Craft Beer / Eat, Drink, Blog

The Rise of Hyper-Local Beer: Wandering Star’s Berkshire Hills 01201

Just as many chefs are creating dishes from locally sourced, in-season ingredients, so many brewers in the craft beer industry are developing beers from local ingredients. At last summer’s American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, several brewers discussed the rise of “hyper-local beer,” whether that meant using ingredients grown on or near the brewery to distributing only from kegs (or directly from the brewery) to a limited radius.

Riding this wave is Wandering Star Brewery (Pittsfield, MA), which has an ironic zip code added to its Berkshire Saison in part due to the political wranglings of the State of Massachusetts’ Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. While owner Chris Post was patiently awaiting his license, the state was trying to regulate the amount of local ingredients brewers must use in their beer. Wandering Star arguably uses more of its own grains per capita than virtually any brewery in the north east, growing barley on Chris’ land and hops on the exterior wall of the brewery.

Happily, thanks to great efforts by Wandering Star’s partners, Chris Cuzme and Alex Hall, NYC has had many opportunities to try the amazing beers being offered by this brewery. As for the Saison, Wandering Star describes it as “A classic Belgian Saison brewed using Brasserie Dupont yeast, and fermented at traditionally stratospheric temperatures – reaching 98°F during primary fermentation! As an ironic nod to the Massachusetts ABCC’s recent attempt to force farm brewers to use mainly MA-grown ingredients, the beer uses pilsner and wheat malts from nearby Valley Malts of Hadley, MA, as well as local unmalted wheat and spelt. The result is a quenching, complex, and aromatic light amber beer with a deceptively high 6.3% ABV.”