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Yankee Brew News Archive

Long Trail Opens New Brewery

Originally Published: 06/96

By: Tom Ayres

Things are really moving for the Long Trail Brewing Company these days.

The purveyors of Long Trail Ale--one of Vermont's most popular microbrews--and other specialty ales--have moved into a new, 17,000-square-foot brewery in Bridgewater Corners.

The new facility is located two miles down Route 4 from Long Trail's old location at the Bridgewater Mill Mall. Another major change coincided with the January move: the company officially changed its name from its former moniker, Mountain Brewers, to Long Trail Brewing Company. The name derives from Vermont's famed wilderness hiking trail, which wends its way the breadth of the state.

"Our product name was more widely known than the name of our company. Informally, we've been known as Long Trail for years," explains Paul Kowalski, the brewery's affable marketing manager.

Long Trail's diverse range of beers includes the flagship brew, Long Trail Ale, broadly in the altbier style, as well as a Kolsch, brown ale, India pale ale and stout. The brewery's seasonal offerings include Hibernator, a robust, malty brew inspired by Scottish ales; Harvest Ale, a pale ale crafted with Vermont-grown hops for autumn drinking; and a summer beer--for 1996 it's a blackberry wheat beer--that should be on regional shelves by the time you read this.

"The three-tiered, seasonal approach works very well for us," Kowalski says. "I expect we'll stick with it.

Long Trail's new brewery features three 60-barrel unitanks, with three more expected by summer. The company currently brews two 30-barrel batches--roughly 1,860 gallons or 826 cases of beer--each day. Kowalski says the company expects to produce 18,000 barrels of beer in 1996, taking it over the 15,000-barrel marker commonly used to define a microbrewery. The vast majority of its output is sold within Vermont, although Long Trail beers can also available in western Connecticut, New Jersey, and parts of Massachusetts and northeast New York.

Bucking a trend in the small-scale brewing industry, Long Trail financed the new brewery privately, relying on loans and loyal investors, rather than selling out to a larger brewing company or holding a public offering.

Designed and built for beer making from the ground up, the facility markedly increases Long Trail's efficiency in several important areas. Greater head room allows use of the lanky unitanks, where beer can ferment and condition in the same vessel. A grain silo on the north side of the brewery complex allows bulk grain storage for the brewery's base malt, which now arrives by the tractor-trailer load instead of in the traditional sacks. Grain drops directly from the silo inside the building to a hopper seated on a digital scale . "No longer will our brewers have to haul and pour 50-pound sacks of the base grain over and over," Kowalski says with obvious empathy.

Receiving and sending shipments is also far easier at the new brewery because the loading dock is at the same height as the truck beds. At the old brewery, it took three people 90 minutes to load or unload a tractor-trailer using a pallet jack. Now one person can do the job in 20 minutes, significantly trimming costs and enhancing efficiency.

Long Trail has also taken pains to assure a good experience for visitors. Beer lovers can sample a range of Long Trail products in a comfortable, woodsy visitor's center that is quintessential Vermont. Summertime visitors will enjoy sipping ale on the facility's deck, which looks out over the meandering Ottauquechee River. The full range of Long Trail products are available for purchase at the brewery, as are a nice selection of t- shirts and other collectibles.

Tours are not available yet because the final configuration of the brewhouse is still evolving. Once that is set and visitor safety issues are fully addressed, tours will be offered, Kowalski promises. For the time being, the brewing area can be readily viewed through windows near the serving area in the visitor's center. Tastings are offered daily from noon to 5 p.m. The Long Trail Brewing Company is also open for retail sales from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo captions:

Long Trail's new 17,000 square-foot brewery is located just two miles down the road from the original brewery in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont.

The sun deck behind the new brewery overlooks a typical Green Mountain scenic view.

Pull quote:

Long Trail financed the new brewery privately, relying on loans and loyal investors, rather than selling out to a larger brewing company or holding a public offering.

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