Red Clover Ale in the running for best brew

March 17, 2021

By SOPHIA BUCKLEY-CLEMENT

BRANDON — “Unhurried” isn’t just a catchphrase for many in the town of Brandon, it’s a way of life.

At Red Clover Ale Company, the unhurried way is the lifeblood of business, and that approach has led to a nomination for USA Today’s “10 Best Breweries Since 2018.”

The brewery has come a long way since it first opened its doors in the fall of 2018 — curating flavors and hit recipes over weeks of fermentation — and it’s exactly that practice that has put them on the map.

“We started out just brewing and comparing what we made to beers we liked — trying to make the best beer, you know?” said brewery co-owner Pete Brooks. “Eventually, we started sharing it with friends and making batches for weddings and big events.”

The ultimate USA Today award rankings involve a panel of beer experts who determine a list of nominees to be voted on and subsequently ranked by the public. Though leaderboards have been hidden from view until the final list announcement on March 16 at noon, Red Clover Ale Co. was last seen at spot #7 — beating out breweries twice its size.

“I have been voting as often as they will let me and re-posting so that others can vote too,” said 62-year-old brewery patron John J. Bebb. “I live in Albany, N.Y. and during the times of COVID, we have not been able to travel to Red Clover, but we love to follow them on social media and keep up with their new brews and how things are going. Red Clover is a special place with special people.”

Though the business has spent the majority of its existence in the midst of a global pandemic, Red Clover Ale Co. has surpassed all expectations within its first years of business —sparking both local and national conversation.

“Right up till when COVID hit, every Friday, Saturday night [the bar] would be packed down there,” said Brandon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bernie Carr. “It’s been a happening little deal in the middle of town.”

In addition to USA Today’s nomination, Red Clover Ale Co. was rated one of the 10best new breweries of 2019 by Hop Culture, a publication geared towards beer-aficionados.

Brooks runs the business alongside his two brothers-in-law, Riker Wikoff and Andy Gates. Andy is married to Pete’s oldest sister, Stephanie, while Pete is married to Riker’s older sister, Abi.

“A lot of stories are getting our relationship to each other wrong,” Brooks said with a chuckle. “We’re like a brother-in-law chain and I am the middle link.”

The trio has been grateful for community support — especially considering their small scale operation — and has attributed success to hard work and the “magic” of Brandon.

“When you walk in the door, we want an experience that brings people back,” Brooks said. “And we’re lucky enough to have that. Brandon is where we’re meant to be.”