Boss Lady Feature: Margot Phelps from Ancient Fire Mead & Cider
Margot and Annie used to work together many years ago. When Margot saw our event on Facebook she immediately thought “If Annie has anything to do with this, it probably won’t suck.” High praise!! But seriously – we don’t want to put on events that suck. We’re extremely proud of the group that we’re building and so excited that you want to be a part of it.
Margot and her husband started making cider and mead in their house several years ago and have just recently made the jump to having a brewing space in Manchester.
How long have you owned your business and how did it get started?
After almost 15 years homebrewing my husband Jason and I decided that it was time to turn our passion into something more and Ancient Fire was incorporated in 2016. We started this whole adventure of craft beverage after Jason fought and won a battle with cancer in 2003. At that time he was working long hours in IT and decided there must be more in life so I asked him a simple question: “You need a hobby – what do you want to do to express your creativity?” He said he wanted to brew beer and I insisted we get the equipment to make wine as well. Before we knew it we were fermenting anything and everything: malt (beer), fruit, honey, vegetables, you name it. We have won over 100 awards for our fermentables, and in the last five years people, including those in the industry, kept asking when we were going commercial. At some point we just looked at eachother and said, “We have something here, let’s just do it”.
Is there a person or experience in your life that inspired you to want to own your own business?
As part of the NH homebrewing community (we are members of Brew Free or Die, NH’s largest homebrewing club) we have many people that have inspired, and encouraged, us to start our own business. We are lucky to be a part of a craft beverage community here is NH that supports each other. From the beginning the brewers at Litherman’s Limited (Concord) and Great North Aleworks (Manchester) among others, strongly instilled in us the belief that we could attain our goal in opening Ancient Fire. Being around the passion these people have in their craft, and their determination to make the NH scene a robust presence in craft beverage, one cannot help but be inspired.
What’s the heart and soul of your business?
At the heart of any vision is a spark that ignites the drive to turn the dream into reality. For Ancient Fire that spark is the desire to give back to the community that has given us so much. Opening a taproom where people can gather and enjoy fellowship over delicious beverages is our way of contributing to making our part of the world a better place. In the taprooms that we have visited over the last few years there is a feeling of walls coming down. There are so few places where people feel completely comfortable chatting randomly to whomever is seated nearby, this happens all the time when we visit taprooms. It is fantastic feeling as though you were a positive part of someone’s day, if even for a short while.
What are your other favorite businesses in and around Concord?
One of the best taproom experiences you can have is at Lithermans Limited in Concord. Yes the beers are great but the atmosphere and feeling of genuine belonging you get when you walk in the door cannot be beat. Whether a craft beer aficionado, or someone just trying something new, everyone is made welcome and becomes part of the community as soon as they walk in.
Hermanos restaurant is a must visit when we are in Concord for a meal. The garlic chicken nachos are one of my favorite foods on the planet. I got hooked on Hermanos when I worked at Northeast Delta Dental for 7 years, and quickly got Jason hooked as well. The small, local restaurant feel is a huge added bonus on top of the fantastic food.
Thank you Margot for coming to our event and sharing your story. We CANNOT wait for your taproom to open!!