Our friends Janis and Gary Billings run Ripley Farm a maple house just down the hill from our familys farm in Montague, Massachusetts. Garys family has been running this maple house for three generations and the wood-fired evaporator they use has given their syrup an amazing earthy, slightly-smoky character since the day his grandfather installed it. Janis and Gary displayed uncommon valor last week risking Life & Limb (yup, we use their syrup in that beer too) to bring us our latest order. They drove it down to Delaware themselves last Friday - the same day Hurricane Irene came to town. They drove seven hours down only to find out the hotel we reserved for them was closed because Governor Markell ordered all coastal businesses to shut their doors. I offered to put them up a hotel inland, but Gary insisted on heading directly back to Western Mass. Hes the chief of police in Leverett Mass, the town next to Montague. We didnt know it then, but Western Mass was about to get hit as hard as coastal Delaware. Gary must have felt it in his bones. He and Janis turned right around soon after arriving and unloading the syrup and hightailed it north to be where they needed to be.
Loading Up The Syrup
Our syrup made it here in time to go into firkins of 75 minute IPA as the complex sugar source we use to naturally-carbonate that beer. The bulk of it will go into our upcoming batch of Immort Ale (it will be out in November). In addition to maple syrup its brewed with peat-smoked barley, juniper berries and vanilla beans. We have been making this beer the exact same way since 1996 and it has always been aged on oak; making it one of the earliest American wood-aged craft beers. Immort has been around a long long time not as long as The Ripley Farm Sugar House but longer than autotune has been commercially available to neuter popular music (CHER Believe circa 1998).