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Monday, August 8, 2011

Vermont's Finest... BEER: Part II


Got up in time to enjoy our free continental breakfast and headed over to Winooskie Beverage, a great beer store not too far from the hotel.  Picked up a ton of Maine Beer Co. stuff, including Zoe and Lunch!  This is a fantastic beer store with an awesome selection of local beer, and it's definitely worth a visit if you take a beer trip to Vermont.   

Our first stop in Burlington was The Farmhouse Tap & Grill, a highly rated beer bar that Dan had read about on BA.  I enjoyed a Hill Farmstead Edward pale ale and Brewslut and I shared a delicious cheese plate.  This place has a great tap selection with an emphasis on local Vermont-produced craft brews, and a delicious menu of soups, salads, appetizers and entrees all made with fresh, local ingredients. 

Our cheese plate at The Farmhouse.
Burlington is home to Vermont's oldest craft brewery, aptly named The Vermont Pub and BreweryGreg Noonan, one of the Craft Brewing pioneers, opened the doors of the brewery in 1988 after lobbying the state legislature for three years to allow pub brewing in Vermont for the first time since Prohibition.  We got there fairly early in the day - and between meals - so we got seating at the bar rather easily.  We all opted for the samplers here, because I had heard very good things from Dan and wanted to go for quantity over quality.  Lucky for me, I got both, because the beers were all solid.  My favorite of the bunch was the Dogbite Bitter, an ESB.  Their Hefe and Pale Ale were both very good as well.  Check out all of my reviews from our visit on my BA profile.

After a memorable visit to Vermont Pub and Brewery, we headed over to American Flatbread, where I enjoyed an awesome veggie pizza and probably my favorite atmosphere of any place we visited on this trip.  This place is also the taproom for Zero Gravity Craft Brewery.  I really loved the sunken dining area, high ceilings and exposed brick walls, not to mention the amazing pizza!  Oh yeah, the beer was solid to boot.  Check out my reviews for Schoen Dorf, a Dortmunder Lager, and Conehead, a Wheat IPA.  Despite my appreciation of the decor and vibe of this place, we regrettably only snapped one picture of the decor. 

Bricks made good ovens for pizza!
Following our beer-filled afternoon, we needed a bit of a break, so we headed over to Waterbury to take the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tour.  This was the reason Kristen went on the trip, I think.  She looked like a kid on Christmas morning.  We went through the thirty-minute tour and received a free sample of the new Jimmy Fallon-inspired ice cream flavor, Late Night Snack, which was quite tasty.  I also got a mocha almond something-or-other cone outside and a smoothie for Brewslut.  It was a fun tour and provided a pleasant deviation from our beer drinking activities.
After the tour, we stopped in a Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe, on the recommendation of Bodan.  We didn’t buy anything (Kristen got some truffles), but did sample their salted caramel, which was tasty.  I also got a cup of coffee, because I needed my afternoon caffeine fix.    

The Von Trappe Lodge
Afterward, we swung by the Vonn Trappe Lodge, which just so happens to have a small brewery that produces German-style lagers.  Brewslut and I split a sampler, and the Dunkle was our favorite of the lot, though all were of good quality. 

In addition to the house-made beer, they also boasted a fine bakery on premises, an upscale lodge and much more.  I was tempted to get a loaf of bread, as it looked mighty tasty, but I passed.

Outside, some longhorn cows were grazing and I was enamored with them.  I snapped a few pictures too.   They almost had to drag me away from them.  You know me and animals.  This place was beautiful and definitely warranted more time than we actually spent there, but unfortunately we had plenty to squeeze in, so we bid the Von Trappe family adieu.

We ended up in Montpelier for a quick visit to Three Penny Taproom, where I enjoyed a pint of Hill Farmstead Florence, a fantastic Saison.  Since their bar menu was extremely limited and we were all pretty famished, we decided we needed sustenance.  I was eyeing up a vegetarian spot across the street, but unfortunately they closed at 8pm and it was a few minutes after eight.  M’wah!  So we went across the street to a Culinary institute where students double as chefs, but alas they were also closed.  So we found the nearest Irish pub and landed a table during a fairly busy evening due to the NBA Finals being televised.  While the beer selection was limited (or lacking, actually), I had what might have been the tastiest vegetarian burger EVER… a black bean and rolled oat burger with avocado and other awesomeness on a fantastic bun.  Man, it was delicious!  I woofed that puppy down with a side of tasty sweet potato fries and man, did it really hit the spot!  Afterwards, we stopped in at Three Penny Taproom to purchase some merchandise, and I picked up a really cool NOT brown warm-up jacket for *cough* fifty shekels *cough* but hey, I’m on vacation, right?  I also had some funny dialogue with a group of locals about man tits and other debauchery.  Good times indeed!  Exhausted from the long day, we retired to our hotel outside of Montpelier, the capital of VT.  The Best Western Waterbury-Stowe was a really cozy mountain-themed hotel.  They even have an agreement with Green Mountain coffee, and had Keurig coffee makers in each room.  Score!  Good coffee for free!  They also had a pretty bangin’ free breakfast and a great gym that I was happy to utilize at 6am prior to our departure.   


Pleeps enjoying some of Brewslut's RIS @ City Steam
Unfortunately, our long weekend was coming to an end.  Brewslut and I had to get back to Annville by 7pm for dentist appointments (double M’wah) but we were able to squeeze in a lunch stop in Hartford, CT at City Steam.  We had stopped here on our Kate the Great Day trip last February/March, and I had really enjoyed their Acapulco Gold, a dank, hoppy pale ale.  Unfortunately, it was not on tap during this particular visit, and neither were the IPA nor the DIPA on the menu… triple M’wah!  However, they had Luscious Wheat, a West Coast-style wheat ale, as well as a Russian Imperial Stout on tap, and both were solid.  This is a huge place and certainly gets a solid lunch crowd during the week.  I would have loved to stop at Willimantic, but unfortunately it was not on our travel route.  Still, we were able to pack a bunch of amazing beer-related activities into one long weekend, which made for quite a memorable trip.  We will definitely make plans to visit Vermont again soon!

Cheers Vermont!

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!