Vanity Fair interview with Shaun Hill, Hill Farmstead

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

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  1. BT_Bobandy

    BT_Bobandy Defender (646) Feb 20, 2011 Ohio
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  2. BT_Bobandy

    BT_Bobandy Defender (646) Feb 20, 2011 Ohio
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    Everything is a 99 or 68. Seems accurate to me :slight_smile:
  3. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
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    I'm sure his beer is very good, but is it me, or does that guy come across as a douche?
  4. HevvyMetalHippie

    HevvyMetalHippie Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Wow what great insight into Hill's work! This article really shows a side of him that you don't see (for better or worse) on BeerAdvocate or the rumor mill that circulates around Hill Farmstead. I get a great sense of personality through this interview, its great. I can only imagine how stressful it must be to have the masses banging down your door.

    It would be great to just sit with the guy and chew the fat, I bet he has a lot of great things to say and share, rather than hearing what he may or may not have heard through a friend or an article, or the impersonal nerd rage of a message board community.

    Especially after the fervor you see from his fans in the parking lot and in local bars, it's a welcome respite to hear some thoughts straight from the source!
    polishkaz and sliverX like this.
  5. HevvyMetalHippie

    HevvyMetalHippie Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2010 Massachusetts
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    It's you. I dont think he sounds like a douche at all, quite the opposite in fact. I think the man knows that he makes great beer, and is trying to deal with the crushing pressure of a cult community bearing down him.
    GuitarIPA, Rob315, DrEntropy and 21 others like this.
  6. ForkAndSpoonOp

    ForkAndSpoonOp Initiate (0) May 4, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Shawn Hill is what my friend Vince would refer to as "a horse of a different feather."
  7. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Although I grow weary of the internet man-crush half the beer geeks have on this guy. I have to say more people should appreciate the core of his business philosophy - His business is there to meet his agenda first, his agenda doesn't include supplying the entire world with Ephraim, and it doesn't need to.
  8. pmarlowe

    pmarlowe Meyvn (1,218) Nov 27, 2010 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Stressed by the high demand, but doesn't want to expand. Ooooookay.
    rrryanc and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  9. Jeremy6566

    Jeremy6566 Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Arizona

    Even though I wish I could have access to his beers...
    Dude wants to run his business how he wants to run it, I don't see anything wrong with that!
  10. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I don't really believe he could ever produce enough beer to satisfy the demand. The stress is from the daily need to be "on" for the masses who flock to his door.
    Bluecane likes this.
  11. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    If you have ever been to Hill Farmstead, you will understand what Shaun Hill is all about. It's about as far away from civilization as can be, about 30 mi. or so from the Canadian border. Hell, he could probably raise as much money as it takes to increase his production ten fold but this is his niche, what he feels comfortable with and I don't understand people who criticize his lack of desire to expand so they can get his beer. It's his personal choice not theirs.
  12. lhteacher

    lhteacher Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2013 Massachusetts

    Uh, he sounds like just about any artist I've ever met. I'm not necessarily saying he is/isn't an artist--but he expresses himself the way many artists do, in my experience.
  13. pmarlowe

    pmarlowe Meyvn (1,218) Nov 27, 2010 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    So? He chose his own poison. I bet brewers at lots of popular breweries would be in a similar situation if they were brewing as few barrels as him.
  14. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I think the real thing to make mention of is the fact they seemingly brushed his hair in the picture

    I make the joke as a fellow usually out of control hair guy, Damn our curse.
    brewsader likes this.
  15. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    The thing is that brewing lots of beer has its own challenges. He apparently prefers the challenge of way too much demand to the challenges of rapid expansion and larger-scale brewing. I can't say I wouldn't do the same.
  16. sliverX

    sliverX Initiate (0) Oct 5, 2007 S. Georgia & S. Sandwich Isls.

    So much vanity but no fair :slight_frown: I wanted kettle corn.
  17. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (501) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Big fan of his beers, but I actually lost some respect for the guy when he penned that awful April Fool's Day press release.
  18. mikeburd1128

    mikeburd1128 Zealot (514) Oct 28, 2011 New Jersey

    Shaun didn't sign up for this. He just wanted to brew beer on the street in Greensboro Bend, VT that is named after his family. He wants to live a simple life doing this. However, in the age of the internet, and with how good his beer is, that's impossible.

    I'm sure many of you, like myself, have visited Hill Farmstead. I drove the 6 hours to VT alone the day after my birthday last year. The last hour or so it started snowing. By morning there was probably 4-6" of snow on the ground. I traveled the freshly plowed roads of VT adoring the scenery the entire way. I pulled in around noon and was waved in by the girl working the counter. I was the only one there for the hour or so that I spent there. During that time Shaun thanked someone who was presumably his neighbor with a bottle of Twilight of the Idols for what I assumed was help clearing his driveway. It was really a beautiful day that highlighted the wonderful simplicity of VT and Hill Farmstead, and I hope that these days continue to happen for others.

    Haters are gonna hate, and I very seriously hope that Shaun continues to do whatever it is that he wants to do regardless of what people want from him because this is what makes Hill Farmstead so special.
  19. nrs207

    nrs207 Defender (687) Sep 8, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Talking shit on the way he wants to run his business is pretty ridiculous imo. Last I checked, he never asked you to do something or tell you how to run your life.
  20. nrs207

    nrs207 Defender (687) Sep 8, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Since I didn't want to write a lot, I wrote what I did, but this is my view exactly.
    DevilsCups and mikeburd1128 like this.
  21. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Similar thoughts here.

    Is he an Eddie Vedder disciple? His lament about popularity was reminiscient of Eddie & Kurt's about 20 years ago.

    Great beer. Educated man.
    But I could do without the 'woe is me' thing and the cocky-meets-meh pose, if I have to trivialize it

    But I'll take great beer and a difference in personality/ethos anyday over someone like minded who brews average beer.
    ChanChan, pixieskid, rrryanc and 7 others like this.
  22. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    There are two reasons Cantillon beers are as sought-after as they are -- they're world-class and they're small. And part of why they're world-class is that they have remained small. Shaun Hill (and many other great brewers, including Russian River, in particular) clearly believes it isn't possible to make beer that's as good at larger scale than what he's doing now. I'm pretty sure he's not wrong.
    mightyatom, Rutager, draheim and 5 others like this.
  23. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Actually, neither RR nor Hill believe that. Hill has said that he plans to expand, just not very much. RR was widely reported as looking into expansion earlier this year.

    As to being able to expand and maintain quality, I think that BCBS shows that it's not always true. My guess is that if Budweiser wanted to they could pump out Pliny or Edward in Bud Lite quantities. Do I know that? Nope, maybe there's a good reason that it can't happen, or at least is unlikely (I remember reading that the hops required for dry hopping scale more rapidly than linearly, which would be a big issue). I don't know. But that's separate from wanting to take over the world.
    Errto and RyanSchwam like this.
  24. celfan

    celfan Disciple (327) Jul 4, 2004 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    "I wear everything on my sleeve. I can’t paint on a face and pretend. And I’ve gotten a lot of shit about that."

    I can really relate to this. I can't tell you how many people have told me that before they got to know me they thought that I was a dick...stuck-up...angry ...anti-social etc
  25. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    It's both. Russian River has expanded once before, when they added the production brewery, and much of Vinnie's time became about supervising production there to match previous quality, particularly of Pliny and Blind Pig, rather than creating fundamentally new recipes at the brew pub. It's only been in the last two years or so that he's gotten back to new beers like Shadow of a Doubt, Row 2, Happy Hops, Segal Select, etc.

    It's not to say scale is impossible. It's to say that it's really hard, and the decision to grow significantly bigger is about both investment levels (really considerable, especially if RR wants to take a measurable step up) and about quality. Recipes get funny when they move to bigger systems, different facilities, etc. (as you note, hops in particular seem to be close to geometric in their progression).

    It's kind of about what you want your job to be. Is it about coming up with interesting new beers? Is it about being the head of marketing (largely what a Jim Koch or Sam Calagiano does now, along with making new stuff on the pilot system). Or is it about quality assurance and oversight? You have to choose. And for people who started as one-person operations, that's a really tough choice to make -- either is a sacrifice, either of quality or of creativity. The other way to do it is to approach scaling as a slow, incremental process. I remember an interview Vinnie gave in which he talked about Jean Van Roy telling him that Cantillon was going to really increase production -- which meant adding about 10 more barrels.
  26. 4kbrianb

    4kbrianb Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2013 California

    A lot of you (but not all of you), seem to be pissed that he comes off as a dick, or self centered... or whatever the case may be. To me, it just seems like the guy isn't who you thought he would be in your dreams. He is just a rad dude living out in the sticks making epic beer. If he is famous because of it, great! If he makes bank because of it... I doubt he will complain. But at the end of the day, he is a dude living in the sticks making beer. We all love his beer, he knows it, and we know it. What is wrong with that? Name your favorite band... they know people like them. to run a succesful business, or be succesful doing something in general; you have to have some amount of confidence around you. Oh by the way, if he does expand some day... I highly doubt it will be on a massive scale. I am pretty sure any negative feedback is purely out of jealousy, jealousy that he is doing pretty much exactly what a lot of us would love to be doing. I don't hate him... I hate that he won't be my friend on facebook!:sunglasses:
  27. Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2008 Wisconsin

    I have never had the pleasure of drinking a HF brew, would love to have his products on the shelf here, but I respect his small market business model. However, pissing and moaning about an endless line of paying customers at your door sounds ridiculous. The guy can't remodel or add on a separate room at the brewery to go chill when he wants a break? How about a house or apartment a mile down the road from the brewery? I can't imagine property is all that expensive in the sticks of Vermont.
    Errto and hinemk76 like this.
  28. Etan

    Etan Initiate (0) Jul 11, 2011 Wisconsin

    BrewBoone, JuliusCaesar and yamar68 like this.
  29. goodbetterbestbested

    goodbetterbestbested Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 California

    take a look at the brewery on google maps and see where the nearest apartment building is
    westcoastbeerlvr and Retail1LO like this.
  30. ShogoKawada

    ShogoKawada Meyvn (1,247) May 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

    tasty beers, but I just don't get all the backflips over the brew. Oh well, more for you guys.
    cavedave, unibroue4ever and miketd like this.
  31. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Didn't the article indicate his home was "impossibly close" to the brewery already?
  32. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    Which is exactly why he says he hopes to some day have a house down in the woods where he can get away from everyone. The way it stands now, the retail shop is not just part of the brewery, but it's fully IN the brewery. There's no separation between the crowds waiting for beer and the brewer trying to get his job done. Just seeing how much HF has blown up in the last two years, I doubt Shaun and anyone else working with him would never have imagined themselves being so popular. So, while it may have made sense to simply add a small retail space into the brewery back then, now it's biting them in the ass because you have all these beer geeks in the growler line ogling at Shaun while he works.

    So, what do we want from Shaun? Would we rather him brew beer or sit out front and entertain the crowds of beer geeks coming to praise him? Personally, I think he does a pretty damn good job brewing beer so I'd rather see him do that than waste his time entertaining everyone else.
    Retail1LO likes this.
  33. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Again, I thought his home was "impossibly" close already?

    Biting them in the ass = Doing what is your passion, having massive success at it and a rock star like following?

    Yeah, it must be sooooo rough to have your customers worship you. I mean, people looking at you work while they wait in line, sometimes for hours to buy your products! Is there no end to the inhumanity of this world!!
  34. masterofsparks

    masterofsparks Defender (658) Nov 15, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I've never had a HF beer, but I'm certainly familiar with the hype. Reading the article as a bemused bystander, I found him pretty likable. I can't imagine myself handling his situation any better. I don't know if that speaks highly of him or poorly of me, but regardless, I found myself rooting for the guy. The great thing about the American way of life and capitalism is that you're free to run your business however you see fit. If people have a problem with him or his business, they're free to not buy his beer.
  35. CelticAleMan

    CelticAleMan Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California

    I am assuming this is a joke because if you look at the ratings of individuals on that site they tend to be much lower than here.
  36. VTMoondog

    VTMoondog Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Vermont

    I'm just lucky enough to be here in Vt., and able to access his beers anytime.
    franklinn, Retail1LO and JxExM like this.
  37. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (501) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I'm not sure how doing an interview with Vanity Fair qualifies as not signing up for this (whatever "this" is).
  38. benbking

    benbking Disciple (308) Dec 11, 2009 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    Mostly I'm tired of the hero worship. Shaun Hill makes good beer, sure. He's not saving lives, he's not shaping the future of our country, and he 100% isn't an attractive woman. I'm just not sure what all the fuss is about.
    Colbize, albertq17, Skye1024 and 12 others like this.
  39. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    Farmhouse and brewery are all connected. I couldn't tell you where he actually lives but I assume it back there somewhere. Much is behind closed doors but part of the brewing facility is in the same addition to the house that contains the retail area. So yea, he could go back behind those doors and ignore everyone but he needs to be out front to have full access to all of the brewing equipment (granted, the 12-5pm hours for the store allows him a lot of time work with no one around.)

    That being said, are rock stars not human too? They're not allowed to have a bad day and want to be left alone just because they are highly talented and popular for what they do? And it's not just people looking... people want to chat and take pictures and hang out, which is cool and all for them, but Shaun owes no obligation to anyone to schmooze with them just because they drove 7 hours to get there. Just let the man do his job and live in peace.
    kneary13 likes this.
  40. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    More like full of himself but trying real hard not to be. Didn't come across as very "genuine." Whatever ... The beer is good.
    rrryanc and Bung like this.
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