A Brewery to Brag About

A chemist, a pastor, and a terrorism studies expert walk into a bar. It’s no joke. Actually, the three guys own the bar, along with the brewery and restaurant attached to it.

The Schilling Beer Company in Littleton, New Hampshire opened in 2013 when brothers Jeff Cozzens (terrorism studies guy) and Stuart Cozzens (seminary graduate) and their longtime friend, John Lenzini (chemist), left their careers behind to realize their dream of being craft brewers.

Schilling occupies a two centuries–old former grist mill along the Ammonoosuc River—an impressive building in an already-picturesque New England town. On the edge of the White Mountains, Littleton is the kind of place that periodically makes those “best small towns in America” lists.

That’s one of the reasons Jeff moved to the area from Washington, DC, several years ago after working in homeland security. He and his wife thought it would be a good place to raise their kids. Stuart and John visited and decided they liked it too. The partners are all outdoorsmen who grew up in Traverse City, Michigan. “We’re hikers, we’re fly fishermen,” says Jeff. “We love the mountains, and we love small-town living.”

Head brewer John, who began homebrewing in 1997 and spent several years in Germany, is good at what he does. He specializes in beer styles from continental Europe, which cover quite a range: lagers light and dark; Kölsch (a crisp German ale); Gose (another German style brewed with wheat and salt); and Belgian ales that range from spritzy, tart saisons to rich, Trappist-style brews. The beers pair well with a variety of delicious pizzas made with local ingredients in a wood-fired oven.

Schilling beers can seem unusual to non–beer geeks, and they buck the continued dominance of hoppy IPAs. The owners know it is part of their job to educate the clientele “in a region where you don’t get that ‘craft’ culture as much,” says Jeff. That was part of the appeal, adds Stuart, who says, “Seeing how many beer drinkers there were per capita in New Hampshire, and how both Maine and Vermont were light-years ahead [in the craft beer realm] . . . it seemed like a wise business move.”*


*Beer Marketer’s Insights ranks New Hampshire 2nd among all states in per capita beer consumption. The Brewers Association ranks New Hampshire 15th in per capita craft beer consumption, and Vermont and Maine 1st and 7th, respectively.

Top photo by John A. Downey
Jennifer HayesA Brewery to Brag About