Lawson’s Finest Liquids Plans a Destination Brewery in Vermont

Decorated beer maker Sean Lawson currently operates out of his own garage. The expansion will quadruple brewing capacity.

Lawson's Finest Liquids

Lawson’s Finest Liquids. / Photo via Facebook

At last, it will soon be just a little bit easier to try some of the storied Vermont beer that fans plan pilgrimages for: Lawson’s Finest Liquids will build a huge, new brewery in Waitsfield, Vt., complete with a tasting room and retail shop.

Sean and Karen Lawson shared the news on their website yesterday. They plan to close on a 7,500 warehouse next year and target 2018 for the opening. The new facility, about six miles from the Lawsons’ home and current, seven-barrel operation, will allow for a 30-barrel brewhouse.

“We have expected to grow at some point, but we wanted it to be on our terms. Our quality of life is the key driver of our business and now we’re ready to make Waitsfield the home of a bigger brewery and tasting room,” Karen said in the announcement. “Our kids have become more independent in the last several years; we feel confident in making this move as a company.”

The family-owned business is investing in their community with this next step, Sean said. “Vermont is already known as one of the world’s premier beer destinations and we would like the Mad River Valley to be one of the must-visit places for beer enthusiasts and tourists,” he said.

The business plan calls for hiring “a number of” new, local employees, and paying them livable wages and providing benefits. Located nearby the Mad Taco, the Big Picture Theatre and Café, and other local businesses, the Lawsons believe their brewery will further enhance year-round tourism. The tasting room will have a family-friendly space, with samples of local, handcrafted foods and other drinks.

Lawson’s debuted its first beers about eight years ago. Zoning at the brewery’s current location prohibits retail sales and tastings, so it has never been open to the public. But with world-class offerings like Sip of Sunshine double IPA (which is now contract brewed, along with Super Session #2, at Two Roads in Connecticut), Permagrin Pale Ale, Fayston’s Maple Imperial Stout, Chinooker’d IPA, and more small-batch releases, Lawson’s has earned worldwide recognition and awards from the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, the National IPA Championship, Boston magazine, and more.

Once the new brewery opens, Lawson will continue to use his garage as a pilot brewery, and he’ll continue to make Sip of Sunshine and Super Session #2 at Two Roads. “We’ve hoped from the beginning that [those beers] could get to the big Northeast beer markets that are nearby, but people in Vermont and Connecticut are drinking it faster than we can make it,” he said.

The nearby Mad River Food Hub will further distribute Lawson’s products in Vermont. No word just yet on plans to distribute in the Boston area, though beer fans should keep even closer tabs on the planned Worthy Kitchen in Brookline now. It’s a noted beer destination in Vermont, and co-owner Jason Merrill previously told Boston the team will bring “whatever Vermont beer we can get down there.”

Lawson’s Finest Liquids, opening a brewery and tasting room at 155 Carroll Rd. Waitsfield, Vt., in 2018,