Wandering Star Craft Brewery
“Honey, I bought a brewery.” That is how Chris Post announced to the world (and in particular, to his wife) that his home brewing hobby had morphed into something more serious. At that point, Post was still working in finance in New York City, and brewing was something that happened on a two-ring burner in his apartment. But one day, while browsing eBay for home brewing equipment, he had stumbled upon the entire contents of a brewpub in Michigan, listed at “an absurdly low price.”
“I was convinced that I would be outbid, but I didn’t want to die wondering ‘what if I had taken that chance and pressed the button.’ So I pressed the button.” As it turns out, that was the beginning of Post’s adventure from banker to brewer.
With an “enormous pile of equipment” waiting in storage, Post signed up for classes at the American Brewer’s Guild. As he learned more, his enthusiasm for brewing held strong, and he knew that the next step was to turn his habit into a business. “It took being pushed out of the finance industry to make me take the plunge,” says Post. He said to himself, “if you’re going to do it, do it now.”
When Post and his nomadic brewing equipment landed, it was at 11 Gifford Street in Pittsfield. Wandering Star Craft Brewery has now been brewing, kegging, and delivering craft beer since 2011.
One of the things that Post loves about brewing is that there is nothing illusory about it: “There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s darn hard work to make it, it takes a certain amount of time, it takes a certain amount of ingredients, and once you’ve got the finished product you still have to go out there and sell it.” His is a straightforward business proposition: “we make the best beer we can, and let people decide for themselves.” If the people like it, they buy more.
Though a part of the American “craft beer revolution,” some of Post’s inspiration also comes from his British upbringing. “In the UK there was always a tradition of having a local brewery. At Wandering Star we’ve always wanted to make beer that appeals to a broad spectrum of people in a neighborhood—a beer that they can pick up and take pride in because it’s from a local source, and that they will return to again and again.”
To that end, the first word Post uses to describe what he aims for in his beer is “drinkability.” Not flashy, not edgy, but drinkable. He especially likes to make session beers, which is a low-alcohol style popular in England. This fall, with a pumpkin-butternut squash beer and a Belgian “saison” called Champs de Creux, Wandering Star will be showing some seasonal flair.
In a country awash with new breweries (every American now lives closer than ever before to a brewery), Post confidently adopts a “rising tide lifts all boats” attitude: “there is still an awful lot of market share out there for craft beers,” he says. This approach carried over to his 2014 decision to accept BerkShares. “Our opportunity to survive and thrive goes hand in hand with the acceptance and popularity of local businesses. So we really see BerkShares as a leader in promoting locally owned businesses and bringing people in to the brewery as customers, as friends, and as people who are going to spend BerkShares!”