DAVID: So I’m here at High Horse, on Pleasant Street. It’s only- how old is it?
JASON: We opened up New Year’s Day, 2012.
JASON: So just over two years.
DAVID: So if we could all just introduce ourselves? This is David Baird with New England Public Radio, Street Level Sounds.
JASON: Jason DiCaprio, from High Horse and The Moan & Dove, Amherst.
MATTHEW: Matthew Steinberg, from High Horse.
JASON: So, I own The Moan & Dove, up the road. It’s a beer bar: we have over 200 different beers, 25 taps, 200 bottles. When the Amherst Brewing Company moved out of this space, the first thing I thought of was, “Who’s gonna go in there, and are they gonna open a beer bar, are they gonna open a brewery?” I would really like to be involved in a brewery project, and I’ve met so many people through The Moan & Dove involving brewing and distributing and importing that it just seemed like an obvious thing to try make happen in this space, because I live in Amherst and want it to be good.
The first thing I did was call up some friends who were distributors and importers and brewers, like Matthew to get involved.
MATTHEW: I’ve been brewing professionally for fifteen years, and for almost ten of those years was selling beer at The Moan & Dove, among other world-class beer destinations. Getting to know Jason and a lot of the other folks involved with the beer culture and community here in Western Mass, it was a no-brainer for me to want to be involved in this project.
My daily routine is a little bit different than your typical brewer because we don’t brew on-site. We travel to other area breweries making our beers, which certainly has its level of challenges with that. But you know for the most part, I mash in like any other brewer, and every 2-3 weeks we get our beers into kegs and have them delivered here.
JASON: (At) most bars in the entire Valley, you’d find the usual suspects of “premier imports,” they’ve called them, which was Guinness and Amstel and Heineken. Over the past ten years at The Moan & Dove, even, from that perspective we’ve seen lots of other places and local-favorite restaurants selling those West Coast IPAs that are becoming more and more ubiquitous everywhere. So it’s definitely growing in awareness, on the street level. The average consumer, the pedestrian consumer walking down the street is much more familiar with craft beer than they were ten years ago. It’s almost becoming normalized, but there’s a lot of people still getting interested in it. So for us at High Horse, we’re trying to bring that energy that’s existed in, you mention California, and Maine, and Europe even, where the communities that have these breweries- they know about them. It’s their local product. It’s what they drink on the weekend, it’s what they know. We’re trying to bring that energy here.
Take it up- there’s another component on top of that. Craft beer is exploding across the country, and has been since 1980, but the other component is actually cultivating the taste and cultivating the agricultural backbone to that. So places like Valley Malt in Hadley that are malt and barley that’s grown locally, and having Four-Star Farms growing hops locally, being able to utilize those ingredients adds a whole nother layer to the craft beer explosion that we’re trying to embrace fully and encourage as much as possible because that’s really where we end up, is local beer made locally.
MATTHEW: We’ve done a couple of collaborations so far. The first was with The Kitchen Garden. The second one and the most recent one was with The People’s Pint. I went directly to Chris Sellers at People’s Pint, who is not just a good friend, but I really enjoy his beers and I love that place. So we decided to make a Saisonbeer, using 100% local ingredients. It proved to work really well. The beer was received really well when it was fresh. It’s conditioned out a little bit, and we’re actually on the last keg of it now, and people are still raving about it and praying that it doesn’t go away. And it will go away very soon!
DAVID: For Street Level Sounds, this is David Baird.
Street Level Sounds is a production of New England Public Radio; a community-based audio library of the Western New England experience.