Brewery hopping in Vermont
I actually didn’t know that before I got there (and found a breweries map from the state Visitor Center), but Vermont turns out to be one of the most happening brew areas in USA. Such famous beers such as Harpoon & Magic Hat are made in Vermont, and there are so many more. I visited a few of them and did some tasting.
First, McNeill’s Pub and Brewert @ Brattlesboro. This is where I found out about the Vermont breweries challenge. The procedure is so that you get a little cardboard “passport” and have it stamped at the breweries you visit. And then you can get a bottle opener magnet, a T-shirt, or a Collector’s set of VT beer gear, depending on how many stamps you got. I actually decided to just keep the stamped passport, because it sounds like a lot of trouble to send it over for a bottle opener and also, the passport itself is a great souvenir, wouldn’t want to send it. And I might still complete the challenge the next time I go to Vermont.. 😀
The actual beer they had, and the tasting, was a bit funny. They only had on set of tasting glasses which were at the moment, in use, so I got my samples in shot glasses. I tried to find out about the beers they had, but the bartender actually hadn’t tried those. Ouch. Since they didn’t have any info on the beers beside the name, I actually don’t remember what I ended up trying, but they were pretty good 🙂
Then (the next day) Vermont Brewery and Pub. They were a step more professional with the tasting. I read through the beer list with basic characteristics added to the names and picked 4, of which my favorites were Tulach Leis and Burly Irish Ale.
Magic Hat, which was a bit more far from the center, in South Burlington, has never really been my favorite beer, actually. They do have a great image and approach, and their tasting in the brewery is FREE (tips only), so I guess I still tried every single one they had on tap. I liked their HI.P.A and Blind Faith most. Although their bartender did know a lot about the beer and talked about it nicely, they didn’t have any written introductions, which I think a little bit simplify orientation in the selection.
Trapp Family Brewery had a tasting tray with 4 beers, but no names (or introductions) written out, so by tasting only, I’d say they mostly tasted like German or Eastern European beers.
Finally, Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT. Harpoon is the beer I liked already before and after seeing the really great, stellar beer garden and brewery, I like it even more. Their tasting tray consisted of 2 whites (UFO-unfiltered offering) and UFO White Hefeweizen, India Pale Ale (their best selling beer), Harpoon Oktoberfest, Munich Dark. I liked the unfiltered white beers a lot!
Generally, what was really great about all those breweries was that they seem to have this kind of down-to-earth atmosphere in their beer culture. The whole tasting business actually isn’t that much about beer snobism, but mostly it’s still just people enjoying a glass of fresh beer and mingling :D.