Warren, Vermont - May 20, 2011
Sean Lawson doesn't have to go far to get to his brewing facility.
"It's really nice to walk about 50 feet from the front door to work," he said.
His passion for homemade ales started over 20 years ago and has since brewed into Lawson's Finest Liquids, an award-winning beer.
"I started in the business because so many people had rave reviews about my home-brew and encouraged me to start a brewery," Lawson said.
Lawson's Finest Liquids recently won the National IPA Challenge against big names like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada.
"March Madness hops not hoops for beer lovers instead of basketball lovers," Lawson said.
He says the winning trend lately is to have IPAs with tropical and fruity characters to the hopping. Their Maple Tripple (sic) Ale won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup -- where over 45 countries and 3,300 beers competed.
"It was a real thrill for me to put Vermont on the map for maple beer," Lawson said. "The Tripple Play IPA I put on the label no batter beer."
Brewing twice a week, he often mixes his love of the Red Sox into his recipes.
Although it goes down easy, it's not a simple process. It takes an understanding of chemistry-- balancing things like temperature, density, and timing.
"Right now I'm producing one barrel per batch. A barrel is 31 gallons in the industry," Lawson said.
Like most beer it starts with an oatmeal-looking concoction of grains, hops, malted barley and water.
"Cooking up a batch of barley stew," Lawson said.
The custom brew next is pumped to fermenters where it sits for two weeks and then is kegged off.
Reporter Gina Bullard: There are a lot of craft beers. Is it a fad?
Sean Lawson: Oh no, it's a huge and growing business.
Vermont has the nation's highest number of breweries per capita and most of them started just like Lawson.
"We're going to keep our business here in this little space, so we're looking at ways to improve our equipment to make more here on site," he said.
But unlike most breweries, there are no tours yet of his "hoppy" brew shack. And for the beer lovers requesting his ales from around the world-- they're out of luck.
"I have to break their hearts and tell them they have to plan a trip to Vermont and buy it in the Mad River Valley," Lawson said.
Right now, you can only find Lawson's Finest Liquids on draft around the Mad River Valley or in bottles at the Warren Store.
"We live in a beautiful place in a rural setting and enables us to make a decent living out here in the hills of Vermont," Lawson said.
Beer made right here in Vermont-- that's cheered worldwide.
Gina Bullard - WCAX News
PO Box 4508