Local Businesses Brings International Flavors to Hardwick

by Thorolf van Walsum
photo by Thorolf van Walsum | Matt Borg, owner, head roaster and coffee coordinator of Carrier Coffee, sets up his tasting stand in Front Seat Coffee for a tasting event last Sunday in Hardwick

HARDWICK – This past Sunday, Nov. 21, the Hardwick downtown experienced a patient trickling of coffee and beer connoisseurs as Birdsong Beer & Wine and Front Seat Coffee hosted a beer and coffee tasting event for their business symbionts from Northfield: Good Measure Brewing and Carrier Coffee. While every resident in Hardwick is familiar with the conjoined-twin style businesses of Front Seat and Birdsong, it may come as a surprise to learn the extent to which the community of brewers and baristas interweaves throughout the Kingdom.

Matt Borg, the owner of Northfield’s Carrier Coffee, interviewed with the Hardwick Gazette as he laid out stickers and bags of coffee for the approaching tasting event, said “I love Hardwick. Love the community. I’ve lived here, I’ve lived in Woodbury… this area is a home to me. I actually only left Hardwick right before Front Seat opened, which means I got to help Tobin as he got things (at Front Seat) going.” While Northfield and Hardwick are separated by about an hour’s drive through the Green Mountains, the bonds forged in coffee run deep. 

“Coffee and beer: you put ‘em together and people just feel right at home. He likes coffee, she likes beer – it’s a win-win. It’s like hosting a high-five for the community,” said Scott Kerner, owner of Good Measure Brewing and co-owner of Carrier Coffee. “You know, I’d love to live in Montreal, to be surrounded in beer and art and crafts and culture, but that’s also kind of what Vermont is about. When you have spaces like Front Seat and Birdsong or Good Measure and Carrier, you bring that metropolitan experience right to the heart of rural communities.”

International experience seemed central to both Carrier Coffee and Good Measure Brewing. “Today we’re showcasing some new pour-over strains from Carrier Coffee,” Matt explained. “We mostly like to do single origin, one farm or group of farmers. This lets you really see the coffee for what the farmers intend it to be, not forget its origins. Coffee is the seed of a tropical fruit, one that really reflects the geography and practices that go into it. Today we have two from Columbia, one, here, from Ethiopia.” By making their products seasonal and thus always relatively fresh, Matt explained, Carrier can allow all the flavors to be as expressive of their geographic roots as possible. 

Scott Kerner’s presentation of Good Measure was also informative. With beers inspired from a multitude of cultures – the dense English malts of their East Street Bitter beer to their intense Belgian Barn Coat Saison – Good Measure seeks to recreate the flavors of the world with a Rural Vermont twist. “We make all of our beers with balance in mind. We want our drinks to be friendly to rural Vermonters,” Scott elaborated. “They’re all pub-style, approachable, and mostly low alcohol percentage. Good ‘drive home’ beers, while still bringing in the brewing styles of different nationalities.” 

“We like to think it’s about placemaking,” said Myles Tandy, co-owner of Birdsong and creator of the event. “Coffee, beer – these beverages bring people together. We like to host lots of events at Birdsong, but this one feels special to the Fall season. Beer and wine are both great, but it’s when you pair it with coffee that the event really opens up to families … the whole of the community, really.”