This past October, my boyfriend and I headed out to Vermont to check off some more breweries on the Vermont Beer Passport. If you haven’t checked out the first two days of my epic beer birthday be sure to give those posts a read as well.
Our third day started off bright and early as we headed for one of the most remote, but most renowned breweries in Vermont: Hill Farmstead.
The trip to Hill Farmstead takes you through the Vermont countryside, and along winding dirt roads to Greensboro, VT. Our first trip to Hill Farmstead a few years ago was quite precarious, as those dirt roads had turned to mud and my car swerved uncontrollably. The drive is so worth it, though, to see this beautiful brewery, and drink their outstanding beer. On our first trip to Hill Farmstead they had not yet created their taproom, and we stood in line for a solid two hours waiting to fill our growlers. We were mentally prepared for that experience, and the samples passed through the line eased the pain of waiting. However, the brewery has now added on a gorgeous taproom with a sprawling bar for growler fills, samples, and full pours. In addition to the seating available inside, they have also added a nice outdoor patio area, and a small pavilion with tables and benches.
This trip was the first time we had seen a food truck at Hill Farmstead, and they were serving up some pretty nice looking barbecue. An area separate from the bar room sits to the left where cans, bottles, glassware and other swag are available for purchase. Proceeding into the main taproom, you take a number, deli-style, for growler fills, and the available brews are listed on a large screen projected onto the wall behind the bar. The wait flies by, now that full pours are being served at the brewery. My boyfriend and I grabbed some beer and a cheese plate with Goatlet and Roquefort cheese to share.
I tried a pint of ‘Legitimacy’, an IPA made with Citra, Mouteka, and Simcoe hops. This cloudy beer was light and refreshing, with a hint of tropical flavors from the citra, but finishes bitter and piney. My boyfriend tried ‘Marie’, a German Helles, that was bready, crisp, and very true-to-style. Hill Farmstead never ceases to amaze me that they can put out such high-quality beers in any category from IPAs, to lagers, to funky saisons. In fact, they put out one of my favorite brown ales of all time, ‘George’, which came home with us in a growler. We also took home growlers of their pilsner ‘Mary’, their IPL ‘Song of Joy’, a DIPA ‘Society and Solitude #3’, and an APA ‘Self Reliance #5’. This brewery is always worth the trek for the gorgeous views, quality and variety of beers, and the new and improved atmosphere.
Every year after Hill Farmstead we stop for lunch in Morrisville, VT at Lost Nation. In addition to the bar/restaurant inside, they also have a nice beer garden outside. Boyfriend and I both got pours of their seasonal offering, an Oktoberfest. This beer was sweet, malty, and perfect on a crisp cool fall day. I got a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a cup of chunky tomato soup, while boyfriend enjoyed a Cuban sandwich. The food never disappoints at Lost Nation, and the Oktoberfest went down easy with our lunch. Lost nation also distributes to our area here in Albany, NY, and I’m a big fan of their single hop ‘Mosaic IPA’ and their ‘Vermont Pilsner’. Lost Nation also makes a variety of other styles including a Gose, a Saison, and a Belgian session ale. This brewery offers a great variety of brews, and a solid menu that keeps us coming back year after year.
On previous trips to Vermont we have enjoyed ‘Heady Topper’ and ‘Focal Banger’ in various Burlington bars and restaurants, and once we were even lucky enough to stumble upon a fresh ‘Heady’ drop in a store in Williston. But now, gone are the days of hunting down fresh Heady Topper shipments with the establishment of their new taproom in Stowe, VT. The taproom is impressive, and what we originally thought would be a long wait for cans, turned out to be a very quick and smooth transaction.
While there was an area for tasting as well, we skipped this and headed straight for the hoppy goods. We picked up fresh cans of the usual suspects, ‘Heady Topper’ and ‘Focal Banger’, as well as the other two can offerings of the day: ‘Skadoosh’ and ‘Sterk’ Wit. In addition, I purchased an IPA glass from Spieglau that I’m officially obsessed with, some ‘Heady Topper’ soap, and a ‘Heady Topper’ hot sauce. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying the hop-bomb ‘Heady Topper’, this Double IPA is bursting with citrus and pine hop flavors with a potent resiny bitter finish. The beer advertises that it be “drank from the can” to preserve the hop aromas, and I’ve tried it both in the can and from a glass. When poured into a glass, this beer is a golden hue with visible haze and some sediment, but with no noticeable difference in taste (in my opinion) from when drank straight from the can. This beer is famous for a reason, and even though it is no longer the only world-class IPA coming out of Vermont, it is still one worth seeking out. The other year-round offering by The Alchemist, ‘Focal Banger’ is another out of this world IPA, and may even be my favorite offering put out by this brewery. Focal Banger has the same resiny bitterness found in ‘Heady’, but this is balanced out by some more juicy and tropical hop flavors. This has the same unfiltered appearance of ‘Heady’, and the hop oils are just as pronounced. This trip I had the opportunity to try another IPA, ‘Skadoosh’. The version we were able to try was Skadoosh XIII made with Summit hops, and this was one dank beer. Summit hops are not something you see highlighted very often, and this beer was bitter, piney, and peppery in a pretty intense way. It was nice to see something out of the box and was very enjoyable, even though I shamelessly tend to prefer the juicier side of IPAs. Finally, the ‘Sterk Wit’, a Belgian Style Double Wit, was a nice change of pace, and another impressive offering. Not your average Wit, this beer has those traditional orange, coriander, and Belgian yeast flavors, but is a bit hoppier than usual (I mean this is The Alchemist after all). Overall, the new tasting room is an amazing space, and making it much easier for people to get their hands on a wider variety of The Alchemist’s offerings. This will definitely be added to the yearly roster!
Ours plans to finish off our third day changed when we arrived at Prohibition Pig for dinner to find that they had an almost 2 hour wait. We instead ventured just a few doors down to Allium, a new restaurant in the area with a tap list boasting an impressive amount of Belgian beers. I was more in the mood to drink local however, and Allium had quite a few Vermont selections as well. I decided on ‘Tribute’ an IPA from 14th Star Brewery, and enjoyed that with my steak. The meal was quite tasty, but perhaps a bit on the pricey side. I would definitely check out Allium again, however, to peruse those Belgian beers on tap, and some small plates.