Lesson of the Day #12 - Otter Creek Brewing - Vermont's Largest Brewer
Otter Creek Brewing, started in Middlebury in 1991. It moved to it’s current larger location, also in Middlebury in 1995 and expanded production to 60,000 barrels. It still brews and bottles beer in small batches made from natural Vermont water domestic malts/grains and hops and now distributes throughout the Northeast.
Otter Creek was purchased by Wolaver’s Organic in 2002. Wolavers was founded in 1997 in California, though it was brewed at 5 different locations across the country including at Otter Creek. It was the countries first USDA certified organic brewer. (Their oatmeal stout was my favorite beer). All of Wolavers beers after 2002 were brewed in Vermont and certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers and featured wheat & oats grown in Addison County, VT.
The Otter Creek and Wolavers brands were purchased by Long Trail in 2010 (which itself was purchased by a Massachusetts private equity firm, Fulham & Co. in 2006.)
In 2014 Wolaver’s was the first non-GMO certified brewery in VT.
In 2015, Long Trail/Fulham pulled the plug on the entire Wolavers line of organic brews, citing costs. That same year the corporation broke ground on a $7,000,000.00 + expansion project increasing production from 60,000 to 200,000 barrels, to make it the largest brewer by volume in Vermont. The final phase is expected by the end of 2018.
Otter Creek also recently ceased production of all their original flagship beers and put focus on the trendy IPAs with most of their brews now being hop-centric in nature. Their website states they are currently working with the Non-GMO Project to validate their ingredients.
Trivia: Who are Bill Wilson & Bob Smith?
Answer: They are the 2 alcoholics from Vermont (Bill Wilson from East Dorset, and Dr. Bob Smith from St. Johnsbury) who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Today Vermont has more craft breweries per capita than any other state.