The Hermit Woods Maple sugarhouse may be a brand new timber-framed building, but the sugaring techniques are centuries old. Sam Brakeley, a third-generation maple farmer, is crafting pure Vermont maple syrup the way his grandfather did – over a wood fire and surrounded by friends and family to share the experience. Not much has changed over the decades; there's no vacuum pump or reverse osmosis here. Sam still has a couple dozen buckets hanging on the trees, but most of his 750 taps are now on tubing. He guesses Gramps would understand the upgrade.
Sam built the sugarhouse with help from his brothers and countless friends. The beautiful building is nestled alongside a burbling stream at the bottom of a steep hillside that provides for a perfect gravity system to collect the sap from the 24 acres above. Sam spends most of his days outdoors building stone walls and trails throughout the rest of the year. But in spring, he knows it’s a special time of year when the temperatures warm, the eaves drip, and the sap flows. That smell of boiling maple syrup in the air just can't be beat.