As we prepare to say our goodbyes to summer, we will hold onto these Buck Lake memories to get us through the fall and winter. One of many highlights of our summer road trip was enjoying the fruits of our travel labour at the cottage with Cherryl’s family. There is so much fun to be had with beer and family. A big thanks to our hosts, Kathy, Ron and Maddie for letting us geek out big time at the lake. Sadly, we depleted our stock pretty quickly and had to extend our sessions with ‘cottage’ beer.
Hop picking is in my blood. My ancestors were farmers who lived and worked on a hop farm, called Clinches Farm at the time, in Fowle Hall, Kent and where the original Oast house still stands today. So I was only too pleased to put my heritage into practice and respond to a call for volunteers to help with the harvest at Persephone Brewing on the Sunshine Coast this past Sunday.
What better way to get to know a brewery than to pick with the staff, their friends, family and neighbours and other beer lovers from the region. The bounty was plentiful this year due to a hot summer. We picked centennial and cascade - the cascade being larger and having a stronger floral and citrusy aroma. Much of the harvest is going into a fresh hop IPA as early as Monday while the rest will find their way into some of their regulars like the American Pale Ale.
We were well taken care of with samples of beer and a taste of the ‘off the grid’ wood oven pizza made from local farm ingredients which we enjoyed in the cozy tasting room equipped with games of chess and crokinole.
Hop picking brings a community together and it was special to be part of this traditional process which, as they expand their acreage, may soon be a thing of the past as they will need more expedient methods to harvest in the short time required.
Look out for the fresh hop IPA at the end of the month and know that the hops were hand-picked with love by a community of great people. We look forward to tasting the fruits of our labour.
We were not able to make it to the Great Canadian Beer Festival this past weekend but that’s okay as neither was one of our local favourites - Storm Brewing, so we had a little festival of our own with some of their seasonal offerings, Juniper IPA, Ginger l’Orange Pilsner and the Fennel Countdown Pilsner. What a great idea - no tickets, no travel, no lineups, and unlimited tastings until the growlers ran dry!
Short distance beer trips are just as fun as the long ones and Four Winds Brewing brought us to Delta last Saturday. We have admired this brewery since its start in 2012 and its solid creations such as Phaedra (Belgian Rye IPA), Juxtapose (Brett IPA), Triplicity (Belgian Tripel) and Brett and Wild Flower Saisons. We figured it was about damn time to drink from the source.
Inside, the well-appointed and tastefully-designed taproom betrays its industrial park storefront window setting. We whet our palates with the Saison, IPA, Pale and Pilsner but tucked into the Witicism (peppery and zesty, seductively smooth witbier), Juxtapose (a big citrus, hoppy, sweet malt and piney Brett IPA), Brett Pale (a dry-hopped-with-Galaxy and highly drinkable pale) and Apparition (a spicy, zesty citrus, dry and refreshing West Coast White Ale).
We admire Four Winds for their beer but also for their design which is gaining them a reputation as a leader in craftbeer design with the help of artist, Andy Dixon. Four Winds is simply a leader in good taste.
On the deck this lovely summer evening is Commons Brewery Biere Royale - a seasonal sour ale brewed with black currents. Tart and sour upfront followed by bright black currents with a subtle salty* finish. The perfect beer for this evening.
*more likely because we were eating pringles at the time…
A day trip to Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, Vermont is a beer bonding experience. What else can you do when standing in line for three hours other than get to know the locals, other travellers, their kids and their dogs, who are all waiting patiently for a taste of this historic beer.
A journey for beer is never too far. We traveled 5,000 miles to get a taste of this small batch barrel-aged beer after taking note of much creative social media chatter about it. When people post about Hill Farmstead, they become poetic. A sign that this beer is art.
To us, Shaun Hill is an artist and his beer is an expression of himself, his environment and his ancestry. The farm where the brewery is located has been in the family for over 230 years. His mother serves you samples while you wait in line, named after dear relatives like Clara and Arthur. The beer is brewed with the homestead well-water and at times includes neighbouring seasonal ingredients such as blueberries.
Hill brings a Danish flourish to his creations having brewed in Copenhagen for Norrebro Bryghus for a few years. He maintains these connections through collaborations with his Danish brewing mentors and friends. He brews flagship beers like Edward (brewed in honour of their Grandfather) a highly drinkable 5.2% unfiltered and dry-hopped American Pale Ale, and many seasonals. In 2013 his beer topped the ratebeer charts at number one. In 2015 the brewery will expand to 5500 barrels/yr from the 500 produced when it started in 2010.
At the brewery we sampled a few beers from the Ancestral Series, in addition to Edward:
Susan (Grandfather’s sister) - India Pale Ale, aromas of citrus, pine and grass, beautiful mouthfeel of juicy citrus flavour with subtle sweet biscuit, hoppy, with a nice bitter dry finish.
Abner (Great Grandfather) - Imperial Pale Ale that is double dry-hopped with loads of citrus and pine aroma and flavour, sweet malt cuts into the hops for a nicely balanced and highly drinkable double.
Everett (Grandfather’s brother) - A robust American porter, made with American barley, English and German roasted malts and American hops.
We also sampled What is Enlightenment American Pale Ale and Grassroots Brewing Legitimacy IPA, which smelled like being out hop picking and tasted even more so.
We bought some fresh growlers of Susan and Abner along with the capped bottles of Nordic Saison and Peleg:
Nordic Saison - Nordic-inspired ale brewed with Heather and Honey, a collaboration with Anders (Kissmeyer Brewing) and Will Meyer (Cambridge Brewing) from May 2014.
Peleg (Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather 1757 - 1831) - old ale aged in oak barrels. Notes of funky, dark fruit and wet wood, tart with flavours of sweet malt, tobacco, dark fruit and wood. Brewed with Rune and Per Olaf of Bryggeriet Djaevlebryg and Anders Kissmeyer of Kissmeyer Brewing.
We picked up some more of the Grassroots Brewing series (collaborations with Anchorage Brewing) at the Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury to bring back home. Arctic Soiree, ale fermented and aged in oak tanks with brett, lime juice and hibiscus, Arctic Saison, ale fermented in oak tanks with brett, and Brother Soignee, brewed with hibiscus, lime and blood orange.
Hill Farmstead is special beer and a special place, and why so many people travel far for it: The 500-mile beer run to Vermont.