A Brothers Guide to Connecticut Breweries: Fox Farm Brewery, Salem, CT
People keep telling me that breweries in Connecticut seem to be popping up like weeds. While I agree with the analogy, I’d rather liken them to flowers attempting to blossom through concrete sidewalks. There is an abundance of obstacles to pass and hoops to jump through from the day you declare yourself a “brewery” to the day you serve your first pint. For most it can take years, for the lucky ones, less years.
Fox Farm Brewery in Salem has converted a 1960’s dairy barn into one of Connecticut’s newest breweries to be. However, for Zach Adams and wife Laura, opening a brewery wasn’t always the plan. Zach, like almost every brewery owner, was an avid homebrewer. Adams didn’t take it very seriously until he won the Samuel Adams Long Shot Competition in 2012, a homebrewing competition that draws quite the number of entries per year. This year, the three winners will have their winning beers distributed in a variety six-pack nationwide.
With a Longshot award to his name, Adams then searched for property that would suit a brewery. His wife Laura is a Salem native and has a family owned vineyard in town. When the two moved into the house that resides behind the old dairy barn, the idea of a brewery continued to percolate.
“We always admired it,” Adams said of the barn that is now the epicenter of Fox Farm Brewery. What was once a barn covered in poison ivy, is now quite possibly one of the most jaw dropping taprooms in the state. Sure, Stony Creek and Two Roads have enough size to stack up against anyone, but there isn’t a place like Fox Farm where the taproom and brewhouse comingle like this.
30bbl and 15bbl stainless steel tanks tower over you as you walk through the space, the taproom is shaping up to be something incredible thanks to Adams’ discovery of Austin Design which has been behind the new Treehouse design in Charlton, MA, The Alchamist’s second location in Stowe, VT, and Northampton Brewery in Northampton, MA.
“They helped us think through the core concepts of what we’re doing here,” Adams mentioned. The resume certainly piqued the interest of Adams and lead to some of the best interior craftsmanship we’ve seen in the state.
Most importantly, Fox Farm will specialize in hop forward beers and also classic Farmhouse-Style Ales as well. Fox Farm does house a coolship which is used to ferment sour beers. Lucky for Laura’s family owned vineyard supplies ample amounts of grapes for sour beer possibilities, one of which is Consonance & Dissonance, a blended wild ale aged on the vineyard’s St. Croix grapes. Right away you detect its gorgeous deep ruby color and thin head of foam that quickly dissipates. Up front there’s the initial tart punch of sour grape flavor, followed by a mellow finish that is quite pleasant. If you’re a fan of sour beers, Consonance & Dissonance will surely please.
Freckled Fields, a Saison/Farmhouse Ale finds the perfect balance between flavor and funk. Aromas of lemongrass, bitter orange peel, and spice are abundant and meld together toward the finish for a wonderful blend of flavor. Coupled with a refreshing slightly tart finish, Freckled Fields is a beer destined to be enjoyed on a porch somewhere on a lazy summer day.
Although these two beers were standouts, unfortunately they may not see the taplist when Fox Farm does open. Sour beers are known to take a year or so to fully reach their potential, while mixed fermentation ales like Freckled Fields can also undergo a lengthy fermentation process. So, when the doors open at Fox Farm, expect to find up to five beers ranging from hop driven IPA’s to Stouts and Porters.
Nailing an opening day is somewhat impossible, but there’s a good chance Fox Farm will be up and running just in time for Summer. The taproom is beyond gorgeous so visiting the brewery in person is a must. If for some reason that’s out of the question, Adams plans on self-distributing around the state. He would rather lug kegs around to restaurants and bottles to package stores because there’s the important face to face relationships formed. “Those day-to-day touch points with accounts…you can’t get that through a distributor necessarily.”
As to be expected with every new brewery, most of their production will be focused on the taproom early on, with distribution slowly expanding as Adams gets his feet underneath him. You can stay updated on all things Fox Farm Brewery by going to their website www.foxfarmbeer.com or following them on social media. It’s always exciting when new breweries are set to launch in Connecticut, and we wish Zach and Laura all the best of luck.