Lawson’s Finest Liquids – a part of the landscape

Posted on Sep 1, 2009 in Press

Lawson’s Finest Liquids – a part of the landscape

By Megan Schultz

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 3.40.22 PMSean Lawson stands outside his brewery wearing black and yellow muck boots and his “standard issue Lawson’s Finest Liquids hat,” polishes off the last of his lunch and claps his hands. “Here we go!” he says and heads right back to work, checking water levels and temperatures, connecting and disconnecting pumps, peeking under the lid of his 55-gallon brew kettle to make sure his alchemy is being properly concocted.

“My favorite part is sipping the beer when I’m all done!” said Lawson, the owner and beer guru of Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Warren. “I don’t get any paid time off from Law- son’s Finest, but the benefits are great!”

Lawson was just a lanky col- lege kid when he tried a friend’s homebrew. “I said ‘Wow! You made this yourself? Can you show me how?’ and the rest is history.” Twenty years later and Lawson’s Fin- est Liquids is earning quite

the following in the Mad River Valley, found on tap in several local restaurants, in bottles at select area stores and even available for a taste at farm- ers’ markets.

“It’s a challenge,” says Law- son who juggles a part-time job at Mad River Glen, a young family, and not one but two small businesses. “Family is the first priority,” says Law- son. “I have a wonderful wife, Karen, who has fully sup- ported our endeavor from the start.”

Yet while Lawson’s goals are certainly to grow his company, he does not envision seeing his product too broadly dis- tributed in Vermont, let alone over state lines. His vision in- stead is to become a brewery that is “a part of the land- scape, much in the way that old world pubs and breweries were widely known but only locally available.”

A brief history lesson: In Eu- rope, when one enters a bar, one typically orders “One beer please!” What kind of

beer isn’t always an option; people drink whatever beer they make there. This is be- cause regions became so well known for their beer that peo- ple would travel from far and wide just for a sip of that spe- cific style – no other varieties were needed. Cologne in Ger- many is still known for its Kolsch beer, Dusseldorf is known for its Altbier, and so on.

Before Prohibition, the United States was home to thousands of small operations which distributed only very locally. In 1920, however, many of these businesses closed or converted into soft drink com- panies or bakeries. Boot- legged beer was often diluted to increase profits. Then larger beer companies swal- lowed each other up in order to gain larger markets and the American beer industry as we know it today was born.

Microbreweries started to come back in the 1980s, rein- troducing Americans to richer, more flavorful brews

Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Photo: Megan Schultz

not typically found in our canned varieties. However, even with the abundance of craft beers available in stores today, the idea of a “regional beer” is pretty uncommon. Except that now, with the re- surgence of passionate, lo- cally minded brewers like Lawson, perhaps regional beer is making a comeback of its own.

“Our vision is to be a local brewery with beer you have to

travel to Vermont to find,” Lawson says firmly. Expan- sion in the form of mass distri- bution is not part of his plan. “While of course we want to grow the business, there is plenty of room to carve out a respectable niche without as- piring to be the next Magic Hat or Long Trail. First and foremost is making beer of the very highest quality, hence the name: Lawson’s Finest Liquids!”

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