Brewing Nomads: Mount Holly Beer Co. Combines Uniqueness and DrinkabilityJun 16, 2021 12:16PM ● By Joe Siess
Mount Holly Beer Co. produced its first batch of beer just before last Christmas, but the young brewery has big plans for its beers and artistic aesthetic.
Dan Tilly, founder of Mount Holly Beer, is motivated by a desire to brew the kind of beer he enjoys drinking and to bring the uniqueness of Vermont-grown hops to people’s palates by creating beers with more drinkable, accessible flavors.
Sparked by a Bad Batch
Dan says the whole thing started years ago when he decided to ferment a batch of cider, sparking his hobby in homebrewing. The cider “turned out awful,” Dan says, “but [the experience] got me hooked on homebrewing, and soon after, I made my first all-grain beer recipe.”
With a business degree and a day job in the fin-tech industry, Dan decided to take his home brew hobby to beer lovers in his home state of Vermont.
Mount Holly focuses primarily on brewing German-inspired beers with drinkability a top concern, Dan says. The brewery most recently released Jaakko, a New England IPA that delivers punchy hop flavor and aroma with an approachable 5.9% ABV.
Mount Holly is known as a “nomadic” brewery, which means they create the beer recipes in their small pilot brewery and then brew the beer using equipment housed at a different brewery.
Mount Holly gets help and inspiration from family members and friends who all help out in their own unique ways. Dan’s sister Annika is the brewery’s “creative genius.” Her work is showcased on Mount Holly’s beer cans and tap handles.
Dan spends a lot of time developing relationships with Vermont hop growers, and Mount Holly Beer was one of 12 local breweries to participate in the Vermont Hop Project. The Project was a collaborative brewing experiment between breweries and Champlain Valley Hops. As part of the Project, each brewery produced one to four single-hopped beers, using Champlain Valley Hops varieties such as Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Crystal, Magnum, or Nugget hops.
Mount Holly has released one beer as part of the Project, an American Style Kolsch and has two more releases in the works for this summer. The Kolsch was brewed using Champlain Valley’s Crystal hops, and an upcoming IPA will be brewed with Nugget.
Dan says Mount Holly is also interested in sourcing Vermont-grown barley in its brews.
In addition to the two Vermont Hop Project beers, Mount Holly’s flagship beer, The Green Stand, is a hoppy ale brewed using a mixture of Vermont-grown Chinook and west coast Citra hops. The Green Stand is named after Mount Holly’s first tavern, built by Joseph Green, a revolutionary war soldier who settled in the area in 1786.
“Jaakko, Mount Holly’s newest brew, will be a new permanent addition to our roster, and is kind of a more typical juicy, hazy New England IPA,” says Dan. The new beer is named after Dan’s grandfather. What is cool about Jaakko is that each batch will be made using different hops, which will be printed on the bottom of the cans. One of Dan’s goals with Jaakko is to put out a New England IPA that retains its traditional, hoppy flavor but that registers a lower ABV.
In other words, to create a more restrained beer that can be enjoyed sans a hangover after more than a couple.
Dreaming of Full-time
Mount Holly Beer recently started a running and cycling club and is planning the first ride to celebrate the release of Jaakko. While Dan will continue his day job in addition to running Mount Holly, he said it would be pretty awesome to go full-time. “It would be a dream if I could do this all day,” he says. “It’s a great way to spend your day. Coming up with new beers to make and talking with the farmers and the beer fans who drink it. There’s just such a rich beer community, on all the different levels of it.”