Drop-In Brewing Company: Shows Vermont How It’s DoneSep 30, 2021 02:04PM ● By William Gray
As you enter the hall of Middlebury’s Drop-In Brewing Company, you’ll be greeted by an array of sights, sounds, and smells. You’ll see decades of beer memorabilia alongside band and concert posters that line the walls. You’ll hear the chatter of happy guests enjoying their perfectly crafted beer. You’ll smell the aroma of grains, hops, and yeast as its talented brewers create something magical. You may even see the smiling face of Steve Parkes, Drop-In’s owner and head brewer.
Brewing from the Heart
Steve, a Scotland native, is a distinguished brewer, educator, and beer judge, and his work is a testament to the venerability of classic brewing techniques. He has been sharing his skill and expertise with beer-drinkers of Vermont since 2012 when he opened Drop-In Brewing Company. Drop-In serves a narrow selection of brews, which change seasonally. Steve’s philosophy is that brewing must come from the heart and should show the personality and experience of its brewer. He tends to focus on traditional world styles that feature quality ingredients and demonstrate true knowledge of their country’s origin.
Home to the American Brewers Guild
Drop-In Brewing Company, which sits atop a hill just outside of Middlebury, operates as a tasting room and production facility. It also houses the American Brewers Guild (ABG), where Steve serves as owner and lead instructor. Steve purchased the Guild in 1999 while living in California and oversaw its move cross-country to Middlebury, where every year determined students learn the art of brewing. Steve decided to open Drop-In both as a passion project and as a tool to give his students hands-on experience in beer production and sales. The ABG receives between 75 and 150 applications yearly and offers multiple courses and apprenticeships in brewing science and engineering.
Steve’s résumé as a brewer is formidable, having begun with a degree in brewing science from Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University. He’s spent decades as a brewmaster all over Great Britain, California, and New England, while also writing, teaching, and judging all things beer. His list of accomplishments is enormous, but you’d never guess from his humble manner and kind personality. He currently spends the bulk of his time with Drop-In Brewing and the American Brewers Guild, as well as judging the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup every year.
You Won’t Leave Thirsty
While Drop-In tends to steer clear of more modern, avant-garde styles of brewing, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hazy IPA or fruited sour on their menu, guests will not leave thirsty. Its rotation of seven unique beers features many different styles, including Sunshine and Hoppiness, a crisp Belgian Golden Ale; Supernova, a fresh and full-bodied American IPA; and even a Scottish 90-shilling ale, a nod to Steve’s origins, dubbed the Heart of Lothian. These brews, as well as other rotating taps, change regularly but can also be purchased in cans across the region. It’s worth stopping in frequently to see which drafts are available; you might be one of the first to try their newest brew!
The tasting room at Drop-In sells pints to enjoy in-house, as well as cans and growlers to go, plus apparel and merchandise. An attached sandwich shop operates with their same business hours, so you can enjoy some grub with your drink, either in their indoor tasting room or outdoors on their patio, weather permitting. Their patio is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your (well-behaved) pup!
While Drop-in’s plans for the near future are unclear due to the possibility of further pandemic restrictions, Steve is dedicated to expanding their roster of beers and continuing to improve his own skills as a brewer. After 39 years of experience and countless accolades, Steve feels he still has room to grow and continue to perfect his craft. Next time you’re in the Middlebury area, be sure to drop in!