Yankee Brew News August/September 2015 : Page 1
L-R: Bob Montgomery & Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead Brewery. PHOTO BY KURT STAUDTER By Kurt Staudter T L-R: Christophe Gagné & Avery Schwenk of Hermit Thrush Brewing at a Verita Cheese pairing. P HOTO COURTESY OF he Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vt., has a mission statement that reads: “To hand craft succinct, elegant beers of distinction and to revive and diversify the farmscape of the Hill Farmstead in Greensboro.” Looking out over the property there is a wonderful balance between the idyllic hilltop farm that has been in this family fo r hundreds h nd r hu re e ds of of years, and the recently for completed expansion of the brewery. Considering the praise and honors that have been bestowed on Brewmaster Shaun Hill for the beers he is crafting here, one can only assume that the mission has been accomplished. Driving along the dirt roads that lead up to brewery, it’s easy to believe that you’ve lost your way, and during winter See Farm p. 5 R UTH M ILLER By Adam Krakowski ew England has always been iconic for its historic barns and dairy production. While the region’s craft beer move-ment is still gaining traction and developing, the dairy industry has been a stalwart against time. Crowley Cheese in Mt. Holly, Vt., for example, has been producing the same style of cheese since 1824 without interruption. Samuel Adams Lager, on the other hand, is 30 years old by comparison. N Crowley’s famous Sage Cheese is over 100 years old, while its flagship recipe is nearly 2 200 years old. In recent decades, however, t the dairy industry in New England has h hit difficult times with dropping milk p prices while the craft beer industry i is currently surging. Thanks to c cheese making, many dairy f farms have found a niche. There are two sides to where craft beer and artisan cheese are joining forces. Some New England cheese makers are utilizing local craft beer in their cheeses to create unique products, See Cheese p. 4 A By Kurt Staudter Then he looked around at his brewery that was started in 2013, and having grown from 20 gallons to a four-barrel system, he decided that this is what he wanted to do with his life. Convincing himself was the easy part, now he needed to bring his wife on board. It turned out that wasn’t a hard sell either. There are lots of people that have made the jump from avid homebrewer to brewery owners, and there are plenty of stories of how after being bit by the beer bug folks have walked away from lucrative careers to pour their heart and soul into making beer. The story of Bret and Melissa See Stone Corral p. 7 Melissa and Bret Hamilton of Stone Corral in the new brewhouse. PHOTO BY KURT STAUDTER hose had blown off the tank and beer was spewed all over the brewery. However, Bret Hamilton of Stone Corral Brewery, then in Huntington, Vt., caught himself whistling along with the tune on the radio as he mopped up the mess. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I hate mopping!” INSIDE Events Calendar....... 3 Beer Cooks .............. 8 Lil Opal Takes GWO . 9 Tasting Panel ......... 10 Homebrew .............. 12 Maps/Directory .. 18-23 State by State News E. Massachusetts ..........14 Boston ............................16 W. Massachusetts .........24 Maine ..............................26 New Hampshire .............28 Connecticut ....................30 Vermont ..........................32 Rhode Island ..................34 NYC/Long Island ............36 Upstate NY .....................38
Sharing The Pint & The Palate
Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese
New England has always been iconic for its historic barns and dairy production. While the region’s craft beer movement is still gaining traction and developing, the dairy industry has been a stalwart against time. Crowley Cheese in Mt. Holly, Vt., for example, has been producing the same style of cheese since 1824 without interruption. Samuel Adams Lager, on the other hand, is 30 years old by comparison.
Crowley’s famous Sage Cheese is over 100 years old, while its flagship recipe is nearly 200 years old. In recent decades, however, the dairy industry in New England has hit difficult times with dropping milk prices while the craft beer industry is currently surging. Thanks to cheese making, many dairy farms have found a niche.
There are two sides to where craft beer and artisan cheese are joining forces. Some New England cheese makers are utilizing local craft beer in their cheeses to create unique products,while the craft beer industry has promoted pairing craft beer and cheese. The dairy industry has turned to artisan cheese as both an outlet and a necessity.
Ruth Miller, known as “The Beer & Cheese Maven,” is a consultant on the art of pairing craft beer and artisan cheese, and she hosts events in both Vermont and Maine.
“Fluid milk is perpetually underpriced,” Miller said. “The dairy industry has turned to cheese as a valueadded product and through it has saved many operations with delicious results.”
Adding Beer to Cheese
The addition of beer to cheese happens in one of three ways with each method contributing different favors to the cheese.
The first method of utilizing beer in the cheese making process is known as “washing.” The wheel of cheese that has already developed a rind, the outer coating of the cheese, is rinsed or washed with beer. While in this process no real beer flavor is imparted to the cheese, the beer reacts with the rind to leave a unique micro-flora that adds different flavor notes as the cheese ages. Kimberly Ingraham of Willow Moon Farm in Plainfield, Vt., explained that when she used to wash her goat cheese with now defunct Trout River ales, the beer “really helped develop the rind and a greater depth to the cheese.”
Beer-washed rind cheese also gives a taste of the terroir of the area due to the fact that many cheese makers that produce a washed rind style turn to craft breweries is the immediate area. A great example of this is Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, Conn., which makes Drunk Monk using ale from Willimantic Brewing. The renowned cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vt., produce Winnimere, a bark-wrapped, washed-rind cheese utilizing neighbor Hill Farmstead’s beer, which won the prestigious 2013 American Cheese Society Conference’s “Best In Show” award.
The second method in utilizing beer in the cheese making process is by marinating the cheese in a particular beer. In this process, the wheel of aged cheese is placed in a food-grade container with the beer added, and through the use of negative pressure by vacuum, the beer is forced into the cheese. This process will impart a bit of the beer flavor into the cheese but delicate in the intensity of the flavor.
The final method of adding beer to the cheese making process imparts the most beer character to the cheese. While similar to marinating cheese in beer, the third method is soaking cheese curds in beer before being pressed. The cheese curds do not have an established rind and create a much larger surface area to soak in the beer. After the curds are soaked, they are pressed into shape. Often, the soaked curds leave eye-catching marbling if a darker beer was used such as the iconic Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheddar. A New England example of this is Vermont Farmstead’s AleHouse Cheddar made in Woodstock, Vt., utilizing different Harpoon Beers as well as other Vermont brews.
Stan Biasini from Mt. Mansfield Creamery in Morrisville, Vt., knows many cheese makers experimenting with beer. In his case, his washed-rind Inspiration cheese, a French Tomme style with Rock Art Holiday Ale, received second place in the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference.
“Depending on the age of the cheese, we’ll use different beers,” Biasini explained.
Cheese in Pubs & Brewpubs
The addition of beer into the cheese making process is only one side of how the two artisan products are ending up on the table in New England. Many pubs and brewpubs across the region are promoting events pairing artisan cheese and craft beer. Curated selections of artisan cheeses are showing up on menus.
At Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine, a portion of the menu is dedicated to a “Meat & Cheese Bar” featuring six different cheeses and six different cured meats along with an extensive draft and bottled beer list. In Worcester, Mass., at Armsby Abbey, the menu features a remarkable selection of over 12 different cheeses primarily from New England and also beyond. The menu also notes the primary flavor notes in each selection to aid in pairing with the remarkable draft beer list. In Montpelier, Vt., cheese is also an important part of the menu at Three Penny Taproom, weekly featuring three rotating cheese selections from the state. When selecting cheese for the menu, Matt McCarthy, co-owner of Three Penny Taproom, pointed out that, “… regardless of the season, there’s always cheese that goes well with beers and visa versa."
Just as seasons change, the style beers available change along with them. Of the suggestions that McCarthy had on pairing cheese beer were a pungent blue cheese with a India Pale Ale or aged cheese along amber or brown ale. Three Penny Taproom, McCarthy made sure note that “… it’s very important to us that our customers experience the symbiotic relationship between beer and food.”
Some states in New England have started to place artisan cheese on the same level as craft beer by establishing state cheese trails similar to state beer and wine trails. In Vermont and Connecticut, cheese trails have been established to promote the growing industry with great success. For Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the states have merged their wine makers with their cheese producers on the same trail. In the case of Rhode Island and Maine, there are no formal established cheese trails, but both promote their cheese makers and have maps available of where the producers are.
Beer & Cheese Pairings
The pairing of beer and cheese does not need to happen at a pub or restaurant. For those wanting to play with pairings, Ruth Miller has some helpful advice. Some of the general pairing types to consider when looking at cheese and beer are: Complimentarily, Dynamic and Contrasting.
A complimentarily pairing is one that has similar flavor notes between the beer and cheese that play off each other. An example of this can be a wheat beer and goat cheese. In both cases, the cheese enhances the beer or vise versa. With wheat beer and goat cheese,the cheese some citrus notes to the beer.
Dynamic pairings occur either the cheese or beer accentuates a softer flavor nuance mutes a more dominating one. Pairing an India and a farmhouse cheddar cheese is an example where the hop flavors tend to bring out the grassy notes of the cheese. Another example is a double crème or rich brie cheese, which can take the high tannins and roastiness from a dry stout and turn it into a gentle, milky café au lait.
A contrasting pairing is one where opposites attract, in which two strong flavors can play against each other in a beautiful way. Examples can be a sharp blue cheese paired with imperial stout or an edgy wild ale or lambic paired with an aged funky farmhouse cheese.
While the three groupings are traditional and have some structure, there are always exceptions to the rule. Miller pointed out that there are always “… wildcard pairings that may seem random or accidental but go surprisingly well together by creating an unexpected “Third Flavor” that is a product only of the two together, but not individually in the cheese or beer.”
No matter where one travels in New England, we are blessed to have an abundance of craft beer and cheese. Whether it’s the local craft beer bar or simply the local market, pairing artisan cheese and craft beer can be a fun and tasty way to expand the palate.
A special thanks to Ruth Miller, The Beer & Cheese Maven. A helpful free pairing guide is available at www.craftbeer.com/food/pairing/ pairing-chart.
Saving The Family Farm
One beer at a time
The Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vt., has a mission statement that reads: “To hand craft succinct, elegant beers of distinction and to revive and diversify the farmscape of the Hill Farmstead in Greensboro.”
Looking out over the property there is a wonderful balance between the idyllic hilltop farm that has been in this family for hundreds of years, and the recently completed expansion of the brewery. Considering the praise and honors that have been bestowed on Brewmaster Shaun Hill for the beers he is crafting here, one can only assume that the mission has been accomplished.
Driving along the dirt roads that lead up to brewery, it’s easy to believe that you’ve lost your way, and during winter weather or mud season, reaching the dooryard can present a challenge. Yet so many beer enthusiasts make the trek that even one of Hill’s neighbors has opened a craft business along the way, and why not. Parking along the edge of the grass that is the source of the dandelion harvest each year, one is struck by how the new brewhouse could pass as easily as just another working farm. The largest almost barn-like building will be the taproom and is a work still in progress, while the other buildings have the low practical look of the working dairy farm that Hill’s grandfather ran here.
The new German-made brewing equipment manufactured in Bavaria by BrauKon is the culmination of a deeply held dream aided by a lot of hard work. Hill got his start brewing beer as part of a high school project, and he remembers presenting his teacher with a bottle of beer made with blackberries: “It had chunks floating in it,” Hill laughed.
On to college, Hill would learn to make clones” of popular beers, and later he would pad his résumé to land a job in brewing. Home from school in 2002, he happened to stop into the Shed in Stowe for a beer and started talking to Tim Dahaby and Howie Faircloth. Like many who get their first break in the business, Hill was hired to wash kegs and clean growlers, but the brewers found him to be a quick learner and soon increased his responsibilities. He would leave the brewery and travel for a while before returning to Vermont in 2005.
There had been a shake up at The Shed, and the owners were looking for a new head brewer. During a trip to Asia and Europe, Hill used the time to examine his spirituality. Having been a philosophy major in college, he’d been exposed to many of the greatest minds of all time, and on returning to Vermont he considered long and hard the possibility that making beer might not fit with his new understanding of the world. He would take the job, and as with all that he does, he threw his heart and soul into the work. This was during the peak period of production for The Shed, and Hill would get to hire Jim Conroy (now with The Alchemist) as his assistant. This freed him up to experiment with one brew a week at the pub, and he would begin dreaming of owning his own brewery.
Hill left The Shed to work with Dan Gates at Trout River Brewing in Lyndonville to get some experience with a bigger system. Getting a $25,000 loan to open Grassroots Brewing in Hardwick, his plan was to eventually bring the brewery up to the family farm after it was established, but the space that he was going to use fell through, so he began to apply for brewing jobs in Europe.
One of the turning points in Hill’s brewing career came when he was taken under the wing of Anders Kissmeyer at the Copenhagen brewpub Nørrebro Bryhus. From March 2008 until November 2009, Hill was mentored by the former Carlsberg production brewmaster, able to collaborate and forge relationships with many of the finest European brewers, and he honed his skills as a brewer. As he returned to Vermont, some of the beers he brewed would win medals in the 2010 World Beer Cup.
With a business plan in hand, $80,000 in startup capital from American and European investors, equipment borrowed from The Alchemist, Trout River and the Vermont Pub & Brewery, Hill and his brother Darren worked 18-hour days until 2010 when the first batch of Edward was brewed. Many of his beers are named after relatives that lived on the farmstead, with the labels sharing a little bit about them. The original brewery would be housed in a repurposed out building next to the house he’d inherited from his grandfather, but demand for his beers quickly facilitated his first expansion. The last of the tanks are now in for the second expansion, and Hill is enjoying the new state-of-the-art brewhouse that he can control from his home.
According to Hill, this is the last of the expansions for Hill Farmstead Brewery. The goal to brew distinctive beers that evoke a sense of this unique place while at the same time preserving what is special here is now a reality. The beers with his ancestor’s names are now as much part of this place as the stone walls built by those same hilltop farmers over hundreds of years.
Ahyup, things are looking up at the Hill Farmstead.
Hill Farmstead Brewery
403 Hill Road, Greensboro, Vt.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Saving+The+Family+Farm/2241610/268786/article.html.
Stone Corral Brewery Expands The Paddock
A hose had blown off the tank and beer was spewed all over the brewery. However, Bret Hamilton of Stone Corral Brewery, then in Huntington, Vt., caught himself whistling along with the tune on the radio as he mopped up the mess. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I hate mopping!”
Then he looked around at his brewery that was started in 2013, and having grown from 20 gallons to a four-barrel system, he decided that this is what he wanted to do with his life. Convincing himself was the easy part, now he needed to bring his wife on board. It turned out that wasn’t a hard sell either.
There are lots of people that have made the jump from avid homebrewer to brewery owners, and there are plenty of stories of how after being bit by the beer bug folks have walked away from lucrative careers to pour their heart and soul into making beer. The story of Bret and Melissa Hamilton is kind of a hybrid of both of these tales. Since getting together while working at the University of Vermont in the Archeology Department almost a quarter of a century ago, they’ve started a number of businesses.
Bret and his wife laugh: “I don’t seem to recall any of the ones that failed,” mused Bret. While both of them now have successful consulting businesses — Melissa runs a business called Earth Shift that helps corporations embrace more sustainable business practices — and Bret leads Shelter Analytics — a company that specializes in energy efficiency — this hasn’t stopped them from moving the brewery from their home to a new 15-barrel facility in Richmond.
Having started homebrewing in 1991, Bret said that he enjoys brewing the styles of beer that he and Melissa like to drink. Melissa adds,
“We have something for everyone,” Bret said. “It doesn’t have to be all IPAs. It doesn’t need to be complicated. We’re not looking to compete with brewers that are making some of the best IPAs right here in Vermont. We’re trying to make a local flavor and keep it approachable.”
Bret then talked about “Blue Water and Red Water Marketing.”
“You can swim in the red water where the sharks are feeding, or you can swim in the blue water where things are a little more open,” Bret added with a sly grin. “We’re going to swim in the blue water!”
After being reminded that he said in an earlier interview that he said, “He wanted to be the town brewery of Huntington,” Bret laughed and said: “Now we want to be the brewery for the Huntington River Valley,” to which Melissa added, “And the Winooski River Valley.”
The new brewery, along with signing with Farrell Distributing, means that their sought after beers will be available in more places than ever all around the state.
The beers made here are honest examples of the styles made with the finest ingredients. Winning a gold medal in the Great International Beer & Cider Festival in 2014, Black Beer is tasty schwarzbier/ porter cross, and Latigo – Scottish Export 90, a lighter Scottish-style beer, won a silver medal. Melissa also pointed out that Kölsch is “a great beer for someone new to craft beer.”
The new tasting room will have light fare presented by a rotating group of chefs, pretzels made locally by Sweet Simone’s and there will be live entertainment. Part of what made the brewery at the farm unique was that the tasting room was in the tack room. The smell of the wood, leather and beers with the nearby horses made the experience quite rustic.
‘“We’ve tried to capture some of that here in the pub,” said Melissa with an infectious enthusiasm. Hand-hewn posts salvaged from an ancient barn, rough wood everywhere, a large mural depicting horses and leather tack decorate the tasting room. Everything about the place makes you think you’ve just ridden in off the dusty trail. And now that unbearable thirst is just about to be more than satisfied.
Stone Corral Brewery
83 Huntington Road, Richmond, Vt.