As we rolled into the parking lot, co-owner/founder Gary Bogoff was helping his sales guy (I'm sorry, sales guy, I didn't write your name down, and my sieve-like memory didn't retain it) get their beer trailer set up for an event. I walked up to him and said, "We talked at the Stoudt's Anniversary Dinner; Lew Bryson." Big grin, we shook hands, and took a quick tour.
Wow. Things have changed a lot since I last visited. For one thing, there's a bottling line. Up until not too long ago, Berkshire hand-bottled in 22s and growlers. They're still hand-bottling the growlers, but the 22s now run on a bottling line. The kegs run on a very spiffy automated line that the guys picked up for a substantial discount, and that's a good thing: over 60% of sales are still draft, a beautiful microbrewery thing.
But they're doing some of the more edgey stuff these days, too. Berkshire has always been about the beer: good, drinkable, flavorful beers, like Steel Rail Extra Pale and Draymans Porter. But they're doing bigger beers, like an Imperial Brown, and barrel-aging some of them. I got a sample of the barrel-aged Imperial Brown, and it was a serious mouth-full, working really well with the bourbon wood. The picture to the left is the barrel-aging area at the brewery.
Gary said they're on track for 15,000 bbls. this year, but I suspect they may surpass that. It seems like Berkshire is poised to finally break out of the Pioneer Valley. They're still self-distributing, still selling almost all their beer within 50 miles of the brewery. And the beer still tastes fantastic. You may be able to find that out for yourself, sooner than later. Cheers to this solid little microbrewery, and success in the future.