It’s time to Drink Green! In March we’re raising our glass to the long list of amazing breweries here in the Green Mountain State. And five in particular—River Roost, Four Quarters, Upper Pass, Foam, and Big Tree.
We’re excited to spotlight these local brewers. Plus, we’re offering 15% off beers by these brewers all month long!
Thank you to Mark at Big Tree Brewing Co. for taking the time to share his beer-making story with us.
Q-and-A with Mark Frier
Q. Please tell us your name and your role at the brewery.
A. Mark Frier, founder. My role is wide ranging, from recipe development to brand marketing (can design, events, social media) and more.
Q. Can you tell us the story behind your brewery’s name?
A. It’s a personal love for the outdoors. It’s why I moved to Vermont. I also loved the idea of a mixed logo that could only say BIG with a tree around it. (Also, early in the alphabet and low syllables, but who wants to talk about that?).
Q. Who does your brewing?
A. The majority of the beer is brewed in Williston, Vermont on a contract under our direction. Direction can include anything from recipe, process and more. The nice thing about a contract facility is their knowledge of the larger systems and their existing facilities. They can also help give feedback and suggested changes/improvements.
Q. Does the brewer have any type of formal training? If not, how did they learn the craft?
A. I have no formal training. I read a lot that was available in books early, but the internet has really created a space for so much information/feedback. Then years and years of trial and error. The contract brewery does have formal brewers training.
Q. Can you give us a brief history of your brewery? How did you get started and how long have you been in business?
A. We grew out of an interest then passion for brewing beer. Obviously, living in Waterbury and having the world class beer coming out of the Alchemist Pub and brewery really excited me, showing where beer could go. I started home brewing, then moved on to the 1 barrel nano brewery at The Reservoir restaurant in Waterbury. We struggled to scale and learn the larger equipment and what it takes to get a good beer in a keg. When we felt like we could really taste the beer we wanted to brew, we scaled up to the 20bbl system we brew on for the cans and kegs we sell.
Q. How large is the brewery (# of barrels annually)?
A. I should know this probably; we are small, 500-1000.
Q. How is your beer connected to the local area?
A. We still call our restaurant The Reservoir home. All our beer is made in Vermont by Vermonters. We try to make beers that our local community wants and can connect to. We try to name and brand our beers around the reasons we get outdoors (for the most part, some are just for fun). We do buy some hops locally and hope that grows in the future. The spent grain is given to farmers to feed their animals.
Q. What is your favorite style of beer to drink?
A. I can’t say no to the Vermont Hazy IPA. Notice I didn’t say New England IPA. I know this was discussed years ago about what’s “right” but I feel it’s important to state its origin in the style.
Q. What is your “desert island beer”?
A. Glampin would feel real nice going down as I try to figure out if I should fish or find fresh water. Wait, is this an option?
Q. If you could sit down with anyone (living or dead) and have a beer, who would it be and why? What would be the first question you would ask them?
A. Hmmm, tough one. I never meant my mom’s parents (my grandparents). I would probably ask them about my mom when she was young, as I am expecting my first child on Monday.