As we all know, Vermont is a series of mountain ranges, rivers, and fields all held together by maple syrup and its primary export is nothing, because locals first and locals only seems to be the name of their game. The same can be said for the beer. This means you’ll either need to smash its borders and steal it away like a wallet emptying thief ($75 a case!) or find a brave soul willing to ship it out, knowing they will be shunned from the community should their traitorous ways be discovered.
While it might not be quite that Orwellian, there is a sense of local pride and farm-to-table that pervades their restaurants, breweries and primary past time, lawn maintenance. But when your state produces some of the most coveted (or overrated if you’re of that mindset) beers desired the world over, it’s a trip worth making.
That’s why I decided to take the drive up from PA, stick around for 3 days, and taste/buy as much as my liver and bank account would allow. I’m no Vermont expert and 3 full days in Vermont isn’t anywhere near enough to really experience everything the maple drenched state has to offer, but I did get a good idea of how to pull off a pretty great beer run.
For those that want the full breakdown of my three days in beer-adise, including the best beer route into/out of Vermont, where we stayed along with what to hit before and after your inevitable Hill Farmstead pilgrimage, and a plan of action for coming back with cases of Heady, Sip and Second Fiddle, click the links below. For those just looking for the highlights, read on.
Day 3 of our continuing high-end beer binge started with a decision. Do we throw in the crushed pounder can of Heady and take the day off, enjoying the beauty of Vermont’s many rivers, hiking trails and touristy spots forged by nature? Or do we double down and visit more breweries in a single day than we ever have, blowing out whatever whimpering portions of our livers still had the gall to function? It was never really a choice.
While one of us would briefly succumb hard to beer fatigue, it was a great time visiting Burlington in the midst of a jazz festival that we accidentally mistook for a farmers market. I’m pretty sure you’ll find vendors selling maple syrup and hemp-related goods at funerals, riots and the apocalypse. Never change Vermont.
There is one other aspect to Burlington that I should mention, especially for city folk used to tight and tidy city blocks. When someone tells you a brewery is only 7 or 8 blocks away, they are telling you to get back in your car and drive there, or bust out that portable penny-farthing bike you keep in the hipster pocket of your jeans for such an emergency.
While the city center is a lovely grid of shops and brick underfoot, it quickly spreads out along the shores of Lake Champlain with a mixture of the residential and commercial. What we thought would be a brisk 20 minute walk hit the 40 minute mark and we still had a few blocks to go. Not a big deal if we didn’t have to walk the same distance back to the car, potentially in cataclysmic weather (your frogs and locusts and what not). Heed my warning out-of-towners…