It was my fourth and last day to hunt hard to acquire beers during my Vermont Beer Trail Vacation. So far, I was quite fortunate to find The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. I braved the lines at Hill Farmstead for some world class IPAs. I discovered Stowe Cider. What more could a craft beer loving gal ask for? “The Holy Grail of Beer” as my husband, Derek, likes to call it: Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Finding just one bottle of the small batch artisanal beer was the goal of Day 4.
The day started at 5:00am as the alarm blared signalling a mad dash to get ready, out the door and jump in line at Mad Taco in Waitsfield, Vermont for a chance to get the highly acclaimed and hard to get Lawson’s brews.
I was in luck! Once there, only 100 people were in line before me. Some had camped out. Others arrived much earlier and were lounging in camping chairs. This was serious business.
At 8am, the tickets were handed out with your number and estimated time to pick up your order. The first 300 people were guaranteed Lawson’s Double Sunshine IPA bottles – one of the more sought after selections from this brewer. All other options on the beer list were on a first come, first served basis. And, there was a bottle limit per item, per person.
10:30am was my estimated time to get the goods, so why not have some breakfast at Mad Taco while I waited? The bonus was that breakfast was served with Lawson’s Super Session IPA from a cask. Beer with breakfast? Uh-huh. That sounded like a brilliant idea to me.
The good news? I was able to purchase everything on my Lawson’s list!!! Happy dance.
TIP: Visit the Lawson’s site, to find out which dates they are attending the farmers’ market. Our entire trip was planned based on the July 5th date.
Also, the bottles of Lawson’s need to be kept refrigerated. Good thing I had just bought another cooler since the two I brought were maxed out from previous purchases.
After a huge success at the farmers’ market, the rest of the day was open to do whatever, wherever, whenever. I had gotten what I had planned to search out on the Vermont Beer Trail.
When I had visited Vermont back in December, there was a great sushi restaurant right in Stowe called Sushi Yoshi. A re-visit was in order. I love watching the chefs at the sushi bar. The way they cut everything so precisely… artfully… delicate slices of cucumber, avocado, fruit, etc. Entertaining and delicious.
The restaurant has a full bar and a great beer list with lots of Vermont brews. No beer, yet, for me. There was site seeing in the mountains to be done after lunch.
This is a must do if you’re visiting Vermont in the summer. I’m not a big outdoorsy person but the drive through the Green Mountains was breathtaking. Beautiful rock formations line the side of the road in certain locations as your car twists and turns around every bend. Green everywhere you look.
Be alert and sober on this drive! The road is narrow in some spots allowing you to barely pass the oncoming vehicle. But most of the drive is a normal two lanes.
You can stop to pull over and take photos, check out the rock formations, look up at the 1,000 ft cliffs and hike trails. I wished we had more time to walk along the paths and really explore.
TIP: You can download trail maps, camping info and more on the Park’s website.
HISTORY FACT: During America’s prohibition years, smugglers obtained liquor in nearby Canada and brought the sought after beverage back through this path to a thirsty Vermont. In earlier times, before the road was built, slaves and illegal goods of all kinds were smuggled into the U.S. this way. Hence the name, Smugglers’ Notch.
All of that site seeing made this girl a little thirsty. Lucky for me, we were close to the Trapp Family Lodge which opened a brewery in 2010.
The deli and bakery also occupy the building so grab a bite to eat as you sip on Austrian-style lagers. You can lounge in the dining room that has a classic brick fireplace, bar area or on the patio that overlooks a pond, acres of greenery and the mountains. During my afternoon visit, a three-piece acoustic string band was playing Celtic tunes.
What I Sampled:
- Summer Seasonal Lager (ABV: 4.5%)
- Dunkel Lager (ABV: 5.2%)
- Vienna Amber Lager (ABV: 5%)
- Pilsner (ABV: 5.8%)
FACT: The lodge and brewery are owned by the famed von Trapp family who inspired the movie ‘Sound of Music’.
I spent most of the evening relaxing on the patio at the Brass Lantern Inn where I was staying. Enjoying an Otter Creek Fresh Slice with the inn keepers’ cat snuggled at my feet. I was really missing my cats at home so my new friend helped fill the void.
I decided that I wanted a late dinner on my last night in Vermont. Also, I wanted it to be spectacular. The restaurant selection? Flannel. It’s a new restaurant and bar located at the Topnotch Resort which overlooks Mount Mansfield. The menu sounded wonderful and the food did not disappoint.
I chose the New England dayboat scallops topped with sweet pickled rhubarb on a bed of mascarpone risotto drizzled with balsamic reduction. My husband went for the Flannel Burger topped with crispy pork belly, farm egg, Vermont cheddar and Heady Topper glazed onions served with house made fries. I have high expectations when dining and I’m generally leery of eating at resort restaurants, but this food floored me. BEST MEAL THE WHOLE TRIP!
It was a fulfilling, amazing, wonderful, Vermont trip. Dare I say better than my December visit? This time I was able to see much more of the entire state. Explore new breweries, restaurants, towns and shops. I sampled a total of 54 Vermont craft beers (and checked them into Untappd). We dined on excellent cuisine prepared with the freshest and finest ingredients, stayed at two late 1800’s Bed & Breakfasts, and met so many folks from all over the U.S. as I searched out elusive beers. I’m very glad that I decided to make a second trip to the Vermont Beer Trail. It was above and beyond my expectations!
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