This Place in History: Hill Farmstead Brewery

Vermont Historical Society

GREENSBORO BEND, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Greensboro, Vt. with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“I’m going to combine history and one of my favorite subjects, beer. We’re going to talk to Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead Brewery about his family’s history in this town and how that intersected with the production of a world-class beverage,” began Perkins.

“My family came to Greensboro in the late 1780s. The idea of trying to find something that I could do so that I could stay in this place was really something that had been driving me for awhile. It takes an innovative, spirited soul to figure out what they can do in order to function and survive here. My family has been living in this place for over 200 years. I grew up playing in the remnants of my grandfather’s barn that burned down the year before I was born. Traveling the world I always sort of missed home, but realized how special it is to have what I would call a sense of place,” explained Hill.

“So, there’s definitely a historical connection for you here. I think fans of your product know that it’s named after folks in your family,” added Perkins.

“I knew beer number one should be named after my grandfather Edward, who was the last person farming here on this land. That led to this unfolding where [I used] Lewis’s genealogy – Lewis Hill, who did all this historical research on the family tree going back to John Hill in England, and that at that point there are too many John Hills to differentiate – that I would name beers after ancestors that grew up here on this specific property, as well as philosophical works that I found inspiring,” said Hill.

“When it came to information and stories about individual people, it was all based on folklore and/or the oral tradition. One of the sad, unfortunate things about oral tradition and history is that when people pass away, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a biography written about them. There’s just this slight flame that flickers for a while and then sort of burns out and they’re forgotten. A little bit of starting the brewery here and naming these beers after Edward and his 13 siblings is, in a way, keeping those ghosts alive,” said Hill.

“After almost ten years of being in business, there’s one ancestor who just seemed – all I know is what he accomplished and not anything about what it was like to hang out with him or have a beer with him. It’s this ancestor named Samuel who built the road from Greensboro to Greensboro Bend, fought in the Civil War, patented a milk cooler. A super seemingly creative person who was all over and always driven. It took a long time to figure out what beer would be novel enough to put this name on it so we didn’t just make this beer once and use this name which warranted such prestige and creativity to it within the family’s ladder. So after nine years, we finally released that beer last year,” added Hill.

“I don’t know if I’ve really processed what [this] means to me. It’s interesting talking to family members. When you’re so intimately connected to something it’s sometimes more difficult to process what it means while you’re still in it. Hearing from my father {and] some of these relatives that have visited is a really fascinating perspective. I think whatever perspective I’m still developing is still based on their perspective and their stories coming back in,” concluded Hill.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.

To visit Hill Farmstead Brewery, click here.

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