While visiting our friends, John and Lindsay, we stopped at Switchback Brewing Company, located in Burlington Vermont. We had a tour, with Dan, one of the Brewers. There are four brewers, and two test brewers. He gave us the safety spiel: “don’t open things- you’ll get blown through cement!” Dan continued with telling us a bit of the history of Switchback Brewing Company. The owner of Switchback learned how to professionally make beer, even has a Masters degree to prove it! Switchback Brewing Company was founded in 2002, by a brewer and an electrical engineer. That summer, they worked out the kinks in their newly purchased setup, and had their first batch of sell-able beer that September. Ake’s Place, in Burlington, was given the honor of pouring Switchback’s first pint on October 22, 2002.
- the beer is left unfiltered, and is carbonated naturally
- their business/marketing plan was to introduce draught beer first, so all could be done onsite, by the brewer until sales justified expanding and hiring help
- They moved from only 15.5 gallon kegs, to 5.2 gallon kegs and in October of 2012, ten years after the first pint was poured, announced they would begin to bottle.
- They do not want to do growlers or cans, and believe kegs are the the best way to hold the container to a particular amount of oxygen.
At the beginning, the brewer was brewing one day, cleaning the next. Now, they do more than one cycle a day. The tour was very scientific, while still being great for the average beer drinker. You could tell that Dan knows what he is talking about, and enjoys all aspects of it. Switchback has two brewing areas, on for their original Switchback Ale, and the other for their specialty beers. The larger one is more automated than the smaller, specialty one. Their larger automated equipment is a mismatch of 1960’s German equipment mixed with modern equipment. For filtering, they use a machine instead of diatomaceous earth for a more consistent filter. You will never get a beer from Switchback that is more than 2 months old. They bottle only on Wednesdays, so the beer almost runs out at most stores before they receive a new order in. The Beer: Switchback Ale: original recipe from 2002. Naturally carbonated, unfiltered. Available year round. 1:1:1 hops:yeast:malt Very balanced, complex, while still being drinkable. We all enjoyed. 5%, 23 IBU Dooley’s Belated Porter: First created in December of 2009. Drinks lighter than you’d expect. Caramel, chocolate flavor. John isn’t a big fan of porters typically, but actually enjoyed theirs. 5.7%, 43 IBU