Hop Fidelity: Brattleboro record shop and brewery unite

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Photo Gallery | Record Store Day 2016

BRATTLEBORO — A creative collaboration has two local businesses bubbling with excitement as Record Store Day quickly approaches.

Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery was approached by Byron Greatorex, owner of In the Moment Records, to make a special beer for April 16. They're calling it Hop Fidelity.

"It's fermenting as we speak," brewer Connor Busch said of the India pale ale during an interview at In the Moment on Thursday, referring to the process in which yeast metabolizes the sugars extracted from grains and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Record Store Day happens biannually — once in April and then again in November — to celebrate the culture of vinyl records and the nearly 1,400 independently-owned stores in the United States that sell them. The tradition began on April 19 in 2008 and has since become an international event.

Busch has worked at the Whetstone Station for almost three years but he's been brewing beer for over a decade. Greatorex has run the Main Street shop for 11 years. Both businesses are in Brattleboro.

"We'll make beers for people who want them and try to have a release for whatever they're doing, especially local businesses," Busch said. "We've done beers for things like the (Brattleboro-based) Baconfest and we do a collaboration with 14th Star Brewing Company up north."

Busch worked with his partner James Branagan and Greatorex on the Hop Fidelity brew for Record Store Day, when special vinyl releases come out.

Stores approach the day in different ways. Some hold concerts or host DJs. Others offer body and face painting or meet-and-greets with artists.

A tasting of Hop Fidelity will be available at In the Moment starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Thirty-two ounce cans, called "crowlers" as they combine the packaging concepts of growlers with cans, or 12-ounce pours can be purchased at the Whetstone Station at 36 Bridge Street. But, Greatorex and Busch warned, there will be a limited supply. They're expecting four or five kegs, one of which will be delivered to In the Moment.

"Normally, we don't crowler anything over 7 percent alcohol because drinking a quart of high-ABV (alcohol-by-volume) is pretty intense," Busch said. "This is going to be an 8 percent alcohol beer in a 32-ounce can. Typically, we don't do that because it costs us more money to do higher-gravity beer so it's not cost effective for us to do that."

The beer's name, Greatorex said, should be a "reasonable play on the whole music store thing." He mentioned, too, that Record Store Day back on Black Friday in November saw the reissue of the "High Fidelity" soundtrack.

A sticker usually found on Whetstone Station crowlers says, "hand-canned, hand-crafted, hand me another." The Hop Fidelity sticker had not yet been designed at the time of the interview.

Record Store Day titles can only be sold at independent stores and they come in limited quantities. Opening one set of boxes for Record Store Day delivered Thursday, Greatorex showed the Reformer everything from the metal band Death to a surf music compilation to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Other special releases are coming from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams, Gwar and the Flaming Lips.

"It's this music juggernaut and the biggest thing that happens in the industry. This year, we're hoping to get an even better crowd," said Greatorex, who ordered over 150 unique titles. He sees customers traveling from places as far as Albany, N.Y., to see what he's got in stock. "It's a madhouse in the beginning; people vying for position, trying to get the releases they came for."

Another Brattleboro-based company, Tavernier Chocolates, will have some treats on tap for the day, too.

Not only did Greatorex want to spark more interest in Record Store Day, but he's testing the waters on another project in the works. Construction of a bar in the back of his shop is expected to start in the beginning of May.

"People can see if they like to drink in a record store," said Greatorex, adding that he hopes to turn the basement of the building into an art gallery.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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