Thursday, January 20, 2011

Montpelier Farmer's Market - Sat. Jan. 22th

This Saturday will feature the second release in our Barrel-Aged series, an exciting long-term project this I described in detail in my last post (see below). I will be at the Montpelier Farmers Market on E. State St. from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, January 22nd, offering bottles for sale, and sample tastings.

We will be offering our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout in bottles for the very first time! The barrels I obtained were freshly emptied from the Maker's Mark distillery. They are a small family run artisan distiller, much like some of our home-grown breweries here in Vermont. If you think the long name is a mouth-full, wait until you taste it! Much like last month's Maple Barrel Aged release, this beer is bottle conditioned, carbonated and ready to drink now, however, I highly recommend saving some for a year or more to age, which will smooth out the beer, while melding the different flavors together, increase the complexity, and mellow the 11% abv. on this special beer. I am also pleased to let you know that I was able bottle 350 bottles of the 750ml size - twice as much as our Maple Barrel version, so there should be plenty to go around on Saturday. We will also be planning to pour a number of samples of the barrel aged stout to have available on the table at 10am, so that you can try this beer before or while you purchase it.

Just to be sure, and to help spread out the crowd, we'll be running this release a bit differently. Last market the crowd that formed at the table was an issue for other vendors, as folks were sometimes blocked from getting to the adjacent tables. I will be releasing cases of this beer at 10am, 11am and Noon, so you don't have to be here at 10am to purchase this beer. I will also be holding several cases of our other varieties of beer to begin selling at Noon, thus offering later arrivals the opportunity to purchase beer. Last market, we were sold out of all of our beer by around noon, I know crazy. Until we do expand someday, I really appreciate your understanding that quantities are limited, and that the demand is greater than the supply.

Here are the exact details and beer menu:

Maker's Mark Bourbon Barrel-Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout - $30/750ml - no limit

$8/187ml (very limited) - 1 bottle/person if purchasing 750ml, 2 bottles if not.

The following bottles have a limit of 2/person of each variety (limit 6 total)

Double Sunshine IPA - $9/22oz
Knockout Blonde - $7/22oz
Maple Nipple Ale - $7/22oz

Hope to see some of you there on Saturday. Cheers and safe travels!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank you!

A belated Happy New Year, friends!

I just want to send out a HUGE thank you to all of the folks out there that have supported our small brewery since we started! Its been a great ride and as I reflect on what will be three years in business this March, there are so many people to thank. First, and most importantly, is my wife and business partner Karen, who is as adept at applying labels as she is wrangling our two girls. Without her commitment to our small business, it never would have started! Just as important are all of our customers, who are willing to travel to buy our beer and keep coming back for more. Without you, it wouldn't be possible. I know that some of you have traveled far and left Warren empty handed, which - trust me - pains me (almost) as much as you. Working on fixing that :) Thanks to all the local businesses, from the Warren Store to our favorite beer bars and restaurants that carry Lawson's Finest and that help us to succeed. Our suppliers, volunteers, friends, other brewers, supporters and more all deserve a hearty thanks, and a delicious beer in their hands!

Looking ahead in 2011, there are many exciting projects on the horizon. We continue to plan for an eventual expansion of our equipment at the current brewery location, with a timeline TBA. When I know, you'll know! While this means we still won't be offering tours, tasting, or on-site sales at the brewery, it will mean I can continue to walk to and from work and brew with the incredibly beautiful, soft, clean well water that Lawson's Finest is created with now, and keep the quality of life high.

Our barrel-aging projects are just starting to mature and the first round of BA beer went out just before the holidays. On deck is the Bourbon Barrel Aged (Maker's Mark) Fayston Maple Imperial Stout. This beer is in the bottle (750ml with cork & cage finish) conditioning now, and I'll start selling it on January 22 at the Farmer's Market in Montpelier. The good news is the batch is twice the size of the Maple Barrel (Saxton's River Sapling) stout that we released in December. We are also planning the logistics of this release, as the line/crowd that formed at the Lawson's table at the beginning of the market was problematic for the other vendors last time. More details to follow, but tentatively, we plan to release bottles at 10am, 11am and 12noon to spread the sales out and offer more time for tastings.

We now also have two oak barrels full of Fayston Maple Imperial Stout in Buffalo Trace/Utopias. Big thanks to Alan at Trapp's and Dan at Ale Street News for helping me to secure these barrels. I anticipate they will be ready in late 2011. Most exciting for me is the maturation of the 2010 Maple Tripple Ale, which is resting quietly in another Saxton's River Sapling Maple Liquor barrel. I put a different twist on this once-a-year beer each time, and the oak aging is new for this batch. Its coming along quite nicely. I expect that we'll bottle and release this beer when it reaches a year in the barrel, which means April 2011, around the same time I'll be brewing the 2011 Maple Tripple.

The 2010 Farmhouse Rye is also now aging in a French Oak barrel that held a French white wine. I've added Brettanomyces Clausenii to this years batch to create a nice pineapple note in the aroma and a traditional Belgian-style dry finish and flavor. I hope it will be ready before the summer is over, but won't be sure until we get there! The final beer currently in our barrel line-up is a new American-style Barley Wine called Seared Palate. It started at 11% abv, before hitting the oak, which was sloshing with Makers Mark Bourbon and is sure to boost the alcohol to at least 12%. Also expect this beer in fall or early winter 2011.

In March, I'll be traveling to San Francisco for the annual Craft Brewers Conference, and will be on a panel for seminar on Nanobreweries. Ahhhh, a working vacaction! While I'm in California, I have lined up a special collaboration with Patrick Rue at the Bruery. Can you say *excited*?!? Patrick and I got in touch after both our breweries scored with a maple beer at the 2010 World Beer Cup, and we are schemeing up a new creation to be brewed while I am there, featuring Vermont and California ingredients. It will be distributed to CA and VT only, and when more details become available about this beer we'll let you know.

In the meantime, this winter, look for Double Sunshine IPA to be a regular in our line-up, along with the Maple Nipple Ale, Knockout Blonde, Paradise Ale, a new yet-to-be-named IPA and the occasional releases of Fayston Maple Imperial Stout. I hope to bring back Hopzilla Double IPA and Big Hapi IBA by early spring, as right now, I'm focused on making as much stout as possible for the winter.

FINALLY - we want to hear from you more! If there is anything on your mind, an idea for a beer, something you would like to see Lawson's do or not do, from a compliment to a complaint, we always appreicate hearing from you. Feel free to drop me a line anytime at lawsonsfinest (AT) or give me a call on the business line, (802) 272-8436.

Once again, thanks! And, here's to a fantastic, healthy, and great beer filled 2011!
- Sean