Drink This Now: Fort Hill Brewery
New England’s burgeoning beer scene covers a lot of bases. We’ve seen saisons brewed with live lobsters, beers made with Charles River water, and Berliner weisses aged to taste like whiskey sours. But in Western Massachusetts, one brewery is keeping things more traditional.
Situated in Easthampton is Fort Hill Brewery, where founder Eric Berzins adheres to the Reinheitsgebot German purity law for the majority of his beers. Per the age-old law, the beverage can only be made with four ingredients: water, hops, malt, and yeast. The circumstances might sound limiting in today’s beer world, but the Fort Hill team have embraced the strict conditions to create a number of traditional lagers, pilsners, and unfiltered IPAs.
“It’s amazing the range of flavors that you can get from only four ingredients,” says marketing manager Kristen De Lancey. “People are so surprised that we don’t use fruit in some of our IPAs, because it really has that fruity flavor.”
You can try those brews during a tap takeover at Five Horses South this month. On Tuesday, December 20, the bar will tap Fort Hill’s Farmer’s Fresh session IPA, Fresh Pick IPA, Lagerhaus session lager, and Tim’s Udderly milk stout. If you stop by, make sure to find out how the drinks pair with Five Horses’s loaded tots.
Fort Hill opened its doors in 2014, but not before Berzins scoured 60 possible sites in the Boston area. He eventually settled in Easthampton because of its water quality. Using that pristine foundation, Berzins launched with just lagers at first, like the Hera pilsner and Lagerhaus session beer. The brewery has since ventured into hoppier territory with a series of IPAs, and has even defied the German purity canon with a few releases.
Many Fort Hill beers have found their way into Boston-area stores and bars over the past few months, and the company hosts tap takeovers in this area with some frequency. Check their calendar for a full schedule.
“Tap takeovers help get our name out there, and people get to try a bunch of different things,” De Lancey says. “And hopefully, people like it enough that they see it in stores and want to buy it.”
In Western Mass., Fort Hill’s taproom is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m., Saturdays from 2-8 p.m., and Sundays from 2-6 p.m. for pints, flights, and growler fills. No matter where you drink, just make sure not to sleep on these beers.
30 Fort Hill Rd, Easthampton, 413-203-5754, forthillbrewery.com.