It’s May first and I’m dancing a jig. The leaves aren’t on the trees yet, but daffodils are blooming and I can see the ground after having four feet of snow in our yard all winter. But one person I’ve met recently loves the snow so much he named his new brewery after the dreaded line for the ski lift. Matt Grant is the proud brewer and owner of Liftline Brewing Company in Sheldon, Vermont.
“I’ve been snowboarding for 15 years,” Matt told me, “so all my beers’ names will reflect the ski industry.” There is his flagship First Tracks Amber, which he’ll debut soon, Frostbite IPA, Beyond Borders Irish Red Ale and Pond Skimmer Maple. Matt’s pumpkin ale, Almost Winter, won a prize in a local competition and its popularity prompted him to make some a bit out of season for the upcoming Craft Brew Races in Stowe, Vermont.
Matt Grant is in that very lucky class of beer drinkers who grew up with craft beer. But not always. As Matt explains it: “All my friends were drinking domestic beer, which I hated. Once I tasted Long Trail Blackberry Wheat, I fell in love with craft beer. Then I went on a quest to taste as many Vermont beers as I could. I saved over 150 bottles from that adventure. I visited Long Trail with some friends and thought it would be a cool industry to get into. I have a Bachelor’s degree in business, which qualified me to run the business end, so I then learned how to brew. That was five years ago. I’ve read a lot and brewed a lot since then.”
I asked how he would fare with so many craft breweries in Vermont. “Both the craft beer and local communities have been so welcoming. You’d think other brewers wouldn’t want to talk to competition, but everyone’s invited me to ask for help and they said they would visit when I open.” This I already knew about the generosity of “my” New England brewers, and I’m glad to see that they are welcoming Liftline into the fold.
Not only does Matt’s business degree help, but he’s also a graphic designer for a custom embroidery and screen printing business his parents started 27 years ago. Matt’s in charge of all the artwork, signs and banners. “I design all my own labels and artwork for tee-shirts, hats and other “swag” for the tasting room gift shop.”
I followed up my first phone call to Matt with another call this morning. Things were not all that rosy. “My growlers aren’t here yet, I’m missing some taps and one of my licenses is still delayed.” If I could have given him a hug through the phone lines, I would have. These are common dilemmas for brewers. In fact the slow process of licensing is the most frequent complaint I’ve heard brewers mention. But what Matt does have control over, the beer, “is perfect.”
Matt’s opening day at the brewery had to be postponed until May 8th or 9th. Check his Facebook page for updates to make sure he’s open. The beer, however is ready. “My maple beer is so popular, I’ll be bringing it to the Craft Brew Races in Stowe, Vermont.”
If you can’t drive the 4.5 hours up to Sheldon, get to Stowe on May 30, 2015 for the Craft Brew Races. You can opt to do the 5K before the beer festival that follows it, or just show up for the festival itself. These are fun events, 21 plus, where over 20 breweries are showcased. Lots of bang for the buck, and you can say you’ve tasted Vermont’s newest craft beer.
Info about Liftline:
Liftline Brewing Company
16 Sheldon Heights
Craft Brew Races
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
1746 Mountain Road
Stowe, VT 05672
Saturday: May 30, 2015
Race Start: 12:00 p.m.
Festival: 12:30 – 4 p.m.