Tori Carton does marketing for Hotel Vermont. When not joining in on Hotel Vermont activities she can be found traveling, running with her dog, and riding her bicycle around Burlington.
Last week, I ditched the office and headed out on the trail with Matt Canning, our resident Beer Concierge, and some of our guests in search of Vermont’s best beers.
As our Beer Concierge, Matt stays up to date on the Vermont beer scene. He routinely recommends new beers and breweries to stop by, answers questions about where to find limited release brews, and of course, which store has the last stash of Heady Topper.
Our guests have loved being able to use Matt as a resource for craft beer insights, so when he suggested that we should start our own tour it seemed like a no-brainer; guests get a guided tour through Vermont’s craft beer trail, and best of all we drive!
So, bright and somewhat early, we set off for my first Hotel Vermont Craft Brew Tour. Sporting a limited edition Hen of Wood hat and an armful of growlers, Matt rolled up in a twelve-passenger van to take us to our first destination: Hill Farmstead.
Hill Farmstead, called by some the best brewery in the world (and by some I mean most Vermonters, beer geeks, and more officially RateBeer, the world’s largest and most popular beer rating website), is tucked away about an hour and a half from Burlington on Hill Road in Greensboro. Twisting around the back roads of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and far outside of cell phone service, we pulled into the field that serves as the parking lot. We ambled into the building that contains their front of the house tap room and brewery, and waited in line with a mix of locals and other beer enthusiasts from around New England.
Hill Farmstead allows their guests to sample while in line – four two-ounce tastes for $5 – so that you are ready to choose your bottles or growler fills when you get to the counter. They had eight beers to choose from on draft while we were there, including Edward (an American pale ale), Susan (American IPA), James (a hopped American black ale), Everett (American porter), Abner (double IPA), Citra (single hopped American pale ale), Society & Solitude (American double IPA), and Dorothy (hopped American farmstead dry ale). In homage to the more than 200 years of Hill heritage in Greensboro, many of their beers are named after the ancestors of head brewer Shaun Hill and the Hill family.
We filled up on Susan, Abner, and James and grabbed some bottles of Dorothy and Everett and hit the old dirt road in search of a good place to eat lunch. We camped out on the scenic Lake Caspian, about a 10-minute drive away, and enjoyed Vermont apples, turkey sandwiches, potato salad made that morning by Chef Doug at Juniper. Reds, oranges and light yellows spread across the lake as foliage approached its peak in the Northeast Kingdom.
We then cruised down Route 100 to Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville. They have expanded their offerings in the last few months to include an outdoor patio and kitchen and delicious eats by the same folks as Mad Taco in Waitsfield.
We met with Allen Van Anda, one of the owners and head brewers, who gave us a tour of the facilities. Coming from years of experience at Trapp Brewery and inspired by lesser-known European beers, Allen and his partner Jamie Griffith have created one of Vermont’s favorite new breweries by focusing on drinkable, honest beer.
Lost Nation has become popular among locals for their tasty, low percentage beers including their Gose, Petit Ardennes, Saison Lamoille, Rustic Ale, and Vermont Lager. We grabbed some pints and settled at a picnic table under the covered outdoor patio. We usually have a Lost Nation beer on tap at Juniper, so if can’t make it up to Morrisville feel free to stop in for a taste!
Our last destination of the day was the beer mecca of Waterbury. Home to a number of craft beer bars, a few brewpubs, the Alchemist Brewery, and the Waterbury Craft Beer Cellar, Waterbury is essentially a beer nerd’s heaven.
We all piled into Prohibition Pig, another Waterbury staple, for some eats, 6 oz. tastes of Pro Pig’s own creations, and more regional libations including beers from Zero Gravity, Dunham, Allagash, Du de Ciel, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. We found similar beers on Blackback Pub’s 22 taps and The Reservoir’s impressive 38-tap line up.
I was a little beered out by this point, but Matt and our guests were still going strong on discussing different strains of hops and yeast. With one last stop at the Waterbury Craft Beer Cellar, we topped off the day with purchases of some even more elusive beers, including the Maine Beer Company’s Lunch and Heady Topper. With our beer booty safely packed in the van, we called it a day and continued our way back to Burlington.
The Hotel Vermont Brew Tour runs on Wednesdays and includes transportation, lunch, and a post-tour snack at Juniper. It can be booked online through our website.