Stone Brewing Company

Stone BrewingAddress: 1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029

Phone: (760) 294-7899

Website: http://www.stonebrewing.com

Flagship Beers: Stone Pale Ale, Go To IPA, Ripper, Arrogant Bastard, Coffee Milk Stout, Delicious IPA, Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Seasonal Releases: Xocoveza, Anniversary Ale Series, RuinTen TIPA

Series Releases: Encore Series, Enjoy By

The Down Low: Founded in 1996 and now the ninth largest craft brewery in the United States, evidence of Stone Brewing Company in the beer world is everywhere.  They got their start in San Marcos, CA, but are headquartered now in Escondido.  And with other breweries scattered throughout California and as far away as Germany and Richmond, VA, Stone shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Stone BCThey’re a staple beer in what seems to be every craft beer store we’ve ever been in.  Known well for their logo, which features the devil holding a mug of beer, their bottles are found anywhere that craft beer is sold.  In fact, most of the time that we go looking for their beer, there seems to be a new one on the shelf.  Constantly experimenting with new styles and collaborations, they’re constantly innovating new ways to keep the craft beer drinkers interested.  Mocha IPA.  Oaked Arrogant Bastard.  Smoked Porters.  Coffee Stouts.  You name it, they’ve tried making it.  And while the majority of their beers would be considered good by most and average by the most picky, you’ve gotta hand it them for always trying something new.  In the craft brew industry, standing apart from the rest is critical–that’s something Stone has always done.

Stone TapsOur personal favorite from Stone has got to be the Enjoy By Series.  Using “devestatingly fresh” hops, this series grabbed our attention a few years ago.  The smell of hops attacks the olfactory senses as soon as the cap is popped, and the taste confirms what you’re hoping is going to match up.  The dates on the bottle are front and center, encouraging a date to “enjoy by.”  If you don’t, the fresh hop flavor drops off, becoming more malty and syrupy.  This series used to be found only in 22 oz. bombers, but like many other beers as of late that they produce, 12 oz. bottles are now an option as well.  In the last couple of years, cans are in full swing, coming in six and twelve packs depending on the style.

Breweries that do something well are here to stay.  That being said, you can expect to see Stone for many more years to come.  Just don’t expect to see the same old beers week after week, or anything that’s just run-of-the-mill for that matter…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Ballast Point Brewing Company

Ballast Point BCAddress: 9045 Carroll Way
San Diego, CA 92121

Phone: (858) 790-6900

Website: www.ballastpoint.com

Flagship Beers: Manta Ray DIPA, Sculpin IPA, Mango Even Keel Session, California Kolsch, The Commodore Stout, Wahoo White, Piper Down Scottish Ale, Victory at Sea Porter

Seasonal Releases: Pumpkin Down Pumpkin Ale, Dead Ringer Oktoberfest

Special Releases: Red Velvet Nitro Stout, Calm Before the Storm Cream Ale,  Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Orange Vanilla Fathom IPL, Coconut Victory at Sea, Sour Wench Blackberry Ale

The Down Low: By definition, ballast is any heavy material brought on board a ship, either temporarily or permanently, to help the ship maintain its buoyancy on the open sea.  I wonder if beer qualifies?  If so, I’m sure captains of long ago would have been happy to tote along some brews by Ballast Point Brewery for the long journey, happily sipping their way towards the horizon ahead of them.  Hey, even if they would never return home, at least they wouldn’t die of thirst…

BP FrontBallast Point can be found in a smattering of locations in California, as well as one in Virginia, but their main hub is in San Diego.  They got their start in 1992, as two college roommates found a similar passion for brewing their own beer.  They soon added a third friend to the mix, and by 1996 Ballast Point was born.  Their logo features a sextant, which is a navigational tool used to determine a boat’s position on the horizon relative to the stars, and seems to carry a double meaning when it comes to what they hope to always be:  a craft brewery that’s always looking to seek out something new while remembering who they are and where they came from.  And as their logo reminds patrons, Ballast Point has remained “Dedicated to the Craft” ever since.

With a great lineup of beers that’s on the shelf year round and is distributed nationwide, Ballast Point has become a brewery that we expect to see on beer shelves in most of the places that we shop.  And though we’ve tried a great many of their brews, they’re always a solid go-to choice when nothing else seems to strike our fancy on a particular day.  They make IPL’s (India Pale Lagers), white ales, Scottish Ales, Pale Ales, and even a red velvet cake beer.  When it comes to innovation, there seems to be no limit with Ballast Point.

BP BarThe Sculpin series, in varying forms such as unfiltered, grapefruit, and even habanero, is a solid player in the IPA market. Their darker stouts, such as Sea Monster, are rich and robust, perfect for those nights when you’re craving a good nightcap.  But our favorite brew by them would probably have to be Victory at Sea, a coffee and vanilla porter that’s soft and creamy smooth.  It’s available in a peppermint and a coconut variety, too, both of which we highly recommend.  A friend of ours happened to score a barrel-aged variant of it on his visit to the brewery a while back, and needless to say, it was the highlight of our evening of sampling.

If you get the chance to head out to California anytime soon, be sure to check them out in person for yourself.  But if that trip doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen, head to your nearest craft brew store.  They’re sure to have something by Ballast Point that will set your palate in the right direction.

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Southern Tier Brewing Company

stbcAddress: 2072 Stoneman Cir
Lakewood, NY

Phone: (716) 763-5479

Website: www.stbcbeer.com

Flagship Beers: 2xIPA, Tangier, Nu Skool IPA, 2xSMASH, Gemini, Lemon Drop Sun, Back Burner

Seasonal Releases: Pumking, Warlock, Harvest Ale, Krampus, 2xMAS, 3 Citrus Peel Out

Special Releases: Blackwater Series (Choklat Oranj, Choklat, Salted Caramel, Thick Mint, Crème Brulee), Barrel Works Series (Manhattan, Sapsquatch)

The Down Low: Nestled deep in the woods just outside of Lakewood, NY, a small brewery began producing beers back in 2002 with some equipment that they purchased from a previous brewery.  Production started out small, as most breweries do, but making quality beer rarely goes unnoticed.  Distribution grew rapidly for the next several years, and so in order to accommodate the growing fan-base, new facilities and brewery equipment followed suit.  15 years later, Southern Tier Brewing Company has become one of the major players in the craft beer market, distributing to over 30 states nationwide.  A new satellite facility has recently opened in Pittsburgh, PA, and other smaller locations feature beer gardens, additional brew houses, and full service kitchens.

stbc tap handlesSo what can all the success be attributed to?  Well, to put it simply, quality.  Southern Tier makes such a variety of different brews, and most of them are done really well.  Their IPA’s, such as 2xSMASH, Nu Skool, and Gemini, are packed with enough fresh hops to satisfy even the pickiest of hopheads (guilty as charged).  Their Blackwater Series features not only some of the most unique ingredients, but the flavors from each are literal liquid interpretations of what the name implies.  Ever wonder what a liquefied Hershey Bar tastes like?  Try Choklat.  Got a craving for something minty?  Grab a Thick Mint.  Sweet tooth nagging at you again?  Salted Caramel and Crème Brulee are guaranteed to leave you wondering if you just ate your dessert or drank it.

New on the market from Southern Tier is their Barrel Works Series, a higher ABV palate-crushing experiment that manages to push the flavor boundary to the next level.  Manhattan, inspired by the mixed drink of the same name, and Sapsquatch, a maple syrup barrel-aged monster, will leave you feeling both happy and wondering out loud, “Is there anything these guys don’t do well?”

warlockWe’ve saved the best for last.  In our humble opinion, the true crown jewel of Southern Tier resides in a seasonal beer that’s held a special place in our livers for several years now.  If you know us well, you know that fall is our favorite beer time of the year, and pumpkin beers seem to be something we just can’t get enough of.  And no matter how many new ones we try, we always go back to Southern Tier to remind ourselves where the benchmark for greatness is set:  Warlock.  There are few things we love more than a nice, heavy stout as the weather starts to take a dip, and coupling what seems to be the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor with it is difficult to find.  What started as a love for Pumking, another staple in the fall by Southern Tier, morphed into a love for his more evil counterpart, a beer that only a wizard, or in this case, Southern Tier, can create.

If you haven’t tried any Southern Tier beers before, you’ve got some catching up to do.  But don’t worry…there’s plenty out there for all of us.  Just don’t come asking us for any of ours—not because we don’t like sharing, but because after you try a few yourself, you’ll be buying plenty of your own…

BEEResponsible,
The Hopostles

The Brew Kettle

Brew Kettle LogoAddress: 8377 Pearl Rd.
Strongsville, OH 44136

Phone: (440) 239-8788

Website: www.thebrewkettle.com

Flagship Beers: White Rajah IPA, Black Rajah IPA, Old 21 IPA, Four C’s American Pale Ale, Kitka Chocolate Coconut Milk Stout, Big Woody Lager, Tunguska Stout, Awesome IPL, El Lupulo Libre DIPA

Special Releases: All For One Session IPA, Winter Warmer, Dark Helmet Imperial Schwarzbier, Oktofest, Summer Rays Wit, Jackhammer Barleywine

The Down Low: Picture yourself standing in front of a large cauldron, stirring in crazy ingredients to concoct your potion:  legs from a frog, eye of a newt, horn of a goat, etc.  You cackle as you stir, knowing that your elixir will cause the recipients to be under your control.  Sound like a typical witch’s story?  Now, replace the cauldron with a pot.  Replace the crazy ingredients with barley, hops, and water.  Replace the control you’re trying to place others under with a smile instead.  And the cackling laughter?  Well, that may stay the same…welcome to Brew Kettle.

Brew Kettle taproom

Looking unassuming and ordinary on a stretch of road that features hundreds of other places to dine sits a craft brew venue that is unlike most others.  With locations in Strongsville and Amherst (and a new one coming soon in Hudson), they’re expanding to satisfy the masses.  Not only can you try some great draft brews that they create themselves as well as several guest taps that other breweries occupy, but you can also try some incredible food options as well.  Oh…and the best part?  You can also make and bottle your own beer.  Sound too cool to be true?  Well, it isn’t.  Grab a group of friends, choose a style of beer that appeals to your palate, and brew it up together.  A few weeks later, after the batch is ready, you show up again to bottle your beer.  Then, share it with all the suckers that turned you down on the opportunity to join.  Or don’t.

Many of Brew Kettle’s flagship beers are bottled and available for purchase in local stores, sold both as 6 packs and/or as options in their Journey Tour box set.  For Cedar Point lovers, there’s even a “Thrill Pack” featuring six other beers not found in the Journey Tour.  And though Brew Kettle produces most of the major styles of beer, our favorites in the past have been the barrel-aged versions and the El Lupulo Libre DIPA.  Hop for hop, El Lupulo holds its own against some the most piney, grapefruit-laden DIPA’s you’ve tried.  Think Pliny the Elder, Hop Juju, and Permanent Funeral.  When fresh, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Brew Kettle foodThe food menu is impressive as well.  Everything you’d expect from a great pub is offered (nachos, wings, loaded fries, etc.), as well a ton of different sandwiches, steaks, wraps, burgers, and sides.  There’s a BBQ flair to it all, and anything that involves a smoked meat is a must if you get the chance to visit.  Even if you didn’t like beer (clearly I’m speaking to just the insane now), the food options alone are enough to write home about.  In short, it’s got something for everyone.

So the next time you’ve got a hankering for some great food, great beer, or even an opportunity to try your hand at being the brewmaster yourself, think about giving Brew Kettle a try.  At least it will give you a chance to perfect your cackle…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Platform Beer Company

Cigar City Brewing

IMG_8523Address:  3924 W. Spruce St
Tampa, FL 33607

Phone:  (813) 348-6363

Website:  www.cigarcitybrewing.com

Flagship Beers:  Jai Alai IPA, Maduro Brown Ale, Invasion Pale Ale, Florida Cracker White Ale, Tampa-Style Lager

Special Releases:  Marshal Zhukov Imperial Stout, Guayabera Pale Ale, White Oak Jai Alai, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale, Raspberry Halo Imperial Stout

Other Notable Beers:  Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Hunahpu’s Imperial StoutIMG_8525

The Down Low:  On a recent trip to Florida, there were countless things to plan for.  My brother’s wedding on the beach.  A trip to Disney World with my wife and kids.  Plane tickets. Lodging in 2 different cities.  The rental car.  Blah, blah, blah.  Sure, I was expecting this trip to be a blast from the moment I heard of my brother’s plan to have a destination wedding on Siesta Key Beach.  Sure, my kids were thrilled to be able to go to Disney World for the first (and if my wallet has anything to say about it, last) time.  Sure, we were looking forward to dipping our toes into what we had been repeatedly told was the #1 beach in the U.S., soaking up the sun and enjoying a rare out of state vacation away from it all.  But being a beer guy, as soon as I heard my brother say “Florida,” my mind quickly focused on one all important detail:  Where are we going in relation to Cigar City Brewery?

Though we had tasted a few of the more regular Cigar City beers that had drifted into Ohio via friends and family that had brought it back, it was stepping foot in the actual tasting room that I really looked forward to.  And so, with the wedding behind us (which was beautiful, by the way) and the trip to Disney World over (unforgettably awesome, in case you’re wondering), our trip was to conclude with a visit to the brewery and production facility in Tampa.  Despite all of our driving in Florida up to this point, my wife wanted to make the trip truly complete by making this one final stop for me.
IMG_8526

As seems to be the pattern the more I visit breweries I hold in high regard, the location for Cigar City was down an unassuming road, leading to what looked more like a small industrial parkway than anything else.  A couple picnic tables outside under an awning and a small sign by the road was all that indicated I was at the right place.  Without GPS, you could drive right by and not know that you had missed it.  Walking in, there was a nice wooden bar immediately on the left, and some merchandise for sale next to it.  Following that, in a room further back, was another, somewhat larger bar accompanied by several tables.  After a quick view of the tap lists, I was delighted to see that the bars were different, overlapping only a little when it came to some of their flagship beers.  Food trucks are there to serve the patrons each day, but I was just there for the beer.

IMG_85272 flights later, I had sampled several Cigar City brews that either don’t get canned/bottled, or don’t get distributed up north far enough for us to get a chance to try them.  The Margarita Gose and Wandering Pelican Black Lager stood out for me, but what I truly appreciated were the heavier stouts, rich in body and smooth in texture.  The Oatmeal Cookie Brown Ale was a nice surprise, crumbling onto my taste buds and making me reconsider my opinion of a beer style that I don’t typically enjoy much.  The Marshal Zhukov Penultimate Push was loaded with flavor, dark and roasty with a balanced malt backbone and heavy hint of cocoa.  My one major disappointment?  Not having Zack there with me.  Apparently, having his twin daughters get their tonsils out was recklessly planned the same way that his own wedding day was (OSU-Michigan…really?).  Anyway, the bar had a few leftover bottles of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout from Hunahpu Day for sale, but you had to consume it on sight and with one other person.  Oh well…I guess it’ll just have to stay on my wish list a little longer.

With a shirt for Zack and me in hand, I was on my way to the airport with memories of a great vacation in my mind for years to come.  And for a bucket list that seems to grow more by the year, it was nice to finally cross something off for a change…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Hoppin’ Frog Brewery

HF4
Address:
1680 E Waterloo Rd.

                Akron, OH 44306

Phone:  (234) 525-3764

Website:  www.hoppinfrog.com

Flagship Beers:  B.O.R.I.S. the Oatmeal Crusher, Outta Kilter Scotch-Style Red Ale, Gangster Frog IPA, Silk Porter, Infusion A Coffee Porter

Seasonal Beers:  Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, Frosted Frog Christmas Ale, Turbo Shandy, Oktoberfest Froggy Style Lager, Killa Vanilla Extraordinary IPA

Other Notable Beers:  D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer Double Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Rocky Mountain B.O.R.I.S. and D.O.R.I.S, T.O.R.I.S. the Tyrant Triple Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Teeny Tiny Test Batch IPA

The Down Low:  There’s nothing particularly great about a frog.  Think about it…they’re slimy, they’ve got eyes that seem too big for their head, they spend most of their lives in the mud, and their legs can usually be found on the buffet menu of some of the sketchier Chinese restaurants in town.  And yet, there’s something about seeing that weird creature on a bomber of beer that gets us excited every time we’re out shopping for something new.  Because what’s inside that bottle is anything but something you don’t want to touch…

hoppin-frog-borisIt all starts with B.O.R.I.S. the Oatmeal Crusher, an Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout that serves as the backbone for a brewery that pumps out perhaps more great stouts than any other that we’ve ever seen.  They have variations that are whiskey barrel aged, coffee bean-infused, and brewed with darker and richer malts.  If you’re willing to drop a little more dough, they even have one that’s been aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels (just don’t let them see your jaw hit the floor when you see the $55 price tag).  The B.O.R.I.S. gave way to the D.O.R.I.S., a Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout, and then following the passage of the higher ABV law in Ohio last year, the Triple Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout known as T.O.R.I.S.  Think you’ve had a heavy stout before?  Think again.  Pour yourself a glass of this stuff and get your bread knife ready, cause you’re about to have a second helping of dinner.

Hoppin’ Frog has only been around since 2006, and yet their presence in the craft beer industry is widespread enough to have landed them in 15 foreign countries and 19 states.  They’ve got awards aplenty, racking them up by means of 22 different brews that cover all the beer bases.  Founder Fred Karm never seems to run out of new ideas when it comes to making another awesome beer that immediately stacks up next to the best stouts on the shelf, simultaneously convincing you that $15 for 22 ounces is a bargain indeed.

The food menu in the tasting room isn’t large, but it is tasty.  Appetizers, sausage and cheese plates, and specialties like pork belly pair perfectly with their array of beers, and let’s face it…you aren’t going for the food anyway.  If you are, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

HF3

Tuesday evenings at the tasting room are special nights, offering patrons a chance to try their favorite Hoppin’ Frog beers infused with everything from Skittles to Reese’s Puffs to bacon to Twinkies, and everything else in between.  Many weekends at the brewery are opportunities to purchase their new releases in bottles, or to at least try them on draft if bottles aren’t available.  That is, if you can find the place…just punch in the address in your GPS and smile at where it takes you.  And the best part is that there’s always something new to try, no matter how many times you return.  Their beer menu for vintage beer purchases seems to have no boundaries, and you never know what you’ll be leaving with (i.e. an 8 year old bottle of cellar aged B.O.R.I.S.??  We’re guilty of that purchase ourselves).

Take our word for it.  Hoppin’ Frog beer is truly something to behold, and even something better to consume.  It’s one of our 5 favorite breweries of all time, and with an accolade list as long as the beer menu itself, we’re clearly not the only ones that hold them in such high regard.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll never look at a frog the same way again…

BEEResponsible,

the Hopostles

Rhinegeist Brewery

rhinegeistAddress: 1910 Elm St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Phone: (513) 381-1367

Website: www.rhinegeist.com

Flagship Beers: Truth, Cougar, Zen, Panther

Series Beers: Experimental DIPA

Other Notable Beers: Ink, Gramps, Mushhushshu, Saber Tooth Tiger, Hustle, Pure Fury, Dad, Streaker, Fiction, Puma

The Down Low: What is it about drinking beer on an open roof top that seems to enhance the experience exponentially?  Maybe it’s the summer breeze, coupled with the music and friends that you’re gathered with that make it feel like it’s gonna be a fun night in downtown Cincinnati.  Or maybe it’s the fact that every time you go back, the beer selection is new and exciting, with names that are simple and to the point, yet offer very little insight into what style they are until you try them.  Or maybe it’s just because Rhinegeist has one of the coolest looking logos out there, as the “Ghost of the Rhine” always remains blank-staring and stoic, despite the ever-changing myriad of colors and patterns around him…

RB out
Go into any craft beer store in Ohio that carries a decent selection and you’re almost guaranteed to see at least a few different types of Rhinegeist on the shelf.  They make so many different styles of beers, and pump them out year-round at such a furious pace, that it’s often difficult to keep up.  In fact, without the aid of the Untappd app, we’re pretty sure that most of the time, we wouldn’t remember which ones we’ve had and which ones we haven’t.  Most of the more common styles such as the IPA’s, pale ales, blonde ales, etc. will be found in cans, our favorite of which is Truth, due to its hoppy and citrusy character notes.  However, some of the other styles, such as the stouts, DIPA’s, TIPA’s, and barrel-aged beers, will be found in 22 oz. bombers.  They are a bit pricier, but are worth a try if you’re looking to branch out a bit.  They even produce a few ciders, with some hoppy and dry options to satisfy varying palates.

Situated in the historic Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati, the Rhinegeist brewery is located in an unassuming spot.  After driving past it once without seeing the vertical sign hanging out front, my wife and I were still unsure if we were at the right place, even after parking and beginning the descent up a narrow stairwell in what felt more like a parking garage than a brewery.  However, there was no mistaking it a few seconds later, as the stairs deposited us in a large, open room that had 2 different bars, huge fermenting tanks guarded by the ever-present ghost, and a smattering of tables and corn hole boards.

RB rooftopWith a vibe that could be best described as “industrial,” it seems to fit the downtown area perfectly.  You get the feeling that you’re in an old warehouse, yet the mood is more of a laid-back college party than anything else.  After a couple flights of beer and a few merch purchases for Zack and myself, we finished up on the rooftop bar which overlooks the surrounding neighborhood.  If the weather is nice when you visit, make sure to check this out as well, as the bar outside has a few other beer options that the inside bars didn’t have.

With a city like Cincinnati (which, by the way, hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, second only to Munich itself), you’re sure to find food and beer options galore to explore.  Just make sure that Rhinegeist brewery is on your list…you don’t want that ghost staring you down if you don’t.

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

3 Floyds Brewing Co.

3 FloydsAddress: 9750 Indiana Pkwy Munster, IN 46321

Phone: (219) 922-4425

Website:
www.3floyds.com

Flagship Beers: Zombie Dust, Gumballhead, Yum Yum, Alpha King, Robert the Bruce

Seasonal Beers (mostly 22 oz. bombers): Alpha Klaus, Brew Doo, Munsterfest

Other Notable Beers (mostly 22 oz. bombers): Permanent Funeral, Backmasking, Apocalypse Cow, Behemoth, Blot Out the Son, Rabbid Rabbit

The Down Low: There’s nothing normal about Three Floyd’s Brewing Company in Munster, Indiana.  What makes a great place for a brewery?  Probably out in the open where it’s easy to find for their ever-increasing fan base.  Three Floyd’s has theirs in the middle of an industrial parkway.  What would many agree is the best way to distribute beer to the masses?  Make a ton of it, and make it easy to find.  Three Floyd’s beers, other than a few staples which can be found year round, send you on a quest time and time again to locate, only to find out that someone else got there before you and bought the only 2 bottles that the store received.  What would be considered the best labels to attract a customer?  Probably something catchy, colorful, or memorable to stand out from every other bottle on the shelf.  Three Floyd’s does that, I suppose, if you consider gore, blood, death, and guts “memorable,” “colorful,” and “standing out from every other bottle on the shelf.”  Yes, in all these ways Three Floyd’s would be considered far from normal.  But take one sip of most of their beers, and you’ll discover your newfound appreciation for something that’s anything but ordinary…

Three_Floyds_Brewing_2

With names that read like the closed captioning at the bottom of the horror movies playing in their brewery at all times, Three Floyd’s have managed to bring the heavenly taste of their beer and the macabre together in a way that has legions of craft beer fans clamoring for anything and everything that bears their name on the bottle.  Speaking of the bottle, they range anywhere from death-metal collaborations (Crack the Skye/Mastadon, Amber Smashed Face/Cannibal Corpse, Toxic Maltz/Exodus) to the bizarre (Gumballhead, Zombie Dust, Yum Yum) to the hilarious (Behemoth, Alpha Klaus, Broo Doo).  Look past the crazy gore on the front of Permanent Funeral and you’ll find a top-rated Double IPA, right up there in taste with Pliny the Elder or Hop Juju.  Ignore the blood dripping from his sword, and a bottle of Chevalier Bertand du Guesclin will become one of your all-time favorite sours.  Turn a blind eye to the killer rabbit (Rabbid Rabbit), the skeleton king (Alpha King), the cyclops bovine (Apocalypse Cow), and the psycho (Wigsplitter), and you will find yourself loving many new styles of beer, most of which will have Three Floyd’s at the top of your list.

tf-darklordThe brewery / restaurant is rather small, and because parking is limited, get there early unless you fancy parking on the street and waiting a while for a table.  It also helps to call their hotline to find out which beers they have available on tap that day, many of which aren’t released in bottles and will make you feel even more rewarded for your trip to Munster.  The restaurant is on the right, with the bottle shop and merch shop on the left.  The brewery also has a yearly festival called Dark Lord Day (see this month’s “Have you ever..”), and if you muster up the cash to attend, you’ll leave with a Russian Imperial Stout that will have your beer buddies banging on your door for a sample the minute you get home.

Three Floyd’s occupies a top 5 spot on both of our favorite breweries of all time, and we’re willing to bet that if it isn’t on yours already, it soon will be.  Solid varieties of just about every style of beer, labels that make you cringe or laugh (or both), and quantities that anger you and cause you to gloat when you score one all wrapped up into one, make for something very not normal indeed.  And that’s just the way they like it…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Hill Farmstead Brewery

hill-farmstead-logoAddress: 403 Hill Rd.
Greensboro Bend, Vermont 05842

Phone: (802) 533-7450

Website: www.hillfarmstead.com

Flagship Beers: Abner (pale ale), Arthur (pale ale), Edward (pale ale), Susan (American IPA), Dorothy (pale ale)

Series Beers: Civil Disobedience (barrel aged versions of some of the flagship beers), Excursions (experimental IPA’s), Society and Solitude (experimental Imperial IPA’s)

Other Notable Beers: Singular Hop Series Beers (Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, Mosaic, etc.)

The Down Low: Sometimes the best things in life, and in this case a brewery, can be found in the middle of nowhere.  A serene setting, breathtaking scenery, and an unassuming farm in the Vermont countryside are the perfect ingredients for what many craft beer drinkers in America consider to be a bucket-list location when it comes to seeing firsthand where some of the most prized brews come from.  Welcome to Hill Farmstead…

Hill Farmstead 2

If you consider yourself a serious craft beer drinker, yet have never heard of Hill Farmstead before, that could be due in part to a few different reasons.  First off, unless you live on the east coast, you would have had a heck of a time obtaining any of it.  Their distribution is pretty limited, making the allure of actually scoring a bottle that much sweeter.  Secondly, to get to the location itself, you may accidentally convince yourself on the way up the mile long dirt and rock road that leads to the brewery that your GPS has gone haywire and is leading you astray.  If either of those reasons don’t fit, then chalk it up to the fact that you’ve had your head buried in your pint glass just a little too long, because when it comes to highly prized craft beer, Hill Farmstead is synonymous with greatness.

Hill Farmstead 1The brewery was once the owner’s great-grandfather’s dairy farm, and fittingly enough, many of their most well-known beers have singular names taken from someone in the family ancestry.  Their best known beers are pale ales and saisons, but they also have long-running series of experimental, single-hop, and imperial IPA’s which draw continuous attention to those always looking to try something new.

If you do happen to be fortunate enough to visit the actual brewery, just keep telling yourself, “Good things come to those who wait…”. Getting that growler filled may take upwards of 2-3 hours, but we assure you, it’s worth it.  2 different buildings grace the property, one being a barn that handles all apparel, bottle sales, and beer production.  The other is a cabin that has been transformed into a tap room for patrons to sample a rotating list of drafts.  If it’s packed inside, head outside to one of several gorgeous seating areas where you can take in the scenery and taste a little bit of heaven in liquid form.  After all, once you leave the farm, you’ll need a bit of good luck or at least have a good source to score it again.  Unless, like us, you dream of moving to the farm itself…just don’t expect them to name a beer after you…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles