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.