3 Vermont Breweries Mark Employee Ownership Month with Collaboration Brew

To celebrate Employee Ownership Month, three Vermont employee-owned breweries (ESOPs) Switchback Brewing Co., Harpoon Brewery, and Long Trail Brewing Co. collaborated on a limited-edition draft only beer: ESOP ESB.

“We met back in early August to discuss making a beer that was sessionable and approachable,” said Switchback brewer Morgan Capron. “We wanted to capture the feeling of Vermont in fall with the elements of brewing that make our ESOP breweries great.”

With this collaboratively designed recipe in hand, each brewery put a unique spin on the brew by using proprietary ingredients – so while there are minor differences in the brews, the result is a piney, medium bodied ESB that is super drinkable and refreshing.

In February 2017, at Switchback's annual meeting, owner and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry, told the brewery’s 30 employees they had become partners in ownership of the 14-year-old company. They are the first 100% employee-owned brewery in New England.

“We were thrilled to be able to make this collaboration happen with a fellow employee-owned brewery,” said Harpoon brewer Dan Lipke. “Being employee owned is something we are very proud of, so this is the perfect beer to celebrate all of the hard work that goes into employee ownership.”

Mass. Bay Brewing Company – parent company to Harpoon Brewery and as of 2022, Long Trail Brewing Company - established their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2014. CEO Dan Kenary gathered the company together for a special meeting in the Harpoon Beer Hall in Boston, where he asked everyone in the room to turn to the person next to them and shake their hand and congratulate each other for now being the owners of the Harpoon Brewery.

 ESOP ESB is available exclusively on tap at Switchback Brewing in Burlington, VT, Harpoon Brewery Taproom & Beer Garden in Windsor, VT, and the Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT while supplies last.

Comment: ESOPs are effective to transfer ownership of a company on a tax-favored basis to employees. It's especially useful in a family business when the children don't want to be involved with the business.

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