You may know that western New England is home to a vibrant craft beer community. What you may not know is how intermingled that group is with the local cycling community. 

When local craft beer brewer Chris Sellers was brainstorming a fundraiser idea, he combined his love for cycling with his passion for brewing beer. The result was a 100-mile bike ride benefiting the Food Bank of Western Mass.  

Producer Dave Fraser visits Northfield, MA, where Sellers is completing his charity ride — without leaving the Brewery at Four Star Farms. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: You may be aware that there is a passionate craft beer community in western New England, but what you might not know is how intermingled that group is with the cycling community.

So when local craft beer brewer Chris Sellers was thinking of an idea for a fundraiser, he combined a love for cycling and brewing beer and created a 100 mile bike ride to benefit the food bank of Western Mass. But you’ll probably be surprised to find out that he did it without ever leaving his brewery in Northfield.

Producer Dave Fraser brings us the story.

Chris Sellers, Brewer & Cyclist: There’s nowhere else you can get this close to your ingredients. So, professionally as a brewer, to be able to have a grain that was grown on one end of the hop yard, and then to have the hops, and then to have the brewery all within maybe one hundred and fifty yards, technically, it’s just a fascinating thing to do.

You know, for every one brewer, there’s probably 25 people that would like to be brewers. And I just really, I pushed as hard as I could. And I did sales, deliveries, keg washing, bottling, labeling, floors. You know, you name it, I did it for about three years.

Grab a few more bags.

There’s a real strong feeling that people want to consume things that are produced here in this area, in particular, whether it’s the Pioneer Valley or the whole of Western Mass. But I think when you’re talking about something that like beer that’s so creative and so different and so unique, they’re really looking for that, you know, as close to home as possible.

The farm’s 30 years old. It encompasses just over two hundred acres here, right off Route 63 in Northfield. In 2017, my wife and I, we’re looking for a venue to get married, and we had talked to a number of places in the area. Everyone was booked up. Some of the folks here said, you know, “why don’t you get married here”

It seemed like a neat idea, and at the time we were planning on early August. So, the hops are all the way up. It’s a really lush, green background. We have these like incredibly dramatic clouds in the background. This is really big sky here.

As we started, you know, got a little closer to the family that owns the farm here and started talking. You know, “Yeah, a brewery’s an interesting idea. Let’s work on this a little bit more.” I think it was Friday, December 18th, we opened our doors for the first time.

What we’re brewing today, the Northfield Lager, takes about three weeks to go through as primary fermentation is a very cold fermentation and therefore a very subtle sort of flavor profile. And then it gets cold-conditioned for even for a month or more after that.

With COVID being what it was, I started staying in shape for cycling by just doing stationary train work. And this became a very popular thing as COVID went on, globally. I’m sitting there doing this one night and I said to myself, “you know, what If you did a hundred miles on this? What if I did it to actually help some people?” Let’s set it up in the brewery. Let’s see what happens.

And I set a fundraising goal on a GoFund me for a thousand bucks. I thought it’s a weird time. I don’t know if anybody’s going to give anything, you know, let’s just see what happens. And by the time we were done, we’re up around twenty five hundred dollars. People just gave.

You know, when I hear that one dollar donated creates four healthy meals for, you know, people who you think, well, twenty five hundred dollars — although not a ton of money in the broad scheme of things — is ten thousand meals. Yeah. We made a tangible difference in the world and all I had to do is sweat for five hours in a brewery. I’m OK with that.

To be able to connect it, the products that are being grown on the farm, with the finished beer itself, and then be able to continue that connection to the community is just like one full circle in a very small area. And that to me is really exciting.