Why I love craft beer.

I feel the need to explain why I’ve been so interested in local craft beer after seeing some lists and examples of craft brewed beer in recent articles, like The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Drink Craft Beer and 10 Great Beers Brewed In Unlikely Places .

These articles highlight a few of the reasons and craft beers without covering my reasons for loving it. Those that read my infrequent posts, will know I’m big on local food. While I’m far from new to good beer, I’ve liked ‘microbrews’ or imports for a long time, the interest or better yet fascination with local craft beer is fairly new for me. I can’t pinpoint when the light bulb went off, but I think I became more aware the craft beer movement. Things like this video

 and these interviews


Have solidified my interest.

Hearing these brewers talk about their commitment to brewing, their craft, and sustainability, it’s not hard to see how it meshes with my values. This is something they need to do, as they just can’t out cheap, distribute, or advertise the beer water makers. Which is fine, they can do something things the big guys can’t, be local, fresh, unique, and small. This is their differentiator.

Pretty much anywhere you where you go, you can find a local brewery. When I was on a trip to Long Island this past weekend, there were no fewer than 4 breweries with a reasonable drive. Near our home in MA, as you can see on this map (beermapping.com), there are a significant number as well. What I’m getting at, is that you can get local beer everywhere. Not only are you shortening the distribution chain, so you get fresh beer, you are also supporting the local economy. These smaller local brewers can also partner with local purveyors, like Cambridge brewing company (Cambridge MA), using Taza chocolate (Sommerville MA) in it’s Chocolate milk stout. It is that sort of double rainbow that you never see from the big guys.  

Even if local does not matter to you, craft beer has much more to offer the beer fan. You can get your traditional pilsners and lighter lagers, if that is what your pallet prefers, but you can also get double imperial stouts, black ipa’s and wild sours, interesting and unique variations that you may not find else where. The reason why craft beer can offer the variety, and the The scale at which craft beer operates means they are faster moving, they can try the newest variety of hops, or offer wet hopped beers, that operations of larger scale just can’t do. They offer something for everyone, and a beer for every season. I personally can’t wait for the release of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale every holiday season, but also look forward to the next iteration of Alagash’s Fluxus which is different every release.
This variety and scale means that fine craft beer is really approachable.  Unlike wine, where you may find premium wines starting at 50+ a bottle, going into many thousands. Unique rare beer seems to be much more available . Don’t get me wrong, there exceptions, like Portsmouth brewing’s Kate the Great, or Pliny the elder, that the average consumer can’t get. However, I find this is the exception, you can get a great six pack for under $10.  A unique limited release bomber for as little as $5-7. Rarely do you find a sku that breaks the $20 mark for a single unit. That makes even a very special craft beer accessible to the new comer, who wants to try it all like myself. That’s why I love craft beer.

Farm update.

A farm update is long over due. Plenty of things have changed since my last update… Lets see inside the house, A is quite mobile, following us everywhere, interested in pretty much everything she should not be handling, cords, remotes, laptops, and iphones.
The child proofing has begun, but will be an ongoing project as A finds things we have not yet secured. 

Outside the house has been just as exciting. Around sheering time, which we hosted here for the first time, we introduced a few more alpacas to the herd. We are up to 9, which is pushing the number of animals I’d want to have here. It’s not too much for the land, but we don’t have it equitably divided, or shelter in alternate pastures, so it’s one big group for now. We’d ideally divide this into at least 3 paddocks, if not 5, or six, extending the fenced in area down the side of the house towards the lower fences. That is a long way off.

A few months ago we lost 7 chickens to a fox. It was a sunny afternoon, we had let the birds to do their nearly daily roaming, scratching and exploring, which they have enjoyed for the past few years without incident. I look out the window and see a red fox jogging along the side of the house, towards the coop. I immediately ran outside,  there were no birds to be found. I was able to scare off the fox, but that was little reward. 

We spend the remainder of the afternoon searching out the remaining birds. Charlie our rooster survived, two year old young birds, wisely flew up into the windows in the barn, and the solitary Balaclava eventually showed up as well. 7 down, 4 left. We pretty much immediately rushed 3/4’s of a dozen off to incubate in hopes to save the genes of the birds we knew and loved. On a positive note, we had planned on rotating some of the older layers out once the hatches have grown up. This expedites the plan, and was a deeper cull than we had intended, but does prevent us from having to find new homes for two year old birds. As for the replacements, we had already hatched out 4 birds, 2 blue laced reds, 2 aracanas. It turns out one of the blr’s is a rooster, so he’ll need to find a new home. Of the 8 eggs we rushed off to the incubator, only two hatched, and we have yet to identify sex yet. I’m hoping for two more hens, to leave us at a 9 birds, 8 layers. Which would be a good volume for our coop this winter.

We’ve also added a half dozen guinea fowl to the flock. I built a small hutch for them, with the help of Joe. It might be a little too small, after all is said and done, but they now have a home. We placed it on the far side of the barn to hopefully insulate us from the noise of the flock as they can be noisy. Hopefully in a few weeks I can put on the pop door, and allow them freedom to range. 

Lets see what else is new…  This years Csa has been flying by, I’ve put up some pesto, a batch of tomato sauce, one batch of jam, but that’s about it no pickles yet. I suppose we’ve also put up some food for A, beets, summer squash, and carrots. I’ve not really had a lot of time to cook, and with my lack of motivaton it’s been tough using it up each week. When I get home I want to play with A, get her to bed, and relax. This however does not mean we have been skipping the farmers market, we have been regular shoppers there, which often is a highlight of my weekend.

So in a nutshell, a lot of little stuff has changed on the farm, but it remains the same.