Topic: Rutland Regional Guide

There are lots of microbreweries to see in Vermont — hop to it! — Rutland Regional Guide

Posted on October 24, 2011 by - Rutland Regional Guide, Vermont Beer

There are lots of microbreweries to see in Vermont — hop to it!

Switchback Brewing Company employee Mike Jadczak works on old kegs at Switchback's brewery in Burlington. Free tours of the facility are offered every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Visitors are asked to make reservations as tour size is limited, (802) 651-4114. Photo Credit Gretchen Langfeldt.

By Nathaniel Gibson

Vermont has become a mecca for connoisseurs seeking unique craft beer and microbrews. Buoyed by the support of customers who appreciate finely crafted local and organic products — and are willing to pay a bit more for the quality — Vermont microbreweries have become nationally recognized.

According to the Vermont Brewers Association (VBA), more craft beer is brewed per capita in the state than anywhere else in the country. “Craft brewing is something that is taken very seriously in the state of Vermont — but not too seriously. It’s a wonderful mix of whimsy and businesses,” says Kurt Staudter, executive director of the VBA. “These brewers have taken an ancient art and turned it into a business that Vermonters have stepped up to embrace.”

“I enjoy fresh beer,” says Devin Riley of Middletown Springs, who describes himself as an avid Long Trail drinker. “It just tastes better.”

There are currently 21 microbreweries around the state. Some, such as Magic Hat, Harpoon, Long Trail and Otter Creek, are household names — but less well-known brewers offer beer that is also excellent. Some of the newcomers include the Northshire Brewery, the Hill Farmstead Brewery, the Brewery at Trapp Family Lodge, and the Vermont Beer Company.

Located in Bennington, the Northshire Brewery’s flagship beer is the Equinox Pilsner. Owner Earl McGoff keeps the brew in fermentation tanks for 8 weeks — the right way to produce a pilsner, he says, even if it’s not the most cost-effective approach.

The Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend brews a wide range of craft beers, including imperial IPAs, stouts, pale ales, and a bourbon-aged porter. The brewery’s retail shop is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The Brewery at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe crafts lagers that are an American take on traditional Austrian brews. Offerings include Vienna Amber, Dunkel Lager, Golden Helles and a seasonal summer lager.

The Vermont Beer Company sells beer exclusively at the Perfect Pear Cafe in Bradford. By brewing beer on a 10-gallon system they are able to rotate their drafts frequently. Featured beers included Waits River Red Ale, First Tap IPA and Devil’s Den Brown Porter.

Other notable Vermont craft brewers include the Alchemist Pub and Brewery and Rock Art Brewery. Located in Waterbury, Alchemist features a wide array of brews, from Belgian-style wheat beer to American red ales that are heavy on the hops. If you visit, be sure to check out their Beelzebub stout as well. It is an American stout with a massive malt presence that is balanced by a huge hop character.

Rock Art in Morrisville offers a great variety of craft beers, including Whitetail American ale, Infusco Belgian black ale, Midnight Madness smoked porter, and Belvedere IPA. Tours of the brewery are given Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Tastings are offered Monday and Tuesday until 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday until 5:30 p.m.

For dedicated enthusiasts, the VBA offers a passport program. Visit all the breweries in the state, get your passport stamped and redeem the passport for free beer gear. Details are available on the VBA Web site: http://brewersvt.com/passport.

Nathaniel Gibson is a freelance writer and beer enthusiast who lives in Pawlet. He can be contacted via www.nathanielrgibson.com.

The article originally appeared in the Late Summer 2011 edition of the Rutland Regional Vermont Insider Guide.

Farmers markets are sprouting up all over Vermont — Rutland Regional Guide

Posted on October 21, 2011 by - Local Food, Rutland Regional Guide

Farmers markets are sprouting up all over Vermont

By Nathaniel Gibson

The Cobb Hill Farm stand at the Hartland Farmers Market offers a wide range of local food items and fresh produce, including green beans and rainbow chard. Photo Credit Shari Altman.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week in August by visiting your nearby farmers market – all autumn long. Luckily, you won’t have far to go.

Farmers markets are sprouting like wonderful flowers across Vermont to meet the growing demand for fresh, local food products.

The trend is reflected nationwide as well: from 2009 to 2010, the number of farmers markets across the country grew by an estimated 16 percent. Farmers markets not only offer food and quality crafts; they also provide entertainment and build community.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Web site lists 77 farmers markets statewide.

Some, such as the Hartland Farmers Market, are relative newcomers. Founded in 2010, it is open 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. every Friday and offers seasonal veggies — green beans, carrots, rainbow chard, to name just a few — plus farm-raised beef, baked goods, local cheeses and specialty-cut flowers.

Picnic tables are available where visitors can sample the fare and listen to live music. In keeping with the theme of sustainability that runs through all Vermont farmers markets, a local company offers recycling pickups at the market.

The Cobb Hill Farm stand at the Hartland Farmers Market offers a wide range of fresh produce and local food items, including farm-raised beef, cheese, and eggs. Photo Credit Shari Altman.

Organizer Sharon Irwin attributes the Hartland market’s growth to word of mouth and lots of community support. The market attracts a mix of local residents, people from neighboring communities and out-of-state visitors. “The town and community have both been really supportive of it,” she says. “It’s great to see people coming to hang out with their neighbors and friends.”

Other new farmers markets have taken root in Lyndonville (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), Castleton (Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and Pawlet (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.).

Many of these newcomers are offshoots of the state’s larger, well-established farmers markets.

The Wood Family of Pawlet offers their maple products and farm-fresh eggs at the very first Pawlet farmers market this summer. Photo Credit Sue LaPorte.

The downtown Rutland Farmers Market is the biggest — with over 90 vendors selling a huge variety of food and crafts. These include seasonal fruits and produce, local honey, fresh eggs, artisan cheese, flowers, pickled vegetables, jams, and pies and more.

The Rutland Farmers Market is open two days per week. It operates from May 7 to October 29 on Saturdays (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Tuesdays (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The market is a collaborative effort of the Rutland County Farmers’ Market and the Vermont Farmers Market, whose members have watched it grow steadily over the years.

“It’s been a good thing for the vendors, a good thing for the city, and a good thing for the customers,” says Judy Dark, one of the organizers, noting that in addition to supporting local farmers and craftspeople the market encourages people to come out and interact with the downtown area.

Beyond a core contingent of local customers who loyally support their favorite vendors, the market also attracts visitors from out of state. Dark has fielded calls from people planning trips from Massachusetts and metropolitan New York who want to know if the market will be open when they visit.

Other well-established markets are in Burlington (Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.), Montpelier (Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), and Fair Haven (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.).

For more information visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Web site at www.vermontagriculture.com/buylocal/buy/farmersmarkets.

Nathaniel Gibson is a freelance writer and locavore who lives in Pawlet. He can be contacted via www.nathanielrgibson.com.

The article originally appeared in the Late Summer 2011 edition of the Rutland Regional Vermont Insider Guide.