It was 10:00am on Sunday, August 7, 2016 and Tim Clifford, the co-owner and brewer at Sante Adairus Rustic Ales in Capitola, California, stepped off of a plane in Burlington. He was on the red-eye flight from San Francisco overnight. Crowded into an undersized airplane seat for hours. He hasn’t slept, he hasn’t eaten. But he was wide-eyed, eager, alert. He had arrived in Vermont for a twelve-day stint as the very first Brewer-in-Residence at Hill Farmstead Brewery, and he couldn’t have been more excited.
As I drove him from the airport in Burlington to Greensboro Bend, we talked about his upcoming time at the brewery. What he was hoping to do upon arrival, what he wanted to accomplish. We rolled in to find Darren and Shaun down the road at Jaffins. We pulled my Subaru into the drive at the white-washed farmhouse, settled alongside an old, bucolic, red barn. Tim turned his head to look at me, pushed his sunglasses up the ridge of his nose, smiled just a bit, wryly, “I think Shaun might have said something about how we’re going to shoot skeet and drink Budweiser.”
“There are two things that I have never done in my life,” Tim said. “That’s go to a strip club and that’s shoot a gun.” And that changed…! Well, at least when it came to shooting a gun. “It was hugely memorable. Shaun and his brother Darren convinced me to shoot a gun for the first time in my life,” Tim recounts. “I was scared and exhilarated and managed to damage my right ear drum so I had trouble hearing Shaun in the brewhouse, he’d have to repeat himself for me as I worked. That earned me the nickname….”
It was an auspicious start to “Shotgun Tim’s” time in Greensboro that summer —shooting guns and then drinking Budweiser—and it was an interesting start to the Tim Clifford Residency at Hill Farmstead, what would end up being an actual, a most-true collaboration in every sense of the word. But it was also a hell of a lot of fun.
The fun continued last weekend in the Northeast Kingdom, finding Tim back at Hill Farmstead for the Festival of Farmhouse Ales to pour his residency beers. Now packaged and conditioned, these beers were nearly two years in the making.
All throughout the festival, there was a line for people to taste the four beers that were brewed during the residency, with Shotgun Tim pouring them himself the entire time. A wide smile on his face. A smile met my face as I stood there, sipping these special beers and chatting with Tim.
Today in the Taproom at Hill Farmstead, these four beers were released to the public for on-site consumption only. Residency 1: brewed with old world pilsner malt and aged in wine barrels. Residency 2: brewed with six-row malted barley and aged in wine barrels. Residency 3: brewed in the style of a Grisette, with wine barrel-stave smoked malt and aged in wine barrels. And Residency 4: aged in wine barrels with citrus fruit.
I truly wish I could have been there. I bet that today was a hell of a lot of fun too.