Breweries

Crop Bistro & Brewery, Stowe, Vermont

The Shed BreweryI remember the first time I stopped in Stowe to visit the old Shed Brewery, now part of Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury. I drank a flight from the shotski, while wishing the brewery was closer to home so I could be part of their mug club. Now years later, the Shed’s brewery on the Mountain Road  has been reinvented as Crop Bistro & Brewery—one of my favorite spots in town to grab a beer (oh, and fried pickle spears—can’t forget those).

Whether you’re visiting Stowe in the summer or winter, there are quite a few options for dining at Crop Bistro. There’s a pub with ample bar seating, high top tables  and all the free popcorn you can eat. There’s also the modern, chic dining room, with cow hide accents, oversized lounge booths for bigger parties and a warming fireplace for the colder months. The atmosphere in the main dining room is so different from the casual pub that they also seem like two different restaurants. One of my favorite things about Crop is that they have extensive outdoor seating and a bar outside for warm summer days and crisp fall afternoons. There’s truly a dining option for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for a burger and beer apres ski or out celebrating a special occasion. Plus, they’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, so it’s a win-win on days when most restaurants in town are closed.

The Beer at Crop Bistro & Brewery
The beer coming out of Crop Bistro is some of the best, under-the-radar beer in the state, in my opinion. The brewery is tiny in comparison to many in the state, with a 10 hectoliter brew house that was manufactured in Germany. Although most of their beer seems to have German or Belgium influences (lots of lagers and maerzens, weizens and pilsners), every beer they serve is a classic representation of a specific beer style and true to its origins, which I appreciate. (They get extra points for serving every beer in proper glassware, a rarity these days.) Their Doubletyme IPA is reminiscent of some of the big boys, like Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine. The Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, which changes seasonally, is another favorite. Really, you can’t go wrong with anything on tap. Check out the draught list to see the rotating seasonal brews.

Not a beer drinker? They also whip up some delicious seasonal cocktails, from a watermelon or cucumber mojito in the summer months to Mr. Figgy, a house-infused fig bourbon with maple bitters and candied bacon

The Food at Crop Bistro & Brewery
Usually when I visit a brewery, it’s for the beer since oftentimes the food is an afterthought at a place where liquid gold is the focus. The food at Crop is surprisingly good. Fried Pickles always catch my attention, and Crop is the first place I ever had fried pickle spears—a total game changer. With a Ranch remoulade? Yes, please.

The Vermont Cheddar Fritters with a fire-roasted jalapeno aioli and 2AM Fries, complete with molten beer cheese and smoked brisket gravy, are perfect apps for a beer and bite at the bar. The Pub Burger, cooked to perfection (they air on the side of rareness, FYI), is one of the best I’ve had in Vermont, with a brioche bun, chive mayo, arugula and Grafton cheddar. If you’re opting for something healthier, the Arugula, Dried Cranberry, Chevre and Spiced Walnut salad is outstanding. You’ll also find traditional pub fare like Pale Ale Battered Fish (or Tofu!) and Chips and Grilled Bratwurst, complete with kraut on a pretzel bun. Do yourself a favor and visit Crop hungry…

Tips for Visiting Crop Bistro & Brewing Like a Local

  • As much as I love flights and samplers, the one at Crop is a bit of a rip-off at $12. (That’s definitely a Stowe price, not a Vermont price). I would opt for asking to sample one or two before deciding on a full pour. You really can’t go wrong, as I haven’t had one beer from Crop that I haven’t enjoyed.
  • Find a beer that you love? Crop has half-gallon growlers and 22-ounce bottles on sale at the brewery (in the hallway outside of the pub).
  • Crop Bistro always have one Hill Farmstead tap and one hard cider, as well as Focal Banger and Heady Topper in cans.
  • In a rush? Crop is actually really quick! I overheard a server saying that meals are traditionally ready in 17 minutes (no matter what it is). That’s impressive and a sign of a well-oiled kitchen.
  • Are you a local? Sign up for the Crop Mug Club, following in the steps of the one started by the Shed. You get an 18-ounce mug, 20% off food on Wednesdays and specials on growler fills for $35 a year.

Crop Bistro & Brewery
1859 Mountain Rd. Stowe, VT 05672
(802) 253-4765
cropvt.com