The Brewery at Four Star Farms in Northfield gets pouring permit approval

  • The Brewery at Four Star Farms, being constructed in Northfield, will use the hops and barley grown on the farm. The brewery hopes to start brewing this summer and open in early fall. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jacob L’Etoile and brewer Chris Sellers in the subterranean cooler below the tasting room at The Brewery at Four Star Farms, which is being constructed in Northfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Brewery at Four Star Farms, which is being constructed in Northfield, will have a tasting room made with lumber harvested from their land. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Brewery at Four Star Farms, which is being constructed in Northfield, will have a tasting room, kitchen, porch and plenty of outdoor space when it opens in early fall. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jacob L’Etoile and brewer Chris Sellers in the hop fields at Four Star Farms in Northfield. The hops will be used at The Brewery at Four Star Farms, as well as the barley they grow. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Brewer Chris Sellers, left, formerly in charge of the brewery at The People’s Pint in Greenfield, has teamed up with Jacob L’Etoile and his family at Four Star Farms in Northfield to open The Brewery at Four Star Farms, being constructed behind them. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2020 7:17:23 PM

NORTHFIELD — It’s supplied hops to numerous Massachusetts breweries for years, but now, Four Star Farms will be the home of a brewery of its own, having received the Selectboard’s blessing this week.

During its meeting Monday, the Selectboard approved the “on-premise farmer series pouring permit” for what will be named The Brewery at Four Star Farms, located at 496 Pine Meadow Road.

Nathan L’Etoile, a member of the family-owned Four Star Farms, spoke during Monday’s meeting alongside business partner Chris Sellers, who has been the head brewer at The People’s Pint in Greenfield for years, but will be leaving to help in Northfield. They said they hope to start brewing this summer and open in early fall, depending on health restrictions at the time.

He said the family, which has operated the Northfield farm for more than 30 years, is planning to brew on-site. With the approved pouring permit, they can sell to customers to enjoy on the property as well. L’Etoile said a new building is being built for the brewery and it is already near completion.

“I can’t think of a better way to actually make that connection between the products being grown locally and processed locally, and then consumed,” L’Etoile said.

According to L’Etoile, the plans for the brewery have been in the works for a few years now, but the family has been talking about the change more seriously over the past year. The family decided to end its grain and flour business this spring to focus on hops production and the construction of its brewery.

Being inexperienced as brewers, L’Etoile said they brought on Sellers as an owner and partner in the new business venture.

Sellers echoed the desire to create a sense of engagement with customers and their products. To open initially, the brewery’s tasting room would be open from 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays through Fridays, from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Capacity for the tasting room is about 65 people, but with restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sellers said it would likely allow for 30 people.

“In terms of the actual space itself, as we all know, interior space and serving alcohol or food has become an interesting challenge in today’s world,” Sellers noted.

He said The Brewery at Four Star Farms wants to allow customers to safely move around the building to enjoy the products, while keeping a safe distance and following local laws and health codes. The permit also allows the brewery to bring customers onto parts of the property outside of the tasting room for hop yard and farm tours. The tasting room will allow customers to see into the brewery space and feature an outdoor porch and grass lawn space.

“The grassy lawn sits at the corner of two hop yards, so you’re sort of looking down both rows while you enjoy the beer that comes from those hops,” Sellers explained. “It’s one of the few places where you can enjoy a beer and taste the thing while it’s 20 yards away from you.”

Sellers estimated that the farm would be able to brew roughly 800 barrels a year, with 31 gallons of beer per barrel. To put their size in perspective, he said the largest brewery in Western Massachusetts brews roughly 25,000 barrels a year.

Sellers and L’Etoile said they will have prepared foods, and will look into hosting food trucks. For those who don’t like beer, L’Etoile said the business will purchase wine and ciders from across the state, repackage it and sell it at the Northfield brewery. There will also be non-alcoholic drinks available.

According to its website, Four Star Farms started growing hops and barley for beer in 2008 with the planting of a ¾-acre hop yard. Today, the farm features 17 acres of hops.

Over time, Four Star Farms became a regional supplier of hops to breweries across New England. Breweries the farm sells to include: Wormtown Brewery, Stone Cow Brewery, Medusa Brewing Co., The People’s Pint, Lamplighter Brewing, Aeronaut Brewing Co., CraftRoots Brewing, Buzzards Bay Brewing, Big Elm Brewing, Bone Up Brewing Co., Stewards of the Land Brewery, Gentile Brewing Co., Brick & Feather Brewery, Iron Duke Brewing, Stoneman Brewery, New England Cider Co., Homefield Brewing and Hitchcock Brewing Co.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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