Star Light, Star Bright,Just What Ale ShouldI Make Tonight?Where did they Brew?ILLUSTRATIONS BY: HANS GRANHEIMBrewers may create the recipesin this industry, but they don’talways control their own destinies.Much like the captains andsailors of ships in the age of exploration,their experience and expertise may not fitinto the plans of their patrons. And justas those vessels would flounder or runaground, many a brewer has facedcalamity and had to scramble to finda new berth. While some brewerssee craft beer as a quest, in the end,after the creativity and the gloryare stripped away, brewing isemployment and a paycheck.A look at a few of the careerturns that our local brewers haveendured can enlighten craft beer drinkersto the challenges that brewers facebeyond the kettle.Retooling the ConceptBrewers who have been around since theearly days of the craft beer movementStory and Photos by Jamie Mageehave inevitably had the rug pulled out fromunderneath them. Famously, one of thearea’s best known brewers, Tod Mott, sawhis run at Back Bay Brewing in Boston endwhen the owner decided to change the conceptand accommodate what he saw asmore lucrative trends.“Do we really want to go there?”Mott said, when reached while brewingat Portsmouth Brewing inNew Hampshire.Mott’s early experienceincluded interning at CatamountBrewing in Vermont, afterwhich he moved on to Harpoonand Commonwealth Brewing,both in Boston. Commonwealthexpanded and opened the sistercompany, Back Bay Brewing, Mott was justhitting his stride, earning Great AmericanBeer Festival medals and other accolades.Located at the finish line of the BostonMarathon, literally the heart of Boston,Back Bay was perfect for newly engagedSee Brew p. 4BEER STARS. (L-R) Shannon Post, Alex Hall andChris Cuzme of Wandering Star Craft Breweryenjoy the grains of their labor.By Ria WindcallerWas it that first unforgettableboarding school brewed beer inOnce upon a time a young lad in Englishbeer thathis closet without ever gettinglit thecaught.spark?“I wondered for years whyMaybe it was the specter of loveI didn’t get caught,” Post said.that beer so often ignites. Bitters,“It shows that 14-year-olds mustbuzz and a bloody good time —really smell bad, so they mustlet that be a warning to everyhave thought it was just anotherHansel and Gretel out looking forsmell.”adventure. Chris Post, WanderingThe yearning to make beerStar Craft Brewery’s co-owner/had much to do with visits tobrewer and father of two breweryboys, Alex (4) and AndrewBrewery in the U.K. The factgreat beer bars near Marston’s(2), can tell you and his sons allthat his best friend’s grandfatherabout it.had been a brewer at Marston’sBrewer Chris PostSee Star p. 6INSIDEState State by by State State News NewsE E. Massachusetts ...........14Event Calendar ................ 3NewBoston ............................16Letters to the Editor ........ 7W. Massachusetts ..........24Tasting Panel................... 8Beer Cooks .....................10Maine ..............................26The Alehouse .................11New Hampshire ..............28Homebrew ......................12Connecticut ....................30Maps/Directory ..........18-23Vermont ..........................32Rhode Island ..................34
6 Yankee Brew News February/March 2012Star continued from coverhad made an indelible impression on Post.He even penned a poem with lineslike, “Shall I compare you to a pintof Marston’s Pedigree Bitter…”Back and ForthAcross the PondHowever, the first fork in theroad for the eventual brewer broughthim to New York City working as an investmentbanker. The first really spicy breadcrumbin Post’s wayward travels began withhim meeting a coed. Thus, he went to visitthe young lass at Smith College inthe western Massachusetts townthat is home to NorthamptonBrewery. Post’s experience in theU.K. was with large industrialbreweries. When he walked in thedoors of Northampton Breweryhis initial thought was, “My god,do they all do this here? I have to haveone (a brewpub).” The year was 1989, andNorthampton Brewery left an indelible markon young Post, one that still drives himtoday.“I really liked NorthamptonBrewery,” Post recalled.Post’s time in New York Citywas short lived, and he was sentback to England. One wouldthink that his homeland’s imperialpint would satisfy his thirst,but, Post said, “I went looking for aSierra Nevada. I got into the Cascadehops thing, and it’s not very easy findingthat kind of beer (in the UK).”Brewer Chris Post of Wandering Star Craft Brewery.In 1996, Post returned to banking inNew York City. Somewhere around 2001,pre-September 11, Post noticed that withbanking, “there was more and morebackbiting.”It had been 32 years since Postpitched his first yeast, but thethought of “what if” he brewedfull-time had never left his mind.He first tried beer kits, two in fact,and after his second batch he was onto brewing all-grain beers. In 2003, “whilehaving another boring day at the office,” hefound on eBay a 15-barrel brewery for salein Michigan. Lighthouse Depot was sellingits brewery for $35,000.“If I don’t go for it,” Post said atthe time, “I will forever be thinking‘what if.’ Three days later, afterwinning the bid, I was thinking, ‘Dothey take PayPal?’”The copper kettle from Lighthousehad only been brewed in 17 times overthe course of its short three-year run. Poststored the 15-barrel system in Michiganuntil around 2007 when he tried to openNomad Brewing Company in North Adams,Mass. Like Hansel and the gingerbreadhouse, the old mushroom factory in NorthAdams was a quagmire of obstaclesthat would have cooked a lesser man.Suffice to say, the brewery never gotoff the ground and the brew kettlestayed in storage.On Christmas Eve in 2008, anda bit despondent over the Nomaddebacle, Post was driving along Route9 in Pittsfield, Mass., when he happened tosee a “For Sale” sign on a large green building.It took five months to close the deal onthe newly renamed brewery’s home-to-bewith Post’s two original business partnersin the Nomad enterprise, Alex Hall andChris Cuzme, both of New York Citystill on board. Post’s wife, Shannon,is the company president.“My story is a simple one,”Shannon said. “Chris and I met atthe Blind Tiger in New York City,got married, had two kids (Alex andAndrew) and moved to the Berkshires so hecould follow his dream of opening up hisown brewery. And so here we are today.”“Shannon keeps the brewery on track,”Post said.The brewery was installed in thepalatial building and became fullypermitted to brew this past year.Hall and Cuzme are both beergeeks in their own right, knownaround New York City as cask aleaficionados. Among his many talentsin the beer world, Hall is the authorof Beer Demystifier New York City, a.k.a.The Gotham Imbiber, an online resource forbeers in New York City. Cuzme is the presidentof the New York City HomebrewersGuild and is considered a driving forcebehind NY Craft Beer Week and Get RealNew York.The BeersWandering Star Craft Breweryis a production brewery with kegsbeing sold in New York and partof Massachusetts. At this time thereare only kegs and no bottles, so findingWandering Star beers means going to agood beer bar. The emphasis is on sessionbeers. The flagship beer, Raindrop Pale Ale,is a 6.3% ABV American pale ale. This beerwould hardly be considered a session beerfor U.K. drinkers at 6.3%, however, it’s atasty beer like all of Post’s creations,full bodied and leaves the palatelonging for more.Zingari Belgian Wit (5.0%) isnamed after the word for gypsies inItalian — think wandering or wanderer.The spice of fenugreek in thisbeer is perfectly rounded out with thePHOTO BY RIA WINDCALLERtypical witbier blend of lemongrass, corianderand cardamom. Post’s beers implore youto explore the complexity of each sip.That alone is reason enough to findand try a Wandering Star brew.Post’s beers are also encouragingin range and quality, gettingknowledgeable beer drinkersexcited about a new brewery —and not just because it means a roadtrip.Another year-round beer is Bash-Bish-Bock, well balanced at 6.6%. It’s a deliciousdeparture from the standard bock availableon most shelves. One could truly live on thisbock during Lent and not get a sweetnessoverload. Bert’s Disqualified ImperialStout (8.6%) is Bert Holdredge’srecipe. Holdredge is a homebrewerfrom the Berkshires who wonthe Brewer’s Choice competitionin the 2011 New York CityHomebrew Competition, meaningthat his beer would be commerciallybrewed at Wandering Star. When the brewwas sent for a BJCP competition, it was disqualifiedbecause the label was still on thebottle. Not a good move, but it made for aninteresting name.Upcoming 2012 beers from WanderingStar begin with Rude Man EnglishBarleywine. Dear men and womenof the beer world who can’t turndown a barleywine take note —Rude Man is also the nickname ofthe Cerne Abbas Giant, which isa hillside carving in the U.K. of anaked man with giant testicles thatsome think is a fertility god. A Burtonstyle IPA and an imperial stout are also inthe works.Wandering Star beers are available atMassachusetts taps such as Ye Olde Forgein Lanesboro, Purple Pub in Williamstown,Armsby Abbey in Worcester andChristopher’s Restaurant and Bar inCambridge, and in Albany at CityBeer Hall. In New York City, thebeers are on tap at Jimmy’s No.43, dba Brooklyn, Café D’Alsace,Waterfront Ale House, The PonyBar and many other good beer bars.
www.brewingnews.com7Wandering Star Craft Brewery will beopen for tours and tastings this spring, sowhen in the Berkshires or after some greatwings at Ye Olde Forge, beer lovers canhead over to visit the brewery. There mightbe a chance to fill a growler of beer, and tobe on the safe side it’s a good idea to bringone along when beer touring.The most important part of the WanderingStar story is to remember that there aremany forks in the road to choose from, andeven if there is a troll under the bridge, it’snot the end of the world. Just a little waysup might be that perfect location to start abrewery. The moral of the story is that itdoes pay to daydream occasionally while onthe job if the only thing you do is scribblenumbers on a pad and pretend that bankingis good for the world.Wandering Star Craft Brewery11Gifford StreetPittsfield, Mass.firstname.lastname@example.org,www.wanderingstarbrewing.comThere are no times for tours as of now,perhaps this spring.To the Editor:Shock and awe are military maneuvers,not what the news media should be doing totheir reading public. While calmly enjoying ahomebrew at my favorite Brew on Premiseand reading the December issue of YBN andreading my favorite YBN recurring article TheTasteless Panel, I suddenly became disheartenedand dismayed upon reading the editor’snote at the bottom of the page. Are you kiddingme? The Tasteless Panel is the mostexciting and interesting part of YBN!!! (nooffense toward the well written articles, finesummary of the state of the brewing industry,local and varietal stories of interest and finemarketing of products and services I want,need and desire; really, great stuff all around).It is tasteless humor based on beer and areal reflection of modern culture. Everythingthat happens in a pub between guys on aSaturday night, only in print. Come on, whatwere you thinking? These guys made mymonth. I look forward to the witty remarksregarding bad beer. You will be taking away atreasure of one-liners I can use at socials.The Demise of Monkey Boyand The ZookeeperSeriously, you need to bring back TheTasteless Panel. Maybe you could re-run themfrom the beginning. Maybe pour some VoodooBrew on their graves to reanimate them. Maybeit was only a bad dream after drinking Goldenanniversary on a Friday night binge: Monkey Boyis only curled up in the fetal position among thestuffed animals on his daughter’s bed and theZookeeper only “shot” him with some B-vitaminsa la Jose Canseco to help keep him healthy.Something. Just bring back The TastelessPanel. I’m too conservative to bother startingan “Occupy YBN” event. Hanging out, drinkingbeer, chanting slurs (or is it slurring chants?) andurinating on your front windows is below me.Besides, the Zookeeper usually does that onpayday anyways, right? Don’t be the 1% D-bagsthat take our fun and excitement (or excrement?,I’ve had a few homebrews and can’t spell) away.You owe it to the brewing world to let thetwo craft beer lovers take on more of the putridswill out there with a head on, name call’n, beermix’n extravaganza that the 99% of us (at leastin my kitchen) have come to enjoy. Face it YBNeditors, there is a lot of bad beer out there,shouldn’t we make fun of them? In the wordsof Judge Smails from Caddy Shack, “I didn’thave to send some of those boys to the electricchair, I felt I owed it to ‘em!”Rant over.The KellermeisterTo the Editor:Good morning. But are you kidding meno more Tasteless Panel???? Say it ain’tso. Great paper, very informative. I alwayslook forward to their cutting edge humor. Areyou replacing them? Are they going to someother publication? Any info would be great.Thanx.Loyal reader.Rick ShawFrom the Editor:Sorry, guys, but Monkey Boy and theZookeeper must remain undisturbed in theirOhio graves. Here at YBN HQ, our staff ofattorneys have told us that it’s illegal to crossstate lines to resurrect the dead and bringthem back across state lines once again towrite tasteless columns for a craft beer newspaper.We were disappointed to learn this,because we gassed up the jalopy, tossed theshovels in the back and were ready to bringback the boys.Cheers,Gregg