The Pride of Belchertown: How The Shelton Brothers Changed the Face of Beer and Brewing

Discussion in 'Article Comments' started by BeerAdvocate, May 1, 2017.

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  1. BeerAdvocate

    BeerAdvocate Admin (16,842) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    ima-geuzer, Lucular, beerluvr and 7 others like this.
  2. kreg02

    kreg02 Disciple (369) Nov 19, 2012 Illinois

    Well done article, didn't know a lot about the start of them.
    ima-geuzer, ebin6, thebeers and 3 others like this.
  3. Keene

    Keene Defender (659) Sep 11, 2009 Washington

    Thanks for reading!
    ebin6, Sabtos, mikeinportc and 2 others like this.
  4. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,084) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Excellent article! Our company handled Shelton Brothers products starting in the early 2000s. We also sold B United's line-up. Neither company seemed too thrilled about this fact. Now I know why. I dealt mainly with Will, never met Joel, and you've captured Dan well. He seems to have had a gift for pissing people off, but he was always funny. I always loved delving into their idiosyncratic portfolio and selling the beers around North Carolina.
    ebin6, Lucular, Retsinis and 9 others like this.
  5. slander

    slander Poo-Bah (2,228) Nov 5, 2001 New York
    Moderator Society

    So Joel, this was all your doing...
  6. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,818) Dec 1, 2010 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Regardless of what anyone's feelings are about the Sheltons, this was likely the best piece of writing I've ever read from BA on line or in print. Very well done!
    ima-geuzer, bret717, Billet and 16 others like this.
  7. Keene

    Keene Defender (659) Sep 11, 2009 Washington

    Glad to hear it! We appreciate your support.
    ima-geuzer, ebin6, MyIronLung and 3 others like this.
  8. CHickman

    CHickman Poo-Bah (3,436) Jan 7, 2009 New York

    "tobelerone" is correct, this piece was the most polished and well written by BeerAdvocate and should be getting wider distribution. The Shelton Brothers sound like the Hanson Brothers of the beer industry, but they did/do bring a lot of great beer to the US.
    ebin6, Lucular, Retsinis and 5 others like this.
  9. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (621) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Well written article. Thanks
  10. Brewhead55

    Brewhead55 Initiate (186) Apr 21, 2014 Missouri

    Fantastic article. I knew very little about the Shelton Bros. And their business, but this was a great historical overview and worth a read. Excellent writing!
    ebin6, Retsinis, Rebecca and 2 others like this.
  11. buckeye1275

    buckeye1275 Zealot (506) Mar 21, 2013 Delaware

    Agree, 100%. I love reading about the history of beer and how we got where we are now. Great read.
    Rebecca, Keene and Brewhead55 like this.
  12. KevSal

    KevSal Meyvn (1,080) Oct 17, 2010 California

    wow this guy is long, still working on it, but em definitly enjoying it!
  13. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,900) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Phenomenal article! I knew Shelton Bros. had an abrasive reputation, but I never understood the backstory. It all makes sense now.
    Rebecca and Keene like this.
  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,764) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

  15. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,145) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

  16. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,764) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Retsinis and Todd like this.
  17. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,176) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Great article. I love picking up bits of beer history and culture on this site. This was probably the most engaging, deepest dive I've seen yet.
    VABA, Rebecca and Keene like this.
  18. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,900) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    But I liked this article much more than some of his other writing for the site :wink:
    eldoctorador likes this.
  19. Keene

    Keene Defender (659) Sep 11, 2009 Washington

    Cheers! At 6,000+ words, it's the longest single article we've ever published.
    ebin6, VAcrossr, Retsinis and 6 others like this.
  20. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,764) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    How about the books he's written? :slight_smile:
  21. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,900) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    He just has the two right? I haven't.
  22. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (8,174) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Wow, so many early connections to some of my favorite places and breweries. I didn't know they had such early interactions with so many places, including even much later in the game, like Jester King.

    I hope those of us that are able can support the efforts they are putting into improving the industry, in any way possible. Especially in our overly convoluted, puritan-stained culture.

    I also can't help wonder what the "this stuff is garbage" beer was.
    Premo88 likes this.
  23. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,877) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Wow, easily the best piece of beer journalism I've read. An absolutely fascinating look at the people responsible for the good fortune I've had in trying some of the best beers in the world. Whether or not I agree with their ideas, outcomes, or methods I admire people with enough passion to affect change. I am too lazy to do more than talk about change over a good beer.
    ebin6, Lucular, Premo88 and 3 others like this.
  24. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,949) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    Who knew all the complexities behind that "imported by Shelton Brothers" printed on the label?

    Great article. I'm going to have to read it again. It's involved and my bet is it's only touching the surface of what's there.

    Dan sounds like a mad genius and royal pain in the backside, but I'm pretty sure he and Shelton Bros. have helped loosen some of our archaic alcohol laws in Texas. The Jester King staff has mentioned this before, I believe.
    Rebecca, Keene and Sabtos like this.
  25. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,946) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    I think the main thing I picked up from this article, is that there seemed to be no punches pulled. A lot of times in these pieces, things are not poked and prodded because of what will turn up, but this was a piece with warts and all. Actually pissed my dog off because it was already 1:15 am and he was wanting his walk and I just kept scrolling and reading. Great piece, great read, new appreciation of what these guys did and how they changed the industry.
    Premo88, Retsinis, Rebecca and 2 others like this.
  26. Dirtyhands

    Dirtyhands Defender (657) Jul 3, 2014 Maryland

    An absolutely phenomenal article, could have told me it came out of the New Yorker or the Atlantic and I wouldn't have thought twice.

    Suing your own brother, knocking Mikkeller and rejuvenating interest in Lambic all make for a very entertaining read.
    ima-geuzer, Rebecca, Retsinis and 2 others like this.
  27. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Crusader (783) Dec 12, 2014 Chile

    Interesting Paragraph

    "The Sheltons also contacted Don Feinberg, who ran Vanberg & Dewulf with his wife Wendy Littlefield. Vanberg & Dewulf exclusively focused on Belgian beers, representing Duvel, Rodenbach, and Kwak, among others. The meeting went well so the Sheltons initially expected to work with Feinberg, though he shared Hoff’s qualms about Cantillon. “Dan Shelton will never sit still for this, but when Cantillon was available, it was undrinkable,” Feinberg recalls. “Frank Boon literally helped Cantillon make the beer a Lambic instead of acetic acid and vinegar.” Feinberg didn’t see a US market for such a quirky beer. The Sheltons, on the other hand, sensed an opportunity."

    Some American Wild Ale producers really need a Frank Boon...
    ima-geuzer and Retsinis like this.
  28. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,176) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I was curious about that quote as well. What was Frank Boon's involvement with Cantillon? And is there a widespread view that it was "undrinkable" before he got his hands in there? (I love acidic beers, but I didn't grow up drinking straight vinegar as the Sheltons reportedly did.)
  29. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (8,174) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
    Society Trader

    I thought this was very strange as well, since I was under the assumption that Cantillon was one of the rare birds out there that was always kick ass.
    thebeers likes this.
  30. M-Fox24

    M-Fox24 Meyvn (1,120) Mar 17, 2013 New Jersey

    As stated a well-put together, informative, article. Dan built a reputation on “trashing his competitors,” but very much respected the brewers:

    Looking forward to Will’s project this summer: Concrete Jungle - “balance, harmony, and complexity…restraint”
    Keene likes this.
  31. Retsinis

    Retsinis Meyvn (1,012) Sep 25, 2009 Arizona

    Excellent and well written piece. Long, but one of the best I've read, and I've been getting the mag nearly over 6 years now.
    ebin6, Keene and Rebecca like this.
  32. DaveQ

    DaveQ Initiate (0) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    I really miss Beer of the Gods. Any chance High and Mighty beers will ever return?
  33. MyIronLung

    MyIronLung Aspirant (203) Oct 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    Great article, Andy!
  34. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,214) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Good article for sure. I just wish it focused a little less on conflict and more on Shelton's positive relationships with American brewers regarding distribution, export, etc. For example, it mentioned how Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin was feeling ignored recently, but I don't remember the article mentioning how Ron credits the Sheltons with allowing his brewery to succeed in the early days (maybe it was mentioned and I forgot). The article could have used a little more evidence of exactly how important they were in shaping the American audience/market for "sour beer."
    woodychandler likes this.
  35. BaltimoreBeerLover

    BaltimoreBeerLover Initiate (66) Mar 14, 2013 Maryland

    Holding my breath waiting for a grizzled beer drinking grey-beard veteran to show up and teach us the history.
    But I'm betting Raf Souvereyns of Bokkereyder would know. Does he hang out on this site?
  36. rfgetz

    rfgetz Poo-Bah (2,676) Nov 14, 2008 New Jersey

    I was fortunate enough to attend the Great Lambic Summit in 2010 where Dan emceed a panel of Jean Van Roy of Cantillon, Frank Boon of, well, Boon, and Armand Debelder of 3 Fonteinen. They covered a decent chunk of their history working together.

    The event is still available in full on YouTube, all be it chopped up into 20 parts.

    ima-geuzer, TongoRad and thebeers like this.
  37. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,176) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    What an amazing event. Thanks for sharing this.

    For those interested, Dan Shelton and an audience member allude to possible "vinegar like" beer from Cantillon in the past, and Jean Van Roy suggests the main difference in brewing between him and his father is newer, higher quality equipment, in video #11. I've sort of skipped around, but haven't found any mention of Frank Boon helping Cantillon, like Feinberg suggests, so I'm still curious about that.

    Maybe Dan was on his best behavior here with it being his own event, but he also seemed very capable of raising controversy in a respectful, friendly manner. It was fun to see folks debating things -- with a lot left unsaid.
    VABA likes this.
  38. LonePeakHomeBrewery

    LonePeakHomeBrewery Initiate (71) Jul 20, 2015 Utah

    Great history ... having been on the very peripheral of arcane alcohol laws related to distribution all I can say they are a mess. Just as bad if not worse than auto dealership laws. So good on them for taking them on, too bad they are not getting more support.
  39. asrose33

    asrose33 Initiate (124) Aug 22, 2015 Massachusetts

    Well written article... but I am a little disappointed about the title "Pride of Belchertown" and then Belchertown is never mentioned. (I only mention this b/c it's my hometown hah) I would have loved to hear what the connection was... why do they just have a P.O box in the town, (I assume maybe they were born there?) but they don't live or do any actual business there it seems now. It's irrelevant to your readers/article I'm sure hah... but I guess it's a mystery I had hoped to partially uncover....Anyway... great article. Cheers!
    zid likes this.
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