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November 01, 2011

The Shed's Microbrews Live on — at Otter Creek Brewing

04-shedThe whirlwind closure of The Shed Restaurant and Brewery stunned Stowe locals, as well as its owners, Ken and Kathleen Strong. But lovers of Shed Mountain Ale will be relieved to hear that the beer will soon flow again from Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury. 

The Strongs have partnered with Otter Creek to continue brewing their line of ales. "When we found out that an iconic Vermont brand for 46 years wouldn't have a place to operate, we negotiated with Ken," says Brian Walsh, Otter Creek Brewing's president. "We have the capacity and we have the space, and we thought it could be a good fit."

In September, the Strongs found out that their lease on the Mountain Road brewpub they had run for 46 years was not being renewed. On October 17, they held their final party inside the pub, and closed the doors that night, while vowing to find another space in Stowe.

Barely two weeks later came the announcement. "Once in a while I get a clue that [the beer] means a whole lot to a lot of people," says Ken Strong, 72, who still fields phone calls from Shed lovers who can't fathom the news that the pub and its beers are gone.

Otter Creek brewmaster Mike Gerhart has been working with Ken Strong to hammer out the details of moving The Shed's equipment and formulas to Middlebury. That equipment is being inventoried and should make the southerly move within days. As Walsh stresses, "continuity of the brand," is at stake, especially as the ski season gets into gear in Stowe.

"It has an iconic image to the après ski of Stowe," adds Walsh. "We're grateful that Ken allowed us to be custodian of his brand going forward. We know how hard he's worked to build it."

The first beer to be brewed again will be Shed Mountain Ale, which should be on the market by the end of November, says Strong. Shed IPA will likely follow, says Strong. He hopes to make the kegs (and growlers) widely available at Vermont bars and restaurants. Baker Distributing will continue to deliver The Shed's beers.

With regards to a new eatery, Strong says he has "a couple of irons in the fire." As the Strongs negotiate the tricky business of moving a brewery to Addison County, 1859 Mountain Road will soon see another incarnation as Crop Bistro, a farm-to-table eatery spearheaded by NECI's former executive chef, Tom Bivins. 



Great move by Otter Creek. One of the best things about the Shed was it's beer, something a lot of Burlington brew pubs wish they could lay claim to. Glad to see it live on. Not as glad to see some trendy fad of a restaurant occupy the old space however. I'm sure it'll do well with the black Porsche Cayenne Jersey crowd, but any long time Stowe goer knows what the people really want: Free popcorn, strong ale and burgers on english muffins.

I want to hear more about who owns the Mountain Road Brewpub property that the Shed's had been renting for 46 years, and why it was decided to kick out a mainstay of Stowe! That's the story, not that the aging Sheds had no choice but to hand their recipes to Otter Creek (which is all well and good, for at least they'll have some revenue and we'll have their great brews).

I solemnly pledge to boycott whatever the owners of that property put in where the Shed Brewpub has stood all these years.

And did I miss an article about the brewpub being evicted (presumably for mere avarice on the part of the owners)?

I sure wish journalists today would provide context and background as part of their stories, instead of dropping a huge bombshell in passing and never referring to it again. I could barely read this article because I was gobsmacked by something this author did not explain – why the were Strongs kicked out.

Back in the beginning of Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, he attacked 'liberal' bias in journalism. Of course, there was no actual 'liberal' bias, what he was complaining about was the lack of conservative bias (lying, either directly or more often by omission, to the readers in order to promote the falsehoods of conservatism).

But when I listened to what he was saying, Rush was actually attacking the inclusion of historical background and context in news reports. The conservative viewpoint can never make sense if one includes background and context. When all context is removed and stories are presented with no explanation, only then can conservatism make some sort of sense.

And it seems, as I read news reports from today's journalists that have been raised in this post-Rush world, excluding context and background are the norm. As I understand it, the editors and publishers make up the lie that it 'confuses' readers (which is exactly what Rush said in his 1990's era diatribes against unbiased media).

Mr. Rutherford, we wrote about the Shed's closure here:

A former NECI executive chef is opening Crop Bistro in its space.

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