Welcome back to this week's edition of Western Mass Brews. We travel north to Whatley and we are at the Hitchcock Brewing Company.
As you can see our reporter Mary Cate Mannion is surrounded by hops which makes for some amazing beers! Let's head inside to see what they have on tap today.
Rich Pederson traded his cubicle for a hop farm after 31 years of home brewing.
"Decided to make the leap from corporate America to buying a farm and opening a brewery," he told us.
As a self described beer nerd Rich says the choice was a simple one:
"Love of beer I wanted to mix a vocation with an avocation so I wanted to wake up in the morning and think about beer."
They moved here to Whatley opening Hitchcock Brewing with his wife Geneva. The name comes from Edward Hitchcock the first geologist in the Baystate and the third president of Amherst College.
"You experiment a lot as a home brewer so we have experimented with several styles things I thought worked well have made it into the rotation here at the brewery," Rich adds.
The first four on the tap list are the golden, a single and a double IPA as well as a pale ale which have roots in Rich's home brewing experience. But they have also branched off into a porter.
"We always try to keep the porter on but we play around with it a lot. I'll make a straight porter then we will add local ingredients," he notes.
Today there's a special twist.
"What's on right now is a maple porter made with maple syrup from a farm in Southampton," Rich explains.
There's also the Druid Juice a hoppy red ale brewed around St. Patrick's day. And an extremely rich stout...The Old Gregg Stout comes in at 8.1 percent with 11 different malts.
"We age that for awhile in the fermenter we let it sit for 2 and a half months," Rich says.
With each name on the chalk board is a story. The brewery located next to the tall grass alpaca barn was once home to these furry guys too.
"This used to be a working alpaca barn and it was wide open and birds were everywhere," Rich goes on to say.
When the birds left for the winter they closed the barn.
"They were not happy I had closed in their bar. Any time we opened a door or window we had to chase an angry bird around for hours so that was our Angry Sparrow Pale Ale," he tells us.
And at the heart of these beers are the hops grown just outside the breweries door.
"We are a one acre hop yard we have 840 plants and we grow two varieties new ports and cascades," Rich says.
Chosen to survive in New England's temperate climate the hops will grow from now until August.
They serve growlers, grunts and just recently began offering cans. And with over 3 decades of making beer rich knows his stuff and his happy to share a new style or history of the beers on tap.
"Local beer for people. I am trying to brew beers that are very accessible. This trend with craft beer where people want to make it inaccessible want to make it something that only the 1 % ers know about. I think beer should be made accessible for everyone. It should be drinkable and easy to understand while they can be complex I want them to be accessible," Rich explaines.
Where can folks find the brewery?
"Here in Whatley Thursday 4-8 Saturday 2-8 and any of the local pubs and restaurants in the area," Rich tells us.
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