The Highs & Lows at Hillstead Pharmacy

“Are you guys beer geeks?  A lot of people who stay here go to Hillstead Pharmacy…they say the beer is really special.”

That would be Hill Farmstead, and yes, the beer is really special.

99.999% of native Vermonters live in some sort of rural poverty.  This existence generally involves what they call a “farm,” which I suppose it is because there tends to be a few cows, pigs, a bunch of chickens, and an angry dog.  The “barn” is generally a shed-like structure attached to the house, which desperately needs paint.  The scene often includes a disused tractor, snowmobile parts, and a rusted out vehicle; sometimes this is an old school bus.  The road is unpaved, and impassable after the snow melts.

Most are content with this existence.  After all, they live in a beautiful place, they’ve known all their neighbors for years, and there is always someone around to help with the deer they poach.  Besides, the annual Old Home Days — a type of town fair — are a hoot.

So you’ll excuse the average native Vermonter for bumping along unaffected by the demands of modern society and a fully leveraged lifestyle.  Besides, they have to empty the sap buckets.

Except one native Vermonter.  He figured out how to print money.

Referring, of course, to the legendary Shaun Hill, brewer extraordinaire and proprietor of Hillstead Pharmacy, err, Hill Farmstead.  Shaun put in his time here and there, traveled to Belgium or something, did all sorts of apprenticeships.  He learned how to brew liquid gold — very desirable liquid gold.

Rather than open shop in a hip neighborhood or repurposed industrial park among the landed gentry, Hill returned to the family farm in Buttscratch, Vermont.  Actually Greensboro Bend, but what’s the difference.  There he set to making some of the finest beer in the world, and borrowing from Field of Dreams, he built it and the people came.

They drove on after getting stuck in rutted out spring roads, braved winter snow drifts, waited on line in the hot summer sun,  and raced past other leaf-peepers to buy oddly-named bottles of funky beer.

They did this by the thousands, then tens of thousands, and now who knows.  Shaun expanded, added help, built a multi-million dollar brewery next to the barn and rusted farm implements.

He still has the port-a-johns, and he still hasn’t painted his house.