​Cover Story Notebook: Artistic Beer Production​

In an ongoing series, Brewer will take a small note from interviews of some of the cover stories it has run and given a small tidbit that didn’t make the issue but is still worth diving into.


​Brewmaster ​Mike Gerhart joined the Hill ​Farmstead​ team in 2017 after working years with Otter Creek in Middlebury, Vermont. We met with Mike the same day we chatted with Hill Farmstead owner Shaun Hill for a Last Pint story, which ran in the November/December 2019 issue.

​Gerhart had shared his thoughts on Otter Creek‘s construction a few years prior and he is a wealth of knowledge in his own right.

He is right at home in the Hill Farmstead mindset of letting the beer be art instead of a production-based need.

​”​There’s more of a delicate artistic venture,” he told us. “It’s beer and wood. You don’t put it on a production board that we’re going to package that in three weeks. You package when the beer is ready.

“But as far as this production goes, it’s a great model because, after 23 years of being a professional brewer, this is the only brewery where we’re not just getting orders from wholesalers and from there buying ingredients and then brew the beer and they come ready to pick it up. We choose the beer we want to brew.”

It’s an interesting model​ to run a brewery​​, he added​. ​Of course, Hill Farmstead is always trying to keep everything balanced in the portfolio but it’s not driven by the secondary market.

​”​It’s straight from the brewery, which is great​,” Gerhart said​. ​”That also gives us flexibility. When we’ve got certain fruit —​ ​or whatnot —​ that​ is fresh and ready​,​ that’s when we make a move rather than be held to a certain time limit of some sort. It’s great to be in the driver’s seat with what’s going on and it also good that no beer would ever have to move before it’s time. There’s no scenario of “Oh, the truck’s waiting.” If the beer’s not ready, the beer’s not ready. We don’t promise anything until it’s ready. We don’t tell people about this beer until it’s in a package and it’s what it’s supposed to be.

​”​When you see some of these breweries have a can release the next Saturday to get the buzz going, we know it hasn’t even been canned yet. And a lot could happen between now and then. You do not want to be in that spot, having a crew of people outside and have to go out there and say: ‘You know, well…. See what happened is.’ That’s scary stuff.​”​

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