The Passion of Shaun Hill

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The average person has probably never heard of Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, VT, but if you’re a beer geek, then you probably know it was voted as the best brewery in the world in 2013 by Ratebeer.com.

It, along with The Alchemist in Waterbury, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Warren, has become mecca for beer pilgrims. The shaman behind Hill Farmstead Brewery is Shaun Hill, a 34-year-old, with the singular passion for brewing exceptional beers.

Honing that process while working with different brewers around the world, he discovered that making beer was the prefect meld of personal philosophy and scientific experimentation.

“I started to realize what separates an OK, mediocre brewer, an enthusiastic brewer [from a great one], is process and science,” says Hill. “[Hill Farmstead] is not the most scientific brewery in the world, but there is a lot to be said about routine and process and process variables.

“It took six or seven years, but I started realizing what the most critical control checkpoints are to make a really great beer,” Hill continues. “And, fortunately, I haven’t met many other brewers who have the same checkpoints. They’re focused on things that don’t really impact beer at all.”

While Hill refuses to reveal much about his actual process, which he safeguards as a trade secret, the best way he can explain it is by relating brewing to cooking.

Somewhere in this profile is the makings of a cross-generational novel combining the best of Jonathan Franzen and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Other Beer Links Catching My Eye

1. What’s in your beer? A group of craft brewers and respected home brewers attempt to answer that question.

2. Travel and Leisure anoints Portland, Ore. as the best beer city in America. Lists are often pointless, especially ones with designated rankings.

But, I will say for me, the best beer cities are a group that includes Portland, Portland, Maine, San Fran, San Diego, Denver, Asheville, and Boston (too bad Vermont and New England don’t classify as a “city”). Weigh in with your thoughts on best beer city. Always looking for suggestions and unexpected places to go to.

3. I’ve never heard of the Berkeley-based brewery, The Rare Barrel, until seeing this video on their process of making sour beers.

Nice to see another sour-only beer brewer, aside from Cascade in Portland, gain some recognition.

4. Have you even wondered what it would look like to blow up a beer keg with a detonation cord at 51,000 frames per second? Yeah, we thought so.

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