vermont-skiing

Brewer’s Association lists Vermont as first for the most breweries per capita. The same beer organization also ranks states by the number of craft breweries, and for that Vermont ranks 29th. Vermont breweries have taken awards at the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup, and RateBeer. While my state used to draw tourists for the fall foliage, lake fishing, and skiing, Vermont breweries are now drawing huge numbers of adults looking to sample everything from IPAs to Maple Stouts.

Vermont breweries are scattered around the state. Currently, Vermont is home to 41 craft breweries, though that number does fluctuate as more breweries open each year. I suggest booking a hotel in Burlington. You’ll be within minutes of many of the state’s popular breweries and others are within a few hours by rental car. Some hotels, such as Hotel Vermont, even offer brewery tours as an add-on to your hotel rate. Here are the breweries I suggest you visit while in Vermont.

saint-albans-vtHead North to St. Albans

You’re going to drive about 40 minutes to reach 14th Star, a brewery owned and operated by veterans. Hop on the I-89 and take exit 19 to the quaint city of St. Albans. Go straight through the lights and take the access road to the end. Turn right onto Route 7/Main Street and travel through the downtown to Ace Hardware. Right after Ace is the small shopping plaza where you’ll find 14th Star. This craft brewery has a stunning bar set in a former bowling alley. Sit at the bar or grab a table and try some of the local brews by pint, flight, or sample glass. I highly recommend starting with their staple Valor Ale and the Maple Stout. If it’s on tap, the Coffee IPA, made with cold brewed coffee, is my favorite. Growlers and cans are available for purchase.

If you want to stay in St. Albans, there is a La Quinta hotel near the interstate, and there’s a small Econo Lodge on Route 7. The locally owned Cadillac Motel has reasonable prices and a great diner on the property. Keep an eye out for the Hampton Inn right in the downtown that’s scheduled to open in early 2017.

Vermont Breweries in Burlington’s Suburbs

Burlington has a number of neighboring cities that also have craft breweries. Start in Williston where you’ll find Goodwater Brewery, a newcomer, and my personal favorite, Burlington Beer Company (BBCO). These two breweries are very close to each other. Goodwater has a small bar area where you can have growlers filled or try the four beers they currently offer. BBCO also has a small bar, but there is additional seating at tables. Order a Vermont cheese platter to go with a flight or pint. When you’ve picked your favorites, get a growler, cans, or bottles to go. I highly recommend Future Glow, it’s lighter in terms of alcohol content, but it’s just as good as many of the competing IPAs in the area.

After stopping in Williston, take the short drive to Hinesburg to Frost Beer Works. If you’re an IPA fan, Frost is going to excite you. In addition to their regular ales and IPAs, they also do experimental brews called their Research Series. My favorite here is The Other IPA.

morrisville-vermontTake a Longer Drive

If you don’t mind taking a longer drive, there are a few Vermont breweries you’ll want to visit. Start with the award-winning Hill Farmstead. I’ve never had a beer from them that I haven’t loved, but Edward and Susan are my personal favorites.

Lost Nation Brewing and Rock Art are both in Morrisville. Lost Nation is actually in the former home of Rock Art. Summer is ideal for a visit to Lost Nation as they open their beer garden and start cooking up a variety of smoked meat dishes. Rock Art moved into a larger space. Head there for growler fills, brewery tours, and Vermont foods that you can buy to take with you.

Head Back to Burlington

Back in Burlington, you should walk to Vermont Pub & Brewery. Courtyard Burlington, Hilton Burlington, Hilton Garden Inn, and Hotel Vermont are all within walking distance. This is the brewery where it really all began. I was working on Church Street when this pub was being built and eventually opened. From the kid-friendly atmosphere to the beers they make, there is a lot to love here. Sit outside or inside with a beer and a pub-style meal. They dropped the seafood platter that I loved, but the burgers, fish & chips, and Veggie Mushroom Philly are equally enjoyable.

Almost across the corner from Vermont Pub is a local pizzeria you won’t want to miss. American Flatbread is the place for a pizza and a cold pint of one of Zero Gravity’s brews. If you’re not looking for a meal, head to the brewery on Pine Street and have a pint in the beer garden after looking at the cannery operations.

Other breweries located right in Burlington are:

  • Queen City Brewing – Open for tastings and a retail space for growlers.
  • Simple Roots – No official brewery you can tour, but head to City Market in the downtown to buy bottles.
  • Switchback Brewing – The Tap Room is open for tastings and often has live music. Tours are available on Saturdays if you make a reservation in advance.

 

I have one other tip for drinking Burlington’s beers. Farmhouse Tap & Grill is off Church Street and has the biggest beer list you’ll find. Almost all food items served in this restaurant are grown or raised in Vermont. There are 30 taps available, and they feature Vermont favorites like Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s Finest Liquid. Farmhouse is also a great place to get your hands on the only other beer The Alchemist (see note below) brews – Focal Banger. I think Focal Banger (only available in select restaurants) is much tastier than Heady Topper, so I recommend trying it.

I’ll end with Waterbury’s The Alchemist. Home of the immensely popular Heady Topper, the brewery is currently building a new home. For now, your best bet is to buy four-packs of the beer at area retailers. From your Burlington hotel, Beverage Warehouse in Winooski is your best bet for getting hold of this high-demand Vermont beer.

Now that you know where you want to start your Vermont beer tour, book a hotel in Burlington through Reservation Counter. This online hotel reservation agency helps you get the lowest price and offers hotel reviews from former guests, along with actual hotel photos.