be bigger and better.

As great as milestones are, after the 13th we will continue our movement forward. Expanding our lines of attack and seeking those opportunities for growth, all while continuing to service the amazing establishments who currently pour our beers.

Taking a moment to catch my breath and appreciate what I have worked for is a humbling moment, yet something I don’t believe one should get caught up in. It’s never wise to dwell on your accomplishments simply because it is so easy to lose track of the new ones to come.

With that, I am back on the road again today delivering kegs across southern NH, and will be behind the bar tonight to host our weekly live music. This past year required a great deal of hard work, but I know the path ahead will require even more. I welcome it's surprises.

With that, here is to our moment to look back and reflect, and to getting back at it the next day as we drive forward into Year 2.



Victory nor Defeat

It’s after lights out. I’m lying in my bunk in the Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) holding barracks trying to fall asleep among fifty other soldiers in bunks on either side of me. Having just finished Basic Training on Sand Hill, Ft. Benning, GA., I’m waiting for the next OCS class to start. I have a month of this. For officer candidates, this place is limbo.

With regard to rank, officer candidates aren’t really anything. Although I’m still enlisted, all rank status is lost during the course and any enlisted soldier now outranks me. Typically in the military, there is some disdain in regard to how enlisted personnel feel about young inexperienced officers, and venting these opinions to officer candidates is a common practice for no fear of repercussions.

As I’m trying to fall asleep my mind is racing. Here, the confidence of the day always turns to doubt. Maybe these more experienced enlisted soldiers are right? After all, I have the experience of a new Private, so how could I possibly lead men who had spent years serving? What if I don’t know what to do when everyone is looking to me? What if I make a bad decision and someone gets hurt?

I feel the vibration of my flip phone hidden under my pillow. I hoped it was my girlfriend back in California calling to tell me everything was going to be okay, but it turned out to be my older brother. I answered, and I could tell right away that something wasn’t right, so I slipped away to the only place you could talk in the barracks after hours: the bathroom stall.

He told me he was recently promoted to editor-in-chief of a popular weekly newspaper, and as the youngest editor in the paper’s history at 27, many critics were surfacing who thought he was the wrong man for the job. I could tell that these negative opinions were wearing on his confidence.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I was proud of him for putting himself out there in a leadership role instead of being comfortable as just another writer in the background.  Suddenly, it popped into my head. I couldn’t remember who said it, but at this moment I could remember something I read years before:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt, "Man in the Arena"

While I had remembered this to help my brother, it was something I needed to hear. Even though I’d read it before, in this moment I believed it; it had new meaning. It was okay to have doubts, but it wasn’t okay to let those doubts keep me on the sideline. I chose to be an officer because I believed I could do the job better than the next guy, and I couldn’t worry about vocal naysayers who made the choice to criticize leaders rather than lead themselves.

Fast-forward seven years to opening a brewery: I still find that anytime you separate from the crowd and follow your true passions there will be critics telling you it can't be done; that you’re doing it wrong; how they could’ve performed better than you, even though they chose not to make the choice. At some point in time, these cynics listened to the critics of their own moment and now assume the collective opinion of the crowd, which only serves to maintain the way things have always been done because it’s safer. Not an evil proposition, but serves as a foundation of regret; of a life spent trying to fend off the inevitable.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the shouting of people in the stands, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice the few willing to step out onto the arena floor and lay it on the line. This uncommon minority serves as living proof that daring achievements are possible with courage as their only prerequisite. Find your inspiration, put yourself out there, and see what you’re made of.

These words have come to define who I am, and who I will be. With that, our new Double IPA shall bear a name in honor of those who step into the arena, unaware and unmoved by the critiques of those poor and timid souls who remain on the sidelines. On Saturday, June 13th, we debut "Victory nor Defeat."

-Mike Frizzelle
Head Brewer


Burn the Ships: Chapter Three

Often, we are asked where the name “Burn the Ships” comes from. To us, it’s a personal mantra; a statement about the willingness to put forth everything to achieve victory.

The act of burning one’s own ships is the physical manifestation of this idea; a tactic that military commanders throughout history have used to overcome the challenges that made everyone before them simply avoid the venture. Thus, we found ourselves - both as military commanders and entrepreneurs - inspired by the words, “Burn the Ships.”

With that, I want to share with you why this statement has meaning; the many stories that have made the firing of masts, hulls and sails into a bold ideology (and incredible ale). This, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of “Burn the Ships.”

The Solent, 296

Much of the known world is ruled by the mighty Roman Empire, which is now at the height of its power. Diocletian, who has recently emerged as the first sole Emperor in decades following the Crisis of the Third Century, controls a kingdom spanning from Spain to Mesopotamia, and Egypt to the island of Britain. In the wake of the empire’s near collapse from infighting, he comes to power knowing that political changes need to be made if the vast reaches of Rome are to remain united.

Thus, he makes a revolutionary decision once he takes the throne in 285: divide the empire.

Diocletian establishes a system of subordinate emperors, beginning with the appointment of fellow military officer Maximian to the position of Augustus (Senior Emperor) of the western territories, and later appoint two Caesar’s (Junior Emperors) in 293, while he remains the superior emperor over the entirety of the empire.

History would prove this division to be both a political and societal success, with the Roman Empire stabilizing economically and militarily. There are, however, obstacles to this new-found peace.

Carausius, a man of humble beginnings from modern-day Belgium, is a rising star within the Roman Navy. His ability to overwhelm enemies in battle gains him command over the Classis Britannia - a naval fleet charged with controlling the English Channel and removing pirate threats - in 286. Carausius, however, is found to be corrupt, having confiscated stolen treasures for his own personal gain. He even allows Frankish and Saxon pirates to continue their raids on coastal settlements before moving on them in order to enrich himself further. Upon discovery, Diocletian orders Maximian to have Carausius executed.

In response, Carausius cedes Britain and northern Gaul (Europe’s northern coastline) from the Roman Empire, and declares himself its emperor in 287. He is successful in building his military might, building additional naval vessels and growing his army with hired mercenaries, who were attracted by the promise of vast riches. This added military might combined with his tactical genius allows him to successfully defeat Maximian’s invasion attempts, which Carausius touts as a decisive military victory.

Carausius is beginning to legitimize his empire, quickly becoming known as the “Restorer of Britain” and “Spirit of Britain.” While these titles are mere propaganda produced by Carausius himself, it is undeniable that his grip on the northwest is growing. Yet, his new empire is built on oppression and the unjustified accumulation of riches, breeding corruption within his ranks.

It is seven long years before the Romans are able to begin retaking Carausius’ territory. They slowly liberate northern Gaul in 293 through tedious siege warfare. It is Allectus, Carausius’ right-hand man and whom he entrusted to maintain his empire’s treasury, who seizes the opportunity. He assassinates Carausius at one of their remaining mainland ports, assumes control over the empire and immediately concentrates their forces in and around Britain to prevent any further Roman advance.

While regaining the northern coast of Europe is a victory, it is a minor one at best; the rebellion still maintains a stronghold over Britain and its bountiful economy. Maximian and his newly appointed Caesar, Constantius Chlorus, once again draw plans to attempt an invasion of Britain. Yet, excuses of imperfect weather and the strong defenses of the island impede their progress. As such, their plans continually fall short against Allectus and his legions of brutal mercenaries.

Finally, in 296, after over three years of failed strategies, the two leaders bring in the lesser-known, yet creative, military mind of Julius Asclepiodotus to assist in reconquering the island.

Julius understands up front that while Allectus has a formidable army and navy at his disposal, they are driven only by shallow and selfish means; they lack the sheer determination, tenacity and motivation the Roman legions had become famous for in defeating other seemingly powerful militaries. He recommends a rapid invasion of Britain; an effort to strike one decisive blow against the enemy. He believes that once initially overwhelmed, they will not be able to muster the courage to remain unified against the Romans.

In essence, he knows that once engaged in a battle of wills, the rebels will not match up, regardless of tactical advantage.

Julius’ final plan calls for a dual naval force to cross the channel and approach Britain from the south, landing their army on the shores near what today are the towns of Southampton, Portsmouth and Chichester. The fleets would rendezvous in the Solent - a strait separating the mainland of Britain from the Isle of Wight.

The intent of splitting the fleet is to avoid Allectus’ navy, which will be heavily patrolling the waters around the Isle of Wight since the Solent Strait is key to Britain’s ports and thus, their economy. Julius emphasized that the main objective was to land on the mainland and commit the rebel’s main army; not get bogged down in petty naval skirmishes off the coast, nor costly sieges on the shoreline.

Julius’ superiors approve the plan: The primary fleet and army to be commanded by Caesar Constantius himself, while Julius would to lead the secondary force in support.

The day of the invasion arrives in June of 296. Yet, poor fortune plagues the Romans again as a heavy fog blankets the channel and entire southern coast of Britain. Once again, Constantius, finding it difficult to navigate, becomes wavered by the unfavorable conditions. He expresses his desire to call off the attack, but Julius refuses to turn back. He knows that while navigating the channel and strait could be risky, turning back would further weaken the resolve of their men, while strengthening that of the rebels. They had committed to action; returning without having liberated Britain was simply not an option.

Instead, he leverages the thick fog to his advantage, using it as suitable cover on his approach to the shoreline. While not entirely positive where he has landed, he successfully reaches the beaches of Britain without being seen by any of Allectus’ patrols.

Upon landing, Julius hastily rallies his men and orders them to march inland toward the rebel defenses. His commanders initially question the order, their men nervous and wary about continuing onward without the entirety of their force on-hand. They request they wait until Constantius and the main body reached the shore, or they re-embark into the Solent to attempt to reconnect with his fleet.

Bluntly, Julius responds with a second order: “Burn the Ships.”

When questioned again as to why they would destroy the single asset that would grant them solace back within the Roman Empire, Julius declared that the land they now stood upon was indeed the Roman Empire once more.

This was his message to his commanders and their men: they would not remain satisfied having taken the shore, nor would they embark once again to rendezvous with the larger fleet. By setting the ships ablaze, Allectus would become aware of their landing, forcing Julius’ men to drive forward and attack rather than sit and wait to be attacked.

Thus, Julius led his men inland, their fleet burning behind them.

Reinvigorated with a tenacity only Roman warriors could embody, Julius marched on Allectus’ defenses. Rumors amongst the rebels of the burning ships instill a level of fear that they had not yet experienced. Upon site of the rapidly advancing Roman legions, their will to fight quickly deteriorates. In the midst of the chaos, Allectus quickly finds himself in command of an empire in shambles. He attempts to escape north among his retreating forces, having stripped himself of his lavish clothing and decorations in hopes that he would not be identified if captured.

He would not be captured, however. Instead, Julius is able to quickly outmaneuver his retreating army, surrounding them on the field of battle. Worn, weary and defeated, the rebels succumb to an onslaught that sees every man cut down, including Allectus himself.

Constantius lands ashore in time to witness only the aftermath of Julius’ blitz across southern Britain. His army chases down the last remaining pockets of resistance before securing the island. The revolt has officially come to an end.

Records of Julius following his expeditionary conquest of Britain are lacking. While he is placed in charge of reestablishing Roman authority across the territory, it is Constantius who is credited with the liberation of Britain. History makes a mere footnote of Julius Asclepiodotus and his willingness to place all he had on the line to defeat the unjustly oppressive and heavily favored rebels.

Coming forward with a bold plan to defeat a rebel empire that had repelled Roman military elite for a decade, and subsequently having the audacity to drive onward in the wake of unforeseen obstacles, makes Julius Asclepiodotus a great figure in the Burn the Ships saga.

If something is important to you, you will find a way. If not - whether it be fog, miscommunication, or the idea that it is too much of a challenge - you will find your excuse. Drive on.

Read On:
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6


Burn the Ships: Chapter Two

Often, we are asked where the name “Burn the Ships” comes from. To us, it’s a personal mantra; a statement about the willingness to put forth everything to achieve victory.

The act of burning one’s own ships is the physical manifestation of this idea; a tactic that military commanders throughout history have used to overcome the challenges that made everyone before them simply avoid the venture. Thus, we found ourselves - both as military commanders and entrepreneurs - inspired by the words, “Burn the Ships.”

With that, I want to share with you why this statement has meaning; the many stories that have made the firing of masts, hulls and sails into a bold ideology (and incredible ale). This, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of “Burn the Ships.”

Flamborough Head, 1779

Throughout the American Revolution thus far, the Patriot navy is severely lacking. Short on raw materials, shipyards and able crewmen, the newly formed United States is finding it difficult to raise a suitable force to combat the overwhelming might of Britain's superior navy; the most powerful in the world.

One recent immigrant to the colonies, a Scottish-born sailor by the name of John Paul Jones, travels hastily to Philadelphia late in 1775 to enlist in the new Continental Navy.

Jones had been an officer on British merchant and military vessels for years, but had been expelled from service due to his bold and radical command style. He was known to challenge authority; often developing his own campaigns that proved to be far riskier than his commanders wished. Jones, however, knowing himself to be able and the potential rewards of his plans to be fruitful, saw risk as irrelevant. Furthermore, on the rare occasion that a sailor member spoke out against him or attempted to rally mutiny, he would single-handedly beat them in front of an audience of the entire crew. Jones knew how to win, and did not tolerate those who doubted it.

On the eve of his court martial in England, he left behind his fortune and fled to America; a land he admired due to its ripe opportunities and just cause of individual freedom.

Jones was assigned command immediately, and spent 1776 combating the British and capturing their supply ships along the east coast of the America’s from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas. However, his successes would once again become clouded by his command style. Following a heated debate with his commander, Commodore Hopkins, the unpredictable Jones was removed from the main combat zone; assigned a lesser command over a smaller ship - the USS Ranger -  and ordered to sail to France and assist with the American cause, "however possible."

Upon arrival in France, Jones develops a strong friendship with Benjamin Franklin, who is overseas attempting to negotiate an alliance with King Louis XVI. Franklin encourages the young captain, aged just 29 years at the time, to do whatever he saw fit in aiding the American cause.

The rambunctious Jones wastes no time. With his small, 18-gun vessel he begins a relentless campaign in the waters surrounding Britain throughout 1777 and 1778. Harassing merchants, seizing cargos, he begins his independent campaign to make the British feel that this was not confined to the colonies a world away. He even leads a bold raid on the port town of Whitehaven - where years before Jones had begun his career as a seaman. He burns hundreds of English ships at harbor, covertly spikes cannons within English fortifications, captures droves of British soldiers and seamen, all while seizing English supplies, goods, arms, and even the occasional British warship. Jones, by his own initiative, has successfully brought the “war in the colonies” home to millions of British citizens, who are now beginning to question whether or not this war is worth fighting.

1779 brings a change to the war. France has officially aligned itself with the United States, and Jones now has the support of the French Navy. He takes command of a new, 42-gun warship, naming her the Bonhomme Richard in honor of his friend, Benjamin Franklin, whose internationally famous “Poor Richard’s Almanac” is published in France under the title “Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.”

In the fall, Jones takes back to the seas, leading a small squadron around Scotland’s northern coast and down into the North Sea. Now holding the reputation of a violent privateer in Britain, word of his presence causes instant panic in towns along the entirety of the English eastern shore. Yet, Jones simply lies in wait for an opportunity to present itself.

That opportunity comes on September 23rd.

In the afternoon, his watchmen spot a merchant convoy making their way down the coast, protected by two British warships; the 22-gun HMS Countess of Scarborough and the massive, 50-gun frigate HMS Serapis, commanded by the prominent and highly decorated Captain Richard Pearson. Jones pursues them, engaging the fleet just before sunset in the waters just off the impressive cliff faces of Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

At 7pm, the battle commences as Richard and Serapis open up on one another with full broadsides. The French vessels, Alliance and Pallas are successfully lured downwind by the Countess, leaving Jones alone to battle the superior vessel.

During the initial barrage, Jones discovers that his new 18-pound cannons - the largest guns he has aboard - are defective, as one explodes during the firing of its first round. Now, at close range, the Richard, both out-gunned and out-maneuvered by the Serapis, is being ripped apart by successive volleys. Jones, attempting to remain in the fight, finds her increasingly less responsive as she begins to burn uncontrollably.

Rather than retreat or surrender to save his ship, and thus the lives of himself and his men, Jones decides to commit what little Bonhomme Richard has left. At close quarters, Serapis makes another broadside pass, further ravaging the burning, listing Richard. Captain Pearson shouts to Jones, demanding he strike his colors and surrender. Without hesitation, Jones yells back to Pearson with raging fervor:

“I have not yet begun to fight!”

He turns the Richard directly at Pearson’s stern. This move brings him even closer to Serapis, and thus her powerful broadside guns, but this is exactly what the motivated commander wants: to take the directly fight to them.

Upon impact against her hull, Jones personally leads his men in lashing the Richard to the Serapis. Under fire from the British decks, Captain and crew hastily bind the two vessels together with heavy rope while simultaneously fighting off British marines.

Witnessing the unthinkable, Pearson experiences his first moment of dread since the start of the battle. He immediately orders his men to drop anchor in hopes that the sudden shift in momentum will tear the Richard loose.

Yet, the knots hold strong.

Rather than ripping apart as the anchor catches, the two ships begin to spiral together as if in a waltz. Side by side, bow to stern, gun to gun, the Richard and Serapis spin as men on both sides exchange small arms fire. Serapis’ cannons continue to rip through Richard’s lower decks; the damage is so bad that many rounds simply pass clear through the hull. Yet, despite the dire situation, Jones and his men refuse to quit.

Throughout the violent deterioration of their floating fortress, Jones’ men fight with a renewed tenacity. They hold the the British off, and begin to shift the momentum of the battle.

The Patriots begin to overwhelm Pearson’s crew, forcing British sailors and marines to abandon their posts as they tenaciously fight aboard from broadside on the decks, and from above on the masts and lines.

Pearson and his men begin to wear; their will irreparably damaged by the unthinkably reckless tactics of the Americans. Captain Pearson, staring at Richard’s burning wreckage securely tied to his vessel’s hull, and now witnessing Jones’ men overwhelming his crew as they pour aboard, decides he has had enough. He hastily cuts down his own colors, signaling surrender and thus an end to the battle. The British lay down their rifles, and their ships powerful guns go silent.

In the aftermath, Jones quickly transfers his remaining men to the Serapis, imprisons Pearson’s crew below deck, and orders the burning wreckage of Bonhomme Richard cut loose. She quickly disappears beneath the waves, leaving only the sound of extinguishing flames.

John Paul Jones, now Captain of the Serapis, sails her to port; his trophy for gambling everything they had on the will, determination and ability of he and his men in the midst of overwhelming odds. By remaining in the fight - and thus, allowing Richard to continue burning - Jones placed himself and his crew in a situation of no return. They would either take the enemy ship by force, or perish in the cold waters of the coast of Flamborough Head.

His defiance of defeat - and complete commitment to victory - makes Jones a celebrity overnight. He has defeated a leading British naval commander, and captured his superior frigate.  It is after this victory that John Paul Jones becomes the man widely accepted as the “Father of the United States Navy;” a title he holds to this day.

“Burn the Ships” is a mantra about refusing to give in to defeat, especially when the odds are stacked against you. In accepting that failure was not an option, forcing themselves to give every ounce of strength, ingenuity and drive they possessed, Jones and his men gave us a great example of what “Burn the Ships” means to us...and one hell of a story to share over a beer.

Read on:
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Owner | Engineer | Brewer

Jumping Off Cliffs

Many of you know we were recently voted the "Best Brewery in NH" in the Hippo. It goes without saying that this is an incredible honor, especially being a company only nine months old. We cannot thank you all enough, and are proud that you enjoy our beers as much as we do. Honestly, the best award we can achieve is one we are presented with everyday: Each time one of you spends your hard-earned money on our of our fresh pours.

Once we heard the good news, I immediately thought back to my time in Iraq. The military teaches us that mission success may call for celebration, but always produces a new mission to focus on. Carl explained it well to me: "Victory sets conditions for future victories." During my tour overseas, we primarily focused on convoy escorts on the roads in and around Baghdad. We knew that the days we returned inside the wire safe and successful, the next day would bring new challenges, requiring us to always remain vigilant and focused on what the next day's mission might bring. Even on the eve of our unit's return to the states, our mission was to thoroughly prepare our replacements so that they too could be successful. 

While it is always wonderful to win awards for your merit and hard work, that isn't why we continually work hard and focus on the road ahead. We brew with the hope of showing you our version of beer. Not for medals, accolades or favorable beer ratings.

Saying all that, don't think we aren't humbled by the experience. We just know this is one of many things that we will be growing from, and not looking back. To quote my favorite author:

"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

-Kurt Vonnegut 

Awards show you that, yes, you accomplished something. But they also force you to question: could it be done better? This is a question we constantly ask ourselves, always striving to be better than we were the day before. We are not the brewery that opened on June 14th, nor are we the brewery that won Best in NH. We are the brewery that is always focused on jumping off cliffs, forcing ourselves to develop our wings. We enjoy glancing occasionally in the rear-view, but remain focused on what's out the front windshield.

With today's release of Emma Wood, and others down the road such as my coffee porter, we look forward to the future. To hopefully winning more awards, yet reminding ourselves: Alright, now lets go do better.

I look forward to seeing you in the future and figuring out what we can do better tomorrow because of today.

Renaissance Man

Burn the Ships: Chapter One

Alexander BtS.jpg


Often, we are asked where the name “Burn the Ships” comes from. To us, it’s a personal mantra; a statement about the willingness to put forth everything to achieve victory.

The act of burning one’s own ships is the physical manifestation of this idea; a tactic that military commanders throughout history have used to overcome the challenges that made everyone before them simply avoid the venture. Thus, we found ourselves - both as military commanders and entrepreneurs - inspired by the words, “Burn the Ships.”

With that, I want to share with you why this statement has meaning; the many stories that have made the firing of masts, hulls and sails into a bold ideology (and incredible ale). This, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of “Burn the Ships.”


Hellespont Strait, 334 BC

At the young age of 21, Alexander has already become ruler over all of Greece and the Balkans. He now turns his eyes to the East, where the Persian Empire controls a massive kingdom stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the peaks of the Himalayas.

The Greeks and Persians share a long, violent history, which includes the invasion of Greece by Emperor Xerxes in years past. Alexander desires to return the favor; to bring an end to the empire that has controlled much of the known world for centuries. He understands it will not be an easy feat, as the Persians currently maintain the largest ground and naval force ever seen. Although Alexander plans to invade with an army numbering over 80,000 soldiers, cavalrymen and sailors, he is outnumbered 5 to 1.

Alexander knows this, but still believes he can achieve victory.

The only geographic barrier between him and the Persian Empire is a narrow strait called the Hellespont; a waterway running the 38-mile distance from the Mediterranean to the Marmara Sea. While its length could be considered a decent voyage, the strait is a mere 3-miles across at the widest point. This narrow body of water is where Alexander plans to begin his conquest of Persia.

It takes 120 ships to move his army across the Hellespont to the eastern shore, where modern-day Turkey lies. With them, they carry only a 30-day supply of rations for a conquest that will undoubtedly take years.

Upon landing, Alexander is first to step onto the beach. He spikes his spear into the sand and takes a knee to thank the gods for this new land. Although much of his beloved country is still in sight behind him across the water, with thousands of miles filled with hundreds of thousands of enemy soldiers ahead of him, he believes victory is at hand the moment he steps ashore. By simply choosing to embark on this quest, he knows in his heart he has already won.

Alexander then issues his first order of the campaign: “Burn the Ships.”

His commanders are shocked. As legend has it, they plea with Alexander, asking him why they should set fire to the one asset that could return them home? Alexander replied, “We will go home in Persian ships.”

By removing their ability to retreat when difficult challenges were inevitably faced, Alexander knows he and his men will muster whatever it takes to conquer the mighty Persians. In the months and years that follow, he is proven correct:

Despite the Persian’s “scorched earth” strategy - where they actively destroyed farms, markets and infrastructure ahead of Macedonian army in order to starve them into surrender - Alexander successfully resources rations locally, building and maintaining a robust supply chain in his wake.

Alexander adopts innovative strategies in battle. He chooses to fight many of them on the banks of rivers, making the Persian’s primary combat asset - the chariot - ineffective. He often separates his army into smaller, more mobile units, allowing him to easily outmaneuver the larger Persian forces. He forms alliances with those who dare not oppose him, and decisively defeats those who do. The Macedonians quickly gain a reputation as an unbeatable force; always one step ahead of Persian forces. Alexander's innovative battle tactics were so successful that many of them are still taught to this day at military academies around the world.

No matter what challenges come their way, Alexander and his men find the will to continue on and overcome them. After all, they had no choice. 

Two years later, at the Siege of Tyre, Alexander’s vision is realized: he acquires 80 Persian warships, along with the allegiance of their crews. He ultimately eliminates the last pockets of the Persian Empire in 328 BC. When his time comes to an end many years later, Alexander rules as King of Macedonia, King of Persia, King of Asia, and Pharaoh of Egypt. Most notably, he was undefeated in battle.

The surest way to avoid greatness is to back down amidst the challenges in pursuing it; to turn back upon the sight of a seemingly impossible obstacle. Alexander knew this. He believed nothing was impossible; that anything could be overcome with superior will. By setting fire to his ships on the eastern shore of the Hellespont, he simplified the situation for both he and his men: there was no backing down, no turning back. This is what elevates young Alexander into the man known in the history books as Alexander the Great.

With that, I will raise a fresh pint of BtS tonight to Alexander and his decision to “Burn the Ships.” I invite you to do the same. Cheers.

Read on:
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Owner | Engineer | Brewer

On Distribution

Here at Able Ebenezer, we not only design, produce and pour our ales, we also drive our own sales and distribution to our many partnered establishments across the Merrimack River Valley. In the past few weeks, we surpassed 30 restaurants, bars, country clubs, etc in which our brands are on tap, and currently have a many more slated on-deck.

Today, self-distributing breweries are rare in the industry. Many states still outlaw the practice, requiring brewers to sell to third-party distributors (thank you, NH). Beyond that, running your own distribution is nearly an entire business entity itself, adding complex logistics, inventory control, invoicing, vehicle and personnel requirements. It is a lot of work, especially with 30+ establishments to serve.

Yet, hard work has its rewards.

We are able to directly establish and build relationships with the owners, managers and staffs at each of our restaurants. Often, we dine with them, or they drink with us. We host the many staffs here at the brewery; privately opening the facility to educate them on our processes, products and story. We collaborate on projects and events, and find ways to mutually grow our businesses together.

This model also allows us to be flexible, adjusting to the needs of our customer. We strive to execute deliveries on-demand, and within 24-hours at the latest. I myself have delivered a keg of Burn the Ships to Murphy’s at 11pm on a Saturday night; the pre-concert crowd kicked the previous keg, and they wanted it back on tap for the post-concert crowd. We recognize and respect that empty draft lines equates to lost revenue for the restaurateur (who, after all, is our customer).

Yes, as a brewery, we sell beer. But as a distributor, we sell convenience.

Furthermore, cold room space is expensive. Therefore, we tell our restaurants to consider our cold room as an extension of theirs. Within that space, we maintain an inventory solely for the restaurants; many kegs being spoken for as they come off the kegging line. To measure this, we track the consumption trends at each of our establishments. While it isn’t an exact science, it allows us to predict what we anticipate brand consumption will be 14 days out, and plan our production rhythm accordingly. We will even take beer off tap in our Ale Room if the only kegs remaining are considered spoken for by one of our restaurants.

I tell each restaurant that we will not allow growth to hinder their access to our product; and we maintain that as a company principle. New restaurants are not brought on unless our inventory can handle the business. At this time, we believe we can add a handful more, but the remainder will need to be waitlisted. With that, we are currently executing our 3rd increase in keg capacity, and are doubling our cold room space to continue bringing on local establishments.

Finally, the beer benefits from self-distribution as well. Our ales are kegged at 32-degrees F, and stored here at the facility at 40-degrees F. When delivering, those kegs are taken out of our cold room and placed directly into the cold rooms at our restaurants, meaning our beer never endures temperature variance or unnecessary rough handling. The benefit: added freshness, consistency and quality to every one of your pours.

So yes, it is a lot of work. But, I believe the work is paying off. If you’re out on the road and see one of our delivery vehicles, you’ll now know that we’re out bringing the Able experience to one of your favorite local restaurants. Give us a friendly wave, and we’ll return the favor. Cheers.


Co-Owner | Engineer | Brewer (...and driver)

This One's for You

Last weekend was incredible, to say the least. One dynasty secured their place in history, while another came under attack due to a commercial. That's right, I am going to talk about the Budweiser ad—buckle up.

First things first. It's a good commercial—they got everyone in the beer world talking about it. As Oscar Wilde said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

I asked Carl what his take was on Monday. When I came to him, I felt like the way many craft brewers did—attacked. I told him, "I can't believe they would pick on the little guy like that." Carl gave me some perspective, "They are owning who they are. I mean, Budweiser is the product who made them who they are. We respect where we came from, so its refreshing to see a big company going back to their roots." This made me do some research, and begin to look at the commercial in a new light. The entire text from the ad is this: 

"Proudly a macro beer. It's not brewed to be fussed over. It's brewed for a crisp, smooth finish. This is the only beer Beechwood aged since 1876. There's only one Budweiser. It's brewed for drinking. Not dissecting. The people who drink our beer are people who like drinking beer. To drink beer brewed the hard way. Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We'll be brewing us some golden suds. This is the famous Budweiser beer. This Bud's for you."

It's a mission statement. It is describing Budweiser plain and simple. Nowhere in this ad does it call micro breweries stupid, overrated, or a threat. They are simply saying this: "We aren't small, we make a product everyone knows, can drink easily, and its been consistent in taste for well over a hundred years— just enjoy one. If you don't, that's fine too. We are Anheuser-Busch, and are proud of who we are."

The two other big things that have been being hit on in all the articles I read about this ad are:

1. Showing "hipsters" smelling a beer, or the people sharing a flight.

Yes, not all of us can have big eyeglasses like I do, but obviously we don't all just sit there and smell beer with curled mustaches and sip from 5oz pours. The same way not all Employees or CEO's of Anheuser-Busch are suited up millionaires with red eyes who conspire and work so the little guy fails. It is just type casting, and honestly, if this is the first time you have seen it in a commercial, then you haven't seen very many commercials. Craft brewers have been taking shots at AB and other macro-breweries for years. Why have they ignored them? Because people continue to buy their products. This ad wasn't an attack, it was a statement that they are proud to be separate from craft beer, just like we're proud to not produce simple light lagers.

2. The Pumpkin Peach Ale part, where—wait a minute! They own a company that makes that, and they just bought it! 

The whole Pumpkin Peach Ale thing isn't in bad taste, really. Have you ever heard of one? If you have, great—most people haven't. I know I hadn't until then, and now I want to try one now. This line from the ad made me look it up, find out Anheuser-Busch recently bought Elysian, which makes this Pumpkin Peach Ale. Budweiser got most people to look up a company they just bought!

If you had just bought a little known brewery that only distributes statewide to eleven states; and internationally to a few other countries. Wouldn't you want people to find out about this beer? Even if you have to play the bad guy, people know about it now.

Coca Cola owns many brands as well, such as Barq's Rootbeer, Fanta, Mello Yello, Poweraid, and Sprite. Most Coca Cola ads are claiming that Coke is the best— they don't promote any other Coca Cola products.

The main point I want to get across is that this was just a commercial. This job wouldn't be challenging and fun if it wasn't competitive. Budweiser may have taken a shot at craft beer, but that's fine—they didn't come over to slash our tires so we couldn't deliver beer. They provided their opinion of their company, and left it for the public to decide which product they want.

In some ways, craft breweries have big titans like Anheuser-Busch to thank. They have made light beers the norm in bars, and people crave things that are different, helping us move away from light beers and towards sweet pumpkin peach Ales, robust coffee porters, and the balanced complexity of The Smoked IPA. But there are times when people just want an old standby like Bud—a beer that is familiar, easy to drink, the same anywhere you get it, and reasonably priced. When that time comes, that bud is for you. For the other times, when you want to elevate your drinking experience, grab yourself one of the the many profound craft beers. They, too, are for you.


On Heroes & Villains

A month ago, Boston Magazine’s Andy Crouch published a piece in which he looks the extent that the craft beer movement has “abandoned” the industry’s famed founder, Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company and it’s flagship brand, “Samuel Adams.” The full article can be found here:


Crouch tells the story of Koch’s frustration as craft beer drinkers have seemingly left him behind, no longer considering Boston Beer Co. a true craft brewer. The increasing diversity of craft beers on the market, and the subsequent demand for authenticity in those beers as selection grows seems to stand out as the key issue Koch faces. Crouch writes:

“Today’s craft-beer industry is highly balkanized and new breweries are much smaller, eclectic, and artisanal...In addition to hops, today’s beer nerds crave pedigree and a good story...‘Authenticity is extremely important to millennials, more so than any other generation that we’ve seen before,’ says Michelle Snodgrass of Vizeum, a strategic marketing agency that works with global brands such as Anheuser-Busch. ‘Millennials can see right through insincerity, and they’re actually looking for it.’”

Before getting into this, let’s go back to a story of another original craft brewer: Anheuser-Busch.

I know that sounds like an odd statement, but it’s not far off. St. Louis in the 1800’s was a magnet for German immigrants, many of whom brewed and sold traditional, dark, robust artisan ales and lagers appreciated back in Europe. These beers did not play well in the long, hot summers of Missouri. It was Adolphus Busch who traveled the world, exploring its various brewing styles and techniques, seeing an opportunity to disrupt the market with a light, Bohemian lager; a style he absolutely loved. A refreshing beer that was light in flavor, simple and easy to drink. Budweiser became an instant sensation in the midst of a market loaded with the heavier, richer beers American’s had become accustomed to.

I share this story to illustrate that it’s normal for the market to shift, and for the pioneer to eventually evolve into the enemy of new trailblazers. Like Caesar of Rome or Napoleon of France, a hero who remains on top long enough will eventually become the villain.

Now, I believe it’s true that individuals increasingly demand authenticity from the products they buy. It’s because we view the products we spend our money on as a reflection of us as individuals. We’re not vain or materialistic; we build bonding relationships with the brands we spend our dollars on. After all, money is the product of our own work and story; why wouldn’t we want it to go towards companies and products we believed in and shared a passion for?

Koch’s issue isn’t that the Boston Beer Company isn’t making great beer, or that he is a corporate sell-out, as this story seems to allude to. People today simply aren’t relating to their story. It’s a damn good one too; inspirational to new brewers like Mike and I.

Jim comes from a family with over 140 years of brewing history. Although he completed advanced degrees in both law and business at Harvard, and achieved a promising role within the lucrative consulting industry, he dropped it all to pursue a work of passion. Citing his lack of interest in corporate life, he burned his ships and started the Boston Beer Company with one label: the Samuel Adams Lager - now known as the Boston Lager.

It had to have been a tough sell. The term “craft beer” was not yet recognizable; there were simply domestic beers and import beers. Jim walked the streets of Boston - bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant - convincing owners to take a chance on his new product and creating a new market, one draft line at a time. Those small beginnings, 30+ years ago, have culminated in the creation of an entire industry, all on the back of hard work and superior determination.

I joke with our team now about how I wish we began within a city; I could save a great deal on gas money being able to walk from establishment to establishment rather than drive all over the Southern NH. The point is when I read Jim’s story, I knew up front what it would take for us to be successful: hard work and superior determination.

I then come to this realization: we are reliving our own small slice of a journey Jim began back in the 1980’s. We, just like most other small brewers, are attempting to redefine beer in our own, unique way. This is what makes the industry attractive and fun for consumers; it’s an adventure, one pint at a time.

Jim introduced the concept of quality and freshness in beer, employing the largest sales force by volume to ensure establishments are pouring and serving the products properly, and buying back millions of dollars of beer each year when its age crests Jim’s standard for freshness. He raised the bar, and taught consumers to demand more from their beer.

As such, our key focus every day is the consistency, quality and freshness of our products. It’s why we maintain a large cold-room to store each keg on-site, distribute our products ourselves, and teach the staff at bars and restaurants proper pouring and serving techniques. It’s also why we terminate a batch without hesitation if it isn’t as perfect as each batch before it. We must, or face the consequences of being left behind in the market.

Furthermore, Jim is committed to the beers he loves. He tells Crouch, “I don’t want to make something if everyone else is doing it...I am probably outside the mainstream on that. We don’t release a beer unless I like it.” Even when the company first went public, Jim only agreed to it under the condition that he own the entirety of the decision-making shares, ensuring he maintained control over the journey his company would go down.

This sentiment I respect greatly. Not a week goes by where a handful of people tell us what they believe we should do going forward, and I am sure every brewer has experienced the same. What they don’t understand is we embarked on this venture to create the beer we love, the goal being to find those who love them as much as we do; not create beers we think most people will like. I believe this is the quickest way to become vanilla, inauthentic and stale...a fad. This, to me, is what represents “selling out;” giving up what you’re passionate about to cater to the masses. If the product is great, the masses will come around.

As such, I will never sit here and speak ill of those on top of the market, or complain that they are unfair and oppressive. They are competitive, but so are we. We respect the work they accomplished to get where they are, and work daily to prove that our ales can stand right alongside them. I believe with enough work, we could one day overtake them. I don't fear the stigma that can come from being successful; I am excited about the prospect of sharing our ales with fellow citizens across the country.

So yes, it is true that inauthentic companies will find themselves lacking in this increasingly crowded, diverse market. But Boston Beer isn’t inauthentic; today’s largest market of beer drinkers - cited by Crouch as those aged 21-27 - simply weren’t around to witness the story Jim and his company lived. Instead, they are seeing his story replayed by hundreds of small breweries around the country, like us, and thus find it easier to build that bond with them.

As many of you know, we are big believers in not forgetting where you came from; respecting the experiences, challenges and lessons that define who and what you are today. As such, I thank Jim for being a pioneer and creating a market that many didn’t believe could exist. While others may read “Wasted” and relish in yet another story of how the mighty has fallen, I find myself inspired and motivated once again to continue onward; to create our disruption within the market with the hope that, one day, we too can leave our own historic mark on craft beer.

Now we can all get back to the reason beer exists in the first place; our sheer enjoyment. Tonight I will raise a glass to brewers everywhere - macro, micro, nano & home - who dedicate their mind, time and ability to it's creation, and invite you to do the same. Cheers.

Co-Founder, Engineer & Brewer

Equal Voice

Before Able, I've held many jobs—some as an employee, some as a manager, and even a soldier. Through all of those positions, there was an established balance between who worked for whom, and if/when you could voice your opinion. Most companies—good or bad—have a hierarchy and a way of doing things that have been engraved into them. With our company, we have the opportunity to break that hierarchy and re-define the balance between employees and employers. At Able, we have the ability to create a business model around the values that we have all looked for in a job.

The work environment here at Able is very unique—there are barely titles here, and everyone's opinion is valued. No matter how crazy an idea might be, it is still heard, vetted, and decided on by the individual deemed responsible for that area. We all have notebooks or scraps of paper where we scribble our thoughts and ideas. With this group, the list is never short.

The opportunity to be creative here is equally important. For example, my desk, which I made out of a old pallet and some spare wood, is always accompanied by my guitar. While taking sales orders, writing blogs or thinking of new ideas for beer recipes, I can take a break to play and let the ideas come. When it comes to brainstorming and transforming thoughts into a tangible idea, anything is welcome here.

The thoughts you don't voice because someone might have said them need to be voiced the loudest; when someone thinks but doesn't speak, an idea dies before it has a chance. Here at Able, we build and work with of each other to create the best place for ideas to grow; has made for some good times over great beers with all of you. As the great Bill Nye said, "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't.”

Here is to thinking out of the box and giving light to ideas so they can grow. Cheers.

Renaissance Man

On Brewing

Before getting the job here at Able, the only knowledge or experience I had with beer was drinking it. Terms like mash tun, lauter, and wort sounded like made up words, and I figured Mike was messing with me. I had no idea how to brew or what was in store for me the first time brewing.

My first day at work was a brew day. I showed up with jeans, boots, and a hoodie not knowing how hot and labor intensive brewing could get. Carl and Mike show up with board shorts, sandals, and t-shirts. Needless to say I learned my first lesson.

I have slowly gotten the hang of this thing called brewing, and even recently began working on a few recipes. Last week, we finally set up the original brewing system Carl and Mike built and used in their garage to design all of our beers to date. This week, I was able to brew my first 5-gallon batch; a coffee porter that I partnered with A&E Roastery of Amherst to design.

I learned a lot, and am now awaiting the weeks-long process of waiting to see how the final beer comes out. I know that the first time around may not be exactly what I want, but I am very excited to start tweaking some of my ideas into actual realized beer. Maybe one day soon, I will be able to serve it to you.

Just like a painting or sculpture, beer is both an art and a tool of self-expression. I look forward to sharing my version of it with you. Cheers.

Renaissance Man

Showing Some Love

We've been open for over six months now, and our ales pour regularly at 28 local establishments with others waiting on deck. Being a small company of four, handling our own sales and distribution company definitely keeps us busy.

While there are many ways of staying in contact with these establishments, they all have one thing in common: The human factor.

We don't have automated emails, or a set day of the week for deliveries. We strive to deliver on-demand, considering our cold room at the brewery to be an extension of those at our restaurants. We believe this adds to the quality and integrity of the product, as well as value to our customer, whether they be a restaurant manager or guest at their bar. Yes, it is a lot of work, but we've built some strong relationships as a result.

Everyone of them has become a a team member to the company; a part of our family. Not just because they give us business and sell our product, but because they care as much as we do. They will send us on our way with warm tomato soup after we deliver kegs to their cold room, or make us stay for a cup of coffee because we look tired. They help us host events, do their team-buildings at our brewery, and even open their kitchens to us to roast pumpkins. They go the extra mile for us because they know we will for them.

As I have stated in other blogs, we have a great deal of passion here at Able Ebenezer, and so do the businesses that we work with. That is one of the main reasons for our hours at the Ale Room. We close at 8pm because we like to visit the places that have given us the privilege to serve our beer there, or as Carl likes to call it: "Showing our friends some love."

So here is to the people who believe in us and our work as much as we do, and to those who have given us a chance to show what we can do.

Cheers to relationships big and small working together to create a wonderful pint.


Renaissance Man

On Traditions (and Sweaters)

Between rushing out to Black Friday sales, finally finishing off those Thanksgiving leftovers, and appreciating having our power back, the holiday season has begun. There's no doubt that this season brings a level of chaos to our lives, but with the holidays also come the comfort & pleasure of traditions.

Here at Able, we are beginning to forge our own traditions. We love to challenge ourselves with new experiences. Heather and I took Mike and Carl to Noel's Tree Farm in Litchfield for their first real Christmas tree selection. After all, the Ale Room needed a tree.

After the haggling that most families go through while finding the perfect tree, we decided on one. Later, sitting by the fire place, we discussed our own past traditions and what we feel that a tree should look like. Heather decided she should be in charge of the tree decorating—we completely agreed. If left to Carl, Mike or myself, who knows what kind of Charlie brown tree would be in our Ale Room. It looks perfect, so much so that many thought it was fake.

With that, we would like to welcome you to create a new tradition with us. At some point, I'm sure we have all received a sweater that was created out of love, but a love that might a little out of touch with fashion. Of course we can't throw these away, so they sit hanging in our closet...until this time of year. With that, I would like to invite you to our first Ugly Sweater Open Mic this Monday beginning at 4pm. Come enjoy the sights of everyone's favorite knitted garment, the sounds of local musicians, and the taste of our fresh ales.

We hope to see you proudly wearing the gift for which the saying "It's the thought that counts" was probably invented. Cheers.

Jake Felton

Renaissance Man