After traveling the Vermont Beer Trail in December during that brutal winter we all endured throughout the Northeast side of the US, I decided to make another trek back to experience what Vermont had to offer in the warmth of the summer. Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s ‘Summertime’ jam.
SO MANY BREWERIES
I didn’t get a chance to hit up the breweries on the western side of the state the last time around. That, in fact, drove my game plan for Vermont Trip Part 2. I had so many craft breweries yet to explore: Foley Brothers, Otter Creek, Wolavers, The Shed, Drop-In, Magic Hat, FiddleHead, Switchback, Zero Gravity, Burlington Beer Co., etc. Of course, there were also favorites from the last trip that I wanted to revisit: Hill Farmstead and Lost Nation.
My first of four days started around the town of Middlebury. I wanted to keep the day low key since I had been confined in a car for 7.5 hours to get there and had gotten up early to get to our destination before the breweries closed.
TIP: Check the hours of each brewery while planning your Vermont Beer Trail trip. Some close their tasting rooms as early as 6pm. Others aren’t open 7 days a week.
I’ve heard great things about the small family-owned brewery. Especially the rave reviews of Fair Maiden 2X IPA which has a 95 rating on BeerAdvocate. I just had to try it for myself. After all, I am a fiend for doubles, and with this one, I was not disappointed. It was so good I brought a 22 oz bottle of Fair Maiden home with me along with the tasting glass that you get to keep if you do a flight.
I think what I loved about this brewery stop was not only the good quality, small batch beer, but also the cozy, inviting feel of the place. The tasting room is in a renovated but still rustic barn with amazing wood beams and wide plank hardwood floors. As you taste, you can watch the beer production happening just across the lawn in another out building. The brewer’s father was pouring beer samples and chatting with everyone about each beer selection. So friendly and knowledgeable. Before we left, we gave him 2 cans of Troegs Perpetual IPA to share with his sons (the brewers) for a little taste of Pennsylvania brewing at its finest.
Foley Brothers Brewing is situated on wooded property along with the Neshobe River Winery and the Old Mill Inn Bed & Breakfast.
What I Sampled:
- Forgotten Sour (ABV: 6.4%)
- Fair Maiden Double IPA (ABV: 8.5%)
- Earl Grey Pale Ale (ABV: 6.5%)
- Old Hob (ABV: 5%)
- Native Ginger Wheat (ABV: 6.3%)
- Native IPA (ABV: 7%)
This is a must-stop while in Middlebury. You can experience 3 craft beer brands in one place: Otter Creek Brewing, Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales, and The Shed Brewery.
I especially enjoyed the Wolaver’s Wild Flower Wheat during the 90+ degree day we were experiencing. So refreshing.
Otter Creek has tasty food, too. Fresh ingredients, large portions, and affordable pricing. I tried both the daily special tuna fish sandwich and also the bacon, apple, cheddar panini. Both served with house made chips. Excellent!
Before you leave, check out the gift shop. While there, I snagged a 12 pack of Otter Creek Fresh Slice and a “can” glass for a souvenir.
What I Sampled:
- Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat (ABV: 4.25%)
- Otter Creek Fresh Slice White IPA (ABV: 5.5%)
- Otter Creek Hop Session Ale (ABV: 4.25%)
- The Shed Mountain Ale (ABV: 7.4%)
- Otter Creek Copper Ale (ABV: 5.0%)
- Wolaver’s IPA (ABV: 6.5%)
TIP: Bring several coolers to keep your growlers and unpasteurized beer cold during your trip. We checked and replenished the ice twice each day.
A funky fresh minimalistic tasting room that has a wall of windows looking into the microbrewery. Everywhere I looked there was something visually interesting to look at as I sipped the amazingly generous free samples. I was mesmerized by the amount of growlers the owners collected over the years that they displayed on a large shelf on the wall just above a shelf of collected beer bottles. Then there was the electric guitar and amp that could be played by anyone feeling so inspired. Awesome. If only I knew how to play, I would have totally wailed.
I was pleased with everything I had selected to sample. Even the scottish ale: Heart of Lothian. It’s probably the least favorite of beer styles for me, but it was still so good. If only they sold pancakes and breakfast sausage to go with it. I got an almost maple syrup taste with each sip.
What I Sampled:
- River Song (ABV: 5.5%)
- Sunshine and Hoppiness (ABV: 5.1%)
- été (ABV: 6.8%)
- Red Dwarf (ABV: 5.2%)
- Heart of Lothian (ABV: 5.6%)
- Gupta’s Gleeful IPA (ABV: 6.6%)
SWIFT HOUSE INN
A former Governor’s mansion turned bed and breakfast, complete with it’s own small pub and restaurant was the perfect place to call it a night after a day of exploring and sampling. The next morning breakfast was served in the downstairs dining room or you could choose to dine outside on the covered patio. I opted to have a ham and veggie filled omelet, english muffin with strawberry jam and a glass of fresh squeezed tomato juice. Energy food for the day ahead in Burlington, VT.
TIP: To keep your energy up and to avoid hangovers (there’s so much good beer to try!) make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and do not skip meals. Now is not the time to be on a diet.
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