Soon the two-story brick building at Waterbury’s 23 South Main Street — the birthplace of the Alchemist’s Heady Topper — will again have house-brewed beers flowing from its taps.
Earlier this fall, Prohibition Pig owner Chad Rich purchased the one-barrel brewing system formerly used by Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and soon Pro Pig brewer Nate Johnson will put it to use for house brews. That is, once the company’s licenses are approved, a process that hit a speed bump because of the government shutdown.
Slowdown notwithstanding, a few lucky drinkers have already gotten to taste Johnson’s first effort, Prohibition Pig Pale Ale. Johnson traveled to Morrisville’s Rock Art Brewery with his own yeast, hops and grain to produce the first 30-keg batch of that beer — which sold out quickly. “We want to have a staple pale ale and then surround it with other beers,” Rich says. “Our goal is not to be a brewpub, but have five or six of our own brews on tap along with all of the other beers we usually serve.”
Pro Pig’s pale ale scored a high rating of 90 on Beer Advocate’s website, and the second batch — made with a slightly different blend of hops — could be tapped as soon as this week. “We wanted a very well-hopped pale ale that’s very approachable, not extremely low alcohol, but something that’s still quaffable,” says Rich. Both batches came in at about 5 percent alcohol.
The restaurant will soon also have on tap a fall Saison brewed with cherrywood-smoked rye. It’s a collaboration between Johnson, Matt Nadeau of Rock Art and Brian Strumke of Maryland’s Stillwater Artisanal Ales, who visited Vermont a few weeks ago.
Once the federal license is approved, Pro Pig’s nanobrewery will swing into action at 23 South Main, though it will eventually migrate to the building directly behind the pub. “Our plans are to build a larger brewery to be up and running by this summer,” Rich says. Though future Pro Pig beers might include “anything and everything,” he adds, one style is definitely in the pipeline: a dark beer aged in some of the 12 former Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels acquired last summer.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Prohibition Pints"