Not everybody can afford to collect art, but anybody can create a Wunderkammer. Popular from the Renaissance on, these cabinets of curiosities were "sort of a proto-museum," says Hill Farmstead brewer Vasilios Gletsos, who was formerly a Bread and Puppet Theater puppeteer. People would "create a microcosm of the natural world in their homes, for showing off to their friends," he explains.
Gletsos created the Wunderkammer Bier label with that concept in mind. "I like thinking about the aesthetics of beer," he says. "I want to bring to bear my interest in the strange and curious, as well as my proficiency at brewing, to create something a little different and very tasty."
Wunderkammer will have no "flagship" brew, no light and quaffable standard. Instead, Gletsos will release sequential small batches — about 80 cases — approximately once per month. These will serve as showcases for items Gletsos has "foraged, gathered or otherwise found." The first beer, flavored with sumac and citrus, will be on shelves as soon as he receives his labels, most likely next week. The next features lichen and turkey-tail mushrooms. Then comes a three-sisters combo with beans, squash and corn.
Wunderkammer is not a brewery but a distribution company, notes Gletsos, who is keeping his full-time gig. "I gather my ingredients and brew here [in Greensboro] as an employee of Hill Farmstead and sell to [Wunderkammer]," he explains. "I'm looking to have fun, not necessarily to be a brewery owner. If I can keep it light, that will keep it creative, too."
Bottles will be sold at Hill Farmstead's store and through a handful of retail outlets, including Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier. If you think Heady Topper is hard to get your hands on, just wait!