Most of my brewing career, I've used malt and hops from around the world, making pints that were, in a sense, international collaborations of ingredients. Breweries are the assembly factories where, for example, French malts met New Zealand hops. These are some of the finest brewing materials, made by Farmers, Maltsters and Hop Growers with generations of experience, but, at the same time the opportunity to express my particular corner of the world is lost.
As with my foraging, I want to steep my brewing in the experience of my environment. That is why I'd like to work with the most local brewing ingredients I can, to produce beers that express the landscape they are made in. This week I am sampling malts made in Charlotte, VT by Peterson Quality Malts from grain grown in Vermont and New England. I've also purchased hops grown in East Hardwick, at Whitefield Hop House, about 20 minutes from the brewery. These materials are more expensive than their international alternatives, but while their lots are much smaller, their passion is much bigger, and I believe we share a drive to create alternatives that reflect Vermont and support local agriculture.
This drives my brewing closer to its agrarian roots, as a way to preserve the harvest and celebrate it. This simple idea is mostly lost in our brewing culture and my goal is to find it again.