14th Star Brewing Co. is homebrewing run amok in the best possible way.
The unassuming little brewery is attached to a quad shop–we actually passed it once and had to turn around before we noticed the logo on the door. It’s the newest, smallest, and most intimate brewery we’ve been to so far, still in the process of completion (we actually witnessed a Drink Vermont Beer sign being delivered as we looked around). The smell of malt was overpowering when we walked in–like aromatherapy for beer lovers. Owner and head brewer Steve Gagner greeted us, and it felt like being welcomed into someone’s house for a few drinks.
Before we knew it we were being led into the brewery itself, Steve acting as “glorified tour guide.” He mentioned that they had just finished an expansion, but the back room couldn’t have been bigger than a large two car garage. Everything was handmade, from the grain masher to the cold room cooled with a home AC unit. 14th Star considers itself a nanobrewery, which means they produce less than four-barrel batches. And that’s actually an upgrade! Before the expansion, they were barely able to meet demand. Now they can take their time and control each batch before it goes out.
There were two beers on tap the day we visited:
Amber Ale: Crisp, clear, and hoppy. I tasted more bitterness than Steve described was there, but it was a welcome bitterness.
Harvest Brown: Smooth, rich, and malty–we took home a growler of this one.
We also got clued in about the next beer in the works: an American pale ale called Valor Ale. Steve still has a fulltime job in the Army, and proceeds from the Valor Ale will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Steve asked why we had come all the way from Burlington for this, but it was well worth the trip. The passion of everyone at 14th Star to create delicious, solid beers can be tasted in every glass. I will definitely go back, and I urge you to go see for yourself!
Brewery Tip: Right now you can only get their beer at their St. Albans location, but look for 14th Star to start bottling within the next couple of weeks. They have their permit, and the label design was being approved as we watched!
14th Star Brewing Co.
41 Lower Newton Street
Saint Albans, VT