Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Free Range: Vermont Brewers Festival

Vermont Brewers Festival has grown in size and popularity as the beer industry in Vermont continues to grow in size and popularity. On any given Friday, you can find a sea of vehicles with out of state license plates headed north to the land of The Alchemist, Lawson's Finest Liquids, and Hill Farmstead...ready to piss off a bunch of grumpy, old Vermoners' (notice I dropped the "t" there?) I can't blame them really. Vermont is home to some fantastic beer.

This weekend was like none other. Breweries from all over the state congregated in Waterfront Park in Burlington, including some guests from Quebec, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine. Tickets for VT Brewfest sold out in 11 MINUTES this year. So what is all the hype about?

From left to right, Mystic Brewery's Sauterneal saison, India Wharf Pale Ale, and Last and Final Judgment strong ale.

I have to say, there were not many beers at the brewfest that we haven't been able to find at the breweries, but then again, driving all over NNE on the weekend to try out new breweries isn't for everyone so I suppose having all of them in one place is a huge plus.

My favorite part of brewfest, hands down, was going with non-craft beer drinkers. There is something so refreshing about hearing a cask beer described as "piss warm" in the world of beer snobs. While the others were hankering for a Budlight, we ventured on...

There were lots of familiar VT faces and plenty of bigger breweries, like Harpoon and Long Trail. For us, the highlight was the Quebec guests. Trou du diable, Brasserie Dunham, Dieu Du Ciel, and Hopfenstark to name a few. I had my 22 page beer list, highlighted for primary and secondary priorities, and I was ready to get down to business. I stepped up and said, "I'd like a bear beer please!"

Some of my favorites? I'm slightly bias and spend a lot of weekends at Lost Nation in Morrisville, VT, so of course their cask gose won me over (Lost Nation is incredibly underrated because they are one of the few VT breweries that doesn't hop the crap out of their beer).

I was also super surprised to find out how much I LOVED the Flanders Red from Flying Goose out of New London, NH. I had not heard great things about the brewpub from some coworkers, but I will be making a trip soon to decide for myself now.

Hopfenstark saisons were on point. Tart, spicy...best of all worlds.

Beer and a view...hard to beat.

I of course had to try Queen City Brewery's kolsch to compare to my own homebrew. I vaguely remember it being good, but have to admit that it was pretty late in the event for me to even acknowledge that I still had taste buds.

If I had some sort of "say so" in the brewfest planning committee, I'd have to recommend that water be more accessible to the drunken masses. I feel like I searched high and low for 1 puny water fountain. I remember water pitchers and bottled water stations around Great American Beer Festival and overall, it just seems like the responsible thing to do if you are going to host hundreds of beer drinkers. Maybe I missed more of it somewhere...who knows!

Update - I stand corrected! There was a truck with free water. 

Once we had our fill of beer, we hit the food vendors pretty hard. Ice cream, pizza, burgers...your typical fair food, but of course with local flare (seriously, Vermonters know how to do it).

We attended the Saturday evening session so a few of the "special" beers were tapped out. The festival also has some chocolate & beer and cheese & beer pairing sessions to attend. Overall, a great evening with great food and beer...and even better friends!


  1. Great post, I am so intrigued by your farm and brewing your beer, looks like good times!

  2. Did they not have the water truck this year? 11 minute sellout...sound like this one is getting crazy. An unfortunate side effect of the growing popularity in the craft beer world.

    1. Good question! I may have missed the water truck...I could be happily corrected.

    2. There was a water truck with free water over near Lake Street side near the middle (between brewers and food/other stuff area).

    3. I see! Thanks for the correction.