Bit O’ Balsam Beer Benefits Bicknell’s Thrush

Lawson's Finest Liquids Bit O' Balsam beer label, 2019

Lawson’s Finest Liquids Bit O’ Balsam beer label, 2019

VCE and award-winning brewer (and longtime VCE friend) Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquids (LFL) have teamed up once again to brew up support for VCE’s conservation efforts on Bicknell’s Thrush, one of North America’s highest conservation priority migratory songbirds. In late June, a handful of VCE staff and trustees helped “cook” the beer, under Sean’s expert (and patient) tutelage. Now, five weeks later, we invite you to sample the finished product with us!

Join us at Lawson’s Finest Liquids Taproom in Waitsfield, VT on Monday, August 5, 2019 to celebrate the 2019 release of Bit O’ Balsam American IPA, LFL’s specialty beer featuring wild-crafted Balsam Fir tips harvested at high elevations in the Green Mountains. With citrus and piney hops, this beer is truly a fitting tribute to our migratory mountain birds.

On a hot, sunny June day, a crew of VCE staff and trustees took to the Green Mountains in search of the freshest, most fragrant Balsam Fir tips they could find for this special brew. The recipe called for just under two pounds of tips, and they completed their mission in short order.

VCE trustee Bill Hayes collecting Balsam Fir tips for brewing Lawson's Finest Liquids Bit O' Balsam beer. / © Steve Faccio

VCE trustee Bill Hayes collecting Balsam Fir tips, the special ingredient in Lawson’s Finest Liquids Bit O’ Balsam beer. / © Steve Faccio

Wildcrafted Balsam Fir tips / © Steve Faccio

Wild-crafted Balsam Fir tips / © Steve Faccio

Fir tips in hand, the VCE crew then traveled to Sean’s original home brewery in Warren, VT. Upon approaching the small but immaculate red barn facility where Sean got his start in home brewing, they were greeted by a freshly metamorphosed Luna Moth perched just below the “Lawson’s Finest Liquids” sign above the door. An auspicious sign, for sure!

Chris Rimmer, Sean Lawson, and Steve Faccio outside Lawson's home brewery. / © Lawson's Finest Liquids

The brew crew: Chris Rimmer, Sean Lawson, and Steve Faccio outside Lawson’s home brewery. / © Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Luna Moth on LFL Warren brewhouse / © Steve Faccio

A Luna Moth resting on the brewery barn, possibly waiting for the beer to be finished? / © Steve Faccio

The small group gathered for introductions before Sean explained his process of beer-making and patiently responded to questions, such as, “What’s the best way to come up with new beer ideas?”

Sean Lawson inside his home brewery. / © Steve Faccio

Sean Lawson inside his home brewery. / © Steve Faccio

A bunch o' Balsam Fir tips, ready for action. / © Steve Faccio

A bunch o’ Balsam Fir tips, ready for action. / © Steve Faccio

After the Q&A session, Sean went on to explain that the Bit O’ Balsam ‘wort’ had recently been transferred from the mash tank to the kettle for boiling. He then weighed out a precise amount of hops from Washington State’s Yakima Valley, which Chris Rimmer added to the boil, before Steve Faccio got the honors of adding the brew’s signature ingredient—fresh Balsam Fir tips.

Time to add the hops - and the honor goes to Chris Rimmer! / © Steve Faccio

Time to add the hops – and the honor goes to Chris Rimmer! / © Steve Faccio

The August 5 festivities will kick off at 5:00 p.m. in the LFL beer garden, weather permitting, with live music provided by Chad Hollister.  VCE staff will be on hand with information about Bicknell’s Thrush and many of our other wildlife conservation programs. Of course, Bit O’ Balsam IPA will be available for sale on draft and in 22-ounce bottles, in case you’d like to take home a bottle (or two).

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Sean’s answer to that question about coming up with new beer ideas was, “by sitting around drinking beer with other people who like beer!” He then added, “the best ideas happen on the second beer.”

We hope to see you on August 5th for what promises to be a lively, thirst-quenching celebration!

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