Traversing the gently bending country roads I wound my way up to the sustainably minded, small farm operation of Tom Barse and Carolann McConaughy. It was a sweltering drive from Washington DC. Windows up. AC blaring. I had recently sold my farm in North Carolina, was surfing my way up the east coast, and happily tagged on this detour to visit these long time Spalding Fly Predator customers. Once up the driveway to Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airey, Maryland, my afternoon was transformed by a welcoming greeting from Tom and Carolann, a gentle breeze at a relaxing table in their pavilion, followed by some of the best custom beers I’d enjoyed in ages.
Milkhouse Brewery has been using Spalding’s Fly Predators for several seasons now noticing a night and day difference yet Tom and Carolann were far from newbies to Fly Predators. They have been Spalding Labs customers for 15 years now first beginning with their horses at Stillpoint Farm then with their small flock of Leicester Long Wool sheep. Therefore it was a no brainer when they started noticing flies at the Brewery, especially during tour and tasting hours to begin using Fly Predators there as well.
In developing their ideas for sustainable small farming products operation, both Tom and Carolann understood to make a living using traditional farming practices was going to be impossible in this day and age. Insert outside the box thinking combining Tom’s life-long love and practice of home brewing with Carolann’s keen interest in animal husbandy, they built an apiary for a small flock of Leicester Long Wool. Working with local farmers, brewers, and local elected officials, Tom helped get Maryland’s Farm Brewery law enacted in 2012. Shortly thereafter Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm was established, and the tasting room opened in June of 2013. They are proud to say they are Maryland’s first farm brewery!
Having enjoyed many Pacific Northwest custom beers, the savory flavors of my flight were welcome surprises not exactly following what my pallet was accustomed to. Tom was enthusiastic about his brewing process and happy to share talking about how the Maryland grown hops differ due to the soil, growing season, and the micro climate they live in. Cascade and Chinook hops make up most of Stillpoint’s one acre hopyard, but expansion plans are underway. In addition to biological fly control, other natural practices, to assist with pest and disease control are utilized. The sheep are allowed to graze, in the hopyard, for weed control and to strip the lower leaves reducing disease pressure from downy and powdery mildew.
Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm specializes in classic styles of beer improved with Maryland hops. The brewery produces 5 year round beers plus rotates a couple of seasonal releases. These beers focus on locally sourced ingredients, including grains, fruits, herbs, honey, and other Maryland agricultural products.
If you’re in or passing through Maryland, it’s well worth the stop to order a flight or a pint or two of one of their spectacular beers. Have a seat on their terrace and enjoy a fly free afternoon! The tasting room is open Friday 3-7pm, Saturday 1-8pm, and Sunday 1-6pm.
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