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Thread: The story of nantucketís cisco brewers

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    Join Date
    Jan 2003

    The story of nantucket's cisco brewers

    by Gary Walther
    The more you talk to Jay Harmon, the operations manager of Cisco Brewery on Nantucket, the more you feel that the company is a start-up that became a commune that grew into a business, but is somehow still a commune. (The brewery is named after a nearby beach.)

    That explains why Cisco is one of the most popular gathering places on Nantucket. It makes its own wine (10-12 varietals), brews its own beers (14-15 on tap in summer), distills its own fruit vodkas (cranberry, strawberry, and raspberry), and grows the botanicals and herbs for its liquors (Blueberry Mint and Schnapps).

    "We do a lot with mint," says Harmon, in his sincere deadpan voice.

    "We do what we enjoy doing," he continues, referring to this harmony cell that produces the only East-Coast single-malt scotch whisky made in North America (Notch, an award-winner), a one-off oak-aged beer that actually sours the brew ("It's not for everyone," Harmon admits), and a trio of rums called Storm Series named for an island tradition, storm parties. Ciscoís best-seller is Whale Tail Pale, its flagship beer. (Tradewind serves Whale Tale and Grey Lady, a Belgian Wit, on board on its flights from Teterboro and White Plains to Nantucket.) It also produces one-off beers such as a strawberry Hefeweizen, a wheat-based beer native to northern Germany, for the pub in summer and a Pumpkin Beer in fall.

    The backstory, in short: Dean and Melissa Long bought the property in 1991, thinking they could grow grapes. Impossible on Nantucket, as it turned out. So they turned to sourcing grapes (from California, Oregon, and Washington) to make wineóand still do, producing two rosťs, four whites, four reds, and four reserve reds (from the best single barrels).

    The brewery entered the picture in 1995 when Randy and Wendy Hudson met Dean and Melissa. Dean and Melissa needed assistants, and Randy and Wendy needed a place to live, so they moved into the space above the winery and on the side pursued their interest in beer. That started when Wendy bought Randy a home-brewing kit. Randy had worked in a bakery on Nantucket, so he had a feel for yeast and grain. He soon threw away the instruction book, converted a pasta-rolling machine into a grain mill, and set off on his own brew-path. The result is Ciscoís line of28 beers, many of them seasonal (lagers in summer, pumpkin in fall).

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    Last edited by Banjo; 05-24-2016 at 06:52 PM.

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