Vermont Bike and Brew Tours Meet the Brewer Series: Hill Farmstead
Sojourn pioneered bike and brew tours in their home state of Vermont over a decade ago. Since then, Vermont’s craft beer industry has already matched the $300 million economic impact of the state’s ski resort industry and is rapidly approaching the mark set by its iconic maple syrup industry. The Green Mountain state ranks first nationally in craft breweries per capita and none are more renowned, or remote, than Hill Farmstead.
For the third straight year, Hill Farmstead was bestowed the honor of “Best Brewery in the World” by RateBeer — widely regarded as the world’s most in-depth and accurate beer review/rating organization. Their mission of hand crafting succinct, elegant beers of distinction, as well as reviving and diversifying the land of the Hill Farmstead, has achieved astounding success. Thoughtful and creative founder (and brewer!), Shaun Hill, has made Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, Vermont the pinnacle of craft beer pilgrimages in the United States, if not the world.
We recently shared a pint with Shaun’s right-hand man, Phil Young, during our Meet the Brewer Q&A – Part I. Enjoy this sneak preview of what guests on Sojourn’s Vermont Bike and Brew Tour in August will experience first-hand at this remote and beautiful brewery location.
Tell me about the Hill Farmstead name and its genesis. (00:58)
Regarding the name, the owner and head brewer’s name is Shaun Hill and where the brewery sits now is actually where Shaun’s family had a farmstead and continues to be after 220 years. When guests arrive they will pass through the parking lot which was the original location of the dairy farm stood until 1978 when, unfortunately it burned down. It was never rebuilt but the land continues to be farmed by Shaun’s family to this day. Shaun’s family has been in the area for generations and the Hills are on the original town charter. In terms the logo, people often refer to it as a wine glass, but it is an image taken directly off an early 1800s sign hung in the family tavern that read “A. Hill Entertainment.” The ‘A’ stands for Aaron Hill, who was Shaun’s great, great, great grandfather. The logo and name live on, paying homage to the generations of Hill Farmstead family history.
The Hill Farmstead name has become synonymous with “world’s best beer” and most recently recognized by Ratebeer as Top Brewer in the US and in the world. To what would you attribute your success in such a short time span considering the relatively short 7-year lifespan of Hill Farmstead? (02:58)
First and foremost, I would say the sheer quality. Shaun is very demanding of himself and the beer. If we did happen to make a bad beer, it would never reach the public. Luckily, we don’t usually make bad beers so it is not an issue [laughs]. It is the commitment to quality, the talent of Shaun being able to create the recipes, and being able to execute consistently with very drinkable and palatable beers. I’d also say some of it was timing. Back when Shaun opened Hill Farmstead in 2010 it was in the beginning, or even slightly before, the big craft beer movement. At that time, there were less than 2,000 breweries in the US. Today there are over 5,000 breweries either open or in planning. So the timing was perfect hitting the industry as growth and interest exploded.
Talk a little about the experience and some of the beer guests will have the opportunity to taste at Hill Farmstead during Sojourn’s Vermont Bike and Brew tours. (04:55)
Edward, a flagship American Pale Ale named after Shaun’s grandfather, is a mainstay that guests can sample during Sojourn bike and brew tours.
Also likely available will be our core four Farmstead® ales that feature our distinctive yeast and water from our well:
- Anna: Anna (1902-1993) was Shaun’s grandfather’s sister. In her honor, this honey Farmstead® ale is crafted from American malted barley, European and American hops, and Vermont wildflower honey.
- Arthur: Arthur (1922-2005) was Shaun’s grandfather’s youngest brother. In his honor, this Farmstead® ale is crafted from American malted barley, and American and European hops.
- Florence: Florence (1915-1967) was Shaun’s grandfather’s sister. In her honor, this Belgian inspired wheat Farmstead® ale is crafted from American malted barley, organic Vermont wheat, and European and American hops.
- Brother Soigné: a tart, refreshing Farmstead® ale brewed with Shaun’s dear friend Luc Bim Lafontaine, formerly of Dieu du Ciel! Lime, hibiscus and blood orange in a mixed fermentation.
This summer we will also probably have Marie and Mary on tap, two lagers with Marie being a German-style Helles and Mary being a German-style Pilsner. Then we always have 1-2 IPAs, 1-2 double IPAs, and 1-2 pale ales, if not more.
Of those four Farmstead® ales, what would be your favorite? (05:53)
I’d say probably Brother Soigné, as well as Marie and Mary.
What are some of your more rare or coveted beers that beer aficionados are dying to get their hands on? (06:28)
We have an incredible barrel program where Farmstead® ales such as Flora (a Wheat Saison/Farmstead® Ale) and darker beers like Earl (an Oatmeal Stout) and Everett (an American Porter) are aged in whiskey barrels. At least one of those will available in limited production at the retail shop.
Stay tuned for Part II of Meet the Brewer Q&A with Hill Farmstead (Spoiler Alert: Phil shares his thoughts on the future of the craft beer industry and more).