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Austin Design, Inc. and the Architecture of Breweries

Jan 18, 2022 06:56PM ● By Michael Johnson
The Alchemist/Lawson's Finest Liquids [13 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

What's on Draft?

Austin Design, Inc. and the architecture of breweries

By Michael Johnson

Great brewers make great beer. But what makes for a great brewery? Austin Design, Inc. (ADi) may just have the answer. They're architects with a sweet spot for breweries, and their motto—architecture for enjoying life—guides them in designing places for people to connect, make memories, and participate in the craft culture.

The team starts every brewery project by narrowing in on the client's vision. ADi's Peter Webster, designer and beer lover in equal measure, sums it up: "We ask, how do we create a physical and sensory experience that embodies the brand of the brewery? The goal is that this embodiment will be a place where staff and fans participate in and drive the business forward." Beyond wooing customers with eye-catching aesthetics, ADi also considers the brewing team's working environment to be a key component. After all, efficient spaces that accommodate equipment, workflow, and future growth keep the beer flowing.

With a catalog of projects throughout the Northeast, ADi has established themselves as go-to brewery architects. In Vermont, they are particularly proud to boast The Alchemist and Lawson's Finest Liquids as two of their clients. We invite you to grab a pint and settle in for a closer look at the design of these destination breweries.

The Alchemist

Splashing onto the scene with their world-ranking Heady Topper Double IPA, The Alchemist in Stowe put Vermont beers on the map and required a facility to reflect the eminence and character of the brand. On a more down-to-earth note, when owners John and Jen Kimmich spoke with ADi about the design, their criteria were that the steel-framed brewery would be, simply, a good place to work, as well as highly energy-efficient, durable, and sustainable. They sought a unique space with plenty of daylight that would facilitate their hands-on approach to brewing. Peter recalls, "They presented us with a photo of them walking through a sun-drenched Caribbean airport as inspiration." The challenge: marry that sensation of an open, modern structure with something that also respected the vernacular architecture of rural Vermont.

ADi delivered with a simple yet elegant structure featuring curvilinear roof forms and a high center area, characteristic of the monitor barn style often seen in Vermont's quintessential sugar shacks. A glass curtain wall at the end of the building, along with clerestory windows, maximizes natural sunlight in the workspace. The accompanying silo, which houses the elevator, rounds out the twenty-first-century brewery's homage to Vermont's working landscape. A true collaboration between brewers and architects, The Alchemist is filled with both the magic and science worthy of its name.

Lawson's Finest Liquids

Another of ADi's beloved projects, the Brewery and Taproom at Lawson's Finest Liquids in Waitsfield, embodies the brewers' commitment to quality and community as they welcome visitors into the heart of Vermont. Sean and Karen Lawson developed a legendary reputation in the craft brewing realm with their Sip of Sunshine IPA, and they wanted to leverage that success to build something that would celebrate not only their hard work but the labors and creations of their neighbors as well. They worked with ADi to design a memorable taproom that would complement its surroundings, incorporate the state's love of the outdoors, and utilize local craftspeople as much as possible. "We strove to capture the energy of a bustling mountain lodge that acts as an epicenter for meeting friends and exploring the area," Peter explains.

Mad River Post and Beam erected the timber-frame structure, while area craftsmen and artists provided the bar top, tables, signage, and even light fixtures. The result is a showcase of what Vermont's finest has to offer to Taproom visitors beyond great beer. The region's natural beauty is on full display as large windows permit plenty of sunshine and scenic views—bringing the outdoors in. The warm tones of the wood beams and impressive fireplace keep imbibers cozy in the winter months. The particular design of the timber frame's scissor trusses allows for a bright, airy, minimally interrupted space for folks to congregate. With special attention to the landscape and community, the Taproom at Lawson's Finest Liquids fits right in with the Mad River Valley it calls home—aesthetically and ethically.

Different Styles, Perfectly Representative

In The Alchemist and Lawson's Finest Liquids, ADi has successfully designed two breweries with distinctly different architectural styles that represent their brands while still honoring and integrating with the rural Vermont settings they share. Those who have already had the privilege of sipping award-winning beers at these remarkable breweries know of what we speak. And for the rest of you who haven't had the honor yet, be sure to move them to the top of your brewery tour checklist.

ADi is located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Some of their other clients include Saxtons River Distillery in Vermont; Tree House Brewing Company, White Lion Brewing, Northampton Brewery, Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Company, and Artifact Cider in Massachusetts; Back East Brewing Company and Fox Farm Brewery in Connecticut; and Kane Brewing in New Jersey. (Of course, there are even more in the works!) 

Austin Design, Inc.

167 Main Street, Suite 302

Brattleboro, VT

(802) 451-5966

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