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Foodstuffs: A Brewery In The North Country

A family from Michigan is behind a newly opened brewery in the North Country.  Schilling Beer Company is located in an old grist mill next to the Ammonoosuc River in Littleton.

That fulfills the Cozzens' family dream of one day having such a business, said CEO Jeff Cozzens.  He and brothers Matt and Stuart, parents, Bruce and Kathy and a best friend, John Lenzini, opened The Schilling Beer Company last September.

It’s named for a grandfather, Richard Schilling.

And it’s a bit of a gamble for the family.  The Cozzens are from Traverse City, Michigan.  But they like the North Country, think it is a great place to raise children and saw Littleton and the White Mountains as an area that would enjoy having its own brewery.

“We’re here in Littleton, New Hampshire because the community is a very vibrant business community and they were very welcoming to us,” said Jeff Lenzini, a longtime, honorary member of the family, partner in the business and the brewer.

Impressed by the beers Lenzini drank during visits to Europe he made his first batch of beer almost twenty years ago, as a graduate student at Purdue.

He used a brew kit in an apartment he shared with several others, including the owner of a Rottweiler.

“The Rottweiler was running through the kitchen as I was trying to brew. I knew at the time the chances of it coming out from a microbiological standpoint were really low,” he said. “It was horrible.”

But things have changed. Lenzini, who has a degree in chemistry, has studied European brewing, sometimes going over old recipes written in German.

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

He has two favorite regions.

“I do love the creative nature of a lot of the Belgium beers and their special ingredients that can be used really brilliantly,” he said. “And then I really like the technical side of the German beers and the Czech lagers and lagers in general.”

He typically brews on Saturdays and eight to ten of Schilling's sixteen taps are for Lenzini’s beers. The others are craft beers made elsewhere.

Jeff Cozzens says so far the North Country has been great and the business is doing well.