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Melissa Pasanen

Melissa Pasanen

Contact Melissa Pasanen at and follow her on Twitter at

A few questions for Christophe Gagné and Avery Schwenk

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Q&A, Taste of the Landscape 1 Comment

Co-owners of Brattleboro’s Hermit Thrush Brewery, a recent entrant onto Vermont’s sizzling craft-brew scene

Avery Schwenk (left) and Christophe Gagne, owners of Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro. Photo by Bear Cieri.

Avery Schwenk (left) and Christophe Gagné, owners of Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro. Photo by Bear Cieri.

VL: How did two Swarthmore grads with degrees in music and psychology end up starting a brewery in an old car dealership in Brattleboro?
AS: We’re just too creative for our own good (chuckles).
CG: I started home-brewing after graduation and quickly grew to love drinking and making sour beers. It’s very satisfying to see people really enjoy something you’ve produced. I think there’s been a resurgence in our generation of appreciation for craft-made things, a trend for jobs that are more real. You can stand at the computer all day and do a lot of work but not be able to hold it in your hand.
AS: I was working as a paramedic 
in Philly and looking for a change. I’d been drinking Chris’ beers since he started brewing. I wanted a stronger community and more independence. Vermont had community, a

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Recipe: Black Bean Burger

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Black Bean Burger
This colorfully vegetable-confettied burger made 
with black beans from Vermont Bean Crafters is served at The Chubby Muffin in Burlington’s Old North End where it is presented on a house-baked bun, topped with slaw and chipotle mayonnaise and served with a side of fries or house-fried potato chips. Sautéed, the mix also fills the breakfast burrito offered at The Skinny Pancake’s Lake Street waterfront location.
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  1. 2 cups (about 12 ounces) dried black beans
  2. 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt, 
plus more to taste
  3. 2 large garlic cloves
  4. 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  5. 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  6. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying burgers
  7. 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced 
(a generous ½ cup)
  8. 1 small carrot, shredded (about 
½ cup)
  9. ½ small red onion, finely diced 
(about ½ cup)
  10. ½ cup corn kernels, fresh, or frozen and thawed
  11. 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  12. ½ cup buckwheat (for gluten-free 
burgers) or whole-wheat flour
  13. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Sort through dried beans and remove any pods, small stones or other debris.
  2. Place in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by at least 3 inches. Pick out any floating, old beans and leave in a cool spot overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  3. Drain beans and place in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with water by at least 2 inches and add 1½ teaspoons salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 75 to 90 minutes, or until beans are tender but still hold their shape. (Time will vary depending on age of beans.) Drain and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet to cool. (Beans can be made a day ahead, cooled and stored in fridge in their cooking liquid.)
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, mince garlic cloves with chipotle pepper. Add about half the beans, cumin and 2 tablespoons oil and pulse a couple of times to blend roughly into a chunky purée.
  5. In a large bowl, combine processed bean mixture with remaining whole beans, bell pepper, carrot, red onion, corn and cilantro using a wooden spoon. Add flour gradually and stir to completely incorporate. Season with pepper and more salt to taste.
  6. In a large nonstick frying pan set over medium heat, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan. When oil shimmers, add ½ cupfuls of bean mixture to pan and flatten gently.
  7. Fry burgers about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until crisp and dark brown. Repeat until all burger mix is used, adding more oil as necessary.
  8. Serve bean burgers on buns with desired garnishes.
  9. Makes 10 burgers.
  1. Extra patties can be frozen between sheets of parchment. Thaw in refrigerator before frying.
  2. Photo by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Executive Chef Keith Lada, The Skinny Pancake Group, Burlington
Adapted from Executive Chef Keith Lada, The Skinny Pancake Group, Burlington
Vermont Life Magazine

Vermont Beer: New Points of Entry

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape 1 Comment

Bartender Zac Key with samples from Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville. Photo by Daria Bishop.

Bartender Zac Key with samples from Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville. Photo by Daria Bishop.

Allen Van Anda and Jamie Griffith launched their brewery, Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville, with the goal of offering something beyond the hoppy, high-alcohol beers so in vogue these days. They have nothing against those, Allen is quick to add. “We’re just trying to offer a different entry point to craft beer.”

At their year-round taproom and seasonal biergarten, they pour mostly their own brews from a signature Gose (pronounced goze-uh) brewed with coriander and a touch of sea salt to a full-bodied Mosaic IPA to a seasonal German-style Oktoberfest. The biggest surprise, Allen says, has been customers’ appetite for the brewery’s first-rate food offerings, which grew from cheese plates to a fine pub menu cooked mostly outdoors in the no-frills biergarten from summer through fall.

The Gose plays a role as the steaming liquid for smoked mussels in outdoor season and in a rich cheese fondue in the colder months. It also flavors the house-made sauerkraut served year-round on sandwiches like a great burger (“served bloody or burnt”), plump Vermont kielbasa or smoked sugar-and-salt-cured tofu. Larger entrées include smoked baby back ribs and market fish specials like hot-smoked salmon with cucumber and yogurt tzatziki, pickled onions, marinated tomatoes and arugula in a pita pocket.

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