Liquid Diet: Hill Farmstead and Cambridge Brewing Company Team Up

With Nordic Saison, Will Meyers and Shaun Hill pay tribute to a brewing mentor.

hill farmstead

Artwork by Hill Farmstead

Long before the cult of Hill Farmstead had permeated the craft beer world, Shaun Hill was just a fledgling brewer looking for a break. “I’ve known Shaun since his first brewing job at The Shed in Vermont,” says Will Meyers, brewmaster at Cambridge Brewing Company. “We met before he officially started, when he came down to Boston for the NERAX cask beer festival. He just walked up to me and kind of confronted me and said, ‘Hey, you’re Will Meyers. I just got this job and I need your advice.” He was inheriting this brewery without any real brewing experience, but I was impressed with his enthusiasm and his obvious intelligence.”

That candid conversation spawned a decade-long friendship and several collaborative projects including Prolegomena, a Flemish red aged in port and wine barrels, and Madness & Civilization #2, a buckwheat porter aged in port barrels. The chance interaction all helped Hill become the hallowed, fetishized brewer he is today.

“I had gone to Copenhagen many years ago to brew with Anders Kissmeyer and we did an expression of my Heather Ale and an expression of a sour beer that we do at CBC called Cerise Cassée,” Meyers says. “After coming back from that trip Shaun contacted me and said, “there’s this brewery in Copenhagen that’s looking for a brewer and I think it would be a really cool experience. What do you think?” Quite fortuitously, it was Anders brewpub and Shaun ended up spending a lot of time in Copenhagen brewing with with Anders. He even ended up taking over a couple of barrels of our sour beer and shepherding it to fruition.”

To honor their mutual friend and mentor, Meyers and Hill invited Kissmeyer to join them in Greensboro, Vermont, to brew a new beer that was released at Hill Farmstead this week. The final result, which they’re calling a “Nordic Saison” was brewed with Vermont honey, rose hips, heather flowers, and brettanomyces.

“Certainly we used a fair amount of honey, we used some really nice grains, and an addition of rose hips, which was something Anders really wanted to do,” Meyers says. “That ended up being a lot of fun on the brewhouse platform because we were only able to get it a powdered form and it was just a nightmare. All it wanted to do was clump up and it was bright orange, so it completely stained our hands and clothes. It was a disaster, but the flavor was quite nice. I’d brewed with rose petals before and was really wary because it can give the beer an over-the-top perfume character. Instead, the rose hips added a nice, tart, earthy, fruity component that is quite pleasant.”

Meyers says the “Nordic” part of the equation is a “cheeky nod” to Kissmeyers’ Danish heritage and because of the dosage of brettanomyces and saccharomyces used in fermentation. The three brewers made two 15 barrel batches, which ended up producing 4,000 bottles. Hill anticipates selling through the current stock by the end of the month, but Hill Farmstead plans on brewing the Nordic Saison with some regularity, potentially in much larger batches.

“With these types of collaborations, we just look at it as a really fun opportunity to hang out and geek out with other brewers that we admire,” Meyers says. “In the case of the Nordic Saison, it’s a beer that Shaun and I wanted to do because Anders is a good friend and a brilliant brewer. He doesn’t get near the amount of attention that he deserves. We wanted to restore some of that recognition to honor a mentor and a brewer we both personally admire.”