Sunday, September 04, 2016

A glorious pushing of buttons: Rauchbier at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton MA.

Several years ago, when I was at peak NABC, we were approached by a local businessman who had purchased property in Starlight, very near Huber's Orchard, Vineyards and Winery and their rapidly growing Starlight Distillery.

To make a long story short, his idea was to build a German-influenced brewery up the road from Huber's, under the plausible theory that if hundreds of people are wiling to drive to Huber's for the day, they'd also stop at the brewery -- not only to buy take-away beer, but for the rural ambiance.

Nothing ever came of it, but now I've seen the real-world manifestation of what he envisioned. Clone this, drop it there. First, as noted at NAC ...

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 6: A trip to Gator's in Rhode Island.

After the excursion to Rhode Island to count coup with clams and beer, Ben drove directly to Fort Hill Brewery outside Easthampton. As the crow flies, the brewery is located only three or four miles from Ben's and Jen's house, but owing to the location of bridges on the Connecticut, it's a big 10-12 mile loop.

No matter, because I wasn't behind the wheel, and the point of the visit can be summarized by a single German compound word: Rauchbier.

Smoked beer.

When Ben first told me there was a brewery just a few miles away from his house that brewed Rauchbier all the year round, I started salivating. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and upon arrival, there was a musical duo playing inside, drinkers with picnic lunches spilling onto the front patio, and a mellow vibe overall.

I sampled a few of the house brews, drank a pint of Rauchbier and bought a case of mixed six packs to take back to Indiana. Every beer I tried was solid, even the spiced Doppelbock, and it strikes me that specializing in German styles is an idea too long ignored according to prevailing craft beer orthodoxy (even if Fort Hill offered Session IPA, too).

A final point of "wow" was on-premise six-pack pricing: $8 for six 12-oz cans. OF SMOKED LAGER ... or Märzen, or Hefeweizen ... and that's a steal given the quality.

At Fort Hill Brewery, we like to stand out. That's why we decided to use different colored tabs on our cans to identify our beers.

Red is for Red Flag
Black is for Rauch
Green is for King Mark
Blue is for Dopplebock


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