If you find yourself wondering where the flavors went in your drink selection and feel the need to explore new options, Vermont has an abundance of new styles to try. From the lightest summer lagers to the darkest winter stouts you can rest assured knowing all the different beers offered will be unique.
How can I find these you ask? Well to be honest that is not always the easiest feat. Though some of these breweries have expanded their business nationwide the vast majority of them remain as diamonds in the ruff; obscure yet irrefutably valuable. Sometimes the only possible way to get a taste of their product is to visit, which is why many do exactly that. For more information on “The Vermont Brewery Challenge” visit http://www.vermontbrewers.com/passport-program/. The following are five specific beers worth your while to search for. If you are interested in more about each brewery check back as we take the Vermont Brewery Challenge!
This beer brewed by Rock Art Brewery (632 Laporte Rd./rt 100 Morrisville VT) is a mild barelywine with an ABV of 7.2%. This drink comes on strong with a medium head retention and strong roasted malt and burnt caramel scents as you go in for your first sip. The flavor offers a great balance between malty sweets, earthy notes, and minor hop bitter in the background. Fairly heavy beer, which is a quality found throughout the majority of Rock Art beers. For more information about Rock Art visit them online at http://www.rockartbrewery.com/home.
James Black Ale
The James Black Ale is a part of the “ancestral series” produced by Hill Farmstead Brewery (403 Hill Rd, Greensboro Bend, VT). A rich chocolate notes and a hoppy residual bitter finish with a smooth and even flavor profile across the board the James characterizes quality in small craft batches. This beer has a sneaky ABV of 7.2% that is not apparent in the taste. One must visit the brewery to obtain this rare gem, as it is brewed in such small quantities. The brewery is far off the beaten path in northeastern Vermont, but the trip will not be a regret. For more on Hill Farmstead visit http://www.hillfarmstead.com/main/.
From humble origins in Waterburry Vermont this beer has just recently rocketed to the top of the charts as the number one best beer in the world, deemed so by BeerAdvocate.com. An American double IPA boasting a strong 8% ABV and a beautiful white head. Initial citrus scent wafts up and the flavor profile matches it with the addition of some fruity notes. Strong but clean taste that clears after each sip of this yellow nectar. A must try, and to find it you must venture to locations in northern Vermont. For more information and to find where you can get some visit http://alchemistbeer.com/.
Magic Hat is one of the larger facilities in Vermont creating over 154,000 barrels of beer per year, but they just show that practice makes perfect. There are only a few year round beers and they are always trying out new flavors each season on the masses. The #9 is a widely available year round brew they define as a “not quite pale ale” and has a hint of apricot flavor. Very easy to drink and has a beautifully smooth fruit essence with a mild malty taste; this beer is a go to during the summer months. It has an ABV of 5.1%. Be sure not to haphazardly pop the tops as each cap holds a nugget of wisdom from the fellows at the brewery. They are located at 5 Bartlett Bay Road South Burlington, VT and if you would like to know more visit their amusing site at http://www.magichat.net/.
This last beer has become increasingly popular over the last two years since being bought by Otter Brook Brewing Company. Starting as a small batch beer brewed by a little restaurant and brewery “The Shed” this beer has made a good name for itself. It is an English strong ale and holds true the the style with robust malt complexity, balanced hop profile, and 7.4% ABV helping to add to the bite. Brown in color with low head and a very heavy hitter this beer is great for warming up on a cooler evening. The Shed Restaurant and Brewery is now closed but luckily their craft brew legacy lives on.