For better beer – Words and images by Mike V. Sardina
Foam’s Funk in the South End
In a “dangerous neighborhood,” co-incidentally the brewers’ district of Burlington, Vermont; the South End. Therein lies the project of Todd Haire and Bill Mares; The House of Fermentology is located. The blendery is an idea that grew out of these two longtime friends’ time spent writing the third edition of Bill’s well-read book, Making Beer, and it’s a funky undertaking, for sure.
The House of Fermentology is an offbeat concept, serving as the wild side of Foam Brewers, if you will. At Foam, Haire serves as the head of brewing operations, brewing clean beers alongside brewers Bob Grim and Sam Keane. On the other hand of the brewing spectrum, at the HoF, Haire and Mares take wort that is produced at Foam and truck it over to the South End to their facility. There, the wort is sent to oak barrels, destined for a slow fermentation with a mixed-house Saccharomyces culture, along with Brettanomyces and Lactic Acid bacteria.
The resulting beers, what Haire and Mares call their “Dot” series, are distinctive from anything that Foam produces, thus making the relationship between the HoF and Foam such a valuable one. The beers are dry, tart, effervescent. They zip with oak complexity tempered with additions of dry hops or fruit—raspberries, cherries, Cara Cara oranges, blackberries, and blackcurrants—or additions of local honey. The have elegant nuance when taken in relative comparison to the heavy-handed, bombed out double IPAs from Foam—those can still be great in their own right, just totally different beasts.
Importantly, this project is a creative play place, an outlet for Haire to produce beers like this. A complete departure from the monotony of brewing flagships at Magic Hat and Switchback, where Haire spent a majority of his 20-plus years in the industry brewing. This project also brings Mares talents to the table in a professional, commercial way. The two friends working together to bring these beers to life.
Although you cannot visit the space at the House of Fermentology, there is no front-of-house operation there (the bathroom is conveniently located in the inner-depths of a janky, and very much so, working auto garage). But the beers are available at Foam, and sometimes at beers stores throughout the state of Vermont. And much like the artwork that adorns the labels, these beers are funky, colorful, and fun. So, when you visit Foam, don’t pass on the House beers.