The Story of Ledge
On a hot summer day in 2018, Silas Miller and Ian Ferguson were driving through Intervale after installing a new woodstove and chimney at a house in Jackson. They were headed to the next job, which would involve sweaty work on an asphalt shingle roof, and they were already looking forward to getting a cold beer at a local brewery after work. As they drove past the Hartmann Model Railroad building, Silas told Ian that his brother-in-law Tim Jackson, the owner of White Mountain Stove Shop, had recently purchased the property. Ian remarked that the location would be perfect for a brewery.
The idea of starting a brewery appealed to Silas and Ian. Both were homebrewers who appreciated good beer. Both were entrepreneurs; Silas ran a successful stove installation business, and Ian had started an outdoor sports magazine. The next day they pitched their idea to Tim, who said he could rent them one of the buildings on the property. And as it turned out, Ian knew the perfect guy to become head brewer of this theoretical brewery: his childhood friend Cody Floyd.
Cody and Ian had once brewed a batch of IPA together way back in 2009 when they were sophomores in college. While homebrewing remained just a hobby for Ian, Cody would go on to become a professional brewer. After years of honing his craft at Smuttynose Brewing Company, Cody was about to make a career move to one of the best craft breweries in the region, Foundation Brewing Company, when disaster struck. He began experiencing health problems, despite being a fit 27-year-old.
After many tests, Cody was informed that his heart was failing for unknown reasons. Doctors surgically implanted a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) to help his heart beat. He was put on the heart transplant list, ready to rush to Boston at a moment’s notice. With the LVAD, his health gradually recovered over the course of years as he waited to receive a new heart.
By the time he met Silas, Cody was pretty used to living with the LVAD and its external batteries strapped to his body, and although he still had not received his new heart, he felt the call would come sooner than later. The three men met up on Silas’s back porch and drank beers while Silas and Ian pitched their brewery idea to Cody. Cody said he would be psyched to join forces, and the wheels were put in motion.
It was game-on, but the process of building a brewery took a couple years and thousands of hours of effort. Silas and Ian steadily put everything they had into the brewery. Tim generously waived rent during the construction phase. Silas applied the lessons he had learned as a successful business owner to create a simple and effective business plan. Cody advised the brewhouse and cellar buildout. After much deliberation and with limited funds, they settled on a 3-barrel brewhouse from Stout Tanks in Oregon.
In his years of brewing, Cody had come up with a name for a potential brewery, and now he shared it with Ian and Silas: Ledge. It was perfect. In one syllable it encapsulated the rugged character of Mount Washington Valley. The granite ledges of the White Mountains are often the destination points of hikes, bike rides, rock climbs and trail runs. When you reach the ledge, the canopy opens up, revealing vistas of the surrounding land and mountains. The world flows out below you in an expansive sweep, inviting you to breathe deep, relax and enjoy being alive. Ledge Brewing Company would aim to impart to its customers the feeling of reaching a well-deserved destination and taking a break from the everyday.
After mowing down a mountain of paperwork, building the brewery, and hiring an amazing staff, Silas, Cody and Ian opened Ledge on October 22, 2020. It was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The opening date had been pushed back repeatedly due to licensing and shipping delays. When Cody was finally able to brew the first batch of As You Wish New England IPA, the beer was kegged and put on tap mere hours before opening to friends and family.
Ian wanted to be there well before opening, but he had to finish a stove job and showed up just as the first customers were arriving. He walked briskly to the taps, poured himself a pint of As You Wish, and took a drink. Aromas of melon, orange and passionfruit danced on his pallet while the balanced hoppy flavor imparted a soft, pillowy mouthfeel and a clean finish, leaving him craving another swig. He had never tasted anything like it. From that moment on, he knew they had built something special, and they were lucky to have Cody as the head brewer.
Things moved fast. Cody flexed his brewing muscles, not satisfied with focusing solely on IPAs, instead branching out to brew lagers, saisons, stouts, Belgians and sours. But a curveball was soon headed their way.
When a heart becomes available for donation, time is of the essence. So when Cody got the call in early December, a call he had been waiting four years for, he was ready. Silas and Ian received the text from Cody as he was heading to the hospital. They would not see him again for weeks.
Thankfully, the heart transplant operation was a complete success. Silas and Ian took on brewing duties while Cody was away, with occasional help from local breweries including Saco River Brewing, Tuckerman Brewing and Moat Mountain, making the Ledge crew feel like part of a great and supportive community. Cody was soon able to communicate via text, talking them through brew days from his hospital bed.
In what seemed like a medical miracle, Cody was back in the brewhouse in eight weeks, but with a weakened immune system and body. His partner Elizabeth Sullivan, a nurse who is also a talented chef and all-around skilled person, was the perfect candidate to help him brew, and she stepped up to the role with confidence. Together they brewed for months while Cody got back to full strength. To this day, Elizabeth continues to brew at Ledge between nursing jobs.
As is the trajectory with most new breweries, the beer has only gotten better at Ledge. Cody continues to innovate and improve his craft daily, challenging himself in the styles he chooses to brew. The large tasting room and beer garden invite guests from all over to relax and enjoy a delicious beer with good company, often to the sounds of live music. Ledge is proud to have become a fixture in the Mount Washington Valley, and the journey has only just begun.
Thanks for being part of it!
– Silas Miller, Ian Ferguson and Cody Floyd