A great perk at any establishment is truly found when their employees are happy with their work. Especially when that work involves great beer!If you want ambiance, knowledgeable and passionate staff, great food and choice brews, High Horse Brewing is your place!
Located on 24 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA, High Horse is a hop, skip and a jump from UMASS Amherst. Though located in a college town, the brewery itself doesn’t come across as “college-y” or “artsy” (though they have some great art), however the word “artisan” does comes to mind. High Horse’s locale is in the vicinity of many good eateries, from chains to local establishments. So if you are looking for a nice day to walk, look through some shops, then catch a freshly made brew and some delectables, stop into this brewery.
I was there on a day trip with my brother for an “Amherst Day.” Amherst has a handful of local establishments that carry a great selection of local and craft brews and whiskey. These locations range form “package stores,” bars and breweries. We wanted to sample a few of the locals, and after having a coffee at Amherst Coffee, we walked across the street to High Horse.
High Horse took over a previous brewery’s location, and just owned it. Inside the lighting is soft, and there’s an almost amber atmosphere. Ample seating and a large bar is more than welcoming, and there are two floors. Their events are listed on their Facebook page, by all means take a look and plan your visit. We absolutely loved their poutine. Since we were hopping to different locations, we ate light and sampled heavy.
I was impressed with the fact they knew what a “flight” was, and we ordered a few. For those who do not know what a flight is, its a sampler of 4 to 5 beers delivered on a “paddle” with cup holders drilled in. We split 4 samplers. Their beer menu has a favorable selection, something for every palate. If you want lagers or Belgians; or the crisp citrous bitterness of an India Pale; maybe you just want to sip a cask version of their brew or relax with a smooth stout, High Horse will treat you right. If you aren’t sure, ask one of the bartenders, their expertise on their craft will guide your palate in the right direction, they are the epitome of service with a smile.
Now, speaking of passionate, I had the privilege to interview Matthew Steinberg, the Head Brewer of High Horse. So crack open a cold one, or room temperature one, or whatever one you like to indulge in, kick back relax and read about the inner-workings of this Western Massachusetts’ innovative brewer. After the interview I will share some highlights of the beers I sampled.
– Matthew, I first would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. It really means a lot especially with a brewer’s busy schedule. We hope this interview will be able to reach many future patrons and build a sense of pride in our local brewers.
So let’s get into it shall we, what is your philosophy on brewing/beer? And where do you draw your inspiration?Matthew
– We aim to make beer that honors brewing traditions, which to us, doesn’t mean making beer to fit some external dog show-style standards of style uniformity. For us, it means making beer with purpose in mind (how will it be consumed and in what situation, with whom and in some cases, what season) honoring tradition means utilizing local ingredients, time tested production methods, and developing unique beers that reflect where we are and who we are.
We get really inspired by drinking the finest the world has to offer because we are spoiled like that.
TBM – With a name like High Horse, you have all the right to be spoiled. What made you want to start brewing?
Matthew – To impress my friends. Well… not entirely false, but not exactly. But as a young brewer, I realized that nothing brings people together like a good beer. The social impact that beer has is so inspiring. We love how people get so jazzed about a certain beer. It is also quite gratifying when someone drinks one of our beers and actually is inspired to talk about it and search it out again.
TBM – If only my wife would agree with that inspiration, she’s a trooper. I guess it would be redundant to mention I was inspired to write about your brewery and beer, so moving on. For any aspiring brewers, do you have any words of advice?
Michael – Don’t try to be like us you will only disappoint yourself and others. Serisouly, drink beer, taste beer, think about beer, learn the history, don’t just repeat the dogma. Be better. Know more. And in every case, respect the liquid.
TBM – I love your frank straightforwardness, its refreshing. Speaking of knowing more, and tasting it, if you had to choose a style of beer what would be your favorite?
Michael – We have chosen. We chose IPA because we love the complexity of hops, the dry bitterness, the intensity; although not subtle they are not simple or obvious either and they just smell so good. It goes good with any occasion.
TBM– I am getting so thirsty right now. I love your logo and your facility. I also really enjoy your beer, but tell us what do you think makes your brewery unique to New England, let alone MA (especially with all the local crafts?
Michael – We aren’t reinventing the wheel here. We make beer. Others make really good beer too. We use a lot of truly local ingredients, grown here, malted here and brewed here and at the moment almost all of it is drank here in the pioneer valley. What other breweries can honestly say that before a brew day they can walk to the malthouse, talk with the farmer and maltster and create a custom blend or roast. We really have embraced this locally sourced thing… and our beers are better for it.
TBM – That’s very remarkable. Again, I can’t say this enough, your enthusiasm is admirable and beer is just a great unifying force. Now, when it comes to beer, we here at The Barley Men have been around the block, from brewing to tasting, so we might start out sampling differently form your average beer consumer. So which one of your beers would you recommend as an introduction to High Horse, for someone who has not had the experience?
Michael – It depends on the drinker. We tend to focus on the hop forward beers. I usually start people at Satisfaction IPA… it’s our leader and the one we will be known for. If you are less adventurous, we would recommend the Velvet Nitro, our amber ale poured on nitrogen… smooth, easy and balanced, sort of boring, but really high quality and approachable. If you are a worldly adventurer we recommend Barrel Aged Business (our imperial coffee stout aged in Rye Barrels) or from our wine barrels, one of our Brett beers (saison aged with brettanomyces in Chardonnay barrels). These days, our brewers favorite is Libertine Porter. It’s a classic!
TBM – Lastly, any funny stories? Every beer tells a tale.
Michael – The best stories are told over a beer… since I am sitting at my computer, I will reserve the stories for when we get a chance to sit down at the High Horse Tap House with a glass of IPA.
Well that sounds like a good time, we hope to join you one of these days. I hope those reading will get the chance to check out High Horse, and not only support local, but truly enjoy a good beer.
So now that we have a background, and the creativity behind the brew, our next post on High Horse will be a review of some of their beers I savored. I had the benefit of sampling 14 of their beers and I hope you can enjoy them as much as I did.
Thanks again Michael, it was a pleasure. So if you are in the Amherst area, or are looking for a great beer in Western Massachusetts, please stop into this brewery. You’ll understand why they can stand tall with their brews, and ride proud on their High Horse.