- Written by Devon
We recently discovered Gardner Ale House at a local beer festival. Having never tried any of their offerings, we were amazed at the quality of the beer. We knew then that we had stumbled upon something special and wanted to learn more. We headed out to Gardner, MA to speak with Dave Richardson, the brewmaster, to get the inside scoop on this brewpub.
As you walk in the bar is instantly inviting, with a nicely dark atmosphere that just makes you want to relax with a nice pint. A long bar runs almost the length of the brewpub along with ample seating at tables.
Dave Richardson, Gardner’s brewmaster, began his path to becoming a brewer in college. While at school at UVM Dave discovered the craft beers of Vermont such as Catamount (now defunct), Otter Creek, The Shed and others. His summer after college Dave tells us: “I was home, looking for a job. So my mom, she’s probably sick of me or something, says “You know Rick down the road? He brews beer once a week. You should go over and check that out.” Rick Walton, a family friend would later become the owner of Gardner Ale House.
Out of college and working a state job, Dave began apprenticing for free with Jeff Browning at Brü Rm. At BAR in New Haven CT. Working on a 10 gallon system he became more interested in brewing. Dave continued to brew with Rick Walton when he headed home for holidays the two often pipe dreaming about opening a brew pub. Expressing dislike for his current job Rick mentioned how he heard about some brewing schools. Two weeks later Jeff Browning mentioned the same schools. In a twist of fate Dave was laid of from his job, there were cutbacks and anyone new they got rid of. It was then that he took out loans to attend UC Davis brewing school.
After leaving brewing school he went to work for Redhook in Portsmouth for 3 years. Its here that the story of Gardner Ale House, and our interview begins.
- Written by Devon
It's time for our third beer tasting down at Bauer Wine and Spirits on Newbury St. Its officially summer now and its time we presented you with some good summer beers. Without giving too much away up front we can say there will be some very special surprises at this tasting. Surprises that involve us taking a car, then a bus, then a ferry to get them for you. If you've figured out what we're talking about, well then we know you're excited, if you haven't, well come by and find out why people are excited.
But enough of that, on to the beer!
- Written by Devon
It's no secret that we're big fans of local beer. So, when we found out Sherwood Forest was launching a new beer, Sheriff's IPA, we wanted to get the inside scoop. Sherwood Forest was one of the very first breweries to start canning craft beer with their Archer's Ale (pictured in bottle form on the right). We spoke with Dave Lambert, the owner of Sherwood Forest, about the launch of the new product. It turns out that the launch of Sheriff's IPA is just one of a few new products coming out. Read the full interview bellow:
DCB: First of all we noticed you're expanding your offerings. What made you decide to launch Sheriff's IPA and can you give us any details on this new offering?
Dave Lambert: We decided to come out with this due to a lot of feedback from our loyal fans and distributors. We have had only one style since we started back in1997, at that time we focused on getting the archer ale right and making a quality consistent English Ale. Once we felt we had been able to do that successfully we then decided to branch out to another style. With the IPA there is much more acceptance of this style and more and more are discovering that a well balanced hoppy IPA is a wonderful experience. Sheriff's uses Centennial, Cascade and Nugget with domestic 2 row pale malt and English Caramalt the result is an ABV of 6.0% and produces an American India Pale Ale, a bitterness, flavor and aroma dominated by these hops yet balanced with premium English specialty malts. A deep golden copper, clear and precise is the result and one that fits into our theme with the Sheriff!
DCB: Who/what inspired you to own a brewery? For Jon (Sherwood Forest's Brewer) or you, who/what inspired you to start brewing?
Dave Lambert: We just loved beer and both of us home brewed before we got into the business. We knew nothing about distribution or selling or anything else that goes into building a successful brewery. We just knew that we enjoyed beer and the process of making it!
DCB: Do you or have you homebrewed? If so, what was your most recent batch?
Dave Lambert: Yes we both have homebrewed; I have not done it now in over 3 years as Jon is in charge now of all of the test batch brews. I still have my homebrew system but have been to busy lately with building the business!
DCB: One trend that seems to be growing right now is the double/imperialization of almost every style. What's your take on this trend? Is this just a brewing fad or something you think will stick around?
Dave Lambert: I think that you stick with the basics when it comes to brewing; we have been probably too conservative in what we do; but we know what our customers look for from us. I think that this is more of a luxury to those that do doubles etc...we try to run a tight ship and we watch everything that we do and this does not fit into who we are.
DCB: Back in April 2006 you spoke with the Boston Globe about cannedbeer. At the time it was a tough sell for some accounts. Is that still the case, or have you seen a change in the market now that more breweries are moving to cans?
Dave Lambert: We were the 2nd company to do the canning in all of the U.S.; there was us and Dale's and that was it. When I spoke back then many did not understand why you would take a craft brewed ale and put it into a can! Fast forward to today there are now many small craft breweries canning and it is becoming much more accepted here in the U.S. as a unique way to package great craft brewed ales and lagers. We just loved the idea of drinking our product from a can while still realizing that the taste profile and flavor are not affected by the can at all. We have many customers who drink only the can which is great to see! So when I mentioned that it was a tough sell this was because we were the only ones out here on the East Coast out there all alone. Now we have many more who have come to see this as a great craft package!
DCB: Do you see yourself expanding your market? If so, where to?
Dave Lambert: Yes; currently we are in MA,CT,RI and NH so this is a lot to handle as is, but we have gotten many request to expand this distribution footprint but are just not in a position right now to produce enough product, this may change in the next year or two but right now we are pretty busy with what we have.
DCB: Coming back to your new beer offerings, how do you decide on which beer to bring to market? Is it driven by a desire to bring out a certain style? How many tests do you go through before the right beer is made?
Dave Lambert: This is a decision that our board makes! Jon and I!!! We both love IPA's and always wanted to bring our own to the market. Many of our loyal fans asked us for another style and we wanted to have one that even if it did not do well we could have a hefty supply for our own consumption!!
DCB: Adding a new brand is always a big move, but is there anything else other than the IPA in the near horizon?
Dave Lambert: Yes, Friar's Belgian White and Maiden's Blueberry
DCB: Anything else we should know about?
Dave Lambert: We are just a couple of guys getting up every day and loving what we do while trying to make sure we keep the Sheriff at Bay!!!
So there you have it! We've tried the Archer's Ale, in fact we drank a couple over the 4th of July and it's quite tasty, so give it a shot next time you see it. We haven't tried the IPA yet as it wasn't yet out at the time of this interview, but keep a look out for it at your favorite store.
- Written by Devon
Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
(for anyone trying to do that math the alcohol to volume comes out to the equivalent of about 5 regular beers)