Whetstone owners named BACC Entrepreneurs of the Year

From left, Tim and Amy Brady, and David Hiler, owners of Whetstone Brands. All photos courtesy of Whetstone Brands.

Vermont Business Magazine David Hiler, and Tim and Amy Brady, owners of Whetstone Brands, including Whetstone Craft Beers, Whetstone Station Brewery and Taproom, and River Garden Marketplace in Brattleboro, and Kampfires Campground, Inn & Entertainment in Dummerston were named Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce “2021 Entrepreneurs of the Year” at the organization’s annual meeting, January 25.

Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Director Greg Lesch said that the Bradys and Hiler were honored with the Entrepreneurs of the Year Award “for their amazing foresight and ability to look well beyond what is possible, for their risk-taking…and for their heartfelt love of our town.” The award comes at a particularly auspicious time for the group as Whetstone Station Brewery, the trio’s first project together, celebrates its 10th anniversary.

First awarded in 2016, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award is important “because it acknowledges sacrifice and investment of both the time and financial variety…to support that ‘I’ve got an idea’ moment that blossoms when someone sees and seizes an opportunity,” said Lesch.

The Big Stoner Beer

“Having grown up in and around Brattleboro this is a special honor for me,” said Hiler. “When we started Whetstone Station 10 years ago, it just seemed like a great business opportunity. But as we pursued other avenues in the following years, we just kept coming back to Brattleboro as an ideal place to continue to invest. It has a strong supportive community, appreciative visitors, a conscientious business environment, but most of all, people talk to each other here.”

A chance meeting at a Vermont innkeepers conference in 2011 provided an opportunity for the Brattleboro hospitality trio to lift a pint and explore shared passions for craft beers and Brattleboro’s vibrant beauty. Within a year, the neglected River View Café site on the Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro was transformed by them into the bright, modern Whetstone Station Brewery and Taproom, featuring onsite brewing, a restaurant, and two decks offering al fresco dining overlooking the river.

Three years later, the team seized an opportunity to purchase the 18-acre Hidden Acres Campground site on Route 5 north of Brattleboro in Dummerston. Destined to become Kampfires Campground, Inn & Entertainment, the location transcended camping, to include the Inn at Kampfires converted from an antiquated farmhouse on the site, Scoops Ice Cream Shop, Putters 18-hole mini-golf, The Pit amphitheater and outdoor event space, and Cannonballs Swim Club. The site also provides the corral for Rollin’ Stone Mobile Bier Garten, a sophisticated food and beer truck.

At capacity for brewing at Whetstone Station and facing growing demand, in 2018 the team redeveloped a site on Frost Street in Brattleboro for a new brewery which accommodates supply to Whetstone Station, Kampfires, and Rollin’ Stone. The space has also allowed Whetstone to distribute canned and draft beer to fine pubs and retail outlets across New England.

Most recently, in 2021, the team purchased and renovated the former Strolling of the Heifers’ River Garden space on Main Street in Brattleboro. Partnering with Handbuilt Market to join a traditional craft market with a long, bright bar, upgraded kitchen, emphasized glass vaulted ceilings, river views, and event spaces, River Garden Marketplace has quicky become an anchor destination in downtown Brattleboro.

“Here tourists and locals alike (can) enjoy fresh craft beers from all over New England, lunch and dinner choices, local crafts and live entertainment – and all with yet another killer view of the Connecticut River and all in the heart of downtown Brattleboro,” said Lesch. “(The partners) saw their new venue as a kind of City Market in Manhattan or Faneuil Hall in Boston – showcasing still more of the amazing Brattleboro experience.”

Because of this kind of vision and commitment to the town, said Lesch, “The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to name David Hiler, and Tim and Amy Brady our 2021 Entrepreneurs of the Year.”

“I’m so humbled and flattered to be recognized,” said Tim Brady. “When Amy and I moved to Vermont in 2006 to open our small inn and beer bar, we could never have foreseen the incredible path we would end up on. We’re proud to have called Brattleboro our home and we look forward to continuing to contribute to the culture and community of this amazing corner of Vermont.”

Whetstone Brands includes award-winning Whetstone Craft Beers, the waterfront flagship taproom Whetstone Station, Kampfires Campground Inn & Entertainment, River Garden Marketplace, and a collection of other Vermont based hospitality brands. Founded in 2012 with a focus on craft and community, Whetstone continues to expand, most recently distributing their craft beers around New England.

For more information visit https://whetstone.email/