Archive | Winter 2015

Contents Winter 2015


The Road to Hill Farmstead. Photo by Brent Harrewyn



From Hive to Bottle: Artesano Meadery
Deep Family Roots Nourish Hill Farmstead
Riding the Beer Wave: Rock Art Brewery

A Guide to Eating Local


I’ll Drink to That!

John Kimmich

The Perfect Wife

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar


Turning Honey into Wine
Photo by Brent Harrewyn

Pairing a Southern Staple
with Green Mountain Favorites

Sourtooth: Backacre Beermakers
Resurrects a Classic


The Basics of Beer

What’s Your Local?






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The Last Bite


Photo by Brent Harrewyn

Photo by Brent Harrewyn

Local” isn’t just our neighborhood as defined by the streets that we live on—it’s the people, the sense of place and the traditions that unite us.
Wine, in particular, is so often the catalyst for gathering friends and family together, and we appreciate that sense of community. And like any community, “local” is always transforming and evolving. It wasn’t all that long ago that wine in Vermont was exclusively imported; in fact, many other local products that we’ve come to know and love were once exclusively imported, too.
Wines have a long and storied history of distinguishing themselves by the cultures and regions from which they come. The influence that a location has on wine is often referred to as terroir, and as Vermont vintners we are starting to see how this translates to our own craft. The concept that location plays a pivotal role in the essence of a product is not unfamiliar to Vermont. In fact, a unique interpretation of this concept can be seen within the local-food movement. From wines and ciders to maple syrup to beef, Vermont seems like a place determined to hold on to its identity.
In a thriving, local-food economy such as Vermont’s, where the products are well crafted and such a reflection of the people who make them, “local” truly defines not just our food, but our culture. This is something to be valued: passionate and dedicated farmers, cheesemakers, brewers and bakers, deeply connected to their customers and to their communities.
There is such beauty in that, something so authentic about knowing where your favorite foods, drinks and products come from and the stories behind the people who made them.

Fresh Tracks Farm
Vineyard & Winery
Berlin, Vermont

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Backacre Beermakers


Backacre Beermakers Resurrects a Classic
(with a Vermont Twist)

By Claire Willett

A refreshing glass of Sour Golden Ale.Photo by Brent Harrewyn

A refreshing glass of Sour Golden Ale.
Photo by Brent Harrewyn

When I was 18, I lost my sense of smell. In the years since, my taste buds have gone on overdrive, clamoring for more—more salt, more spice and, most of all, more sour.

As a child, I’d popped Warheads and handfuls of Sour Patch Kids until my tongue went nearly numb from citric acid; as a (semi) adult, I turned to lime, tamarind, pickling brine, kombucha and, just recently, beer. At a bar in Carroll Gardens on the southern end of Brooklyn, I dubiously accepted a russet-colored sip from a stranger’s pint. I was not expecting a mouthful of tart, juicy cherry and musky wood, but I was very happy to get it.

The beer I tried is called kriek, and it is one of two refermented, peculiarly delicious offshoots of the lambic family. In and of itself, lambic stands apart from other beers because it is fermented with airborne wild yeasts and barrel-aged, both of which give it all sorts of dry, bright white-wine-y notes.

Lambic’s other refermented offshoot is gueuze, a beer that sounds like a sneeze, smells like a barn, and tastes like … any number of things, most of them sour. Like a mule, it is sturdy and intelligent and can only be created from existing creatures. The “oude”-style gueuze, so-called because it is not artificially sweetened, is slowly coming back into favor in its home country, but stateside it is even harder to come by than kriek.

Which is a pity, because, to us sourtooths, it is singularly delicious. To sample it, you can order a case from Belgium, or you can drive to south-central Vermont, where a handful of restaurants and liquor stores stock green 750ml bottles of Backacre Brewery’s Sour Golden Ale.

The raven on Sour Golden Ale’s label overlooks snowy fields and a snug wood farmhouse—about as quintessentially Vermont a scene as any. But Backacre’s genesis really began in Belgium, where Matt Baumgart and Erin Donovan lived for two years. The couple had been enthusiastic home brewers in Denver. They went to Belgium, Matt says, “not just to drink beer, but we certainly drank a lot of it.”

In Belgium, Matt and Erin noticed that people out at bars would “start with a pilsner, then have an iced tea, then a specialty beer, then another iced tea. They drink slower, last longer and don’t get super drunk.”

Drink slower, last longer, don’t get too drunk: It’s a drinking culture that begs for beers that are as refreshing as they are interesting. Gueuze has both qualities in spades; before long, Matt and Erin were hooked. In particular, they were taken with Hanssens, a blendery in Dworp that has been blending and bottling small batches of gueuze since 1871. In fact, some of its barrels are over a century old.

“We were inspired by the fact that this kind of beer doesn’t need babysitting. It’s not a fulltime thing; people who were running it had day jobs. There’s really nothing for you to do except not screw it up,” says Matt.

Backacre Beermakers is a family affair. John Donovan, Matt Baumgart and Erin Donovan.Photo courtesy of Backacres Brewery

Backacre Beermakers is a family affair. John Donovan, Matt Baumgart and Erin Donovan.
Photo courtesy of Backacre Beermakers

The way gueuze is made is one of its wonderful aspects, along with its taste. The process begins with brewing the lambic, which like any beer, starts with wort—a mix of malted barley, wheat and water, filtered into a clear brown liquid that tastes, Matt says, like “sweet cereal syrup.” The brewer takes the unfermented wort to a blendery—so called because only the aging and blending of beer takes place there. At the blendery, the wort is inoculated with wild yeasts, and aged in a wood barrel.

A year or more later, you have lambic. To make gueuze, the young lambic is blended with other, older barrels before the final bottling. Watching the process at Hanssens got Matt and Erin thinking they might be able to replicate it. There was even a barn waiting for them in Vermont—“why not put some casks in [it]?”

The barn belongs to Erin’s parents. In their pre-Backacre days, the couple would fly in from Denver for the holidays and find themselves with a surfeit of time. Now they had something to fill it with. The first batch of wort went into a barrel in 2011; two years later, Backacre released its first batch of Sour Golden Ale.

As at Hanssens, the beermaking at Backacre is a communal affair: A local brewer contributes the wort, Erin’s father handles deliveries and daily check-ins, and Matt and Erin oversee the blending and bottling. However, Backacre’s fermentation process differs from Hanssens: While their wort also goes into oak barrels, Backacre doesn’t not leave the yeast inoculation completely up to Mother Nature. Before the wort is added, the barrels are inoculated with yeast strains which have been carefully selected by Matt and Erin. “We grew the organisms up and selected the ones we like,” Matt explains.


While Sour Golden Ale is lovely on its own, it’s remarkably versatile with food—particularly winter’s heartier, more luxurious dishes. As with wine, you can pair this ale with contrasting flavors (sweet, rich) or complementing flavors (funky, sour). Here are a few of my favorites:

Salad: Caprese, Greek or a simple green salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Seafood: Crab cakes, bluefish or mussels (for the latter, do as the Belgians and steam them in a bit of the sour ale).

Meats: Pâté (venison is especially nice, but pork is great as well), duck confit, cassoulet.

Cheese: Bleu cheeses love sour beers, as does the runnier end of the barnyard, including Epoisses, Taleggio and Stinking Bishop. If you like a bit of jam with your stinkies, try fig—or marmalade.

Dessert: Broiled grapefruit, tiramisu or a dense chocolate cake (use dark, high-quality chocolate—Scharffen Berger makes a good one).

So, there is a bit of biochemistry, of mad science, in Backacre Beer. But mostly, there is time, and patience, and then, a year or so later, a lot of tasting to determine which of the older barrels play well with their newest sibling, and in what quantities.

“When we blend, we’re not looking to match the flavor of last time. We taste from all the barrels each time we blend and try to figure out the best blend we can make on that day. We’re looking more to try to balance—sometimes barrels have a lot of wild yeast character, a lot of bitter, a lot of sour,” Matt says.

So far, there have been three releases of Backacre. The most recent, a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-year-old beers, shares its predecessors’ tart champagne-cider backbone, but the alcohol content’s been toned down and the dry oak/apple/stone-fruit flavors from the barrel sing a little louder. (In their previous lives, Backacre’s barrels held Napa whites; while most of Sour Golden Ale’s flavor comes from the wood, there is a smattering of high, citrusy shoutouts to Sauvignon Blanc.)

On their website, Matt and Erin suggest pairing Backacre with an “open-faced sandwich of … Read More

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Warm up to Bourbon

Pairing a Southern Staple with Green Mountain Favorites

by Julianne Puckett

Photo by Brent Harrewyn

A refreshing glass of the Green Mountain Mule
Photo by Brett Harrewyn

Picture the scene: It’s 4° outside, I’ve spent the day wearing my “outside” scarf while inside and the sun went down (I swear) shortly after lunchtime. It’s clearly time to call it a day and unwind a bit before tackling the “what’s for dinner” question.

At this chilly time of year, my thoughts turn dark—at least when it comes to my evening libation. Don’t get me wrong: Normally, I enjoy umbrella drinks as much as the next gal, but no one, and I mean no one, wants a cheery tropical-colored boat drink when it’s only 4° outside. The same way that no one, and I mean no one, wants to hear yet another duet rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” no matter the season or artist.

Now, I don’t mean simply dark in color. If it was only a color issue, I’d drink a dark beer or sip some crisp, dry hard cider. No, in the deep of winter, when I feel certain that it may never, ever be springtime again, I need a hearty winter sipper, something that warms from the inside out, something that liberates me from my “outside” scarf.
I drink bourbon.

And not only because I enjoy a well-made Manhattan or classic whiskey sour. Bourbon has an earthy, smoky-oaky flavor and aroma that, for me, is like capturing the essence of winter in a glass. It’s the comforting feeling I get while warming my cold fingers and toes in front of a toasty fire after a day spent schussing down the slopes—but in a highly drinkable form. The same oakiness that I despise in Chardonnay in summer is somehow just right in a glass of bourbon in winter.

Bourbon comes honestly by its mellow smokiness. After being distilled from fermented corn mash, this uniquely American whiskey—a 1964 Congressional resolution declared bourbon an indigenous product of the United States—is aged in new-but-charred white oak barrels that develop its smoky flavor characteristics and dark amber color. Bourbon distilleries are so serious about this barrel business that none ever uses a barrel twice; if the barrel were to be reused, the resulting liquor would not be bourbon, only plain whiskey.

Yes, there are rules for producing true bourbon. Quite a few rules, in fact, including the rule that for bourbon to be called “straight,” it must be aged for a minimum of two years. Or the rule that forbids adding anything other than water (other additives make it “blended bourbon”). And, while there’s not an official rule making it so, bourbon is largely a Southern product: 95% of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky, although, as with beer and other spirits, regional craft distillers of blended varieties are popping up nationwide.

A jar of bourbon-fig jam ready to complement any cheese platter.

A jar of bourbon-fig jam ready to complement any cheese platter.

Therefore, with so many rules as to how and where bourbon becomes bourbon, what’s a straight-bourbon-loving dedicated locavore to do, short of relocating to Kentucky? Don’t call the movers just yet. Instead, try combining bourbon with local Vermont specialties in two tasty ways to create a North-meets-South, North-loves-South relationship.

The first, a variation on the classic Moscow Mule, pairs smoky bourbon with sweet Vermont maple syrup, spicy ginger beer and a bright splash of lime. Maple syrup is ideal for this bourbon cocktail because it is essentially an all-natural simple syrup; it’s as if nature—and by “nature” I mean “the folks down the road at the sugar house”—knew that I can’t stand fussy cocktails and created a perfect cocktail mixer just for me.

The second is a sweet dried fig and bourbon jam, the perfect addition to a charcuterie platter arrayed with both hard and soft Vermont cheeses. Bourbon and dried fruits are a match made in heaven—which is probably why fruitcake is often soaking in it. But don’t stand on ceremony with this jam or save it for after 5pm because of the bourbon: You’ll swoon over a spoonful swirled into your morning yogurt or slathered on some freshly toasted bread.

When the days and your mood turn dark, do as I and our neighbors to the South do: Ditch the “outside” scarf and add some warming bourbon to the menu.

Julianne Puckett develops recipes and writes about food at She believes there’s very little that can’t be made better by adding bourbon.




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Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar


By Lisa Masé
Photography by Brent Harrewyn

A warming glass of Hot Toddy

A warming glass of Hot Toddy

Tangy yet sweet, apple cider vinegar is a tonic that can help support good health during the colder months.

I grew up mixing it with elderberry syrup for a delicious and invigorating tonic. Whenever all of the cousins crowded around my grandmother’s expansive table for a winter dinner, she would pour a splash of this vinegar-syrup mixture into our glasses. The resulting pink tinge gave us the illusion that we were sipping on wine.

The flavor of apple cider vinegar is unparalleled: warming, sweet, sour and strengthening. It may take courage to sample your first spoonful, but you will be glad you did. This fermented food, made from all the apples that are too sour or pockmarked to eat, is a key ingredient in many folk remedies.

Apples are high in pectin, a type of insoluble fiber. You might know it as a thickening ingredient in jam. This is particularly important because high-fiber foods increase feelings of satisfaction. These delightful local fruits are rich in inulin, a prebiotic compound that feeds the healthy bacteria in our guts. As its name implies, apple cider vinegar is made from apples and contains pectin and inulin, too.

Apple cider vinegar taken before meals will help proteins break down into amino acids. Once broken down, the amino acids fuel some of the body’s essential processes, such as protein biosynthesis and neurotransmitter creation. Specifically, the amino acid tryptophan plays a critical role in the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain. Because serotonin helps balance mood, we often feel satiated and content after savoring tryptophan-rich foods.

Mashed apples, stored in a clean bucket covered with a cloth, will over time produce cider and, eventually, vinegar. As these apple bits interact with the bacteria in the air around them, they ferment. Sugars and pectin break down to form a slightly alcoholic brew, which is currently trending in Vermont: hard cider. Beyond this point, the cider forms a “mother,” a concentrated portion of culture, which breaks down further to create vinegar.


Sweet and spicy squash, leek and vinegar soup

The final product is rich in beneficial probiotic bacteria to maintain a balanced intestinal microbiome. This balance supports healthy digestion and strong immunity. It also reduces the oral bacteria that can exacerbate cavities or infections, protects the liver and kidneys from being taxed by the richer foods of winter, and can help regulate blood chemistry. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this delicious vinegar improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar when eaten as part of a meal or taken before bedtime.

Apple cider vinegar contains chlorogenic acid. A recent study published in the Biochemical Pharmacology Journal explains that this acid helps prevent LDL cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol,” from oxidizing. In addition to its many benefits, this sweet and sour tonic is available locally. Try Honest to Goodness from Washington, Vermont.

To make your own, pour a jug of freshly pressed cider in a Mason jar, cover it with a cloth and let it sit out on your counter for about a week. Include it in more of the foods you cook. It makes a great substitute in soup recipes that call for wine. Surprisingly enough, a teaspoon adds a delicious depth to chocolate cake.

Most of all, enjoy your food, be well and try these recipes to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet.

Lisa Masé spices her life with fenugreek and coriander, savors cookbooks like novels and stays healthy with a daily dose of apple cider vinegar.






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Contributors Winter 2015



Marian Burros wrote about food for the New York Times for 27 years. She lives in Maryland but spends most of the summer in the Northeast Kingdom. The author of 11 cookbooks, in season she does most of her shopping at farm stands and farmers’ markets.




Maria Buteux Reade transitioned from 27 years as a boarding school teacher and dean to become a working partner at Someday Farm in East Dorset. When not on her tractor turning compost, she writes in an old sugarhouse, happy to share that space with a few cows, some wandering geese and bales of sweet hay. Maria has a home along the Battenkill River in Arlington.



 Caleb Kenna is a photographer based in Brandon.  He grew up in Vermont and his work has appeared in the The New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Frommer’s Rutland Magazine, Vermont Life, Vermont Land Trust and many other publications.  More of his work can be seen at




Lisa Masé is a culinary medicine educator, passionate cook, and homesteader living in Central Vermont. Stop by for a visit or sign up for a workshop offered by the many talented people in the neighborhood! For recipes and learning schedule visit




Tracey Medeiros is a freelance food writer, food stylist, recipe developer and tester. Tracey is the author of The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook (The Countryman Press, May 2013) and Dishing Up Vermont (Storey Publishing, 2008). The Countryman Press will publish her third book, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, due out in 2015. She can be reached at or via email at




Paul-Alexandre Petit is a freelance writer residing in South Burlington, Vermont. He is the manager at The Growler Garage and spends his free time meditating, and studying for his Bachelors in International Relations. He can be reached at




Julianne Puckett is the creator of, a blog about eating better using healthy, easy recipes, DIY pantry staples and home-preserved food. A designer, writer and former IT professional, she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.




Kristina Sepetys lives in Berkeley, California in a small cottage with a big garden that her urban farmer friends use to grow produce for their CSAs. She loves reading and writing about cookbooks and testing recipes for accuracy (and taste!). She is a frequent contributor to Edible publications throughout the country.




Laura Sorkin is an organic farmer, classically trained cook and food writer. She lives in northwest Vermont with her husband and two children. She can be reached at




Frederica Templeton is a writer, editor and communications consultant who has tested the world’s cuisines and never found them wanting. She is editorial director of Mansfield/Templeton & Associates in Manchester, Vermont, and can be reached at




Claire Willett When she’s not daylighting as a data analyst, you can find Claire chasing down the best food, drink, and local points of interest the Northeast has to offer. Along with Edible Green Mountains, her work as appeared in Edible Boston, Conde Nast Traveler, and Worth.

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The Perfect Wife


Like its namesake, this restaurant and tavern
blends comfort with spicy innovation

By Frederica Templeton | Photography by Caleb Kenna


The lighting and ambience of the snowy evening is inviting to diners.

The lighting and ambience of the snowy evening is inviting to diners.

Entrées are based on local produce and the freshest ingredients.

Entrées are based on local produce and the freshest ingredients.

“Eat Out and Stay Out” is the motto at the Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern in Manchester, and chef owner Amy Chamberlain makes that a very attractive offer. I invited my 20-something daughter to be my guide, since she and her friends are faithful customers. The upstairs tavern, aptly named the Other Woman, has a long comfortable bar, booths and small tables where customers can choose from relaxed pub-style menu.

Looking around the tavern, as my daughter chatted with friends having dinner at the bar, it struck me that Norman Rockwell would find this a very congenial atmosphere. There were half a dozen young families with children all intently engaged with the foosball machine in the front room. Young professionals were relaxing at the bar with end-of-day beers, and couples of all ages were keeping up a steady murmur of conversation in the booths that line one wall. A recently added three-season covered patio off the bar gives diners the option to sit outside and enjoy the Vermont weather.

The bar menu features comfort-food favorites like Hot Indian Curry and Goat Cheese Dip with Eggplant Fries, Salad Like Mom’s, Couch Potatoes with Cheddar cheese, bacon, scallions and horseradish sauce, and Chicken Pot Pie. The Bistro Sandwich is a big favorite and after one bite I knew why: a surprising mix of chicken, bacon, crispy fried onions and pesto aioli layered into a soft roll. My daughter went for Ali’s Meatless Quinoa Balls after we had quickly polished off that curry dip.

Chef owner Amy Chamberlain takes a moment out of her busy day to give us a smile

Chef owner Amy Chamberlain takes a moment out of her busy day to give us a smile

On Friday nights the tables in the tavern are moved aside at 10pm and the small stage comes alive with music by local bands. Dancing is encouraged. “We are very proud to support local musicians,” Amy says. This has not gone unnoticed as the Perfect Wife was voted the number one live music venue in Manchester in a Rutland Business Journal Readers Poll.
After 18 years cooking things her way in her own kitchen, Amy Chamberlain has perfected the art of presenting very good, uncomplicated but interesting food in a laid-back atmosphere of comfort and good cheer. When asked to describe her cuisine, she readily answers “freestyle” and this freewheeling ethos is the pervasive mood of this popular gathering place that is within easy driving distance of three southwestern Vermont ski areas.

Downstairs there is the quieter, more formal restaurant complete with a glass-enclosed Garden Room. The menu is more extensive, with a variety of small plates that change with the season and a selection of large plates that “have stood the test of time,” according to the menu. These include the Sesame-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna made with Amy’s special oriental sauce (which has been the house favorite since she opened) and a vegetarian’s delight, The Howling Wolf, which is “dairy-, wheat- and animal-free.”

From an early age Amy was drawn to the chef’s life, starting with her successful cookie-baking business. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, she began her career in small kitchens in Manchester; Aspen, Colorado; and on a private yacht. After a few years she knew she wanted her own place … and she wanted to come back to Vermont. As luck would have it her stepfather had his eye on the perfect building for her and so the Perfect Wife made its debut in 1996, quickly becoming the place to be for its down-to-earth cooking and high-energy night life.

Serving local libations is part of the charm of the Other Woman Tavern.

Serving local libations is part of the charm of the Other Woman Tavern.

Amy was an early supporter of local farmers and she is today a proud promoter of Vermont Fresh Network and Vermont Farm to Plate, both dedicated to building partnerships between chefs and local growers as well as with customers. From the beginning, her menus included as many local foods as she could find. Today many of her ingredients are seasonal and locally grown, including organic vegetables from the Ruocco Family Farm; cheeses from Maplebrook Farm, Taylor Farm and nearby Hildene; ground beef from Boyden Farm; and Misty Knoll’s best chickens. Amy feels it’s important to get to know her suppliers. Every year she gathers the staff together for road trips, not only to educate themselves about the products, but to create strong relationships as well.

“It’s nice to know the stories behind the products we sell so we can share them with our customers,” she says. Traveling around the state and the country to check out what is going on is also part of what keeps her menu selections changing and current.

In the years since she opened, Amy has garnered wide appreciation for her skills, including the 2010 Chef of the Year Award from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 she traveled to Dijon, France, to represent Vermont and the US at the 4-14 Festival of Music and Food.

Supporting Vermont products from the beginning included beer. “I started supporting local microbreweries as soon as I opened,” says Amy. “Today we have a solid variety of Vermont craft beers and liquors.” She regularly rotates the four taps to include different beers but always available is the Long Trail blend made especially for the Perfect Wife, a crisp citrusy light ale named That’sWhatSheSaid.

Behind the scenes in the kitchen of the Perfect Wife.

Behind the scenes in the kitchen of the Perfect Wife.

On the cocktail menu are a tempting array of Vermont liquors including WhistlePig straight rye whiskey, Smuggler’s Notch Distillery Vodka and Caledonia Spirits’ Barr Hill Gin. The bartenders are encouraged to come up with their own ideas: the beet martini made with Pickering Farm pickled beet juice sounded so tempting.

In addition to contributing to the appreciation of fresh local food in her restaurant, Amy also supervises a catering business and is the exclusive non-wedding event caterer at Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home in Manchester. As if this were not enough, the very photogenic Amy produces her own cooking show on the local public access channel called “Life of the Party,” on which invited guests cook their favorite recipes before a live audience.

Her involvement in the community also includes being a sponsor for numerous charitable events in Manchester and donating her time to increasing awareness of the importance of eating locally grown foods.

“Vermont has so much to offer,” she says, “and I feel it is important to support our neighbors and cultivate a strong economy so that living in this gorgeous land is profitable and enjoyable for all of us.”

To find out more visit

Frederica Templeton is a Manchester-based writer. She’s definitely going back for that beet martini and some curry dip.

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Edible Voices

EGM Questionnaire with John Kimmich

By Maria Buteux Reade | Photography by Brent Harrewyn

kimmichREVWhen John Kimmich checked on his pub the evening of August 28, 2011, he had just enough time to turn off the pilots of the gas stoves. Opening the door to the basement, he saw that water had risen nearly to the ceiling. So the brewer headed to the taps and poured one last beer.

As John drank it, he could feel tanks bobbing in the basement below his feet. Within minutes, the floodwater was already a few inches deep on the first floor.

But brewers are a creative and determined lot. Although Irene shuttered the popular watering hole (gives new meaning to that term), The Alchemist revived itself. Serendipitously, John and Jen Kimmich, co-owners of The Alchemist in Waterbury, already had Plan B under way. Within days of the tropical storm, the first silver and black cans of Heady Topper rolled off the line and into the hands of lucky consumers.

And thus the craze began. Farewell pub, hello cans!

The Alchemist Brewery, which now lives high on a dry hillside, produces 9,000 barrels of Heady Topper each year compared to the 400 barrels John had brewed at the pub. They brew four days a week and can on three days.

“People hound us to distribute beyond our 25-mile range, but we just don’t have enough beer to expand,” explained John. “We deliver to 160 accounts and it’s a constant juggle of who gets how many cases.”

John began his career in 1994, waiting tables at a brew pub in West Lebanon, NH. On his days off, he volunteered and worked with Greg Noonan, the owner and brewer. A year later, Noonan offered John the job as head brewer at the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington. And that’s where John met Jen.

“We were engaged within a month and married a year and half later. We just had our 17th anniversary.”

This spring, The Alchemist will break ground for a brand new enterprise in Stowe which will contain a brewery, pub and retail space. Heady Topper will still be produced in Waterbury while Stowe will brew two additional flagship beers, Focal Banger and Holy Cow, as well as some seasonal offerings.

“We’re building a pretty cool thing that has surpassed our expectations. Barring any catastrophes, this new pub and brewery in Stowe will be there for another 400 years,” said Jen.
John added, “It’s amazing to be able to focus on just a couple of high-quality products. Back at the Waterbury pub, I was brewing 70 or 80 different styles. Brewers feel they have to prove something. That was fun and challenging but… I think we’ve shown that if you concentrate on making one product exceedingly well, you don’t need to make anything else.”
Edible Green Mountains: One cannot live on beer alone. So what’s your favorite cuisine?

John Kimmich: We love Asian food—Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese.

EGM: A few ingredients always in your fridge or pantry?

JK: Grapeseed oil, yogurt, eggs, ice cream.

EGM: Late-night snack?

JK: Cabot Pepper Jack.

EGM: Favorite Vermont ingredients?

JK: Heirloom beets, local cheeses, especially Jasper Hill Harbison.

EGM: Best Vermont pubs, cafés, eateries?

JK: Asian Noodle House on Church Street in Burlington, Tiny Thai, Hen of the Wood, Misery Loves Company.

EGM: Describe an ideal day (or evening) off.

JK: We like to hike, bike, ski or snowboard with our 10-year-old son, Charlie. Then take a family hot tub, a homecooked meal and a cold beer.

EGM: Describe yourselves as eaters. What are your go-to foods?

JK: We try to eat clean, unprocessed food. Lots of salads and local meats.

EGM: That being said, any guilty food or drink pleasures?

JK: Beer and Jasper Hill Harbison. And Doritos.

EGM: How did you land in Vermont?

JK: Jen grew up here and graduated from UVM. I moved here from Pittsburgh in 1994 to make beer. We chose to stay because Vermont is a forward-thinking, liberal state, and we can’t imagine living anywhere else.

EGM: Why is Vermont such fertile ground for craft beers and farm-to-table eating?

JK: Vermonters appreciate craft and quality.

EGM: How has the Vermont food and drink scene evolved in the last 10 years? Where do you see it going?

JK: Like everywhere else, there is a strong and growing movement towards eating locally grown and produced food.

EGM: Any mentors or sources of inspiration?

JK: Greg Noonan, now deceased, owner of the Vermont Pub and Brewery.

EGM: If you weren’t a brewer, what would you be?

JK: A sad cog in the corporate machine.

EGM: A surprising passion you have?

JK: We loathe Japanese knotweed.

EGM: How did you get where you are today?

JK: Lots of hard work, sacrifice and dedication.

EGM: In your opinion, what are some of the top beers on the market today?

JK: Depends on the day.

EGM: Describe a typical day at The Alchemist.

JK: We do what needs to be done: make beer, package beer, distribute beer.

EGM: What role do you each play in the business? How do you balance each other?

JK: I oversee all brewing and operations and Jen oversees the distribution, human resources and financial planning. We work together with our incredible staff on marketing and branding.

EGM: Words of wisdom to anyone who harbors a dream, outlandish or feasible?

JK: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and do your homework.

Maria Reade works at Someday Farm in southwestern Vermont, and she will pull any string, including interviews, to stockpile Heady Topper.

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Edible Reads


By Kristina Sepetys

Whether you’re looking for a drink to quench your thirst, feed your hunger, nourish your body or just get that party started, the new titles below will provide palate-enticing suggestions for creating a mix of satisfying sips and swallows.


By Michael Dietsch
Countryman Press, 2014

Shrubs, popular thirst-quenching Victorian- and Colonial-era drinks combining fruit, sugars and vinegar, are enjoying a renaissance. Made with seasonal produce and fresh herbs and spices, shrubs can be mixed in cocktails, sauces, marinades, salad dressings or enjoyed on their own. Dietsch, a writer and blogger at, serves up nearly 50 easy-to-prepare recipes for sharp, tangy and refreshing infusions. Stir up a Cranberry Sauce Shrub, use Red Currant Shrub in a Vermouth Cassis, mix Apple Cinnamon Shrub with seltzer or develop your own shrub-based cocktail using the book’s straightforward directions and step-by-step photographs.



DIY Nut Milks, Nut Butters and More: From Almonds to Walnuts
By Melissa King
The Experiment, 2014

Nut milks have fewer calories and more nutrients than dairy milks and taste great. Blogger Melissa King of has produced a primer for making nut milks and butters, together with recipes for mixing them up in whole-food snacks and desserts. Ingredients are few and instructions simple for making drinks like Homemade Coconut, Hazelnut and Strawberry Brazil Nut Milks, which can also be used to create other dishes. Straightforward recipes use simple ingredients found in your pantry. Every dish is gluten-free and vegan, and most are grain-free, too.


juiceJuice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing and Living Well
By Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores andHayden Slater
Ten Speed Press, 2014

Los Angeles–based Pressed Juicery founders explain how juicing and juice cleansing make for healthy living. You’ll need only a blender or juicer to try out the book’s 75 recipes for the shop’s most popular drinks. Find instructions for using greens (juices based on green leafy vegetables), roots (from filling root vegetables like beets and carrots), citrus (light immune boosters), fruits, aloe and chlorophyll water and other ingredients to create sweet and savory organic juices, creamy nut milks, rich smoothies, flavored waters and delicious blends like Chocolate Almond Milk, Berry Basil Bliss or Apple Lemon Ginger to soothe that winter cold.


Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England: From Flips & Rattle-Skulls to Switchel & Spruce Beer
By Corin Hirsch
The History Press, 2014

Beers, ales, wines, cider and spirits were the drinks of choice in Colonial New England for adults and even for many children. Alcoholic drinks were a carryover from life in England and a product of the New World’s abundant ingredients like apples, sugar and molasses, wild berries and hops. The drinking culture sustained the taverns and inns that became meeting places where unrest and the Revolution brewed. In this enjoyable and informative read that the author describes as “a romp through colonial drinks, their origins and how they’re made and blended,” New England food and drinks writer Corin Hirsch explores some of the favorite potations of early Americans and provides modern-day recipes.


KOMBUCHAKombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs and Mixers
By Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman
Ten Speed Press, 2014

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea-based beverage with probiotics, vitamins and enzymes, usually flavored with fruit or vegetable juices. Author Stephen Lee, cofounder of Tazo and Stash Teas and Kombucha Wonder Drink, offers tips for brewing the perfect batch of kombucha and caring for your SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), the starter culture for the drink. Lee shares his favorite recipes, like Lavender-Green Tea Kombucha, together with suggestions from other brewers, bartenders and chefs for infusing your brew with fruits, herbs and spices, and incorporating it into juices, smoothies, sauces, snacks, sweets and cocktails.


drinkDrink the Harvest
By Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest
Storey Publishing, 2014

Many fruits, vegetables and herbs can be concocted into delicious beverages that are healthier and more economical than their store-bought counterparts. Drink the Harvest shows you how to create juices, ciders, wines, meads, teas and syrups to drink now or put up for later in the year. From strawberry juice to pear cider, dandelion wine to spiced apple mead, citrus peel tea to kombucha, the book offers instruction for growing a beverage garden and harvesting ingredients for maximum flavor and quantity.


nourishingNourishing Broth: An Old Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World
By Sally Fallon Morrell and Kaayla T. Daniel
Grand Central Life & Style, 2014

Fallon, the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, together with Kaayla Daniels, presents a comprehensive guidebook on the science and benefits of homemade bone broth. The authors explore the many ways bone broth can promote healing, treat a variety of ailments and promote general good health. Find cooking techniques and nearly 150 pages of recipes for making and using various broths, from simple chicken broth to rich clear consommé and Russian fish stock. A book that should be on the shelf of every home cook!


blenderThe Blender Girl
By Tess Masters
Ten Speed Press, 2014
A slow-cooked meal is wonderful, but sometimes a quick meal mixed up in a blender is even better, especially when it’s nutrient-dense. The debut cookbook from blogger features 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes for drinks and meals easily whipped up in a blender. Many recipes are raw and nut-, soy-, corn- and sugar-free and use natural sweeteners. Besides smoothies, soups and spreads you’ll find recipes for appetizers, salads and main dishes with a blended component, like Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce. Read about the benefits of soaking, sprouting and dehydrating; healthful food combinations; and the benefits of eating raw, probiotic-rich and alkaline ingredients.

Kristina Sepetys loves reading and writing about cookbooks and testing recipes for accuracy (and taste!).

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