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Old 01-06-2012, 05:44 PM   #1
Booyamachine
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Default Vermont Beercation Weekend (give me tips!)

I live just 3.5 hours from Burlington, myself and a few family members will be taking a trip there this February with the express mission of hitting as many brew spots as possible. Breweries, Brew Pubs, Beer Stores...you name it.

This stretch of highway and the surrounding areas is so densly packed with GREAT beer that it's a little overwhelming. I think we've got a lot of it planned out, but any suggestions are welcomed.

Here's the Plan:

1. Start at my house in Lakes Region NH. Coincidentally I'd expect that this will be the 3-4 week mark for bottle conditioning of my FIRST homebrew. So I can set the bar reallll low to start the trip

2. Flying Goose Brew Pub: a place I've been to a few times and love. NH's hidden gem of beer.

3. Harpoon: Maybe...I don't mind skipping this one, we've all been to the Boston tour.

4. Longtrail

5. Warren Store: here's where we may veer off the highway in hopes to find some of Lawson's Finest Liquids at the store. Rt. 100 will dump us out to Waterbury where we'll find...

6. Alchemist: Heady Topper! Heady Topper! Heady Topper! The crown jewel of the trip. Hope to take a case home.

7. Rock Art/Hill Farmstead: we head away from Burlington to hit a few key brews. Rock Art and then Hill Farmstead, a bit out of the way, but I hear well worth the trip.

8. Burlington: Magic Hat, American Flatbread, Vermont Brewing Co, Switchback??? What do we need to hit?

Pubs along the way: I hear Blackback (waterbury) & Threepenny Taproom (montpelier) are must visits and we'll try to fit them in.


So, that's already a lot for two days. What can we skip? What shouldn't we miss? Am I overlooking something in the area? Is the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery worth hitting (I think we go by on the way to Rock Art)?


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Old 01-09-2012, 03:59 PM   #2
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I was in Stowe on vacation between Christmas and new years and spent a day touring the microbrews. Here are some details:

Alchemist (Waterbury, VT)
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery is closed as of October 2011 from a bad flood that totaled the place. Luckily though, they opened a cannery a couple months before that exclusively cans Heady Topper. You can visit the Cannery, peak into the beer making process, get your swag & samples and, ofcourse, fill your trunk with Heady Topper. As far as I know, they can the beer every Tuesday; I had picked some up tuesday afternoon and it was sublime.

Rock Art Brewey(Morrisville, VT)
You can pickup your swag & samples at the brewery. If you buy a pint glass (4$), you get 4 2-oz samples for free of whatever is on tap (8 beers on tap when I went, incl. limited brews). Worth a detour to get some beer, not much else to do in Morrisville. They have a tour at 2pm and 4pm, which is basically the head brewer which brings you to a balcony with birdseye view of the while operation. You can talk beer with the head brewer, really personable.

Magic Hat (Burlington, VT)
This was quite an experience. When you open the door to walk in, you feel like you've left earth and landed in beer heaven. The whole place is beer; from the funky bar which you can sample (for free) 4 2-oz samples (8 beers on tap when I went) to the dimly light purple-orange lights and art on the walls. Definitely worth seeing. For the nominal price of 7.25$, you can refill you growler with any beer they have on tap (+2.50$ if you buy a growler there). They have tours for free, which you can also walk yourself (self-guided) if you want to peak at the production floor. I did the self-walking tour and it was pretty good, all the processes are well described (signs hang over the production floor).

Vermont Pub & Brewery (Burlington, VT)
When we went, the water main had broke, so they had to close as they had no water. I did get to peak inside and seemed like a nice place for lunch and beers.

The Shed Pub & Brewery (Stowe, VT)
Although not on your list, this place closed down in October. It's still listed everywhere as a brewery to visit but its closed now. Apprently a new place will open in the new year...


The Brewery at the Van Trapp Lodge (Stowe, VT)
I was surprisingly impressed by this place. The setting is awsome, we ended up having lunch here. Note that you can't visit the brewery, and they only have 4 beers on tap (helles to dunkel). Not really craft brews, but good beers none the less. We had soup & sandwiches and a 2-oz sampler of each beer. Definitely recommend if you're in the area, the place is small and nice.


That sums it up for me. We did mostly all (except Magic Hat) in the same day. Do-able without a problem.

Enjoy!

Marc.


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Old 01-09-2012, 04:26 PM   #3
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Three Needs on College street in Burlington.

I don't know how they are now, it's been about ten years, but they had some tasty brews when I live there.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:19 PM   #4
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@MarcMTL & @CGVT

Thank You!!!
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Although I haven't been there in 6 months or so, American Flatbread in Burlington has some tasty brews to sample as well. I highly recommend a stop in there. Great flatbreads as well.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:55 PM   #6
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Also in Stowe, there's the State Liquor Store. They had a good selection of Dogfish Head beers if you're into that. Bitches' Brew & Hellhound (both seem to be getting more & more hard to find).
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:43 AM   #7
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I'd skip Flying Goose, but that is just me Every so often they have something really good on tap, tho. Just before you go over the bridge to enter Vermont, you can take the exit for West Lebanon and in a shopping mall there is Seven Barrel Brewing. I've never been there, but I see it whenever I drive into NH via 89. If for some reason you are picking people up from the Manchester airport (like I recently did) you'll also be able to hit White Birch in Hooksett.

If you are coming from NH, take 91 north to Norwich. You can hit Jasper Murdoch's Alehouse (@ Norwhich Inn) and you can go to the King Arthur's Flour shop.

I'd skip Trapp tbh, it is interesting and if you CAN fit it in, sure but I'd make it low on your list. It is beautiful here in Stowe.

Most likely when you are on your way to Hill Farmstead, you'll pass right by Rock Art. They have a new brewery and tasting room that is pretty nice. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you leave Hardwick. You'll pass a gas station on the left on Rt 15 just as you are leaving downtown Hardwick, and that is the best place since there is no bathroom at Hill Farmstead. Get directions before you leave; if your phone is your GPS it won't work out there, no cell service.

You'll probably have gone through Waterbury to get to Hill Farmstead, on your way back there is a great little bar called Blackback that is almost right across the street from where the Alchemist use to be. They usually have at least 5 Hill Farmstead's on tap, and it is a great little bar.

As for Burlington, it is fairly easy to hit Three Needs, Flatbread, and VP&B in a single night; I'd suggest eating at Flatbread. Farmhouse Tap & Grill (on Bank St, like 2 block walk from VP&B) is another place I'd suggest - food is amazing; beer can be a little pricey. Magic Hat's tour is suppose to be pretty good, but I've never been - don't like their beer personally since they were bought out. Switchback does tours on Fri and Sat at 1pm and 2pm (I think), and they usually ask to make reservation via Facebook or call. The tour is like 15~ mins long and you get a 2oz pour of their Flagship and current Seasonal.

Middlebury is another pretty cool town that has Otter Creek just outside the downtown area. The Shed brewery was taken over by them so you can find their beer and Otter Creek's on tap at their tasting room.

On your way to Middlebury, make a stop in Vermont's newest brewery in Shelburne, VT called Fiddlehead Brewing. I think it started doing growler fills 2 weeks ago?

Well if you've gone all the way down to Middlebury you should head back up via Bristol and go to Bobcat Cafe. Decent beer and amazing beer. I'd make a reservation.

As for Longtrail and Harpoon, they are ok, but you won't get anything interesting by going to them. This is my opinion of course and others may say good things about going.

Lawson's Finest is another brewery but is not open to the public. You can check his website to see where he is on tap. Based on what I've mentioned above, Blackback is the easiest place to get it on tap and if you want to buy bottles the Winooski Beverage Warehouse ('the bevy') is the easiest place to get and also the best beer shop in Vermont (IMHO). Winooski is the next exit up from Burlington on 89.

The last 4 breweries left in Vermont are Madison, Northshire, (both in the southwest near NY/MA border), Trout River, and McNeil's. None of which are anywhere near I-89 or any of the places mentioned above.

So that is every single brewery in the state, and 2 really good beer bars (Farmhouse and Blackback). I added in 2 other NH breweries for good measure Sorry this post got really long... lol
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Old 01-13-2012, 12:34 PM   #8
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Wow...that's a lot of info. Thanks ScootersAle!

Excellent tip on the bathrooms! Luckily I'm traveling with someone who has been to Hill Farmstead before. He's told me horror stories about trying to find his way out of there!

We'll be hunting Lawson's throughout the trip. I'm hoping to pick up a bottle or three at the Warren Store. We'll be there the day after he usually delivers.

Any thoughts on Threepenny Taproom? I hope to hit Blackback and all of the Burlington places you mentioned, but Threepenny was also on our list.

I don't think we'll be able to fit in the Middlebury leg, but definitely good to know for future trips.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:01 PM   #9
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Magic Hat used to be pretty cool. I wasn't a huge fan of their beer, but they were so convenient for me. I lived in Shelburne about a mile from the brewery and drove by it every day on my way to work.

I was suprised to see that they limit their tasters to 4 2 oz tastes. I used to take my kids there and "taste" their beer for a half hour or so and let the kids run up the ramp and eat pretzels while I shot the breeze with the staff until I finally filled a couple of growlers. My wife and I joke that some of our kids first memories are of going to the brewery with dad. Ha!

I always wanted to get to Otter Creek and Trout River, but never seemed to be able to find the time.

It looks as if there are a lot more craft breweries in the area than when I lived in VT. Good deal!

Looks as if you should have a great time Booya
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Booyamachine View Post
We'll be hunting Lawson's throughout the trip. I'm hoping to pick up a bottle or three at the Warren Store. We'll be there the day after he usually delivers.
Recently Lawson's expanded his deliveries, so you don't have to go all the way down to Warren. It is a pretty drive and of course Sugarbush is right there. If you do go down there, American Flatbreads (run by the same people in Burlington, just no brewery) in Waitsfield usually has Lawson's on tap. Mad Taco is another place down there that has Lawson's on tap.

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Any thoughts on Threepenny Taproom? I hope to hit Blackback and all of the Burlington places you mentioned, but Threepenny was also on our list.
For some reason I never think about Threepenny. I've only been there once, but the one time I went it was good. They usually have some good stuff on tap and a minimal food menu.

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I don't think we'll be able to fit in the Middlebury leg, but definitely good to know for future trips.
Probably the least exciting area. Really all you need to do is go to a gas station or grocery store and pick up a 6 pack of Otter Creek's Black IPA; that is the only beer worth having of theirs (imo).

I just had friends come up from Manchester specifically for beer, so that is why I had all this info right off the top of my head.

Blackback is a great place that a lot of people don't know about. The beer is pretty pricing but as far as I know, it is the only place that usually has 5 or more HF's on tap. I may be a little biast since it is where I go to drink go beer . If you come in on a Sunday afternoon and see someone wearing some Washington Capitols hat, that is probably me, lol


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