‘Stoneman’ Brews Beer Despite Drought-Like Conditions

Western Mass News, July 12th, 2016, by Mary Cate Mannion. Many lawns are brown and crispy, certain towns have water restrictions and many are wondering when we will get a good soaking rain.

Certain businesses have been impacted, like a small brewery tucked into the hills of Colrain.

“Water is an important thing. Can’t live without water,” says Justin Korby. You also can’t brew beer without it.

Korby is the owner of the Stoneman Brewery, one of the smallest in the Northeast. The brewery is also the first CSA, a program which allows customers to pay in advance for a variety of beers delivered once a month, in Western Mass. He focuses on keeping things close to home with almost 100% local ingredients in his brews.

“You have grain, hops and then water is pretty much just as important as anything else,” says Korby. “I have pretty much a neutral water that tastes really good, it’s really clean and it has the right minerals in it essentially.”

His water comes from a spring well on his property, and with the lack of snow this winter and rain this spring, a leaky outdoor faucet enhanced the drought like conditions.

“The water that we were using kind of drained our well. So I got to a point where I was about to brew a batch of beer and I turned on the water and it didn’t look right so we basically had to wait,” says Korby.

Korby took a three week break from the brewery as he waited for the mineral results tests of his water.

“I’m running out of beer and I’m getting back to being full steam,” says Korby.

The lack of water benefited some of the beer making ingredients, like wheat, and the hops also didn’t suffer from the lack of rain.

“It was actually a good town for hops. Because they take 1 gallon of water per plant per day. So you also need sunlight too. Not having rain might have hurt the hops a little bit but most hop yards are irrigated,” says Korby.

Yet he still says another storm would be a big help.

“As long as we get enough rain we should be alright,” says Korby.