Part 8 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
To most, the Vermont Pub & Brewery is the heart of the Vermont craft beer establishment. The founder established the brew pub after lobbying the Vermont legislature for three years in an effort legalize brewpubs. He also wrote several books and articles on brewing. His brew pub became a place where he could experiment with different concepts in small batches that help kick start and energize the craft beer business in Vermont.
I’ve visited the brewpub a couple times before, but that was before I knew about the Vermont Brewery Challenge, so I decided to stop by, have a beer, and get my Vermont Brewer’s Passport Card stamped.
A few days before my visit, the first batch of beer brewed exclusively with Vermont raised hops (part of the University of Vermont’s All Vermont-Grains and Hops Project). The first beer was a Rye IPA and I was looking forward to trying it out, but when I arrived they informed me that it sold out within two days and that the next batch will be arriving soon, so I ordered a Bombay Grab IPA.
Part 7 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The Switchback Ale was another of my first Vermont beers. One thing that’s nice about taking the Vermont Brewery Challenge is that it gives you a better understanding of both the local aspect of the breweries and the beer itself while allowing you to taste a few beers that you might have already had before.
The Switchback Brewing Company building looks like a big warehouse. There’s a tiny parking lot and the entrance to the retail store and tasting area is on the side of the building and obscured from the street. Follow the small signs that say “Main Office” to find the entrance. The warehouse area and parking lot felt a bit strange, since most breweries have the office/store facing the parking lot with bigger signs indicating you’re at the right place.
Part 6 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The Alchemist was the first brewery in Vermont that I visited. I found the The Alchemist Brewery & Pub during our (May 2011) wedding, and we wanted to stop by and try a few of their beers. However, we never got a chance to stop by before we left the region.
A few months later, we were in the process of moving to Vermont and the Alchemist Pub & Brewery was the first restaurant/brewery that I wanted to visit once we arrived. I arrived in Vermont two days prior to Hurricane Irene and I thought that I’ll visit the brewery after the storm passes and that I’ll just spend my first days in Vermont buying supplies and unpacking. However, Hurricane Irene (in September 2011) flooded the basement of the brewery where all of the tanks were stored and nearly destroyed everything.
Luckily for all of us, the owner (John Kimmich) decided not to give up after having his brewery nearly destroyed. Instead, he moved all of his operations to the Alchemist Cannery (about 1/2 mile away from Pub) which had been under development at the time of the hurricane. A few weeks after Hurricane Irene passed through, the Alchemist held a special event in their flood damaged building during the Waterbury Harvest Festival where we quickly picked up a few bottles of Heretic and Luscious and a “Hell or High Water” t-shirt to help the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund. You can read more about the Alchemist in their blog archives. The Luscious won the silver medal in the British-Style Imperial Stout beer style category at the 2012 World Beer Cup.
Part 5 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The next brewery I visited was the Brewery at Trapp Family Lodge. We visited Stowe for some hiking, but we found the trails to be closed. So after our scenic drive over Smuggler’s Notch, we decided to explore a bit. We had never been to the Trapp Family Lodge, and I was completely surprised when we arrived.
The Family Lodge has incredible views, a disc golf course, tons of trails, and lots of activities. I didn’t realize the lodge was so large.
Part 4 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids seems to be one of the more elusive Vermont brews. In fact, the Vermont Brewery Challenge even gives you a free stamp for this brewery! Just a few days prior to our search for the beer, Lawson’s Maple Triple just won the Silver Medal in the 2012 World Beer Cup.
A select few hand picked Vermont restaurants each serve a different Lawson’s Finest brew and you might be able to find the brewer at a local farmer’s market. There’s also a few other stores to find these highly sought after beers. The store with the best inventory and selection is the local general store in Warren which offers a rotating line-up of bottles that varies each week.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids were also just featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in the story title Vermont Beer Makers Bring Back Old-Time Maple Sap Brews. I didn’t see the Sap Beer at the general store, but I’ll definitely be looking for it.