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Fox Farm Brewery: From Dairy Farm To 'Far-Flung Dream'

Half a century ago, the dairy barn on a 30-acre farm on Salem’s Music Vale Road was filled with cows. Years passed and the farming operation fizzled, then the barn sat idle for nearly three decades.

That was until an ambitious couple bought the farm in 2012 with aspirations to transform it into a brewery. Zack Adams and his wife, Laura, built their home on the property, had children, and in 2015, started to convert the dairy barn into what Zack calls a “far-flung” dream.

“A lot of pieces had to come together. It was a huge unknown to see if the town would be receptive to this, and even if the building itself was suited for it,” Adams says. “There were a lot of major enhancements we needed to make, to make this conducive to this operation.”

In May 2017, after renovating the barn to accommodate brewing equipment and an attractive, light-filled taproom, the Adams introduced Fox Farm Brewery to the small southeastern Connecticut town of just over 4,000.

“We’ve been blown away by the reception,” Adams says. “Building this in Salem, we didn’t know how people would travel, and then certainly it’s a small town.

“We’ve also been very shocked by the local support and what that means as a foundation for our tasting room business. It’s been remarkable.”

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FEATURED/NOTEWORTHY BEERS: Fox Farm’s core beers are “hop-forward,” Adams says, with a focus on pale ales and IPAs with lower alcohol content. Gather, a German pilsner, is a source of pride and “what we drink the most of,” he says, at 5.5 percent ABV. Fox Farm frequently has lager representation, he says, like Quiet Life, a Czech pilsner, and The Cabin, a smoked Helles.

Popular American pale ales include Roam and Amble, and Burst, which Adams calls a brewery mainstay, is Fox Farm’s most popular IPA, with “intense tropical fruit flavors” of mango and pineapple.

A double IPA, Daylily, appears about every two months, Adams says, to the excitement of visitors, and the brewery also introduced a new variety, Tangle, in mid-July.

“Double IPAs are a little more rare around here. We gravitate to more sessionable stuff, by virtue of where we are. Everyone’s driving here; we want to make sure everyone enjoys themselves responsibly.”

Fox Farm also experiments frequently with farmhouse-style ales, like the Freckled Fields, which he says “leans heavily toward a classic Belgian saison” and the dry-hopped New Again. The brewery is also working on mixed-culture fermentation beers, using wild yeasts, and runs a small spirit barrel-aging program, with beers currently resting in bourbon, cognac and port wine barrels.

An ongoing collaboration with Ashlawn Farm Coffee of Old Saybrook — owned by Adams’ aunt, Carol Adams — produces Ashlawn, a coffee stout that uses different varieties of beans, individually selected from batch to batch. Fox Farm also features Hearthbound, a robust porter described on its website as “pitch black, decadent and drinkable.”

The brewery began canning select beers in June, starting with Gather and Graze, an IPA, and will also start selling cans of Burst and Little Brook, a hoppy American blond, on July 19.

TASTING ROOM AMENITIES: Fox Farm prides itself on being a family-friendly brewery, Adams says, with an upstairs kids’ corner offering a play area. Outdoor seating on the barn’s lawn is popular in the warm weather.

FOOD OPTIONS: Fox Farm does not offer food on site, but encourages guests to bring their own (and to clean up after themselves.) Visitors sometimes stop at town eateries like Salem Prime Cuts for grinders, or 2 Brothers Pizza, which carries two dedicated Fox Farm beers on draft.

PRICING: Half-pours of beer (7.5 ounces) are $3 to $5. Full pours are about $5 to $7. One-liter growlers are about $8 to $11 and two-liter growlers are $15 to $20. Specialty bottles in 750-milliliter sizes are about $10 to $13. Recent 16-ounce can offerings have been priced at $3.75 to $4.25 apiece.

HOURS: Fox Farm is open Thursday and Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fox Farm Brewery is at 62 Music Vale Road in Salem. foxfarmbeer.com.

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