USA, VT: Collaborative Brewing Co. preparing for a launch in Waitsfield
Good beer starts with clear water. Or in the case of Collaborative Brewing Co., it starts with Clear Water Filtration, BurlingtonFreePress.com reported on February 11.
Thats the name of the Waitsfield water-treatment business run by Steve Parker and his sister, Jen Fleckenstein, in Mad River Park. Its also the location of the newest brewery to hit the already-sudsy Mad River Valley, which is home to Lawsons Finest Liquids and Cousins Brewing.
Parker and Fleckenstein are partners in Collaborative with their tax preparer, Craig Isvak, and brewer Brett Seymour, all of whom live in the Mad River Valley. Seymour and Parker are childhood friends.
When Collaborative Brewing starts selling beer as early as next month, Seymour will become the first winner of the Make the Cut homebrew contest to open his own brewery. His victory in 2015 for his schwarzbier, according to Seymour, confirmed there was something special in that dark German-styled brew.
Isvak, who owns Associates in Accounting in South Burlington, keeps a keg in his office. They mentioned beer, he said of his now-partners in Collaborative Brewing, and my eyes lit up beer!
That was in August 2017. Four months later, the partners had a pilot system going. Fleckenstein said they and a few friends sampled their first beer in January 2018.
Seymour has been homebrewing for more than a dozen years and worked at Otter Creek Brewing. He said he learned a lot about making beer as a member of the Green Mountain Mashers homebrew club.
Collaborative Brewing will go against the grain to some extent in Vermont, a state thats known for its hop-leaning IPAs. I do well in the dark department, Seymour said, noting that hes disappointed when he visits a bar and sees an IPA-heavy beer list. What happened to malty pale ales?
The brewerys name has to do with the partnership of the four owners as well as Seymours plans to work with other Vermont breweries such as Four Quarters Brewing in Winooski and Stone Corral Brewing in Richmond on special projects.
Brewing is just a collaboration of ingredients and minds, Seymour said.
Seymour won the inaugural Make the Cut homebrew contest in 2015 with his schwarzbier, which was later produced at 14th Star Brewing, the St. Albans beer maker that hosted the contest. Jennifer Swiatek, owner of the Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, which created the contest with 14th Star, is happy to see the first winner ready to brew professionally.
The reason we created this contest was to find the people who want to do this for a living, Swiatek said. This is our dream for the beer community.
Make the Cut would have entered its fifth year in 2019, but Swiatek said the contest is not happening this year. Entries from homebrewers have declined, she said, and organizers felt it was time to put the contest that takes nine months to organize on hold.
We might bring it back in the future, she said.
In the meantime, shes looking forward to bringing Collaborative Brewings finished product to the Beverage Warehouse. We cannot wait to have these beers on our shelves, she said.
Seymour plans to launch Collaborative Brewing with his schwarzbier in cans and kegs along with kegs of porter. Hes also planning kegs of Dortmunder, a lager, as well as an American rye ale in cans and kegs later this spring.
Its just lovely, Fleckenstein said of the rye ale.
That was one of the beers Seymour poured for a tasting on a recent afternoon at Clear Water Filtration. The rye ale is only 4.5 percent ABV and strikes a balance between malt and hops.
Thats great on a summer day, Seymour said. Thats one of the things I strive for in my beer, is the balance.
The schwarzbier is dark toned but at 4.9 percent ABV its not heavy. I like people being surprised, Seymour said, especially when he offers the schwarzbier to those who say they dont like dark beer. Then they have it and they are like, This is pretty good.
Hes also planning to present some adventurous brews, including his strong, barrel-aged maple black IPA aged in rum barrels from Mad River Distillers. Hes also working on a subtly fruity hefeweizen brewed with clementines that hes calling a clementeizen.
First, I want to get our beers out there, Seymour said. Then Ill start playing a little more.
The Collaborative crew doesnt see that the brewery will grow too far beyond its current capacity of three and a half barrels. Seymour envisions an offsite taproom at some point, but zoning in Mad River Park doesnt allow for a taproom.
The foursomes main goal is to have some fun with this, according to Isvak. This is kind of our dream, he said. We thought, You only live once.
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