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Thoughts on VT beer tour?

Discussion in 'New England' started by BrewRaider, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. BrewRaider

    BrewRaider Initiate (185) Feb 7, 2015 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    A buddy and I are considering flying from our native Minnesota to Vermont this Spring for a beer tour. We'd fly into Boston, hang out at Trillium's Canton taproom for a day, and then drive to VT the next day, and probably hang out there for a few days before heading back to Boston to fly home. The VT breweries we are most interested in visiting include Alchemist, Hill Farmstead and Lawson's.


    1. Do Alchemist, Lawson's or Hill Farmstead have taprooms where we can hang out and sample or are they all stand-in-line-for-cans-to-consume-elsewhere venues?

    2. Anyone have any good/bad experiences they can share about visits to these breweries? I can attest to the fact that the beers are all great, but am not sure what the best places to actually visit would be.

    3. Any other good VT (or Northeast) breweries or taprooms that anyone would recommend? I've had great beers from Other Half, Frost and Tree House, but know very little about their set-ups.

    Thanks so much for any info you can provide to this would-be beer tourist!

  2. Phishagonia

    Phishagonia Disciple (346) Jan 28, 2011 Connecticut

    Not sure if Lawson's is open to the public. But I would add River Roost in White River Junction and Fiddlehead in Shelburne to your list.
  3. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,600) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Lawson's is not open to public. New place opening in 2018.

    Alchemist has samples and then cans to go. Not a tap room for hanging out.

    Hill Farmstead has food trucks (time of year dependent) and offer cheese plates. You can have 2 pours per person in the tasting room. Can sample others as well. Always a great experience for me (about once a month).

    Lost Nation is close to Hill Farmstead and Alchemist. They have a restaurant and its a fun place to hang out. Great experience for me.

    Foam in Burlington is great. They have small food options. Can get full pours of their brews. Great location. Great experience.

    Burlington Beer Co. has a nice taproom to hang out. They had charcuterie plates when I was there last summer. Not sure of their overall food situation.

    Fiddlehead you can get samples. But can also get a growler and drink it while getting a pizza at the pizza place in the same building. (new facility now?)

    Waterbury has the popular bars/restaurants for the beer crowd. 15ish minutes from Stowe. Great place to hang out for a night.

    River Roost is great on your way up in White River Junction. Samples and growlers to go. There is a BBQ place in same parking lot (Big Fatty's) with excellent tap list (Hill Farmstead, etc.)

    Tree House is to go only other than a few occasions when they got a temporary license.

    Foley Brothers is a fun stop if it fits your schedule and driving route.

    Check out other threads in the New England forum. Lots of VT Beercation threads with great info.
  4. juliolugo

    juliolugo Initiate (44) Jun 22, 2015 Massachusetts

    In the Burlington area, I'd also plug Zero Gravity/American Flatbread (bar and full service restaurant) and Four Quarters (small tasting area). As far as bottle shops, the Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury and Beverage Warehouse in Winooski should have you covered.

    The Cabot cheese factory and Cold Hollow Cider Mill are good stops, especially if you like extremely plentiful free samples of cheeses, crackers, jams, spreads, cider, maple syrups, etc.

    Not sure when it starts up, but the Burlington Farmers Market is huge and awesome.

    And if you want to get out and stretch your legs, Mt. Philo State Park (about 30 minutes south of Burlington) is worth checking out. You can hike to the top, or if you're pressed for time, you can actually drive all the way to the top. Incredible views of all of Champlain Valley once you get up there.
    CaptainFleeker, jhavs and BrewRaider like this.
  5. vtcraft

    vtcraft Aspirant (222) Apr 1, 2013 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    As a former Masshole now living inVT I would do this: If flying into Boston hit Trillium in Boston grab cans, drive north hit Nightshift full pours cans and bottles. Depending on time of day, get room in/around Boston or hit the road north, it's just under 4 hours to Burlington VT . In Vermont spend a night in Burlington ( Burlington more urban/ nightlife/ choices) or Stowe/ Waterbury. Burlington area: foam, fiddlehead, Burlington beer co. 4quarters are all worth hitting. dinner at Farmhouse for sure From Burlington head south to alchemist open at 11, on to lunch at lost nation,then hillfarmstead. You could easily keep heading east for a night in Portland Maine: bissel brothers, allagash, foundation, Austin street liquid riot, or Circle back to Burlington.
    Your only problem will be how to get all the great beer home and an empty wallet
  6. MyIronLung

    MyIronLung Aspirant (259) Oct 28, 2011 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Tough to spend a whole day at Trillium. More like a couple hours and then you'll want to see more of what the greater Boston area has to offer.
    papposilenus and Seacoastbrewer like this.
  7. BrewRaider

    BrewRaider Initiate (185) Feb 7, 2015 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    These are all terrific suggestions -- appreciate the insight and recommendations!
    jhavs likes this.
  8. cappy201

    cappy201 Initiate (173) Mar 25, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Having done this trip several times from Boston, I highly recommend that you stop on the ride north and have a burger and beer at Worthy Burger. It's only a short distance off route 89...outstanding burgers and fantastic tap list.
  9. darkandhoppy

    darkandhoppy Aspirant (296) Dec 26, 2008 Connecticut

    Since you're flying, I would guess youre not really looking for a stockpile of beer to go. Alchemist serves 3-4 small samples. HF you can get 2 pours. Worthwhile destinations but not really places to spend a prolonged amount of time

    Worthy Burger, Foam, Blackback Pub, Doc Ponds, Parker Pie....

    These should get you more beer than you need (HF and Alchemist included) and some pretty good eats too
  10. Seacoastbrewer

    Seacoastbrewer Aspirant (214) Jun 5, 2012 New Hampshire

    Agreed. Spending a whole day at Trillium's tap room is not recommended. Worth a stop for tasters and cans. I'm sure you'll want many opinions on Boston for a night but my favorite spot is Night Shift. I would hit that early and then migrate to Cambridge area for dinner and after drinks. Cambridge Brewing, Meadhall, Lord Hobo are all walking distance to each other (I'm sure you'll want to be walking at this point). I would do dinner at CBC.

    Realistically you aren't going to have room to bring back all the beer you should be getting so it's more a question of what to bring back. Consider checking an extra bag if you buy as much as folks around here would with that kind of tour.

    Otherwise for locations there are many good threads in this forum.
    HuskyHawk, jhavs and BrewRaider like this.
  11. Deerdog

    Deerdog Initiate (0) Feb 1, 2014 Wisconsin

    I'd stop at Pro Pig in Waterbury. You can get good food and great beer in one stop.
    Fiddlehead is a great stop and if you keep going south you can hit a couple of places in Middlebury. Drop In is an interesting place if you want to talk brewing.
    As someone else said Foley Brothers is very much worth a stop and is only 20 minutes from Middlebury.
    I don't do this often but - I was disappointed in Bobcat Cafe & Brewery. Seemed like the brewery was an afterthought.
    Get the Vermont Breweries passport if your into swag.
  12. JLK7299

    JLK7299 Champion (891) Apr 21, 2016 Connecticut
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Had Worthy Burger on my last VT trip a few weeks ago, wasn't impressed. Had Doc Ponds on the same trip and very much was!
    Idletyme Brewing has a long beer list, its not great but the food there is pretty good as well.

    You wont find a bigger Foley Brothers fan than me, most underrated brewers out there IMO.

    Fiddlehead makes good stuff but its very small, you have to buy and leave (though they are attached to a good pizza place.

    You could legit spend a long time at Hill. they say 2 pours per person but Im not really sure if they enforce it.

    Long Trail and Harpoon both have food and are fun hang outs. Long Trail in particular has a patio out back on the water.

    Whetstone Station is also a good stop, great food.
    BrewRaider likes this.
  13. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,255) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    If you are going to go from Trillium Boston to Nightshift, stop also at Mystic to give you a break from the hoppy stuff. Mystic does some very interesting takes on some of the more traditional (and not so traditional) styles. Just thinking a little variety and breaking away from the hops theme might be good. They have a great pizza joint within walking distance, and I am not sure but I think they can get deliveries. You can message them on FaceBook and they usually respond pretty quickly.
    VABA and BrewRaider like this.
  14. dmolz

    dmolz Aspirant (201) Dec 2, 2014 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    worthy is a solid stop on the way back to help cut the drive down. I hit brick and feather on the way to treehouse if you can time it right. solid stuff. I'd say foam and burlington beer if you go that way. bb always has good selection and a good vibe, never too crowded. underrated. armsby abbey between treehouse and boston is a must. I'd second portland too, awesome place. do the drive up to hill from there - if you do it to get there a lil before open its a gorgeous drive. I did a night there, then a night in vt, th way home. deciduous is also highly underrated, though not near anything. need any info man, feel free to hit me up. do it up!
    BrewRaider likes this.
  15. KingCobra686

    KingCobra686 Aspirant (202) Aug 13, 2014 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Like others said, you probably wont be able to bring much beer back with you if youre flying. If I were you I would focus more on good locations where you can try a variety of stuff, and less on the kinds of places where the only thing you do is stand in line to buy cans.

    Hill Farmstead is excellent, but its very out of the way and is going to suck up a lot of your time. Lawsons does not currently have a taproom. Alchemist will be on your way up most likely, so its worth a quick stop.

    Waterbury and Burlington will be your best bets I think. Waterbury has Pro Pig, Reservoir, Blackback Pub and several other good locations all within walking distance of each other. Most have lots of local beers on tap and usually have a couple HF Alchemist and Lawsons beers.

    Burlington has a ton of good breweries in the area. Burlington Beer Co is one of my favorite stops. Foam is quickly becoming a popular choice. On top of that you've got Magic Hat, Fiddlehead, Queen City, Citizen Cider, Zero Gravity, VT Pub & Brewery, Groennfell Meadery, Switchback, Four Quarters and a couple other locations all within reasonable distance.
    Phishagonia and BrewRaider like this.
  16. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (199) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    I don't have a whole lot to add here. Great suggestions above.

    But additionally,

    • Hired Hand in Vergennes has been dazzling me with their beer & food (their unfiltered IPA and steamed korean bbq buns are a winning combo). It's about 20 min south of Fiddlehead.
    • While you're at it you can hit Otter Creek (fantastic smoked wings w/ Citra Mantra!) and Drop In Brewery in Middlebury.
    • From Middlebury it's only another 20 minutes to Foley Bros which @JLK7299 above correctly pointed out has awesome stuff, an ancient farmhouse taproom, and beautiful grounds with outdoor games and tables abutting a golf course.
    You will not regret a drive through Addison County (prettiest part of the State in this Vermonter's opinion) in the Springtime.
  17. BucketsB

    BucketsB Initiate (55) Mar 1, 2011 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I'd consider driving the whole thing depending on where you are in Minnesota, if you've been to Boston before, and if you like your friend to the tune of 40 hours in the car together over the course of a week. A friend does Chicago to Vermont a few times a year has no real preference between flying to Boston then driving versus driving Chicago to VT (though Minnesota is another 4-6 hours beyond Chicago). You can loop around the Great Lakes so it's a different trip out and back, and would afford you the opportunity to bring a bunch more beer back.
  18. BrewRaider

    BrewRaider Initiate (185) Feb 7, 2015 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Thanks, all, for the great information! A couple of follow-up questions: (1) Thoughts on whether we should spend our one night in VT in Waterbury or Burlington? and (2) any hotel recommendations in either of those cities (someplace decent in the vicinity of brewpubs, taprooms, etc.)? A Mass. friend just told me that the Waterbury Best Western often has Focal Banger on tap, so I'm leaning Waterbury.
  19. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (199) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    What's your budget? Hotel Vermont in Burlington is incredible. The bar downstairs and the restaurant next door, Hen of the Wood, are both top notch (seriously the restaurant is top 5 in VT), both with excellent beers on tap. The bar even has an outdoor fireplace with Pendleton blankets on loan for chilly nights. Meanwhile, the Best Western is...... a Best Western. Better to stay here http://www.oldstagecoach.com/ for charm and proximity (walking distance) to Waterbury. Just my 2 cents.
    chipawayboy and jhavs like this.
  20. JLK7299

    JLK7299 Champion (891) Apr 21, 2016 Connecticut
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Warning on Hen of the Wood- you likely need to make a reservation 3+ weeks in advance. If you get there right at opening you may get lucky but other than that, it's very popular.

    Was just up at Stowe/Waterbury/Burlington 2 weekends ago. Couldn't believe how many place you could get Heady and Focal at. Like Disney for beer lovers!
    BrewRaider and HopsDubosc like this.
  21. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (199) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    If you do get there right at opening it's dollar oysters (4-5pm) and 5 dollar cans of Heady! But yeah... book in advance for dinner...
  22. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,600) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I agree and I really enjoy the Old Stagecoach. Get room 8. They say its haunted! I was there for a few nights last month and did not see anything spooky though. They have a really good breakfast and about 200 yards from Blackback, Pro Pig, Res, etc.
    If you want more action, Burlington would be the choice though.
    HopsDubosc likes this.
  23. Justin42

    Justin42 Aspirant (290) Apr 3, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. Hotel Vermont is one of my favorite hotels anywhere. Awesome place. And they have a beer concierge!
  24. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (248) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    If you stay in Waterbury, Old Stagecoach for sure.
  25. Capt_Quint

    Capt_Quint Initiate (186) May 29, 2015 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    And the Old Stagecoach is.... well, old. For what you pay. I don't think the Best Western can be beat. Yes, it's further than Old Stagecoach, but really not a bad walk - weather permitting.
  26. jbart

    jbart Initiate (179) Oct 2, 2004 Massachusetts

    I like Old Stagecoach, but I often stay at the Best Western because they don't have a two-night minimum when Stagecoach does. You'd be fine at either place. Both are walkable to the bars in Waterbury (tho Stagecoach is much closer). There is also a Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, a very short walk from Best Western.
  27. LukieBL

    LukieBL Initiate (80) Jun 10, 2015 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Re: Hotel VT. My wife and I just spent a weekend there with our young one, and it really is the best hotel in town, by far. We spent both nights after going out (Farmhouse, Trat are A+) hanging by the fire on the big ottoman chair, drinking beers from the bar above.

    We actually had our dog hanging out with us both nights as well. I know babies and dogs make people's heads explode when mixed with craft beer in other settings, but this was a nice experience
    jhavs likes this.
  28. EDNOSE

    EDNOSE Aspirant (235) Oct 27, 2007 Connecticut

    I always feel like people are happy to minimize the difference. Old Stagecoach is literally a simple, flat, less than one city block walk to the Waterbury bars/restaurants. Best Western (and the new Marriott property) are an incredibly steep walk, on a state highway, right by an exit from the interstate. Happy to admit you can prefer the atmosphere of Old Stagecoach or the chain hotel, but comparing them in terms of walk ability is not fair. (I'm in the Old Stagecoach bucket.)
  29. stevefenster

    stevefenster Initiate (173) Mar 29, 2016 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Just spent a week traveling in New England (also from MN!) -- Not sure I have that much to add but here are a few (edit: many, many) of my thoughts.

    1. If you are flying, you can fit roughly 20 cans of a 16 oz beer into a suitcase while staying under the 50 pound weight limit. I would fly Southwest so you can check two bags. (On an errrr.... totally unrelated note, I hope some stranger at BDL enjoyed the cans of OH Citra and SoS I was forced to abandon in front of the check in.)

    2. I spent basically one day in Burlington, on a day where they got 25 inches of snow... so I'm not sure I got the full experience. I loved Foam. My fiancee, who is not nearly as into beer as I am, said it was maybe her favorite stop on our whole trip. The IPAs I had were both very good and the sour was outstanding. Foam has a really nice patio that would overlook the lake on a day when it wasn't snowing so hard that you couldn't see in front of your face. We stayed at the Sheraton, which, on a nice day, would be about a 20 minute walk (or $6 Uber) from downtown.

    We also stopped in Waterbury, although many places were also closed because of the storm. The craft beer store on Main St is really nice and the options were honestly a little overwhelming, given the limits of what I could transport home. Sadly, the roads were pretty rough, so we missed out on Alchemist and Hill Farmstead. A stranger at Foam (Matt -- if you're on here, thanks for the beer!) hooked me up with a random can of Heady to bring back for a buddy of mine who has never had it.

    I also really enjoyed several of the Portland, ME beers I had, but that would be a pretty significant detour if you are driving Boston>VT.
    BrewRaider likes this.
  30. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (449) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Another vote for HV -- when we stayed last summer -- this was waiting in our room when we arrived. Sold -- forever!
  31. Justin42

    Justin42 Aspirant (290) Apr 3, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Matt is awesome, I really need to get back there soon.
  32. Capt_Quint

    Capt_Quint Initiate (186) May 29, 2015 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Wait, what?! That wasn't waiting for me!
  33. kwardle

    kwardle Initiate (121) Feb 14, 2017 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    This thread is great! My wife and I are planning a similar trip (from Ohio) but I think our time in Vermont is going to be limited. Is it pretty easy to find Lawson's in bottle shops on any given day or does it depend on the delivery schedule? I think we plan to be in Burlington, Waterbury and Stowe on a Friday and Saturday, think I'll have luck?
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  34. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,600) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    By Lawson's do you mean Sip of Sunshine or Super Session? If so, stores have delivery days listed here:
    It has been hanging around a decent amount of time recently so you may have luck.

    If you mean the limited bottles, that is a different story. Delivery day is most likely your only option. 3 stores get bottles, listed on the Lawson's Website in their Monthly beer news.
    kwardle likes this.
  35. kwardle

    kwardle Initiate (121) Feb 14, 2017 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Sorry, I meant Sip of Sunshine, I appreciate the information.
    jhavs likes this.
  36. Phishagonia

    Phishagonia Disciple (346) Jan 28, 2011 Connecticut

    If you're traveling through Connecticut and Massachusetts, there's a chance you'll be able to find SoS as well, since it's brewed/canned in southern Connecticut.
    kwardle likes this.
  37. kwardle

    kwardle Initiate (121) Feb 14, 2017 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    That's great to hear! I think the initial plan is to spend a couple of days in Vermont, and then over to Portland for a few days before staying with a friend in Hampton, NH. Boston, Salem and then a stop at Tree House to round it out. So I'm sure we'll hit a few different shops along the way.
    chipawayboy, jhavs and Phishagonia like this.
  38. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,600) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    On Saturday you should be able to pick up 2 four packs at Beverage Baron in Barre. They release some of their weekly shipment on Saturdays (Heady too). Its not too far from where you will be, and may be on your way out depending on route.
    kwardle likes this.
  39. MarkJC1018

    MarkJC1018 Disciple (372) Dec 27, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I hit up The Alchemist two Saturdays ago and stopped at Hunger Mountain (Montpelier, VT) on my way home. Cases of SoS were available and it was a one-case limit per person, I believe. This was at roughly 12:30 pm.
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  40. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,600) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Yeah, its been hanging around a lot of places recently. This time of year is the slowest too, when skiing tourism starts to slow down.
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