VT Brewcation – The Short Story!

22 Apr

I’ve now been back from Vermont & the end of my Brewcation for just over a week and I’m finally going over my notes & starting to work on individual posts for each brewery or brewpub I visited… and something is becoming pretty clear: I really got something very unique from each place I visited, making for a really well balanced trip overall!  I thought that, to tide you over until I get all the posts up, I would write up a short little summary highlighting the one thing that really stood out for me at each of the breweries/brewpubs I visited!  Here they are, in the order in which I visited them on my trip!

Harpoon Brewery – I got to see brewing in action!!! My first brewery visit of my Brewcation allowed me to spend an entire shift with brewer Patrick Morse, which was a first for me and a real highlight of the trip – I’ve gone on many brewery tours before, but getting to see the process actually play out makes it SO real and was super educational & fun!

Long Trail Brewery – You want to see conservation in action? Go visit the folks at Long Trail!  They are super serious about finding ways to save energy & conserve resources and they’re setting a great example for what breweries can do to limit their impact on our environment while creating amazing craft beer!

Otter Creek & Wolaver’s – Commitment to quality is what immediately comes to mind when I think of my visit to the brewing facility responsible for putting out the Otter Creek as well as Wolaver’s lines of craft beer – the fact that the team here is putting out a ‘regular’ line of craft beer (Otter Creek) as well as an organic line of beer (Wolaver’s) is an amazing accomplishment, & the attention to detail & commitment to quality required to pull it off is truly impressive!

Magic Hat Brewery – Magic Hat is one of the larger and definitely more recognizable craft beer producers – known both to the craft beer community as well as the general population – but one of the wonderfully unique aspects of this brewery is their spirit! It’s seriously contagious.  I dare you to visit the brewery & NOT feel a little bit like a kid in a candy store – everything is silly… including their titles – Aubrey, who took me around during my visit is the Curator of Curiosities! 🙂

Three Needs – This place gets two shout-outs here on this preview… #1, they are a basement-brewery brewpub in the heart of Burlington, & their set-up is truly a testament to finding a way to make the space you have work!!! Wait until you see the pictures… 🙂  #2, the Three Needs book… In terms of an interesting story behind a name & customer participation, it can’t be beat! Again, wait for the pictures… 🙂

American Flatbread & Zero Gravity Brewpub – This “small” brewpub had 13 of their own beers on tap when I visited. Let me repeat that: 13 of their own beers on tap.  Holy shizz… It IS possible to be a relatively small operation & put out a great list of quality beers. Oh, and the food? AMAZING.

Vermont Pub & Brewery – Though I’m not a Vermonter, it seems as though a visit to the VPB is a sort of VT beer pilgrimage… as the VPB was co-founded by the late Greg Noonan, a pioneer in the VT beer community in particular.  I’m going to turn to Here for the Beer to explain…

Greg was instrumental in getting “brewpubs” legalized in Vermont, lobbying the State for years to legalize small pub brewing and distribution.  In New England he is often spoken of as the “Godfather” of brewing in Vermont and we have not met a brewery owner in the state that hasn’t referenced Greg in at least one aspect of their own brewery.  Many sources cite that his lobbying work and research in Vermont was used as a basis to legalize pub brewing in other states as well.

Rock Art Brewery – This brewery is an impressive example of how rewarding customer loyalty can be!  Example A – Rock Art’s fans (& the craft beer community in general!) spoke up in massive numbers when a mega-corporation tried to pressure them, & helped turn the tide in the brewery’s favor.  Example B – UVM alumni who moved out west missed one of Rock Art’s offerings so much that they found a way to get it distributed in Arizona!

The Alchemist Pub & Brewery – Passion. Creativity. Environmental preservation. Commitment to the community. Family.  These are my takeaways from my visit to The Alchemist, which included the opportunity  to attend their event, The Art of Fermentation.  These attributes became glaringly clear during the event itself, but more importantly from my chat with husband & wife team Jen & John Kimmich, who are the spirit of local, sustainable craft brewing personified!

Trout River Brewing Co. – Did you know you can build a brewery in a pool? Yup, it’s true! It’s also a very basic fact that pizza & beer is a winning combination… so a true hometown brewery with gourmet, hand-tossed, sourdough pizzas, made from brewer Dan’s eleven-year-old sourdough culture, is a surefire way to ensure a steady crowd… especially when you can take home a growler of their amazing Tripel!

Norwich Inn – Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop and do a proper sampling at the Norwich Inn, but I did pop in to pick up two bottles of their beer to take home… and I gotta say, I really wish I’d been able to squeeze a night there into the budget! (but c’mon, I’d much rather spend my money on the beer!) The Norwich Inn was gorgeous, warm & inviting with a great front porch that just begged me to grab a cold pint & sit for a spell… This is fairly close to my idea of heaven – an Inn & Brewery under one roof in VT…

McNeill’s Pub & Brewery – I generally say to my friends that on a basic level, brewery tours are fairly alike, since the brewing process is basically the same no matter what… but Ray McNeill showed me otherwise! Up until I spent the morning with Ray at his ‘new’ facility, I had never heard of decoction mashing, & it was great to get a lesson on it… especially as it’s a method he’s planning to use for some future brews!

If you like the teaser, be sure to come back for the full posts… starting with a full write-up on my day at Harpoon, which is up next! 🙂

~HH~

2 Responses to “VT Brewcation – The Short Story!”

  1. Scott April 22, 2010 at 10:28 AM #

    Very nice overview! Looking forward to the long form posts. RE: Three needs: Are you inspired enough to brew in your 100sq APT? 🙂

  2. Scott-TheBrewClub April 22, 2010 at 7:02 PM #

    Awesome trip! I’m hoping to make it to the Brattleboro Beer Fest in May. Maybe I’ll stop in a few of these places if I have time. VT is a great beer state!

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