Long gone are the days when Long Trail and Magic Hat ran the craft brew game in Vermont. The classic staples haven’t lost their step, but there are plenty of young players that are pushing the boundaries of beer—and the world is taking notice. Locals will tell you that a new brewery seems to be popping up on every corner each week, yet they’re all producing impressive ales that give the state a sense of pride. And, a booming industry that’s giving Oregon, North Carolina, and Colorado a run for their hops money. Here are four reasons why the Green Mountain State is the new epicenter of craft brews.
1. The Alchemist Brewery
The Heady Topper is the only beer The Alchemist currently makes, and it’s only available for retail purchase in the immediate area surrounding Waterbury. As a result, people drive from a different time zone to wait in line for two four-packs; They have instituted smuggling rings, been arrested, even disbarred…and rumor has it, a can of the good stuff can fetch upwards of $20 in NYC. It’s gotten a bit out of hand. Those in-the-know check Heady Spotter to track the delivery schedule in real-time, which is necessary when the supply sells out within an hour post-drop.
2. Hill Farmstead
Nothing says beer elitism like a pilgrimage to Hill Farmstead’s brewery in Greensboro: A region so remote that it’s simply known as “the Northeast Kingdom.” Miles from anywhere, you will still wait in line for hours for your chance to fill up a few growlers of Edward pale ale and Susan IPA. But it will be worth it: This spot was named 2015’s Best Brewery in the World (not to mention, best in the U.S. and best in VT) by RateBeer.com. Expect a well-traveled crowd.
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3. Lawson’s Finest Liquids
Based out of Warren, Lawson’s is a brewery known for both its quality and limited availability (if you haven’t noticed, those are hallmarks of Vermont beer). Look for the Sip of Sunshine, a better-kept secret than the Heady Topper, but somehow, just as hard to get your thirsty mitts on. Some go as far as to say it’s the better of the two.
4. Citizen Cider
Craft cider is taking IPA’s place as the “it” beverage of the moment. The proof is in Burlington, where Citizen Cider’s community-style tasting room has become the new go-to for visiting out-of towners. Does anyone want to open a cider bar in NYC? Seriously, this is the next big thing–something that Vermonters haven’t been able to say since Phish. And we understand the skepticism, since the last big thing to come out of VT was Phish.
A video posted by Citizen Cider (@citizencider) on
As featured in Whalebone’s sixth issue, the Travel Issue. For more low-key goodness from Vermont, check out Pittsfield.