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