What breweries are must-visits in Vermont?
It seems like every other week, there’s a new brewery popping up in Vermont. It isn’t impossible to visit each and every one of them in a visit to Vermont, but it might be ill-advised… Back in the day, I visited all 17 Vermont breweries listed on the Vermont Brewery Passport in three days. It was a great way to explore the state, but after that many samples of beer, everything blended together. And talk about that belly bloat… I would argue that every brewery in Vermont is worth a visit (whether for the beer, a view, the food, etc. or to say you’ve in fact been to them all, which is quite the accomplishment). So, without further ado, here are my top picks for the best breweries in Vermont to visit in 2017. What are your favorite breweries in Vermont to visit? Share in the comments below.
I’ll preface this list by underscoring that these are my favorite breweries to visit… not necessarily the best brews or best breweries (period) in the state. There are many breweries pumping out respectable beers that I like to drink but that doesn’t always mean their breweries warrant a special trip…
The Best Breweries to Visit in Vermont
Foam, Burlington, Vermont
Located on the waterfront in Burlington in a 19th-century, retrofitted timber plant, Foam Brewers is by far the top brewery to visit downtown (and there are many). First of all, Foam has ample free parking, which in Burlington and the surrounding areas, is huge. There’s also plenty of outdoor seating, and a wide representation of hoppy beers, stouts, and “pucker-ly” good sours through their partnership with the House of Fermentology.
Pair some of the very best beers in the state with an industrial, yet welcoming, atmosphere and the most delicious charcuterie plate downtown, and you’ve got a seriously winning combo. My favorite time of the week to go is Sundays around noon for a low-key vibe with some live music being played on their brewery stage. Don’t miss their Dot series, consisting of the best sours being made in the state right now: Red Dot, Purple Dot, House Dot, or their juicy IPAs and DIPAs that compete with the very best hops out there.
Four Quarters, Winooski, Vermont
Four Quarters Brewery in Winooski is my local watering hole… and a hole-in-the-wall it is—a charming, welcoming one with killer beer. Brewer Brian Eckert is easily one of the most underrated brewers in Vermont. His stouts, sours, and hoppy beers are all excellent. Herbie, S’mores Stout, Moscow Mule, Sun Dog, Fleur de lis, and Phaze (APA) are just a few of my faves.
The reason to visit Brian and Four Quarters? He takes risk. He’s ballsy. His beers are unique and inventive with flavor combos and ingredients you never thought you’d find in a beer (hello, Pickle Back and Sumac Sour). The space itself is a small warehouse—nothing glamorous—but the people and the passion are what make 4Q so special. You also can’t find Four Quarters’ offerings at many bars outside of Winooski and the Waterbury area. You need to visit the brewery to get your hands on the special pours, casks, and randalized beers Brian is cranking out.
Hill Farmstead, Greensboro, Vermont
We all know that Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, Vermont, is “the best brewery in the world,” and if you’ve never been, it’s definitely a beer pilgrimage location to put on your list. But, knowing that you can get Hill on tap at bars throughout the north country (Burlington, Winooski, Waterbury, Stowe, etc.) takes some of the urgency off making the trek up to the Northeast Kingdom. Why visit the brewery? These days, the limited-release bottles and whales for on-site pours make the beer journey worth every mile.
On a recent visit with friends, I was fortunate to try this killer line-up, which I’m sure any beer enthusiast will agree is worthy of dedicated windshield time: Art Plum, Civil Disobedience 7, Double Barrel Damon, and Le Sarrasin. Be forewarned that there’s a strict two-drink limit on site, so your trip needs to me more than just on-site offerings. Make an afternoon of it and venture to Parker Pie in West Glover; and don’t miss Willey’s Store, the only place I know of to find Hill Farmstead shelfies regularly and the best selection of nearby Jasper Hill Farm cheese.
The Alchemist, Stowe, Vermont
Last year when I wrote about the best breweries to visit in 2016, I received much hate mail about not including The Alchemist Brewery in Stowe. In my defense, the new home for the Alchemist wasn’t open at the time… But now that they are, they’re making a big splash in the beer scene in Vermont. The ability to get a case of Focal without much of a wait at all? Yes, please!
Although The Alchemist draws more tourists than locals (you can easily tell as Heady Topper is the very first beer to disappear on busy days, with Focal and Crusher still sitting around), the brewery itself is one of the biggest and most impressive in Vermont. Have a few free samples when you enter the building, then check out their production facility. The scale is pretty amazing when you think about just how many beers they’re cranking out every. single. day. Although you can rarely enjoy a full pour at the Alchemist, it’s still worth a visit for the ease with which you can purchase cases of some of the very best hoppy beer in the state.
Prohibition Pig, Waterbury, Vermont
It’s no surprise… Most craft beer fans coming to Vermont have heard of Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, or “Waterbeery” as we call it. Within one block, you can find three of the very best beer bars in the state along with my pick for the best bottle shop (hello, Craft Beer Cellar). Although the beer menu features a killer selection of craft beers in the region (Hill, Lawson’s, Allagash), ProPig’s own beers stand up to all of the others on the list. Part of me wishes they would solely serve their own beer to give it the attention it deserves. I do dig that Prohibition Pig offers half pours, so you can try a wide variety during your visit. I’m also a big fan of the food at ProPig; after all, where else can you find BBQ, ramen, and Mexican in one bar in Vermont?
14th Star, St. Albans, Vermont
14th Star Brewing in St. Albans is on a mission to brew high-quality beer while serving the local community. As one of few (maybe two?) veteran-owned breweries in Vermont, 14th Star is, first and foremost, a community member that happens to brew great beer. Yes, you can find 14th Star’s beers in cans around Vermont if you can’t make it to the brewery… but what you can’t find on shelves is the energy you feel when being part of an event or fundraiser through 14th Star. Their Taproom features exclusive releases, hosts regular live music, and is home to the Make the Cut Homebrew Challenge judging. Their Facebook page is constantly filled with local events they’ve involved in. With Vermont being all about community, it’s nice to see a brewery get so involved in supporting individuals, organizations, and good causes. I’ll drink to that!
Good Measure, Northfield, Vermont
Good Measure Brewery in Northfield, Vermont, is definitely the new kid on the block for 2017. Although the brewery is new to the beer scene, the owners are not. Scott Kerner helped open Three Penny Taproom, Mule Bar, and Carrier Roasting Company. Brewer Andrew Leichthammer was previously the GM at Mule Bar. The 1920’s building is homey—industrial but warm with wood accents and brick walls. Although you can find some of their brews on tap throughout the northern areas of the state, the goal of the brewery is to offer a place to share a pint, snacks, and good company. Their mission? “Giving you something that doesn’t overload the palate, but rather gives space for a range of tastes, textures, and experiences.”
River Roost Brewery, White River Junction, Vermont
Given most of the best beer in Vermont is being produced within a 50-mile or so radius of Burlington, River Roost Brewery in White River Junction stands out. The Southern Vermont brewery is tiny (a 10-barrel brewhouse) and is run by one man himself, owner and brewer Mark Babson. All beers on tap are equally tasty, and it’s a treat to be able to visit and talk to the brewer himself in a space with laid-back brewery vibes.
Von Trapp Brewery and Bierhall, Stowe, Vermont
Sometimes I crave a non-hoppy, heavily drinkable beer, and Von Trapp Brewery in Stowe always delivers. For traditional lagers and pilsners, Von Trapp is easily putting out the best in the state. von Trapp Bierhall recently opened its doors down the road from the original brewery, which boasts some killer mountain views. The new Bierhall has a full restaurant for lunch and dinner, including enough bratwurst, knackwurst, bauernwurst, and schnitzel to transport you back to Austria. Visit for the consistency and drinkability; stay for the views and camaraderie.
What’s your favorite brewery to visit in Vermont? Share your top brewery in the comments below to continue the conversation!