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Nate Lanier of Tree House Brewing Co.

In His Own Words (Issue 25)
Nate Lanier of Tree House Brewing: "We really are living the dream." (Photo Credit: Lauren Lanier)
Nate Lanier of Tree House Brewing: "We really are living the dream." (Photo Credit: Lauren Lanier)

BC caught up with Tree House Brewing Co. head brewer Nate Lanier to discuss his pre-brewing background as well as the meteoric rise of the brewery he co-founded. The Monson, Massachusetts-based brewery has found itself at the forefront of a burgeoning East Coast movement – the hazy IPA.

Named after a tree house left behind by a previous owner on the land where the brewery now stands, Tree House is often filled to capacity due to the intense demand for any and all of its beers. But it is also a place to convene with nature and reflect – a pastoral paradise in a rural neighborhood.

When asked about Tree House’s role in the community, Lanier was effusive.

“We hope to be good neighbors, and we try to give back at every opportunity. We try to build and curate an environment of solace – a place where people can leave the stresses of the world behind for a while...”

Youth and the Path to Brewing

I grew up in a small town called Ware, Massachusetts where I spent most of my days as a kid running around the woods behind my house building forts, climbing trees and digging holes. I wanted to be an archaeologist or an astronomer. I’m not sure how any of this leads to co-founding and co-owning a modestly sized brewery, but here we are!

I owe my daily life to loving parents who instilled in me the idea that hard work and humility is all you need for a life of joy and virtue.

With Tree House, Lanier's goal was to create "a place where people can leave the stresses of the world behind for a while."

Discovering Craft

Very simply, the magic of a memorable drinking experience is what drew me to craft. Beer has this incredible power to bring people together and help put our troubles behind us for a short time. Some of my dearest memories are intertwined with a perfectly executed and presented pint of beer; I suppose I’m compelled by nostalgia and driven by the idea that deep focus and single-minded intent can collectively improve upon this liquid we all enjoy so much.

The “a-ha” Beer

Everyone has their “a-ha” beer, and mine was Trappistes Rochefort 8. It remains one of my favorites to this day, and I drink several every Christmas! I wouldn’t say it inspired me to get involved with the industry, but it certainly opened my eyes to the idea that a malt beverage could be conceived and presented in wildly different and interesting ways.

The Founding of Tree House

I have been culturing yeast and making pizza since my teens, but didn’t begin brewing until my mid-twenties (I’m 33 now).

I had been brewing at home for a while when my great friend Damien Goudreau (who also designed our logo) purchased a new home that just happened to have the most perfect 600-square foot brewing barn with a majestic, west-facing vista to enjoy. This allowed my weekend obsession to quickly turn into a full-fledged, seven-days-a-week obsession. I started making beer that was as enjoyable as anything I could buy, and a few of the early recipes (Julius, Green and Eureka) had become some of my very favorite beers. As the project picked up steam we (Damien Goudreau, Dean Rohan and Jonathan Weisbach – my other co-founders) had several friends enjoying the fruits of our efforts for free – even though with all of the equipment and raw materials we were a nearly five-figure, self-funded operation!

Green was one of Lanier's earliest homebrew recipes, and it has turned into one of the most sought after IPAs on the market.

In short, we founded Tree House because we felt we had something of value to contribute to the community. This idea continues to drive us to this day.

We opened our doors as a fully licensed brewery putting out about 20 gallons of beer a week in 2012, and we have been trying to get ahead of demand ever since. Our first year we brewed 60 BBLS. This year we will brew something like 12,000, and we still run out of beer every week. It’s insane.

The early days were times of great joy, and although we took our brew days quite seriously, we were always having fun: playing music, cooking on the grill and just enjoying these great times together. Tree House has given my life clarity and meaning in a way I could never have imagined five years ago.