Hill Farmstead brewery. Do they just make beer here, or much, much, more?
These breweries and beers are known for impeccable quality; but also, the beers have been known to be extremely rare, with distribution limited to the brewers’ state, and in some cases only the brewery itself. With that in mind, we wondered: what are these breweries doing to make themselves so successful? Is the quality as great as others claim, or is this hype at least partially caused by rarity? With these questions in mind, we (Corey and Matt) drove through Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont this past November to experience as many of these small and successful breweries as we could.
We had a fairly well organized plan when we left Buffalo of the places we wanted to go and the breweries we wanted to visit. But we also kept it fairly flexible and took advice from friends, fellow beer lovers, and even Twitter on places to go. So, occasionally we mixed things up and drove out of the way to reach someplace we were told we had to visit.
One thing to note about this trip. While we did bring back as much beer as we could find (and afford), the primary purpose of this trip was not to “score” beers for share or trade. We were here to try beers, meet and talk to people, and experience these breweries. Therefore, we didn’t visit breweries like Alchemist, Lawson's, or Trillium, which have excellent beers, but don’t offer much in the way of tours or tasting rooms. Luckily, we did get to try beers from at least the first two breweries, and we still had a lot of excellent beers, and experiences, along the way.
The breweries we visited were:
Allagash (well, not really – they were closed)
Prohibition Pig (followed by dinner at Blackback Pub)
That’s 13 breweries, 1,500 miles, in 3 days, and I’m sure we could have seen more if we had more time. So if you’re reading this, and you’re like “how come they didn’t go to my favorite brewery”? We just did not have enough time, as much as we would have liked to. Hey, we’ve got beer to brew over here!
Now, we’re not going to go into details about which breweries were doing what, and which beers we loved, and which beers we liked a bit less. We consider all of these breweries to be colleagues of ours, and therefore we wish them all the best. So, we’ll keep the learnings fairly general.
First of all, we probably had about 70 different beers between all of these breweries, and had very little (maybe one or two at most) we’d consider to be bad, or just generally to our disliking. That is to say, these breweries were all making good to world-class beer.
- Jack’s Abby makes pretty much great everything, from fruited lagers, to rauchbiers, to hoppy IPLs, to sours. They were extremely impressive.
- Maine has a “Fresh Beer” sign that lights up outside their brewery. How cool is that?