Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vermont adds 2 craft breweries in 1 week

Master brewers Dean Rouleau (left) and Mark Babson
In the space of just a week, our neighbors in Vermont got two more craft breweries to choose from.

On February 3, former Magic Hat brewer Mark Babson opened his own River Roost Brewery in White River Junction, located across the parking lot from Big Fatty's BBQ and the restaurant Elixir.

On Wednesday, the Saint J Brewery went into soft opening mode in the Green Mountain Mall in St. Johnsbury. Owner Scott Samuelson is hosting an official grand opening there today.

River Roost is selling growlers and has three beers on tap -- a golden oat ale called Miller's Daughter, a "small stout" called Jack Sprat, and a hoppy wheat ale called My Darlin', brewed with citrusy Vic Secret and Simcoe hops. The trio is rather light, rated at 5.8, 4.7 and 5.4% ABV, respectively.

Babson, who is working on a pale ale and a Mosaic session pale ale, reported that customers bought more than 200 growlers in his first week of business. The Mosaic is aging in California white wine barrels to become his first in a series of oak-aged beers.

The Saint J Brewery is the successor to Grains & Grinds. That was Samuelson's sandwich shop and nanobrewery that was flooded out of business in 2014 by a broken water main. He used his insurance settlement to create the new seven-barrel brewery, and hired master brewer Dean Rouleau to create a portfolio. Rouleau's first lineup consists of three Belgian-inspired beers on draft -- an IPA brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, a strong dark ale with a dry cocoa finish, and a blonde beer modeled after regional brews of Belgium.

As noted in the Vermont publication Seven Days, Rouleau, a native of New Hampshire, "has been making beer professionally since 1992 and owns San Diego brewpub Prodigy Brewing. The busy brewer also manufactures and installs custom equipment for small breweries and brewpubs nationwide. His resume includes six years at San Diego Brewing and stints at California's Stone Brewing, Pitfield London Brewery in the UK, and Colorado's Phantom Canyon Brewing. His beers have taken high honors in domestic and international beer competitions." He is commuting between California and Vermont.

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