ARE NATIVE VERMONT HOPS GOOD FOR BREWING? (PART 3)

Heads up! This is the final installment of a three-part story. If you’re just tuning in, we suggest starting with Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Over the past few weeks, the Switchback crew has been investigating the commercial brewing potential of several varieties of hops found growing wild around Vermont & New England. With the help of the UVM Extension NW Crops & Soils Team, we ran several sensory and analytical tests on the beers we brewed using three different wild hop varieties: Kingdom from Tunbridge, VT, Northfield from Northfield, MA, and Wolcott from Wolcott, VT. After analyzing the test results, the team packed up and headed off to present their findings at 10th Annual Vermont Hop Conference in South Burlington, VT. 

Once there, we poured samples of each wild-hopped beer we brewed. Conference attendees were given a tasting sheet and asked to answer four questions: Which sample had the most aroma? Which sample had the most flavor? Which sample was the most bitter? Which sample did you like the best?  Once the conference concluded we counted the responses and were surprised by what we found. 

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Last week when the Switchback crew sampled these beers at the brewery, the beer brewed with Wolcott hops from Wolcott, VT was the clear favorite. We were expecting similar results from the hop conference questionnaires, but found there was a new favorite. The Annual Hop Conference attendees ranked the beer brewed with Northfield hops the highest in every category.  They felt it was the most bitter, had the most flavor and aroma and was overall the most enjoyable to drink.

While only 32% of the Switchback crew said they would enjoy drinking a beer brewed with the Northfield hop, its popularity at the conference shows that it certainly isn’t out of the running to one day be a commercial hop variety.  

Taking on an intern and working with the UVM Extension has been a blast! We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn more about what is required to produce a commercially viable hop. Thank you so much to all who helped with this project and to everyone who followed along with the story. Cheers! 

Are Native Vermont Hops Good for Brewing? (Part 2)


If you’re just tuning into this developing story, you’ll want start with Part 1 here.

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Together with the UVM Extension NW Crops & Soils Team and our intern, Lejla Mahmuljin, we’ve taken on the mission of learning just how commercially viable some of Vermont and New England’s native grown hops are. Over the past few weeks, we brewed three test batches utilizing historical hop varieties. The whole cone hops we used in each brew were grown using rhizomes (root structures) harvested from wild hops found in locations around New England. We don’t know the exact history of these hops, but we suspect that they are remnants from pre-prohibition commercial hop farms.

We brewed three beers using three different varieties of native hops: Kingdom from Tunbridge, VT, Northfield from Northfield, MA, and Wolcott from Wolcott, VT. In addition to this, we brewed an IPA using Cascade hops as a control, a hop we are very familiar with and utilize in many of our recipes at Switchback.

Every Friday, the brewery crew participates in a weekly tasting panel. During one recent Friday tasting session, we sampled the test batches that utilized these historic wild hop varieties to see just how much potential we felt they had for commercial brewing. We asked the team three questions: (1) would you enjoy drinking a beer brewed with this hop? (2) on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least bitter and 10 being the most bitter, how bitter do you think this beer is? and (3) describe the flavor and aroma characteristics imparted by this hop.

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From there, our lab Technician, Ellen Dillenbeck, and our UVM intern, Lejla Mahmuljin, collected and analyzed the results from the panel. The staff’s clear favorite was the Wolcott hop variety with two thirds of participants saying they would enjoy drinking a beer brewed with them. The other brews were not as well received. Only 44% of the team said they would enjoy drinking a beer brewed with the Kingdom hop. The Cascade and Northfield hopped beers tied for the lowest ranking with only 32% of the crew saying they would enjoy drinking a beer brewed with either of them.

Our team described the Wolcott variety as fruity, citrusy, tropical and floral with some piney notes. They thought the Northfield variety tasted herbal and tropical with some fruity, citrusy, piney and, unfortunately, sweaty notes. The crew also thought the Kingdom hopped beer was very herbal, with a strong floral flavor and aroma as well. The Cascade hopped beer was described as spicy, piney, citrusy, herbal and floral.

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On average, the team ranked the Kingdom hopped beer as the least bitter, only a 4.67 on a 1 to 10 scale. This was not a surprise given that it had the lowest IBU count of all four beers. The Cascade was ranked the most bitter, a 6.59 on a 1 to 10 scale. Again, this was not surprising as Cascade had the highest number of IBUs. The team thought the Wolcott hopped beer was the second most bitter, a 5.78 out of 10, and the Northfield was the second least bitter, a 4.94 out of 10. Although there was only a 5 IBU difference between the two beers, we had expected the Northfield beer to taste more bitter than the Wolcott brew based on its IBU count.

On February 21st, Ellen and Lejla took their findings and presented them at the 2019 Vermont Hop Conference in South Burlington, VT.  Guests were also invited to try samples of the brews and record their thoughts. Stay tuned for part 3 of this story, where we’ll share what they all thought of these historic hop varieties!

Celebrating our 2nd Employee-Owned Anniversary.
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February 6th marked the 2nd Anniversary of Switchback going employee-owned! 

Two years ago, each of our 30 employee's lives were changed forever. If you've never heard the story of how the news was broken to us, it's actually pretty great. The crew was pulled together for a meeting off-site where we were greeted by Brewery Founder, Bill Cherry. After (a lot) of dramatic buildup, we were told the company was sold and we were officially under new ownership. There were a few audible gasps in the room and we wish you could have seen the look of pure panic and shock on our faces. Bill told us he wanted us to meet the new owners and began reaching for the nearest door. That's when he suddenly spun around and yelled, "IT'S YOU! We sold the company to you and you're all the new owners of Switchback." In that moment, panic turned to celebration and it was truly an amazing moment for all of us. 

We're so proud to be locally & and employee-owned forever, making a product that all of us are passionate about and truly stand behind. We appreciate all of the love and support we get from our community and fans. Thank you so much!

Amy Lieblein
Are Native Vermont Hops Good for Brewing? (PART 1)

Vermont and hops have a long history. In the 19th century, Vermont was a hotspot for hop growth and cultivation. During prohibition the demand for hops disappeared and farmers focused on growing more profitable products. Today, the vast majority of hops are grown out west, but finally, after many years, Vermont farmers are once again growing hops commercially. They face many challenges including pests, diseases, and volatile weather conditions.

While Vermont may no longer be a major player when it comes to hop farming, scientists and farmers are collaborating to develop methods for success. Hop plants can be seen growing wild in several locations around Vermont including Wolcott, the Northeast Kingdom and Northfield. So what are we doing with these wild hops? Together with the UVM Extension NW Crops & Soils Team and our intern, Lejla Mahmuljin, we’re making it our mission to find out just how commercially viable these hops are. Are they good for brewing? What’s their flavor and aroma? What characteristics do they impart to the beer? These are all questions we’re working to answer.

To kick it off, we brewed four different SMASH (single hop and single malt) beers on our 10 gallon pilot system. Next, we’ll be running them by the crew during our company tasting panel. Check back to see the results!

Vermont, HopsAmy LiebleinVermont, Hops
Win a Switchback Swag Pack Valued Over $100!
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Switchback IPA cans were created for you to take that fresh hop flavor with you on all of your adventures. Show us where you’re drinking Switchback IPA and you’ll be in the running to win a Switchback swag pack valued over $100. 

TO ENTER: post a picture on Instagram or twitter using hashtag #SwitchbackIPA and our crew will select our favorite. You must also be following us to win.

Submissions will be accepted until February 10th at 11:59PM. The winner will be announced here on Instagram on February 11th at 12PM. 

Amy Lieblein
Introducing Switchback IPA
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Vermont’s favorite brewery wasn’t built overnight. Neither was our IPA.

We know what you're thinking, and no, this isn't another New England style juice bomb. Switchback IPA is all about pushing the boundaries of IPA flavor and freshness. Sliding in at 5.9% ABV and 74 IBU, our IPA is formulated specifically to maximize a fresh-hop character and flavor that lasts throughout its shelf life. Utilizing a generous blend of Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe this brew is bursting with citrus and floral hop character and a light malt touch. 

We’re excited to welcome Switchback IPA alongside Switchback Ale as our only two beers available in cans. It’s also our second ever IPA, next to Connector.

“Switchback IPA and Connector are two different takes on IPA flavor,” says our Brewery Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry. “Connector was not developed to deliver its popular flavor profile of citrus, tropical fruit and pine characteristics in a can. To can it now would irrevocably change the flavor fans have come to love. Switchback IPA gives IPA lovers and those new to IPAs a deliciously fresh, premium beer that travels anywhere.”

Look for Switchback IPA cans in all your favorite stores, bars and restaurants throughout Vermont. The rest of New England and New York will be seeing them come January 2019. Enjoy!

Collaborative of Vermont Employee-Owned Companies Raise $17,800, Collect 3,000 Pounds of Food to Benefit Vermont Food Bank.

Contacts:
Keith Flaherty, CEO
Hallam-ICS
kflaherty@hallam-ics.com

Matt Cropp, Co-Executive Director
Vermont Employee Ownership Center
Matt@VEOC.org

Collaborative of Vermont Employee-Owned Companies Raise $17,800, Collect 3,000 Pounds of Food to Benefit Vermont Food Bank.

Burlington, Vermont, November 20, 2018 — The “Employee Owners of Vermont,” a group of local employee-owned companies that work together to benefit Vermont communities, recently celebrated the conclusion of their most successful collaboration to date. For the month of October, which is Employee Ownership Month, the companies decided to collect donations for the Vermont Food Bank, and set the goal of raising $5,000.

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That target was quickly surpassed, and the group had raised a total of $17,800 by the end of the month, making it the largest campaign to have run on the Food Bank’s online fundraising platform by a factor of more than three. “We are blown away by the success of the Employee Owners of Vermont’s fundraising efforts,” says Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “The $17,800 that they raised will provide nearly 30,000 meals to families, kids, older adults, and individuals in Vermont struggling with hunger. These efforts will truly change lives. A wholehearted thank you to all of the Employee Owners of Vermont businesses who stepped up to make this possible!”

Participating companies, which included Hallam-ICS, Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition, Vermont Information Processing, VHV Company, Stone Environmental, PC Construction, Carris Reels, Switchback Brewing Company, Chelsea Green Publishing, Heritage Aviation, and Gardeners Supply Company, also collected over 3,000 pounds of food that was donated directly to their local food shelves.

Building on this success, the Employee Owners of Vermont group will be continuing to look for opportunities to collaborate for community impact while building stronger relationships between companies. “Employee ownership is based upon generosity and sharing and is good for employers, employees and their communities.” says Hallam-ICS CEO Keith Flaherty, “As Employee Owners of Vermont, we wanted to recognize Employee Ownership Month by giving to the communities where we live and work.”

It's the Little Things
Switchback Brewing Company Engineering

As the plant engineer, I have spent many days of the past 11 years troubleshooting little and big mechanical issues that come up around the brewery. Although, I am thankful for every large piece of equipment in the building that helps us make excellent beer, it’s these little things that help keep that equipment running.

Kroil: The Oil That Creeps – When you have a 52 year old brewhouse you sometimes need a little help loosening some bolts.

Sawzall Blade – We used this blade for the brewery’s first decade to determine whether or not our rooftop compressor was running. A solenoid valve controlled the flow of refrigerant into our glycol heat exchanger and the metal blade would tell us if the valve was open or closed (due to magnetic force) and therefore indicate if the compressor was on. This saved us many miserable trips to the roof in the dead of winter. Fortunately our new compressor is a little more sophisticated and this Sawzall blade is enjoying its retirement.

Kettle Bottle Opener – It’s just so cute and useful. Gifted to us by Hummer, the company that helped us find and relocate our German brewhouse and keg line.

Vernier Calipers – The only way to get precise measurements of our endless assortment of fasteners, bearings, o-rings, shafts, etc.

A Practical Dictionary of Brewing and Bottling: German/English – A lifesaver when Google Translate isn’t quite up to the challenge and you need a little help figuring out what Frieda (our keg line) is saying when she uses words like “steigrohrüberschwallung” and “dichtigkeitsprüfung”.

Dental Instruments – These precision tools have proved to be invaluable. Sometimes our fingers are a little too big to seat an o-ring or we need to see into a blind corner. Thanks for retiring and giving these to me, Dad!

Ice Pick – The brewery’s most versatile tool. Has been used to clean clogged Zerk fittings, remove baked on gaskets and o-rings in steam valves, and just this week (and the first time it’s ever been properly used) to chip ice from the freezer in our office mini-fridge.

Ratcheting Wrenches – A huge help when a socket wrench is too big and you can only get 15° on each turn. Our keg line and centrifuge overhauls would be a lot more time consuming if we didn’t have these wrenches.

Multimeter – For troubleshooting electrical problems…and keeping me from electrocuting myself.

Gretchen Langfeldt
Plant Engineer

Switchback Ale Now in Cans

Introducing the Switchback Ale Can
Legendary flavor in convenient 16oz can

Switchback Brewing Company Can

BURLINGTON, VT, July 26, 2018 — How does Vermont’s favorite beer improve on itself? By making it easier than ever to enjoy while adventuring. Switchback Brewing’s legendary Switchback Ale – a 100 percent unfiltered, 100 percent naturally carbonated, well-balanced reddish amber ale – is now available in popular 16oz cans. The 4x16oz packages are debuting now in Vermont and will roll out gradually to the rest of New England and New York.

“Ale fans have been asking for cans, but we held off until we could install a canning line designed for craft brewers from the ground up,” said Switchback founder and brewmaster Bill Cherry. “It’s from Germany and integrates the seamer with the filler in one monoblock to give craft brewers unprecedented control of the filling speed to maintain world class quality.” 

Switchback cans feature a non-BPA liner to assure quality and a special matte finish on its graphics. 

“Switchback Ale drinkers are assured the same great beer flavor experience they expect from us,” said Cherry. “There is zero compromise on quality. This beer is identical to our bottles and draught – which aren’t going away – and the fill is the best that exists on the planet. We’re excited to add more options in cans in the future.”

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About Switchback Brewing Company

Switchback Brewing Company was founded in 2002 by master brewer Bill Cherry and his longtime friend Jeff Neiblum. To maximize complexity and flavor, the beer is left unfiltered and carbonated during fermentation by the yeast itself, creating a 100% naturally conditioned beer. In 2017, Switchback Brewing Co. officially became the first 100% employee-owned brewery in New England via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The move keeps the brewery locally owned and operated, still at its original home in the South End of Burlington, VT. Switchback beers are distributed throughout New England and New York. For more information, visit www.switchbackvt.com. 

 

 

Flynn on Fire Festival Presented by Switchback!
Switchback Brewing Company Flynn on Fire Festival

Flynn on Fire Fest sets the South End ablaze with a celebration of all that is smoked, fired and flamed. A curated selection of art, music, food and beer from Switchback and other nationally acclaimed breweries to celebrate the launch of our new Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Series. Plus a special limited Flynn on Fire barrel-release from Switchback. Night time main stage performance from Bella’s Bartok, Doctor Rick and live fire performance from Cirque De Fuego. This event benefits the Lake Champlain Land Trust. Tickets on sale here: http://bit.ly/FlynnonFireFest

EVENT INFORMATION:


SEPTEMBER 29th, 2018 | 3-10PM

DAY TIME FESTIVAL: FREE ADMISSION
3:00PM - 6:00PM

MUSIC | ART VENDORS & DEMOS | FOOD | BEER & FOOD PAIRINGS | RAFFLE & MORE!

MAIN STAGE PERFORMANCE - $12/TICKET
7:00PM | DOORS @ 6:30PM

BELLA'S BARTOK
DOCTOR RICK
LIFE FIRE PERFORMANCE FROM CIRQUE DE FUEGO
Tickets on sale here: http://bit.ly/FlynnonFireFest

GIVING BACK: This event benefits the Lake Champlain Land Trust whose mission is to save the scenic beauty, natural communities, and recreational amenities of Lake Champlain. More info at: www.lclt.org

EVENT FAQ: bit.ly/FAQFlynnonFireFest

FOR QUESTIONS: Contact Amy at info@switchbackvt.com or (802) 651-4114

Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Initiative!
Switchback Brewing Company Flynn on Fire

Get excited, folks. Switchback is launching an initiative. A smoked beer initiative. Here at Switchback, we firmly believe that smoked beers have not yet gotten their due. Just like the greatly respected Belgian styles, goses and sours that have made their comeback before, it’s now time for the neglected smoked beers to take the stage. We know it can be intimidating, but we're here to help. We’re here as the shining beacon to lead you through this adventure. To show you that smokiness can be a balanced attribute that, when done right, can provide unique character and complexity.

And so we introduce to you, our Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Initiative. Named to pay homage to the many historical fires that have plagued our little South End neighborhood in Burlington, VT throughout time.

Smoked beers are some of the oldest in the world, and what you’ll learn quickly is that they command respect. It takes great skill to create one that is balanced enough to invite you back for another sip let alone another glass. Typically smoked beers are overdone, and while smokiness is a great contribution to beer, we believe it shouldn’t be the definition of the flavor. Here at Switchback we’ve always been about balance, and our Flynn on Fire Series is no exception.

So where did this all come from? It all started when our Plant Engineer, Gretchen, visited Bamberg, Germany. The mecca of smoked beers and one of the last remaining place on earth where they truly experiment with this. It was here that she had an epiphany. When she left Bamberg, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the other beers she tried just seemed lacking in comparison. That the current American craft beer scene was missing out on something major. Thus our Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Initiative was born.

At first we experimented with traditional German styles creating our Smoked Märzen and a smoked lager, our Gates of Helles. To our surprise, there was a very positive response from our Tap Room customers who, for the most part, were completely unfamiliar with smoked beers.  But because we are an American craft beer brewery, our urge to experiment kept us branching out even further.  We combined our skills and knowledge of full bodied, balanced ales with the subtle nuances of what we believe a smoked beer should be. The result is our Blackstrap Ale, a hugely complex beer utilizing beechwood smoked malt, brown sugar along with caramelized malts to create a truly unique experience. And the creativity doesn't stop there. The future of our Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Series is bright as we explore barrel aging, innovative beer styles and more. 

We believe that it’s now our duty to spread this realization with the rest of the world. We’ve set our pallets ablaze and there’s no turning back. Join us in this new craft beer initiative: The Flynn on Fire Smoked Beer Initiative.

Current Beers in the Series:

Smoked Märzen:
5.4% ABV | 38 IBU
A strong dose of old world smokiness adds a whole new dimension to the Märzen experience. Our Smoked Märzen carries an intense smoke flavor that elevates this style to new heights of complexity and satisfaction. Take a few sips and be transported to the cobblestone streets and biergartens of Bamberg, Germany where Rauchbiers are a way of life.

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Gates of Helles: 5.1% ABV | 27 IBU
The perfect way to enter the realm of smoked beers is through the Gates of Helles. A soft touch on the smoke superbly complements this helles-style lager. The result is an amazingly satisfying and refreshing golden lager whereby the smoke brings complexity and depth to the world’s most popular style of beer. Crack open the Gates of Helles and abandon all hope of returning to conventional flavors.

Blackstrap Ale: 5.9% ABV | 30 IBU
This smoky dark ale is inspired by Switchback Founder Bill Cherry’s time in Kansas City. Blackstrap Ale harkens to KC’s iconic BBQ tradition with its combination of sweet and smoke, derived from an outrageous use of smoked, roasted, and caramelized malts with a hint of dark brown sugar. Drink up and dream of burnt ends with this explosion of bold and smoky flavors.

Barrel-Aged Blackstrap Ale: 8.3% ABV
At 8.3% ABV, this is a whiskey drinker’s beer as its delicate notes rise and fall with each sip. The big smoked malt backbone allows for caramel and fig nuances to blend with the oak and vanilla character imparted by four months aging in Stonecutter Spirits heritage cask whiskey barrels.

S.O.S (Smoked Oyster Stout): 5.1% ABV | 28 IBU
Driftwood bonfires on the beach and fresh seafood only need friends and beer to make the perfect party. New England oysters delivered fresh from the boat by Wood Mountain Fish turn this Irish-style stout into a celebration of smoke on the sea. Our Smoked Oyster Stout weighs in at a whopping 76% on the Smoke-Ometer ™, but the oysters and roasted barley tame the intensity turning this beer into a refreshing dry stout.

Smoke 40 IPA: 5.9% ABV | 72 IBU
Smoke 40 accomplishes the impossible by marrying smoke with an IPA. Using a 40% smoked malt base, we complement the malt character with an over-sized dose of Mosaic hops to bring tropical fruit into the mix. Think charcoal grilled pineapple slices as you drink this amazingly complex beer.

Bisou (Smoked Saison): 7.8% ABV | 60 IBU
Transport yourself to the French countryside with our Smoked Saison. We use oak smoked wheat malt as well as beechwood smoked barley malt to add a complex smokiness that is complemented by cracked pink peppercorns and orange zest in this loving nod to the traditional French Saison.

Co-Owner Clips: Connie Barrett
Switchback Brewing Company Employee-owned

On February 6th at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry announced to us, the employees, that we had just become partners in ownership of the company. Switchback is officially the first 100% employee-owned brewery in Vermont via an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). We could not be any more excited because this means the company will be Vermont-owned forever. It is now up to us, the employees, to carry on with the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery locally-owned and operated.

So now that we are employee-owned, we are taking this opportunity to dive into the stories of all of our co-owners. We will be delving into each of our worlds and exploring the people that make Switchback, Switchback. Every single employee plays a strong part in our company culture, mission, and values.

Next up: Connie Barrett!

You know, when you work at a brewery, there are some positions that get more publicity than others. Brewers make the beer so usually the public is most interested in them. Owners of any company are used to questions and camera time and marketing and sales teams have their fair share of interviews. But there’s always those people whose jobs, while not always glamorous, are so crucial to a company that it would literally implode without them. One of those people here at Switchback, is Connie.

As is pretty customary in a small company, Connie (and all of us) wear many hats. To give you an idea of just a small snippet of what Connie does, her duties include accounting, payroll, mixed with a little bit of HR, in addition to distribution management aka making sure our distributors don’t run out of beer, tracking our production and reconciling inventory, all wrapped up with a little bit of customer service. And since going employee-owned, Connie is now currently learning the ropes of how exactly an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) works.

Born and raised in Vermont, Connie had a variety of accounting jobs in a whole bunch of different industries before coming to work at Switchback. From fuel, to high end loudspeakers, home & car audio, construction, to 'made in Vermont' products…the list goes on and on! We are so thankful for the winding path (or switchback!) that, somehow through serendipity, brought her to our brewery. And the story behind how she was hired is pretty classically Switchback. “I interviewed with Bill and Chris and I liked what they had to say. They seemed to like me too. Chris called me back for a second interview to meet the crew. I arrived and was brought to a table (a pallet on top of three kegs) where there was a pile, three layers high, of wings. I met the other (then 9) employees, ate wings, drank beers, then was brought back into Bill’s office where they offered me the job.”

We tracked Connie down when she had a moment to spare to learn more about her and her thoughts on working at Switchback.

What’s your favorite Switchback beer? I do love Switchback Ale, Citra-Pils Keller Bier and Extra Pale Ale but…my favorite is our Roasted Red Ale. Delicious!

What’s your favorite thing about working at a brewery, and more specifically, Switchback? My favorite thing about working at a brewery, aside from great beer, is the atmosphere. There is always something to do and always more to learn. Never a dull moment. What I love about working at Switchback is this crazy family. I love how Bill has really thought through each step and made sure with every growth, the quality of our product is #1 along with making sure the brewery (employees and equipment) can handle the next big step. I love that there is so much to learn, and everyone is so great in sharing their knowledge.

How has Switchback changed throughout the time you have worked here I started work at Switchback five years ago and I was employee #11. We now have just over thirty employees. We were brewing one great brew all year-round (Switchback Ale) and had three Rotating Specials (Dooley’s Belated Porter, Slow-Fermented Brown Ale & Roasted Red Ale). These days we have two year-round brews, our Rotating Specials have more than doubled and every so often we brew a batch of a special Limited Run. When I started, the bottling line was arriving in crates and being put together. We started bottling 22oz bombers once a week, with all the employees (including office staff) helped on the bottling line. Now we bottle several days a week, the office isn’t needed on the bottling line anymore and we bottle both 22oz bombers and our little 12oz stubbies. We now have a Tap Room, where we host all sorts of events and our territory has strengthened to include VT, NH, ME, Upstate NY, MA and RI. Needless to say, a lot has changed!

How did you feel when Bill originally broke the news of going employee-owned and how do you feel now about this transition? That’s the Bill way. He cares so much about Switchback, the beer, the employees and the customers. Right now I am proud to be a part of the Switchback crew of owners.

Cheers, Connie, for all that you do!

Dampf Punk Joins the Switchback Lineup

Everybody welcome Dampf Punk to the Switchback fam!

Switchback Brewing Company Dampf Punk

DAMPF PUNK, a hoppy California-style Common started as a one-off experimental batch. This rebel brew quickly became a favorite among our Tap Room regulars and these self-proclaimed Punk fans insisted that we make it available outside the brewery. So here is our unique take on this 100% American beer style.

While still using our house lager yeast, this beer is fermented at a warmer temperature closer to ale yeast conditions, giving it a toasty flavor that is light and crisp. Dry-hopping this beer with a brand new, unnamed hop variety provides soft tropical and herbal notes. The result is wonderfully clean and complex, our unique take on this 100% American beer style.

Look for Dampf Punk at your favorite bars, stores and restaurants...or better yet, ask for it!

Co-Owner Clips: Sean Reen
Switchback Brewing Company Employee Owned

On February 6th, at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry, announced to us, the employees, that we had just become partners in ownership of the company. Switchback is officially the first 100% employee-owned brewery in Vermont via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). We could not be any more excited because this means the company will be Vermont-owned forever. It is now up to us, the employees, to carry on with the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery locally-owned and operated.

So now that we are employee-owned, we are taking this opportunity to dive into the stories of all of our co-owners. We will be delving into each of our worlds and exploring the people that make Switchback, Switchback. Every single employee plays a strong part in our company culture, mission, and values.

Next up! Sean Reen.

Otherwise known as our goofy, music loving, Phish obsessed, photo-taking brewer. He’s been with us since 2008 and is one of our longest standing employees. Almost 10 years ago, after a long season as a lift operator at Mad River Glen, Sean showed up at the brewery to ask Bill for a job. “I told Bill I didn’t know anything about brewing but I drank a lot of good beer.“ Two days later, Sean arrived at the brewery for his first day on the job.

Sean literally embodies the Switchback brand both in consumption and lifestyle. The outdoorsy life is the way for Sean and on his days off you can find him on the top of a mountain, post-hike, feet up, enjoying the view with a Switchback in hand. Sean understands both of our brewing systems like the back of his hand, and his hobbies leak into his job here at the brewery in more endearing ways than one; from the music that floods the production floor during his brews, to the incredible behind-the-scenes photos he takes inside of the brewery.

We caught up with Sean on one of his night brews to learn more about his path through Switchback and his thoughts on our recent shift to employee-owned.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in a small town called Walden. There are about 700 people there, no traffic lights or crosswalks and up until 8th grade, I went to one room school houses that were built in the 1800's. There’s not much going on there but we often make the news for most snowfall in the state.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work? My favorite hobby is going to concerts. Whether it’s at Nectar's or MSG, there’s something about live music that puts me in a very zen-full happy place. Good music is very important to all aspects of my life. Bad music really harshes my mellow, man.

How have you seen Switchback change over the years and where do you see it going in the future? I’ve been here for almost 10 years and there’s been slow and steady growth the entire time. We’ve always taken our time with new projects to make sure we’re doing it right and there’s always been a focus on quality over quantity so all of the changes and growth have felt completely fluid and natural. I think Switchback will continue to slowly grow, expand throughout the Northeast and continue to produce a variety of world-class beers. The further away from the brewery the beer gets, the less control we have over the quality, so I don’t think we’re going to worldwide any time soon. However, I definitely see lots of new markets and new beers for a long time to come.

How did you feel when Bill broke the news of going employee-owned?

I was surprised but not shocked. Bill has always been good to his employees and Switchback is obviously his baby so it made sense that the brand and those who helped make it a success would all be protected and taken care of forever. It was a classic Bill Cherry move.

Switchback Brewing Co. Beer Heads to the New York City
Switchback Brewing Company New York

BURLINGTON, VT, March 5, 2018 — Switchback Ale, Vermont’s number one selling draught beer for over 10 years, is now available in The Big Apple. Manhattan Beer Distributors will service 16 counties, including New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley. The first shipment arrived on February 28. Up until now, Switchback beers have only been offered in New England states and in New York State as far south as the Albany area.

 “I can’t believe our beer is in the Bronx,” said Bill Cherry, Switchback Founder and President. “For years, many people in New York have been urging Switchback to come to the city and surrounding areas. The brewery is thrilled to finally have its beers available to the five boroughs of New York and its suburbs.”

Switchback Ale is available on draught as well as in its iconic 12oz stubby bottles in stores in and around the city. In addition, Combo 12 Packs that contain six Switchback Ale, three Citra-Pils Keller Bier, and three Extra Pale Ale, will be sold at local stores. Fans can locate the nearest Switchback by searching the beer finder at switchbackvt.com/beerfinder.

Switchback Brewing Co. has been brewing its flagship brand, Switchback Ale, since 2002. The ale was developed as a flavor concept, not adhering to any style guidelines and quickly became popular as “Vermont’s Daily Drinker.” The same yeast strain used in the original recipe is still in use today, having been pitched from every batch made over the past 16 years, now making it proprietary. The brewery is known for its strict attention to preserving the quality, integrity and flavor of every beer it brews.

Co-Owner Clips: Dan Tomaino
Switchback Brewing Company Employee Owned

On February 6th, 2017 at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder, Bill Cherry announced to us, the employees, that we had just become partners in ownership of the company. Switchback is officially the first 100% employee-owned brewery in New England via an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). We could not be any more excited because this means it is now up to us, the employees, to carry on the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery Vermont-owned and operated forever.

So now that we're employee-owned, we're taking the opportunity to dive into the stories of all of our co-owners. We will be delving into each of our worlds and exploring the people that make Switchback, Switchback.

Next up? Dan Tomaino

As our resident artist and musician, Dan has been a strong creative force at Switchback for over 10 years. If you frequent the brewery, chances are you’ve seen his pantings on Co-Owner Clips: Dan Tomainothe wall or have heard him strumming on his guitar in the Tap Room. And like many creative souls, we can't recall seeing him wear a single work shirt that wasn't black. But where Dan inspires us the most, is up in the big brewhouse where he’s perfected the form of art that we know best: brewing damn good beer.

We sat down with Dan to find out more about both himself and his perspective after 10 years at Switchback.

What’s your favorite Switchback beer? Switchback Ale is the one I've found myself still loving after 10 years. Like good music, there is always something new to discover.

Favorite music to listen to while brewing and why? Depends on my mood, what's going on and who I'm working with. I won't narrow it down too much, but needless to say we listen to a lot of WEEN, PRIMUS, PINK FLOYD and a classic rock. Every time we get a new batch of employees, more styles come in. Some are great, some not so much, but we all try to take turns and sometimes you find something new that blows your mind. Switchback beer may be the life blood of the brewery and the crew it's mind and muscle, but music is the soul that energizes us daily.

How have you seen Switchback grow over the years and where do you see us going in the future? Having been with the company for over 10 years, I've seen it progress from a tiny 5 person operation into the growing business it is today. This has meant, that often I've had to relearn the way I do my job as we acquire new equipment. People have come and gone but on a whole, it's been amazing to watch hard work get rewarded. People really love our product and it feels great to be able to spread it further and further. In the future, I would like to see us continue on the trajectory that was laid out many years ago...none of us have a profound need to see the brewery take over the worCo-Owner Clips: Dan Tomainold. Being a high quality regional brewery would be just fine with me. Quality, after all, should always beat quantity.

How did you feel when Bill broke the news of going employee-owned? Sheer panic as he told us he was selling the company. Jeff (Bill's business partner) was sitting next to me and was watching; trying very hard to hide his amusement as my hat came off and my face grew pale. Panic then became dumb shock which then became overwhelming joy. I was always proud to work for Switchback regardless of whether or not I was an owner. It is a great feeling to know that Bill is more concerned about the continuation of his legacy rather then the wealth it generates. Always in the back of my mind was the worry that sooner or later, big beer would swallow us little folk: NO LONGER!

What’s your favorite thing about working at Switchback? I think it's a toss up between the people I work with and the fact that I create something for a living. It's not everyday those two things exist side to side. Being able to make something that people all over love and then get together with the people who helped to make it..to enjoy that product is an amazing feeling.

Cheers Dan! Thanks for all your dedication and passion throughout the years.

Thai Lime Gose Goes Barrel-Aged

Our First Ever Barrel Aged Beer

Switchback Brewing Company Barrel Aging

It all started three years ago with some creative thinking by our brewers and a desire to make a refreshing sour. The result? Our Thai Lime Gose.  A definite fan favorite amongst our Tap Room visitors, this beer features a bright lactic sourness balanced by a salinity derived from French Sea Salt and a subtle citrusy-lime aroma from Thai Lime leaves. After three years of enjoying this effervescent treat we were left thinking, “what else can we do with this amazing brew?” The result is Switchback’s first ever barrel aged beer: Our Tequila Barrel Aged Gose.

The Man Behind the Barrel

To guide us as we broke through this new ground, we enlisted our Brewer, Alex, to lead the project. Alex brought a wealth of knowledge and perspective into this new world having joined us from the barrel aging program at Funkwerks. So, Alex got to work filling four tequila barrels with over 200 gallons of Thai Lime Gose where we patiently waited and tasted for months until it was just right. 

Cheers to a Great Beer

After four long months of ageing, the result is a full-bodied twist on our Thai Lime Gose. This brew leads with an oak aroma followed by a pleasant punch of tequila, finishing with a mellow tartness and a hint of salinity. Join us for the official release in the Tap Room at Switchback on January 7th, 2018 and prepare yourself for more barrel aged beers from Switchback as we continue to explore, create and expand on these projects.

Beers by Bill: Dooley's Belated Porter
Switchback Brewing Company Dooley's Belated Porter

I can still remember the day I walked up to Chris Dooley as he was cleaning parts at the sink to ask him what kind of beer he’d like to make next. As our first employee Dooley got to choose. He wanted to make a porter, and happily we both agreed to use Deschutes Black Butte Porter as our gold standard for what a porter can be. Switchback’s porter is on the hoppy side, being a 100% Simcoe beer. Little did we know at the time how popular Simcoe would become for IPAs. We just liked using this hop in our Ale and wanted to exploit its aroma qualities for the porter. But with a big malt backbone and the unusual use of flaked barley, the beer drinks with a smooth balance.

Not having enough brewing capacity to keep up with Ale sales, the beer development had quite a few delays. In fact, by the time we were ready to do a full blown release of our porter it had been five years since Dooley and I had first talked about it. Which is how our fanciful name “Dooley’s Belated Porter” came about. It is important to note that Dooley himself is still alive and kicking. Only the porter was belated.

Bill Cherry
Brewery Owner/Brewmaster

Switchback Brewing Co. Releases Combo Packs

Switchback Brewing Co. beers will soon be available in Combo 12-Packs at local stores. The October release of the Combo Pack is the first time Switchback’s iconic stubby bottles will be available in a 12-pack. This exciting addition to the brewery’s offerings required brand new package construction and design. The challenge of efficiently uniting three beer varieties into a single box resulted in a unique packaging process involving equipment modifications and good ol’ fashioned manual labor by Switchback’s employee-owners.

The Combo Pack gives the consumers an opportunity to purchase an assortment of quality Switchback beers at a lower price and allows the rotating special beers to have more availability to the market.

Switchback Brewing Company Combo Pack

And good things come in Combo Packs!

The first Combo Packs to be released will contain six Switchback Ale, three Citra-Pils Keller Bier, and three Dooley’s Belated Porter in 12oz stubby bottles. Switchback Ale—the number one selling draught beer in Vermont — is a staple for many customers. The Citra-Pils, launched year-round in January, is a clean, refreshing pilsner style lager, dry-hopped with Citra hops, giving it bright lemony citrus notes. Dooley’s Belated Porter exhibits bold, roasted flavors and a smooth finish featuring a single hop variety, Simcoe. The Porter is the first of a few rotating beers to be featured in the Combo Pack, depending on the time of year. Like all Switchback beers, all three varieties are 100% naturally carbonated and left unfiltered.

Co-Owner Clips: Tony Morse

On February 6th at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry announced to us, the employees, that we had just become partners in ownership of the company. Switchback is officially the first 100% employee-owned brewery in all of New England via an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). We could not be any more excited because this means the company will be Vermont-owned forever. It is now up to us, the employees, to carry on with the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery locally-owned and operated.

So now that we are employee-owned, we are taking this opportunity to dive into the stories of all of our co-owners. We will be delving into each of our worlds and exploring the people that make Switchback, Switchback. Every single employee plays a strong part in our company culture, mission and values.

Next up? Tony Morse.

Switchback Brewing Company Tony Morse

Head Brewer and one of the OG crew members here at Switchback. Tony was the brewery’s third hire, way back in 2006, making him one of our longest standing employees. Like a surprisingly large amount of us, Tony didn’t let a lack of professional brewing experience deter him from pursuing a career in the industry. Before turning his passion for beer into a reality, he acquired a degree in middle-level education, which does not go unused here at Switchback. Tony is the go-to teacher at the brewery. We can always count on him to explain the intricacies of brewing in ways us normal people can understand.

All of this is great, but Tony’s real claim to fame is being the proud father of our beloved Slow-Fermented Brown. It is widely known among Tony’s co-workers and friends that his all-time favorite beer is Genesee Cream Ale. When he suggested that we brew our own version of a Cream Ale everyone laughed except for Brewery Founder Bill who could see that Tony was actually on to something. The result was our Slow-Fermented Brown Ale; an ale brewed at cooler temperatures like a lager, giving it a gentle creaminess and a crazy smooth finish. A Switchback cult favorite to this day! Co-Owner Clips: Tony Morse

We caught up with Tony on his turf (in the big brewhouse) to find out more about him and his thoughts on going employee-owned.

Where did you grow up? I’m a Marine brat so I grew up all over the place; Massachusetts, Tennessee, Hawaii, Mauritania Africa, Luxembourg Europe, and California to name a few. All of that before the age of 13, then moved to Vermont and ended up attending the same High school both of my parents did; Harwood Union High School (for the locals). I’ve been here ever since.

Favorite hobbies and does this inspire parts of your job? I love to play golf and am currently obsessing over fermenting veggies. I feel like golf helps me focus on problem solving because I rarely have an easy time getting the ball in the cup. Different vegetable fermentations help to inspire me and most of all, feed me.

Favorite music to listen to while brewing and why? NOFX or Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, because they are awesome. Every once in a while I’ll throw on some Deathklok to shake things up.

What’s the story behind how you came to work at Switchback? As soon as I was “legal” I started home brewing. It was love at first sip of awful, flat, warm, oxidized, and infected bottle that didn’t explode. But I made it, it was mine! While waiting tables I got wind through the grape vine that Switchback was looking to hire someone with brewing experience. I had nothing to lose so I brought in a resume, met with Bill, and 2 weeks later I had a part time job scrubbing the outsides of kegs. As the company grew so did I. 11 years later I’m head brewer and a co-owner of a fantastic brewery. I was 23 when this Co-Owner Clips: Tony Morseall started.

Proudest brewing moment? Winning the brewery Chili Cook-off!!! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder than the moment we found out that Bill would never sell the company and that he was entrusting the fate of the brewery to us, the employees. I’ll admit I was so proud I got teary eyed.

How have you seen Switchback change/grow over the years after working here for so long? The size and scale of the company has increased dramatically. What in my mind has changed the most is how we do things. Each process has changed, or evolved, over time for the better. With each new set of hands involved in the process have come improvements that we could never have imagined. That’s one of the best things about this place; we take everyone’s input into consideration. If an idea has merit, we will try it. If that idea makes the process easier or faster without compromising any of our standards we will make that the new way we do things.

Where do you see Switchback going in the future? The sky is the limit. I see us expanding territories, developing new products, and overall becoming better at what we do. We can do anything.

Cheers Tony! Thanks for all that you do.