MANCHESTER, NH — From March 11 – 15 Ancient Fire Mead and Cider will be celebrating their second year of sharing their meads and ciders with the community.
While officially opened to the public on March 15, 2018, the story of Ancient Fire actually starts way back in March of 2003 with a simple question: “Is there something that you would like to dedicate your time to other than work?”
This question posed by Margot Phelps to her husband Jason was the first spark that eventually became Ancient Fire. At the time Jason was in the midst of radiation treatment for cancer and had expressed an interest in getting more out of his “bonus round”. His answer to that question was to homebrew beer which in turn led to homemade wine, cider and eventually, mead.
Jason has thankfully been cancer-free for over 17 years, and if you ask the regulars of the Ancient Fire Taproom he is using his bonus round time well. Jason appreciates that his bonus round is being well spent.
“We never could have imagined walking a path like this and being where we are today. That simple question has opened up such an amazing adventure filled with fantastic people. I often tell people that I know how lucky I am to be doing something I love every day,” says Jason.
From the beginning, the Phelpses decided that as they built Ancient Fire their focus would be on building a community. Walk into their taproom on any given night and you will find just that.
“Our customers are just fantastic, we have regulars who come in weekly and they have all become not only our friends but friends with each other. When a new customer walks in they immediately are included in the fun,
friendly atmosphere,” Margot says.’
From the outset the Phelpses wanted the taproom to be a place where people felt welcome, relaxed and included in what is happening at Ancient Fire. The staff at Ancient Fire has grown quickly in the last year, going from Margot, Jason and their niece Natalie, to now include seven additional employees, most of whom were regulars before officially joining the team.
“It is so gratifying to see that our vision of partnering with people who are passionate about what we do is organically coming to fruition,” says Jason.
The Phelpses are also quick to mention that they have found many like-minded partners since joining the local craft beverage community. Since opening they have collaborated on beers with Backyard Brewery, To Share Brewing and Lithermans Limited Brewery, with a new collaboration with Able Ebenezer Brewery slated for 2020.
“We have met so many passionate people in the craft beverage community here in New Hampshire, and all of them have welcomed us warmly to the group. Even though what we do is different they get it, they like it, and working with them has been exciting” says Margot.
Since 2003 the Phelpses have also focused on partnering with others to give back and make a difference in the community. For over 10 years they organized friends and family into a team for The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Jason points out that it was only natural for this to become a part of their vision for Ancient Fire.
“We have made it a point to fundraise for the American Cancer Society (ACS). Our Making Strides for Breast Cancer team is made up of both staff and regulars who want to make a difference. When we held a “Hops for Hope” event for the ACS we were overwhelmed with the generosity and caring of our AF community, it was
wildly successful. With these events we have raised awareness as well as thousands of dollars to help find a cure,” Jason says.
Ancient Fire will be celebration central from March 11-15. Highlighting the weekend are two new releases: Bucka Wheat Bonzai a barrel-aged cyser featuring Buckwheat Honey (15.3 percent ABV) and Jackpot!, a cherry and vanilla session mead (7 percent ABV). There will also be the annual release of a returning favorite: Winter
Hum, a session mead featuring cold brew coffee and maple syrup (7 percent ABV). March 11 and 12 will be ticketed events allowing those in attendance to get a sneak peek at these new offerings. The Taproom will then be open for regular hours for the remainder of the weekend for the public to come and join in the celebration.
Hours for the weekend are Friday, 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and a special Sangria Sunday from 12 – 5 p.m..
When they look back over the past two years, what do the Phelpses think of where that one fateful question has taken them?
“We have always said, from the very beginning, that we wanted to create something that brought people together. Something that brings joy and makes everyone take a moment or two and appreciate where they are at, right now. Talk to the person next to you, laugh, have fun, because we all are a part of creating our own community. Live as though you are in the bonus round, and lift a pint of mead and say cheers to getting one more day.” – Jason and Margot
To learn more about Ancient Fire Mead & Cider, and for additional details about their Second Birthday celebrations, find them on Facebook.