Jeremy Hebert is a Vermonter through and through — born in Burlington, raised in Berlin, schooled at the University of Vermont (UVM) where he took a few political science classes with Vermont legend Mike Gordon of the Northeasterner’s birthright band Phish. After graduating from UVM in 1988, Hebert started home brewing. “The first beer I brewed was an English Northern Brown Ale,” Hebert said. “It was over carbonated, but once the fizz settled bit, it was pretty decent.” In 1996 he landed a job at the now-defunct Golden Dome Brewing Company in Montpelier. These days you can find Hebert in the brew house at The Norwich Inn brewing ales and lagers, jamming on Phish, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Johnny Cash. “I consider music my assistant brewer, so it is always playing in the brew house.”
Here, 5 questions with Brewmaster Jeremy Hebert:
How and when did you get your start at The Norwich Inn?
I had known Patrick Dakin (Hebert’s predecessor at the Inn) for a few years socially. He is good friends with a woman I worked with at the time, so we found ourselves at social events whereby both he and I would supply home brew. When he decided to move on to start his own brewery, he reached out to me to gauge my interest about possibly taking over brewing duties here. I started on November 15, 2010, so I am just about to hit the five year mark. I guess I was interested!
What was the beer that changed the way you think about beer?
When I was a student at UVM, I worked as a research assistant for an anthropology professor named William Mitchell. At the end of my junior year, he took me out to dinner as way to say thanks for my help over the year. When the server came to our table to take a drink order, Bill asked me if I would like a beer. I politely declined and explained that I really did not care for beer (at that point in my life, I had only tried Bud, Miller, and a couple of now-labeled macro-brews). I will never forget the twinkle in his eyes when he responded, “But have you ever had a good beer before?” He asked if I would be willing to try some dark German beer. I said yes, and I ended up loving it. A second brew that was maybe an amber or red ale of some sort followed, and that too I really enjoyed. So that summer between my junior and senior years in college, I sought out imported beers, and thus began my beer education. About three years later I began making my own. I was totally hooked.
I honestly do not have a favorite beer. There are so many excellent beers out there, that when I am out and about, I’m always going to try something I have never had before, as long as the general specs suggest it might be something I’d enjoy. When I go grocery shopping at our local Co-Op, I often seek out a big bottle of something Belgian or brewed in a Belgian style, and just stick it in my refrigerator and forget about it. It’s always fun when we (my wife and I) pop one open!
What beers do you have in your refrigerator at home now?
One bottle of Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison. A bottle of Brasserie Thiriez’ Bière De Noël. A bottle of Stone’s Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale. A bottle of Brasserie De Blaugies La Moneuse Special Winter Ale. The fridge is a bit lean at the moment.
What’s the most outside-the-box ingredient you’ve brewed with?
I more or less brew to style. I’m honestly not interested in brewing a beer that contains chunks of bacon and fried calamari. And I love both bacon and calamari! I’m not saying that people who like or brew those types of beers are wrong for doing so, in fact I say more power to them for stretching the boundaries of beer, it’s just not for me. Which is the beauty of beer and the zillions of offerings available to us today. There is something for everybody. To answer your question directly, lemon grass is probably the most outside-the-box ingredient I have brewed with.
The historic Norwich Inn sits a few miles west of the Connecticut River, which serves as the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. A New England country inn, lovingly restored, complete with rocking chairs on the veranda and a cupola, The Norwich Inn is home to Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse, serving farm-fresh Vermont victuals.
And, while VT is a HUGE beer state, Seattle, WA holds its own, too, when it comes to craft brew. Check out our Seattle-focused Rooms With A Brew post, perfect for your next trip to the Emerald City.