Hill is known to be as particular about the way his beers are sold as he is about brewing them. He’s has always been passionate about brewing beers, so much so that his love for beer took him to a different continent. In one of the few available interviews of the man, his mother had mentioned that the love for brewing beer has been a childhood dream for him. The skill and passion for brewing have always been there, which is why, at the very young age of 15, Hill was already elbow deep in the industry, albeit in an informal capacity.
A reclusive man by nature, who is known to bother less about his appearance than the way his customers handle their growlers, Hill was born and raised on the land where the brewery now exists. A visit to their official website will give you a brief account of how things changed with every new generation that occupied the land. The story dates way back to 1788, when Hill’s ancestors made their way to the Northern Kingdom, where roads were still being constructed, and mills and taverns were just beginning to start their trading. One of Hill’s ancestors – Aaron Hill, managed the tavern.
From there, the Hill family’s offspring used the land mainly for agricultural purposes, in addition to having a lot of livestock. Cut to our Hill’s birth and his subsequent education in the local high school where his first brush with home brewing occurred, of all things, for a science project. The way fermentation converted a few raw materials into something delicious fascinated him. His next step was to enroll at the Haverford College of Philosophy, where it is said Hill drew his inspiration to take up the challenge of brewing creative brews in a methodical manner. As they say, sometimes there is a method to madness too.
At this point, Hill was ready to get more seriously involved in the whole process of fermentation on a commercial level, as well as exploring the various ways and tips to do this well. So after he completed his education, he returned home and started working at the local brewpub, known as Shed. Even after he studied various brewing techniques and returned abroad, he was offered the position of head brewer at the same place because their previous one had quit. So Shaun took over the position but found the repetitive process to have very little creativity and lots of brown ales to be very mundane – an adjective he never wanted to give to his life-long passion.
Then, in the pages of the Yankee Brew News, he read that his long-time idol John Kimmich, had decided to open a brewpub close to where Hill stays. It became a matter of routine for Hill to go and badger Kimmich with questions about the whole process, which the latter was in fact happy to do. As Kimmich had once mentioned, it was rare for him to discuss the actual, arduous process with an outsider in such detail, but he knew that Shaun was a passionate spirit who already knew a lot about wine brewing and experimenting himself.
Journey To and Back
Shaun’s extremely successful foreign stint in beer brewing was possible because Anders Kissmeyer had decided to split from his former place of employment and start his own brewery in Copenhagen – Norrebro Bryghus. He was on the lookout for an American specifically to lead his dream project, and Shaun fit the bill perfectly. Right off the bat, he could see that Shaun was extremely hard working and willing to push the limits with beers, mixing the old with the new and the classy with the homely. As both professionals had equal respect for their drinks, as well as for each other, they became good friends as well.
Special drinks brewed by Shaun went on to win gold and silver medals at the World Beer Cup, after which, he started missing his home. Moreover, he wanted to take his newly discovered talents and knowledge and put them to better use at his own place and help his family keep their land and estate financially sound for perpetuity.
After raising money from friends and family, Hill Farmstead Brewery was set up at his old ancestral place with a few modifications. Shaun swears that once he hits the 150,000 gallons or 4,800 barrels limit, he will stop brewing because he wants his beers to remain exclusive and in-demand by true beer lovers, not just something mundane for the masses.
So in 2011, he started his brewery, and it was named the Best New Brewery in the World by RateBeer. For seven years after that, Shaun’s dream project was the best in the world, coming in second place just once. His brews, especially Art, are so much in demand that people wait in lines for three to four hours before the brewery opens to discuss trading with each other because each person is allowed only one bottle. Overall, five growler limits are necessary because of the heavy demand and nice, limited supply at Hill Farmstead.
Hundreds of customers have not minded the narrow, dirt roads leading to this place simply because of the divine tastes and the passion Shaun exudes even today.
If you wish to taste some of the most delicious brews in Vermont, you can visit Hill Farmstead Brewery at 403 Hill Road, Greensboro Bend, Vermont 05842. To learn more about the delicious beers available here, you can call them on 802-533-7450 or visit their website.