Craft Brewery Prospers On Abandoned Farmland

Brewing with Wildflower Honey & Connecticut Flaked Corn

by Phillip Mlynar

Craft brewery popularity keeps growing and recently involved the Caius Farm Brewery in Connecticut bringing abandoned farmland to life. When Caius Mergy was an undergrad at Middlebury College, he didn’t consider himself to be much of a beer drinker—but a weekend spent visiting Vermont’s craft breweries wound up inspiring an interest in home-brewing.

“Over the next couple of years, we would like to have small batches of fruit,” says Mergy, outlining future development plans for the brewery. “I would love to see some apricots or pears on the property.”

Taking a minute out from home brewery duties, we spoke to Mergy about Connecticut flaked corn and the importance of seasonal flavors. We also got into using bees in the brewing process.

Love At First Sip


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“The one moment in particular was at Hill Farmstead in Vermont,” says Mergy, as he looks back over his journey into craft beer. “I remember sharing a bottle of Flora: Peaches & Pears with my friend and it was love at first sip: I couldn’t believe you could achieve those flavors in a beer and also was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the beer was sour!”

Mergy’s next steps involved reading up on brewing history and tinkering with home-brewing, before eventually taking the plunge to found Caius Farm Brewery.

Transforming An Abandoned Farm

After coming across some abandoned farmland, Mergy decided to transform the property into a farm brewery. It’s a process that involved clearing structures that were in a state of near collapse and prepping the ground for new buildings.

“We had to remove 18 inches of topsoil from the whole property and replace it with soil which was suitable for construction,” explains Mergy, who adds that being located next to some wetlands also meant considering drainage issues.

The Virtue Of Patience

When it comes to incorporating local and seasonal flavor profiles into beer, Mergy says that to do it properly is inevitably a long process.

“My passion in brewing is mixed fermentation oak-aged ales, which take at least a year to two years before they are ready for consumption,” he explains. “Since those beers require a lot of time and patience, I really want to highlight the local ingredients with them and also show the respect to the local ingredients that they deserve.”

As an example, Mergy pinpoints an upcoming ancient Etruscan-style beer called pevakh which uses Connecticut spelt and rye, Connecticut honey and Connecticut-grown hops. “I wanted to bring this ancient style of beer to life with ingredients which are closest to the brewery,” he says.

Listening To The Beer

Going deeper into the science of spotlighting local ingredients, Mergy says the craft brewery is particularly proud of “our one hundred percent wheat malt mixed fermentation ale, Caligula, which uses Connecticut grown hops and wheat malt all originating across New England.”

Additionally, Mergy says a mixed fermentation ale is currently being earmarked to incorporate Connecticut fruit from other nearby farms—”what fruit remains to be seen and the beer will tell us what it wants”—and later this summer the brewery will debut an American light lager that uses Connecticut flaked corn and hops. “I really wanted to showcase the Connecticut flaked corn since I hadn’t tried any other like that before, so I am really excited to brew that!”

Bring On The Bees

The next stage in the Caius Farm Brewery story will be to incorporate beekeeping into the craft brewery process. “We plan to use targeting landscaping of select plants and flowers to impart our desired flavors into the honey that we hope to harvest on site,” says Mergy. “I love wildflower honey, so we would probably go this route.”

“We are excited to have local bees to both help with future crops used in our beer but also to use in select beers, especially our mixed fermentations,” adds Mergy. “We already have a beer with all Connecticut ingredients which uses Connecticut honey and I would love to use our own honey in future batches of it.”

This article about a craft brewery on abandoned farmland was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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