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Vanity Fair interview with Shaun Hill, Hill Farmstead

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MikeCactusGordon, Apr 25, 2013.

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  1. He just comes off as annoyed by his success and offended at the thought of expanding his brewery. I feel like he'd be happier making home brews for him and his friends and not having hoards of people on his property.
    Beerandraiderfan and Bonis like this.
  2. jomobono

    jomobono Savant (390) Massachusetts Mar 12, 2012

    That is what I meant be the "aww that would be sad comment", to lock up all that paradise. Sounds like someone has made the trip up and knows what I'm talking about.
    LambicKing likes this.
  3. tolar111

    tolar111 Advocate (655) New York Aug 17, 2008

    Great Interview! Insightful, informed beer related
    journalism is almost impossible to find these days.
  4. Excellent interview. Love the perspective. I feel like Flying Dog's co-opted Hunter S. Thompson quote works best for Shaun Hill and Hill Farmstead, "Too weird to live, and too rare to die." There is nothing wrong with not wanting to expand. I have not had any HF, but I feel like there are a lot of really good local breweries at his scale or smaller that make top-notch beers and have no plans to expand. I am not saying that they are on his level, but some people just want the "simple" life. Also, it gives you a reason to get out, travel and see VT, which has a few other good breweries. Although they are much smaller, I would compare him to the guys at Burley Oak. Such a great place and so close to Ocean City.
    tolar111 likes this.
  5. pixieskid

    pixieskid Advocate (660) Germany Jun 4, 2009

    In the interview it seemed that he had to do it himself, was that info in the interview old/that problem no longer exists?
  6. CORKSCREWFISH

    CORKSCREWFISH Savant (325) Illinois Apr 22, 2011

    Exactly!I don't bother with ratings over there.If its good at all it seems to get a 97-100 and the 100 scores are way too prevalent.

    If its barrel-aged........definite 100!
  7. CORKSCREWFISH

    CORKSCREWFISH Savant (325) Illinois Apr 22, 2011

    Can I come with you? While you're giving him your thoughts ,I'd like to kick him in the nuts for bitching about people appreciating his works!
  8. CORKSCREWFISH

    CORKSCREWFISH Savant (325) Illinois Apr 22, 2011

    *whinery
    ShogoKawada likes this.
  9. chuckycheese

    chuckycheese Aficionado (170) Maine Feb 18, 2010

    "Up until October, I only had two employees, and the October before that, I only had one, and the February before that, it was just me doing the work of five people. So I’m slowly adding people to take over different facets of the brewery, which will help separate my life from my work..."

  10. two 3-foot posts with a single chain across it you unhook during business hours.

    You guys are making it sound way harder than it is
  11. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    Can't blame them. So is Hill.
    ShogoKawada likes this.
  12. pixieskid

    pixieskid Advocate (660) Germany Jun 4, 2009

    yeah i read that but he still seemed like he had to deal with people more than he wants to...
  13. oregone

    oregone Savant (365) Oregon Jul 2, 2008

    It only sounds hard because velvet rope has not yet entered the conversation.
    And if the neon signs are off, people know the beer isn't pouring.

    Also, turn the rides off at night.
    jomobono likes this.
  14. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Massachusetts Oct 3, 2008

    Have you been there? I'm not sure what this would prevent. If someone wanted to knock on doors outside of business hours, they could just park along the side of the road instead of the lot. It's not like they can chain off a section of public road.
  15. I mean beer dicks are gonna be beer dicks, but preventing a car from accessing the lot would prob. send a pretty clear signal to those who aren't totally spasticated.

    Eh, keep on keepin' on, Mr. Hill.
    YogiBeer likes this.
  16. Maybe now they can afford to put up siding on the rest of the barn.
    Takeanotherswing likes this.
  17. I would like to defend Shaun a bit here.

    I want to start by saying I went to school in Vermont, close to the brewery. This may sound like a throwaway line, but trust me when I say people who live in Vermont, particularly the northern part of the state, closely guard their piece of mind and fee-spirited lifestyles...above all else. It means much more to them than any amount of money you can throw their way. A lot of them believe in what Thoreau said best: "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."

    While I was in Vermont (for about three years) I really came to appreciate this mindset as well and tried to apply it to my own lifestyle. Without a doubt the most fulfilling years of my life were spent up there regardless of the fact it was also the most financially difficult period of my life.

    One of the ways folks who think like this try to maintain a balanced and peaceful lifestyle is to not overly-subject themselves to financial obsessions. So many people I came into contact with were more than happy doing something they enjoyed - making just enough to live happily - without feeling like they had to constantly devote their lives to making more and more money. Would they take more money? Of course. But they aren't going to sacrifice peace of mind, relationships, or personal freedoms...or, at least, not for any extended period of time.

    A lot of people who live in more metropolitan areas - which is where I live now - tend to think a lot about money and focus so much on making as much of it as possible. When they run into someone who's not that way - and worse, openly admits they aren't interested in that lifestyle regardless of the opportunities available to them - it can come across as mocking or douchey when they try to explain why they think that way.

    Is this how Shaun thinks? I don't know for sure, I've never met him in person, but it's my best guess as to why he's so frank about the stresses that come with heavy demand and pressure to expand, and how he really doesn't want to succumb to those pressures. I think - and I agree with him - he's happy making a product people love that allows him to do what he loves without having to worry about a bigger bottom line and possibly lessening the quality of his product. Expansion means more financial pressures and giving up more peace of mind, which he seems to already be sacrificing beyond what he prefers. He's still in Vermont, and not planning to move out of Vermont, for a reason.

    This is what I say: Just enjoy the beer and respect how he wants to run his business. He's trying to balance making people and himself happy, but at the end of the day he's smart enough to value his own happiness above anything else.
  18. Bonis

    Bonis Savant (400) Ohio Jul 28, 2010

    Sounds like he needs to hire a brewery manager that can take guests on tours and fill growlers and host tastings etc, making him less a face of the brewery (because I get the impression that he doesn't want to be the face of his brewery.. and rightfully so). If his focus is on being the brewer, he needs others to help him with the social aspects of owning a brewery, since it seems like he "can't really handle it"... To me it sounds like he may be a penny pincher.. hire more people if you want to be less stressed.
  19. A couple of thoughts:
    1. The groupthink and conformity in Vermont is apparently through the roof, despite everyone thinking and expressing themselves the same way and labeling it as "free minded". ("Fee minded" was unintentionally cool).

    2. He can run his business however he wants , which apparently he does. But if he values his own happiness above anything else and runs his business how he wants . . . it left me wondering why he seems to have so much unhappiness in his life?
  20. Seems like a miserable human being. I'll still try his beer someday.
  21. I'm having a hard time figuring out if you're intentionally or unintentionally missing the point.

    But this is nothing to argue over. Just choose to drink or not drink the beer. If his character makes you not like his beer, there are surely other options available from brewers you'd personally identify with much more.
  22. I didn't miss anything, I was being "free minded" and decided to weigh in with my own observation, rather than be a follower.

    Its interesting that, being free minded and all, you only present two options.

    I'll take the road less traveled and not offered: Its great beer, but it comes with a little bit of posing from the top methinks. Some people eat that up. It gives me a slight chuckle and smirk similar to the one in the article.
  23. Jordy777

    Jordy777 Savant (385) Illinois Apr 19, 2013

    I don't understand beer geeks who get angry about beer availability. Isn't the fact that some beers are only regionally available part of the fun? Never in my life would I have taken a trip to Vermont, but I am taking a road trip with my girlfriend through Warren, MI (Kuhnhenn), Montreal (Dieu Du Ciel), and Vermont (Heady and HF) this summer specifically to get beer and see the country.
  24. Overwhelmed? Yes. Miserable? That's a stretch.
    Beerandraiderfan and Auror like this.
  25. I'd rather meet Augustus Busch IV or whatever his name is.
  26. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    He prefers Reigning Beer Pong Champion, St. Louis Region.
    Celtics76 likes this.
  27. dude is in a perpetual state of looking like he just rolled out of bed.
  28. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    There's probably a lot of truth to what you say. I've never been to Vermont for any extended period of time, but I'd simply like to point out that a lot of people—probably most people—are primarily focused on things other than making as much money as possible. This is not unique to Vermont, and I don't think there's some kind of magical force that gives people there a different perspective that the rest of us lack. I live in a pretty big city, and I don't think I know anyone who is driven mainly by earning money or gaining material wealth. I think most people recognize that, while money can definitely buy a certain level of comfort and happiness, its ability to buy anything that resembles meaning is far more limited. Most people, I hope, are far more three-dimensional and complex than you seem to make them out to be (intentionally or not).

    I feel sorry for anyone who genuinely believes that earning money is our sole or primary purpose in this life. To me (to use a term that has been beaten to death in this thread), those are the true "douches" of the world.
  29. The difference, and part of the problem, is that it is easy to meet S. Hill. The brewery is not very big and he's often in there with 50 people waiting to get beer.
  30. You make a great point, so I should clarify. I think what I observed there is that a lot of people I ran into simply valued peace of mind and free time more than what I've seen elsewhere. They're less likely to make time and relationship sacrifices to make more money, whereas where I live now (Boston) you see many more people chase money and make big time/relationship sacrifices to do it.

    Small example...every day, hundreds of thousands of people in Boston sit in hours of traffic, sacrificing time with their friends, wives, kids, etc. to chase these financial opportunities, whereas the people I'm referring to would rather make significantly less money and have that time to themselves. Their free time is more valuable than anything a high paying job can offer. I don't mean to make it sound like people who prefer not to live that way are unique to northern Vermont, I'm just referring to my experience there because it relates to the location of the brewery.

    But overall your point is well taken.
    draheim likes this.
  31. Plenty of my friends/neighbors/co-workers moved to VT to escape exactly what you describe. Most of them took major pay-cuts in order to achieve a better quality of life with less stress. I grew up here and recognized its value from the get-go. "Quality of life" means different things to different people, but I can completely empathize with Shaun's growing pains and crisis of confidence in his business life at the moment. Can be hard for people to relate to lifestyle choices that don't necessarily serve the public's demands.
    draheim likes this.
  32. Great post - you definitely illustrate where I'm coming from.

    Great AV, too! :)
  33. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I understand what you're saying, but I think there has to be space, even in every big city, for people to find a way to live more simply if that's what they want. I'm not saying you can lead a totally agrarian lifestyle in the middle of Manhattan, but some of the rat-race mentality is not about where you live but who you are and what you value. And you don't have to do what everyone else is doing, just because you live in a densely populated area. I mean, we have plenty of neighbors here in Seattle who raise their own chickens (for eggs mostly, I think) and grow their own vegetables (at least in the summer). These aren't starry-eyed hippies; they're educated, working professionals who've managed to carve out a little bit of space in their lives to live closer to the ground. Surely that's not so unusual.

    Anyway, to get somewhat back on topic. I applaud Shaun Hill for sticking to what he believes in. I'm sure it's not easy, but it's his brewery to run as he sees fit. Nobody else built it to what it is today, so as far as I'm concerned nobody else has a right to tell him how he should be doing things.
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