Retail!

Kent Falls Brewing Company promo from Mike Marques on Vimeo.

Good news folks!

Spring is finally here and we are only two weeks away from re-opening the brewery’s doors to the public. On Saturday, April 8 from 12 – 4 pm the brewery will have it’s first retail day and beer release of the year. Last June, we opened the brewery with a very narrow scope of operation – welcoming people to the farm and brewery, offering tours and selling bottles of our small batch beers to go. No growlers or on site consumption; tastings or otherwise. Throughout the year the number one question we received was whether that would eventually change. And we are extremely happy to announce, later this summer, it will.

Before it became our home and brewery, a family operated a small dairy farm on this property. When we first came to look at the property, the immediate vision was to convert the old dairy barn into our brewery. Unfortunately modern equipment requirements (and code) made it too costly to renovate and impractical to operate. The vision however, has never faded. While the old dairy barn may not be the place for steam boilers, glycol systems and the like it is a perfect fit for a barrel aging facility and modest tasting room.

One of the most satisfying experiences of living and working here is the ability to sit outside as the sun beams down on you and enjoy one the fruits of our labor with friends and family. This summer we will finally be able to share that experience with you. We will announce more of the plan and be sharing pictures of our progress as we get closer to the barn’s grand opening.

Until then, we will be opening as we did last year every Saturday from 12 – 4pm with farm tours at 11:30 am and 2 pm. For this first weekend we will be releasing the second batch of Second Nature, our farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with cherries; as well as filling growlers of our freshest hoppy beers.

Here is the full list of what will be available for our opening day on April 8, 2017.

You can find out what beers will be available on any weekend by checking out the retail section on the main menu of our site.

AVAILABLE BOTTLES

Second Nature Cherry (batch 2) farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with cherries 5.6% abv $12
Batch 100 bourbon-brandy barrel aged Gratzer 5.0% abv $10
Variant 4 brett dark strong ale soured on peaches aged in peach brandy barrels 8.0% abv $14
Fingerprint farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with native yeast 5.4% abv $10
Tiny House 2016 mixed fermentation harvest ale 4.0% abv $8
Blueberry v Blackberry 2016 wild ale with berries 5.0% abv $8
Get More Likes imperial stout 8.0% abv $10
When Life Gives You Grape Must farmhouse ale fermented on grape skins 6.0% abv $8
The Hollow pilsner 5.0% abv $5
Maybe Both pale lager 7.0% abv $6
Dekkera brett table beer 4.0% abv $5
Equinox dry hopped farmhouse ale 4.8% abv $6
Second Cutting toasted hay porter 5.4% abv $5

AVAILABLE GROWLERS

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6.2% ipa (azacca, amarillo, galaxy)

Are You Single? (Glacier) 

6% ipa brewed with glacier hops

750 ml $8 750 ml $8
1 L $9 1 L $9
2 L $16 2 L $16
32 oz $8 32 oz $8
64 oz $16 64 oz $16

 

100

If you’re reading this the odds are pretty high that you know our brewery is on, and a part of Camps Road Farm. What you may not know, is that we are also partners with Neversink Spirits.  For those of you who do not, consider this a formal introduction.

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While it was only two years ago that our brewery and distillery mashed in for the first time; our partnership goes back quite a long ways.  Back in August of 2011 five of us sat down and began working through some of the ideas for how a brewery-farm-distillery might actually work. Our original idea (or dream if you want to be accurate) was to have all of the operations located in the same place – to increase and share efficiencies, sustainability and make collaborations a whole lot easier and frequent.

Our farm would simply not be able to take both operations running at full capacity and in order to preserve the nature of the property, community and environment; not to mention allow the businesses to grow the decision was made to open the distillery in Port Chester, NY. The legal environment for farm distilleries is also much, much friendlier in NY State.  Despite the farm brewery and distillery being in separate locations, we needed a physical anchor to connect the businesses. After moving onto the farm in June of 2012 one of the first projects was to clear an area in the back pasture and plant an apple orchard of more than 10 heirloom cider varieties. The trees are still too young for a harvest, but they will soon yield an estate cider and apple brandy.  Approximately the same acreage as our hop yard, the apple orchard has been an intense learning experience about literally growing your supply chain, and a symbol of what we strive for.  Not to mention require serious effort!

 

Some city slickers hard at work planting baby apple trees

Cleaning up before winter.

Training day. Get those limbs out! (also shadows make you look very strong)

No matter the distance, we have worked tirelessly as a small group to help get each other overcome each hurdle as it presents itself.  The opportunity to problem solve within different operational requirements, growth strategies and certainly production processes have been an invaluable experience to us all.  The ingredients may be similar, but there is a lot more than higher alcohol content in the finished product that sets breweries and distilleries apart.

In a brewery like ours, sanitation and cleaning can be significantly more complex, especially when handling multiple yeast strains and mixed cultures containing wild yeast and bacteria. When cleaning tanks we use some pretty serious chemicals and sanitizers and plenty of CO2 to purge them of oxygen prior to filling them with our next batch. For now, we do not have a separate barrel aging facility ( hint hint) and our most “wild” barrels of beer, ones that have come from our cool ship and spontaneously fermented in the barrel, rest only a few feet from our brewhouse and fermentation tanks. Nonetheless, we maintain separate hoses, gaskets, packaging equipment and tanks for each of our yeast strains.

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One of the barrels used for Variant 4. Now full of spirit.

With distilled alcohol, it’s a bit different.  The distillation process and high alcohol content makes for a more forgiving sanitation process during fermentation. I remember my fist trip down to the fully operational distillery, each tank full of vigorously fermenting cider. While discussing which variety of apples were used for the juice, the guys asked if I wanted to open up the top man-way and smell a little bit of apple heaven (a serious no-can-do in the brewery). After a double take or two, I jumped at the opportunity and got a whiff of what would become their first batch of eau du vie (un-aged brandy). Think an orchard of alcoholic caramel covered apples.

“How lucky are these guys?!” I thought. And then I am reminded that it takes 6 days of distillation on their still to fill one 55 gallon barrel, which will then age for at least a year before it is ready.  The distillation process may allow for a bit more more lax sanitation requirements but it does no favors when you look at production schedules and growth rate. One thing, however, that breweries and distilleries will always have in common is the capital intensive nature of their operation. Equipment and space are not cheap, ingredients (and much more) need to be paid for, and suppliers don’t give you a break because you want to make bourbon that must rest in a barrel for at least a year before it can be sold. So anytime the opportunity presents itself for additional capacity, it’s hard to pass up.

This summer the brewery began producing 3000 liters of wort per week using NY grown barley, malted by our friends at Valley Malt. The goal, to produce a NY State Single Malt Whiskey.  Using our brewhouse to lauter (filter) the wort off the grain would allow the guys at Neversink to double whiskey production, using a cider tank for fermentation while their mash tun was filled with future bourbon. This would also be the first whiskey where the distillation was done from fermented liquid instead of from a fermented mash (“On grain”). Back to some numbers… Each of these 3000 liter batches ends up being distilled down to 30 liters of alcohol. Together, we managed to produce enough to fill a 225 liter pear brandy barrel which will rest for approximately two years before it is released. Needless to say, this is one long collaboration.

Rather than going on and on about collaborations that wont be released for a very long time or how we truck their spent pear mash and bourbon corn gloop mess back to the farm for composting – it’s time turn the focus to the first official collaboration between Kent Falls Brewing and Neversink Spirits; the perfect celebration of the brewery’s 100th batch.

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Filling totes with single malt wash for future distillation

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Three of these totes are distilled down to 30L of spirit. This has to be done 7 times to fill one barrel.

Like our location on the farm informs many of the decisions we make for our brewery, the abundant supply of apples in NY informs much of the distilleries production methods; even outside of the apple brandies. While spirits mature in barrels, you still have to produce something that you can sell to keep the business afloat. Apples translate incredibly well in both unaged and oak aged spirits. Each year the distillery produces a single batch of unaged pear brandy, and have begun producing a gin; the base of which is a blend of neutral spirits from their apple brandy and bourbon production.  In fact, their bourbon even takes a bit of inspiration from apples. After a year of maturation in new American oak barrels of various sizes it is blended into used apple brandy barrel for finishing. Four months later, the bourbon is ready for proofing and packaging. Then we come back into the story.

When we found out the barrel from Neversink would be made available to us at the time of our 100th batch we knew we needed to do something special with it. A stout felt like the obvious choice for a bourbon barrel but the apple character was not something we wanted to incorporate into a stout, and any nuance of brandy left in the barrel would likely be lost. Most importantly, we wanted something that would speak to what we have produced with the other 99 batches of beer produced since we began brewing in Feb 2015.

Amidst all of the different beers that we produce, certain beers generate the most internal excitement and gratification.  Beers with great depth but without any crazy ingredients. Anachronism, our grätzer is one such beer felt like the perfect beer for the project.

Brewed with oak smoked wheat, the char and vanilla notes from the bourbon barrel character accentuates the delicate notes of smoke within the beer without masking residual apple notes. The challenge was to figure out how to make a beer at some production scale while only having one barrel. The original plan was to blend the barrel back into a small batch of Anachronism to mellow the bourbon character. Upon tasting the barrel after two months, it hit all of the notes we could have hoped for. We hope you enjoy it.

Here’s to ?.

 

Last Winter Market!

Saturday Feb. 27 is the last indoor farmers market of the season.  When the law allowing beer sales at farmers market was passed in July we had little idea of what impact it would have on our brewery.  A new door opened up to us, where we could interact directly with those of you who seek out our beer, and finally have a place to release small batch beers from our barrel program and other areas of experimentation.

We were quick to apply, and once we began coming to the market with Field Beer, and our other brands we quickly realized the impact that this new facet of our operation would have if utilized properly.  It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience and help to our business.  It has been absolutely incredible season, and we hope a proper introduction to what the experience of coming to visit Kent Falls Brewing Company will be when we open in the spring.  To celebrate, we’re bringing beers that we can point out those the brewers, farmers, and maltsters that played an integral part in making the finished product what they are, and so proud to have produced.

*All of these beers will be farmers’ market only releases.

Photo credit @thebeertrekker

Photo credit @thebeertrekker

Second Nature Cherry | 5.4% abv barrel aged sour cherry saison.  Brewed with barley grown in Rocky Hill, malted at Valley Malt Aged in a red wine barrel for 6 months, with 90 lb of montmorency cherries from Straberry Farm in New Preston, CT.

500 ml bottle, $12 each (Farmers’ Market Only – 4 bottle limit)

Tiny House | 4.0% wet hop mixed fermentation farmhouse/harvest ale.  Brewed in collaboration with Bacchus Brewery in New Paltz, this beer is our first with 6 row barley, grown in the Hudson Valley, malted at Germantown Beer Farm with almost 100 lb of hops from our yard were added straight off the bine into the whirlpool.

500 ml bottle, $10 each 

Honey Oat Gose | 4.6% sour ale brewed with salt and 90 lb of fall honey sourced from Hanna Honey Farm in Southbury and Beavertide Bee Farm in Falls Village, CT added after fermentation.

500 ml bottle, $8 each 

10 bottle limit per person according to state law.

Credit cards accepted.

Grapefruits

It’s taken some time, but our first barrel aged-fruited beer is finally ready for release!  Because we have such a limited quantity of this beer and others like it to come we are going to be selling it exclusively at our farm stand at the New Milford Farmers Market Saturdays, on the green in New Milford from 9am – Noon.  This Saturday, November 7 will be our first release

On to the beer….

A 5.4% abv barrel aged farmhouse ale with aged in barrel with locally grown grapefruit juice and zest added.  And an incredible story behind the fruit that went into it.

I first met Peter Talbot nearly three years ago when searching for architects to help convert our farm’s old dairy barn into our farm’s new brewery.  Peter shared some of his personal and professional work history with us, both of which were very impressive.  Eager to get started, the idea of a 100% locally sourced grapefruit farmhouse ale was one to hold onto.

Two years later, with the brewery built and our barrel program underway it was time to reach back out to Peter and learn more about the grapefruit.  And the timing was impeccable.  Who knew mid April was grapefruit season in Litchfield County.  Peter invited us to his home where the tree resides in his greenhouse to show us around, tell us its history, and pick some 40 grapefruit to incorporate into this beer.


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About 70 years ago while living in New York City, I imagine as he was having breakfast, Peter’s father William decided to take a seed from his grapefruit and plant it.  Now, if you’ve ever tried to plant something from seed, you know what this experience can be like.  A delicate and uncertain process to say the least. If you’ve ever tried to grow citrus on a NYC balcony…. well… not even sure what to say but we like your attitude!

In the 1950s, Peter’s father purchased an old horse farm in Washington, CT to transform into a family home, art studio, and greenhouse space for his growing grapefruit tree.  While showing us around the house, Peter often spoke of “Dad”, with a remarkable sense of continuity, preservation and admiration; keeping him a part of what happens on his land today.  Not to mention a genuine desire to share their work with others deep enough to make you feel as if you are a part of the family, or a new branch on the grapefruit tree.

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From a room upstairs, there’s a catwalk through the greenhouse for watering, pruning and access to the tops of trees and plants.

The undeniable living history to the house is inescapable. Peter’s childhood bedroom and others, originally a horse stall and converted by his father is available to be rented out for weekend getaways, by those visiting the area. Over time, Peter and his wife have renovated the greenhouse to increase its energy efficiency and ability to produce a variety of citrus fruit.  Radiantly heated soil, changing the original glass paneling on the roof, among some of the more intricate details.  In the studio, you can see the raw materials his father used to make his sculptures dispersed among finished and unfinished sculptures used to create; them alongside a pottery wheel his son now uses to create his own pieces of art.

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Works new and old.

From what Peter has shared with us he often donates a good portion of the fruit from his tree to those in the area to carry on the legacy his parents planted.  One particularly delicious example was the Grapefruit Mimosa named after Peter’s mother made by the chefs at Community Table, a restaurant for which Peter was lead design.

To be welcomed into Peter’s (green)house and given the opportunity to incorporate his family’s grapefruit into a beer is beyond exciting and something we are very proud of.  A desire to grow citrus in the Northwest Connecticut is certainly unique.  It may not be something our farm will look to take on; but understanding the difficult decisions and challenges that come along with following a desire to uproot yourself from the city to pursue your passions in a place and manner that allows and encourages them is certainly something we share with Peter and I would like to think his father.  And hope comes through in this beer.

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At the end of the day, Peter cut up a freshly picked so we could taste what we would be working with.  The first thing we noticed as the beautiful, thick white rind on each fruit.  Soft enough to the point it almost melted in your mouth, it adds a wonderful complexity and balance to the distinct white grapefruit and its juice.  With only 40 grapefruit, it was certain we would be doing a small batch.  The only decision would be which barrels to add the zest and the juice into.

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Snack time. Anxiously awaiting our first sample.

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That rind!

From the get go our goal was to have the grapefruit character be noticeable but not the only flavor present.  Similarly, we did not want a sour beer to overpower it and not have it come through at all.  The fruit was added into a barrel containing a non-soured farmhouse ale and allowed to age.  Four months later, after sampling at various points over that time we had achieved the flavors we desired.

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We’ve gotten very good at zesting and juicing.

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And now we wait…

This beer has grapefruit on the nose, funk at the front, and a soft rind finish that we are eager to finally share with you!

So forget lemons.  When Life Gives Your Grapefruits… make beer.

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Hope to see you at the market.