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    Sticking it to the Man… with Beer!

    Mike at the Bar

    Photo By Sgt. David Marquis | CPT Ferrer 361 TPACE MOC Ft. Totten, NY... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. David Marquis 

    362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    MERRIMACK, N.H. – Before the American Revolution, the British government enacted the Pine Tree Law declaring that any white pine tree with a diameter of more than 12 inches was the property of the King, as the straight and flexible wood was ideal for building masts for the Royal Navy. In the frontier lands of New England, lumber production was a major source of income for colonists, and not being able to harvest those pine trees on their own property, or be fined and having their goods seized for doing so caused a dispute between the people and the Crown.

    One of New Hampshire’s greatest Pine Tree Law offenders was Ebenezer Mudgett, a sawmill owner in Weare, whose mill operation had been illegally chopping down trees which, according to British law, belonged to the King.

    When the New Hampshire Governor decided to fully uphold the law, Ebenezer refused to pay his fines and was arrested in 1772. A few dozen colonists came to Ebenezer’s defense and together they revolted against the Sheriff of Hillsborough County and his deputy by beating them with pine switches – one lashing for every tree he was fined for. This act became known as the Pine Tree Riots, and built upon the ill sentiments of the Stamp Act Revolt in 1765. It was also one of the acts which lead to the Boston Tea Party, and eventually the American Revolution.
    Ebenezer’s locally fabled fight for independence inspired the name for a nano brewery in Merrimack New Hampshire: the Able Ebenezer Brewing Company. The brewery opened its doors in 2013 by two former Army officers who compare Ebenezer’s push for independence to their own: Carl Soderberg and Mike Frizzelle.

    “As an independent company,” said Soderberg, “a pre-revolutionary war hero who fought for his own independence and years later sparked a revolution was the perfect name for a brewery.”

    “These guys had successfully ‘stuck it to the man,’ so to say,” said Soderberg. “I really wanted to find a story that resonated with the locals in terms of local history, something that the people could take pride in and something we could be proud of.”

    Soderberg entered military service through officer candidate school in 2007. He became an armor officer and deployed to combat zones.

    “I went in as a lieutenant and came out as a captain,” said Soderberg. With a shrug of his shoulders and a click of his tongue he adds, “Yeah, that was my job, platoon leader, then an executive officer, then a troop commander and then I got out.”

    As a kid, Soderberg always wanted to be his own boss, and he said all he needed to do was find the right thing. After he left the military, Soderberg moved to Auburn, New Hampshire and started brewing beer in his garage on weekends while he worked for a biotech company in Massachusetts, but when he got a call from an old Army buddy, his life took a new turn.

    “I met Carl through a mutual friend in the Army,” said Mike Frizzelle, a former Army captain. “After graduating from San Diego State, I was looking for a job in biotech and started calling Army buddies.”

    Frizzelle used the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and earned an MBA at San Diego State University after leaving the Army. Frizzelle says that while he was studying, he designed many of his business models after breweries.

    Frizzelle called Soderberg looking for a job in biotech. Soderberg told him the money in biotech is great, but he wanted to see about making a brewery.

    “It was kind of serendipitous,” said Frizzelle. “I essentially had a business plan already set but couldn’t find anyone to get into the business with, so I gave up and decided to find a real job.”

    However, hearing that Soderberg was considering creating a brewing company, Frizzelle made the leap and decided to join him on his venture. Together, the two veterans bought an abandoned battery warehouse in Merrimack and started the process of converting it into a brewery.

    In 2013, Frizzelle moved from San Diego to New Hampshire into Soderberg’s house and slept on his three-season porch. The two wanted to save as much money as possible and put it all into their developing business.

    “It took six months,” said Soderberg. “Six months of building, tweaking, trying to get the brewing system up… it was definitely a stressful time and there were a few moments that we didn’t think that we were going to make it.”

    Neither one of the two had ever taken on a project to the magnitude of building a brewery from nothing, so any phase they couldn’t afford to have contractors come and do, they learned how to do it themselves.
    “I learned a lot of skills during the process of building this place,” said Soderberg. “The running joke during construction was: if this whole brewery thing doesn’t work out, we can go and start a contracting company.”

    Soderberg and Frizzelle took on new challenges every day while building their brewery. They learned how to put in wooden flooring, level out concrete, use a jackhammer to dig out a 50-foot floor drainage system, and design the entire system for canning their brew.

    “I think it made us appreciate it more,” said Frizzelle. “Every time we upgraded something, we understood the value of what we were getting from it, and it definitely helped us connect with the product.”

    The two veterans owe a part of their success to the skills of perseverance and commitment they learned while still in the Army.

    “Formal education is great and it teaches you the basic pitfalls,” said Frizzelle. “But since starting a business, I’d say the training I got in the military was way more beneficial. It helps you with the confidence to face a situation but keep moving forward.”

    For these vets, the formula to brew a successful business comes from three things: confidence, drive, and passion.

    “I love beer, I drink beer every day,” said Soderberg with a wink and a grin. “That’s the important thing: if you’re going to go in on an idea, it should be something that you love and not something that you think other people might love or something you can get rich at.”

    “That’s the wrong way to go at it. The headaches that come up are probably going to be the things that deter you, but if it’s something that you really love and really want, you’ll find a way to negotiate those obstacles.”

    The business has seen success. Having been opened for six years, the team continues to work towards Able Ebenezer Brewing Company becoming a staple in the New Hampshire craft brewery market. While more success is always welcome, Frizzelle says the entire process has been a labor of love.

    “It’s been the ride of a lifetime; I’ve never been happier,” says Soderberg. “We’ve made it through every hurdle that’s been thrown at us so far. People like it, which is great, but aside from that it’s been the time of my life.”



    Date Taken: 08.11.2020
    Date Posted: 08.24.2020 11:46
    Story ID: 376104
    Location: MERRIMACK, NH, US 
    Hometown: AUBURN, NH, US
    Hometown: SAN DIEGO, CA, US

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