Millers Falls brewery’s new location offers games, tastings and a distillery

  • Element Brewing Company bottles are brown now, but the wrapping stayed, setting Element’s four year-round and four seasonal beers apart from competitors on the shelf. RECORDER STAFF

  • Dan Kramer and Ben Anhalt have moved Element Brewing Company just down the road in Millers Falls, with new tasting rooms and game area. RECORDER STAFF

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There are certain parts of Italy and England that share a little something with Franklin County. That something is Element beer, brewed in the little village of Millers Falls since it opened in 2009.

“We had done some work with Shelton Brothers Importers, who bring beer back from Europe,” Element co-owner Ben Anhalt explained. “They were sending the empty shipping containers back overseas, and it costs the same to ship an empty container as a full one.”

“So, we filled the rest with beer,” he continued. “Since ours is bottle-conditioned, it’s well suited (for export). It doesn’t need to be kept cold.”

And, just like that, the little 700-barrel-per-year brewery went international — albeit in a small way. Anhalt and fellow co-owner Dan Kramer have also moved on from the quaint corner brewery in Millers Falls. Element Brewing Co. is now a few hundred feet down Bridge Street from where it began, where they’ve got space for a taproom, live music, a game room and parking in addition to a larger brew room and more storage.

In its larger space, it functions as a brew pub without its own kitchen, as Element hosts a pop-up restaurant when Diemand Farm of Wendell provides food on weekends. The brewer is open from noon to 6 on Sunday through Thursdays, and noon to 9 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Most recently, they’ve added a distillery for making hard liquor like whiskey, rum, gin and vodka. They are the state’s smallest distillery.

When the brewery started, Kramer and Anhalt wanted to use a good, thick bottle for bottle-conditioned beer. So they went with champagne bottles.

“We couldn’t find brown ones, only clear, blue or green, so we went with the paper wrap for light protection,” Anhalt explained. The bottles are brown now, thanks to a German company, but the wrapping stayed, setting Element’s four year-round and four seasonal beers apart from competitors on the shelf.

At this year’s Franklin County On Tap, they plan to bring back some of their popular styles and something special.

Kramer and Anhalt joined forces after several years of previous commercial brewing experience. Kramer was head brewer at the state’s first brew pub, the Commonwealth Brewery in Boston, before moving to Florida to set up another pub. He returned to Massachusetts to set up Maplewood Farms Restaurant and Brewery in Amherst in 1999, where he was head brewer until 2004.

Anhalt worked his way up to head brewer at Paper City Brewing Co. in Holyoke, while Kramer was most recently the head brewer of Opa Opa Brewing Co. in Williamsburg.