For better beer – Words and images by Mike V. Sardina
Throwback Thursday – 30th Birthday Edition
Sitting in the front seat of a blue, rented Hyundai Elantra, I reached over to my left and pulled the driver’s side door closed. As I slowly accelerated in the car, I took a deep breath in and out and I left Portland, Maine behind me, heading northwest towards the White Mountain National Forest. Heading towards Greensboro Bend, Vermont.
It was Monday, April 4, 2016, and it was my 30th birthday. I had been planning this visit for a while now, it was my very first to Hill Farmstead Brewery, but it would and definitely will not be my last… I knew what my destination was, but other than that, I honestly didn’t really know what to expect.
Turning right onto Hill Road, you crest one hill and cruise downhill only to crest another. Then the silo comes into view, and there is steam rising off the building—they’re brewing. A faded wooden sign announces the arrival. The main retail doors were locked, so I approached a side entrance, set a text message to Bob (a man whom Adair from SARA had spoken so highly of, but a man I’d never met). He unlocked the door, let me into the building.
“Do you want to see the place? A quick tour?” he said. I honestly didn’t really know what to expect. Clean, organized, thoughtful, sophisticated, deliberate—a beautiful brewery.
After a brief walk around the facility, he turned and asked, “do you want a beer with lunch?” He brought out a small 375mL bottle, I’d never heard of the beer, a beer with the name of “Ann.” Bob opened and poured the beer, I honestly didn’t really know what to expect. Clean, organized, thoughtful, sophisticated, deliberate—a beautiful beer.
Monday’s are busy, busy days there, to say the very least. Bob called one of the retail staff (turned out, it was The Phil) and figured out how to engage a few of the beers on tap. Edward, Legitimacy, Earl. “I need to finish up work for the day,” he explained. “Enjoy what ever you may like.” So, I poured myself an Edward, a beer that would perhaps forever change and challenge my perceptions on beer. I sat at a wooden table, looked out the window across the grey countryside, and sipped…
As the day came to an end, the staff at the brewery that day came together in the taproom, now darker in the waning of the early spring evening light. In his absence, Shaun had arranged for a few birthday beers and we—Bob, Vasili, Ryan, and myself—would open them, laugh and converse, and share those wonderfully beautiful beers. I honestly should have expected the day might end that way.