As I delighted my taste buds with some fine Vermont cloth wrapped cheddar at the Vermont cheese festival held at Shelburne Farms in Burlington, I eventually found myself in front of a tall smiling man offering some beers to taste and a number of 22oz bottles to sell. I had never heard of “Lawson’s Finest Liquids” but it sure tasted good – the hoppy golden “Papel Blonde” hinted of a Northeastern origin, as did the “Maple Nipple” ale.
(For you of the R-Sox Nation he also had “Big Hapi”(pictured) – a highly hopped India Black Ale and a “Weiss-K” wheat beer – a “Gyro-beer”?)
This stuff tasted great, I said “I haven’t heard of you, does your stuff get down south at all?” (I meant Philly) and he said “nothing south of the Valley”. To my surpise I found out that Sean brews and bottles it all himself – in small (10 gallon) batches. He distributes his beer to local Vermont restaurants and lucky beer enthusiasts in the Mad River Valley of Vermont.
Sean Lawson is what is called a “nano brewer” — which is smaller than a micro, but…uh… larger than a home brewer. Nano Brewers must be registered as brewers and pay taxes on their brew, so unlike home brewers they have to pay Uncle Sam and act with certain controls.
There is a small but growing movement of community nano-brewers making their wares available, and it’s a great idea. Why not create some unique flavorful beers that fit the likings of the immediate area? Isn’t home brewing where the whole craft brewing movement started?
I’ll bet you can even get special batches for events and parties from these guys if you give them enough notice. Check out Sean’s beer blog and site. PS: Big Hapi was awesome with a spicy Vermont smoked cheddar. No chemicals were added (not so sure about Big Papi – sorry)!