Can you turn a barn into a brewery? Two couples in Danville are doing just that. The McMullens, Jeremy and Erin, have the rustic red 1840s barn. The McAlenneys, Peter and Judi, have the brewing experience; Peter scored in the top 50 in last year's Make the Cut Homebrew Challenge. "I've really started to brew more seriously over the last five years," he says.
The four friends hope to open their one-barrel Red Barn Brewing this spring in Danville. The location was never in question. "Their barn has tons of space, so we don't need to rent or buy," says Peter McAlenney. He adds, "There really aren't a lot of breweries in this area. We're trying to fill in the gap so people have more places to go in the Northeast Kingdom."
The barn came with its own unique challenges, though. First, the team had to figure out if they could even get water inside. (They could.) Then, after they installed windows from the local hardware store, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation came knocking with suggestions for more period-appropriate options. "We're just asking people to be patient," says McAlenney. "We're hoping to open in late March, but it's probably going to be more like April."
When Red Barn opens, McAlenney hopes to have a small tasting room where visitors can sample brews and fill growlers, and maybe sit outside under the awning on warm summer days. "It's going to be quaint," he says. To start, they'll serve five beers: a kölsch, an extra-pale ale, an American Centennial Pale Ale, a Bavarian wheat and a porter. For the porter, McAlenney is using hops grown on his own property.
"Some people might say a one-barrel brewery is pretty small," says McAlenney, "but a lot of people start like that, and if we get momentum, and people like what we're doing, we'll expand." Any early profits will go straight back into the brewery, he says.
Red Barn isn't the only new brewery coming to the Northeast Kingdom this year. Also on the rise are Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury and Next Trick Brewing in West Burke. Saint J's official grand opening is currently scheduled for the first week of February. Located at 2002 Memorial Drive, Suite 6, the venue is selling itself as a "draft room and hoagie bar." Meanwhile, the owners of Next Trick, a seven-barrel brewery, aim to open in summer 2016.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Barn Brews"
Tom D.: I'm sorry to see Donny's close. They made great pizza there and the chef's father, Demetrius (sp?), was…
Michael Gaskin: I'm glad someone is finally meeting the untapped market demand for local beer in Chittenden County.
Sarah Muller: Can I apply for a position there?!
Samantha Winchell: I hope they bring back the chimichangas, so good!