Surgeon, Teacher and Radio Guy Start Beer Company in Vermont's Hills


Submitted a year ago

Craft Beer Company Takes Off

Chris Perry left a career in radio and moved from New Jersey to the hills of Vermont to turn an old sheep farm into a brewery.

It was a big career change for Perry, 43, who worked in Brooklyn as a radio and television editor. 

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 “I was always a pretty big beer fanatic,” Perry said.

Perry was attracted to Hill Farmstead Brewery, a microbrewery in Greensboro, Vt and he snuck up to Vermont as often as he could.

 He calls his 11.5-acre farm in Tunbridge Upper Pass Beer Company. 

Perry has two partners who have made similar career leaps.

Andy Puchalik, 41, just left his job as a teacher at Hanover High School while Ivan Tomek, 50, continues his career as a hip and knee surgeon at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.

None of them had brewing experience before this. They’ve learned most of what they know through trial and error. 

Upper Pass started in 2015 and now the beer is sold in 150 locations throughout Vermont, including the Woodstock Farmer's Market. Together, they have made more than 25 beers. 

A surgeon, former teacher and former radio guy experiment with brewing beer.

Upper Pass is one of newest vendors at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market. We chatted with the owners about the art and challenges of the brewing business.

What makes Vermont such an attractive place to start a brewery?

Craft beer is part of the outdoor culture here. and loads of tourists coming to our state. its a great place to live and brewing can be an independent way to carve out a living here.

What was the worst mistake you made when you first started brewing? 

Not submitting the proper paperwork for our distribution company. We made all this beer but could not sell it ourselves.

How do you come up with the flavors? 

Different inspirations. Could be a food flavor or a cocktail or just some new hops that we want to try out. Sometimes other beers.

Before you started your own brewery, what was your favorite beer? 

Hill Farmstead Abner

What are your best sellers?

Our most popular are First Drop Pale Ale, Cloud Drop Double IPA, and Moove On Up Stout.

Aside from the brewing, the trio has started experimenting with coffee brewing and they are about to open a cafe on Chelsea Street in South Royalton this fall. You can read more about that project here.

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