Accents: The voices of our immigrant neighbors in the Berkshires

Meet Chris Post: A British-born brewer who's in the Berkshires for good

ACCENTS: SPONSORED BY GREYLOCK FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

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This is the story of one of our Berkshires neighbors brave enough to admit that James Taylor is “really not my bag at all”.

Also: Marmite is an ingredient in today’s Accents recipe and the legal drinking of beer by school kids as young as 16 will come up.

In other words, “Just a very, very different environment,” says Chris Post, comparing life in the English countryside to living in America.

Arriving from Great Britain, Post did not have to struggle with a different language as other immigrants do. But the story of how an Englishman came to transform an old Napa auto parts store in Pittsfield into the Wandering Star Craft Brewery is an immigrant’s story nonetheless.

“We moved quite a lot,” he says about his childhood homes in southern England. “We always lived in the country but also always within decent driving distance of London. So to a certain extent the best of both worlds: a country upbringing but with access to an urban environment.”

At 13, a scholarship got young Chris to Clifton College in Bristol. The boarding school had a world renowned former student in John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame. Barely known at all is the fact that Chris Post brewed his first batch of beer there.

“It was a very different culture. We had a school bar. When you were above 16 and your parents signed a waiver you could have a pint.”

After Clifton he studied at Cambridge, landed a job at the multinational accounting firm Ernst & Young and in 1996 got transferred to their New York offices.

“That was a fantastic opportunity, but supposed to be only for a year,” he says. “But as soon as I landed and found out what a great city New York was, I was like, ‘I am never going back’.”

Accounting was not his passion, though. “A degree of frustration” crept in with his small West Village studio apartment.

As with many other New Yorkers, Post’s first acquaintance with the Berkshires came at Tanglewood. At a James Taylor concert.

“I thought this was the James Taylor Quartet, which is a sort of acid jazz group from Europe that I like. But then here’s this guy singing, and people are jumping up and down on their chairs and I’m thinking, ‘when’s the band come on..?’

“I was really bored,” he continues. “But it did give me the time to look around at the scenery. And I thought this is really, really beautiful.”

His discovery that James Taylor was not “his bag” led to his thought that it might be nice to find “a bolt-hole” in the Berkshires. Which he did, in Becket.

And then, while still in his finance job, “and terribly hung-over”, he made an impulse bid on eBay.

It’s best to hear him tell the tale in the Accents-podcast on berkshireeagle.com. But long story short, while looking to add to his home beer brewing equipment he came across a listing for the entire contents of a failed brew pub in Michigan.

He bid the $35,000 reserve price.

“I had this ‘never die wondering’ moment. I would never want to go ‘what if’ if I hadn’t done it, “ he says. ““Plus I was absolutely convinced that I would be outbid.”

But nobody else bid at all. Which is why 48-year old Post can tell you now exactly why Pittsfield city water is really good, stable water to brew with.

He and his wife Shannon and two sons, Alex, 8, and Andrew, 7, still live in Becket. Daughter Merryn is at college in Montreal.

He just obtained several pews from Pittsfield’s Zion Lutheran church to become part of an extended taproom in his Wandering Star micro brewery on Gifford Street. He sources some of his hops from Hoppy Valley in Pownal, just across the Vermont border.

The British born beer brewer says he’s in the Berkshires for good.


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