Fort Hill Brewery is among some of this area's very best breweries. Located in Easthampton, it is home to a brand new taproom as well as 10 different brews. Fort Hill is located right by Mount Tom and offers live entertainment and the occasional food truck, they also welcome pups- so what more can you ask for? Recently Sue of FHB took some time to answer some questions so we could get to know them a little better. Gateway City Arts is proud to offer some of Fort Hill Brewery's selections behind our bar.
What led Eric to crafting and creating beers and opening a brewery?
Eric actually went to brewing school in both Chicago and Munich, Germany and received his degree with the World Brewing Academy and Siebel Institute for Brewing in 2010. He then began looking for a location for his new brewery. He visited over 60 different sites, but all were tainted by levels of contamination. Refusing to put the quality of his future brews in jeopardy, he looked west, considering locations in Southampton, Three Rivers, Palmer, and Easthampton. He ultimately settled on a former hay field in Easthampton at the base of Mount Tom, located on Fort Hill Road.
Why Easthampton? The water.
We strive to use the highest quality ingredients in our beer, and the water was no exception. Easthampton’s water comes from the Barnes Aquifer system, a complex of several productive aquifers extending about twelve miles underground. In 2015, Easthampton won the gold medal for best tasting water in the 16th annual Great American Water Taste Test. We like to think better water means better beer, and we think you’ll agree.
I know that your beers generally conform to the 'German beer purity law', can you tell us a little bit about that and why it is important to your brews?
The German Purity law was introduced in 1516, and states that beers can only contain water, malt and hops. Yeast was added later once it was discovered to be an integral part of the beer making process. We do our best to adhere to this standard with our lagers in order to honor the tradition and history of these classic styles. However, advances in brewing techniques and development of new styles has led us to introduce new ingredients such as different grains, fruit additives or even wood aging! We are in the midst of a beer renaissance and experimentation is a key to keeping your consumers and their palates happy.
The valley is home to many great breweries, and yours is one of the highlights of the area for sure, can you tell us what makes your brewery unique?
We are proud to brew our beers with our 60 hectoliter brew house. It is one of the largest and most efficient brew houses you can find! Also, our location in Easthampton provides us access to some of the highest quality water in the area. These factors allow us to produce such tasty beers. Our tasting room and outdoor patio also provide a fantastic space for people to come and see the brewery and enjoy our beers.
We proudly carry your Hera Pils, I love that it is named after Hera- can you tell us a bit about this pilsner and where you drew your inspiration from?
We wanted to brew a nice crisp and clean beer, and pilsner is the most consumed style of beer in the world, a "goddess of beer styles". This is where we got the name Hera, the wife of Zeus and Queen of the gods. We also brew a lighter version called Hebe, who was the daughter of Hera, which is currently only available in our tasting room. However, we hope to start sending this out to restaurants (draft only) now that the weather is turning as another light option.
What are some of your other popular brews?
Although we started with only lagers, we now make several ales including our Fresh Pick IPA and Jigsaw Jazz DIPA. We also have a session called Farmer's Fresh, with a lower ABV and slightly darker malt character. We produce a Marzen style lager year-round (typically these are only available during the Oktoberfest season in the late summer/early Fall) called Red Prince. Newer IPAs like Checkmate Chuck DIPA and El Chapo IPA have allowed us to experiment with new hops and malts.
I know Fort Hill has been growing in the recent years, you recently just added on a new taproom, how has that process been?
The reception has been great. We are usually full during our open hours Thursday-Sunday. Now that the weather is nice, we have also opened our new outdoor patio with tables and umbrellas to enjoy the sunshine with a brew! We are able to offer live music inside, have several large screen televisions for watching sports events, and have the occasional food truck. We hope to plan several events this summer, utilizing our new outdoor space!
Are there any new brews on the horizon that we can look forward to seeing from you?
Without wanting to give too much away, yes! Our brewers are excited to be trying new ingredients and brewing techniques and have come up with several new ideas and hope to unveil some new brews starting this spring.
The Beergarden at The Bistro at Gateway City Arts has recently reopened, stop by and grab a Hera Pils while you enjoy the sunshine and views of the canal. To learn more about what our Bistro offers, visit our website.
Fort Hill Brewery is located at 30 Fort Hill Road off of East Street in Easthampton, MA. To learn more about what they have brewing, visit their website.