Fermenting Beer at Magic Hat
I visited Burlington, VT a few weeks back. Not only was I able to see a good friend, I was able to sample some of Vermont’s locally made beer. First stop was Magic Hat, who was celebrating their grand reopening. Though the weather was not the best (gray with scattered rain), we still had a good time. We received a tour of the newly expanded brewery from one of the brewers, which, I believe, is not normally done. Being able to walk among all the brewing equipment, and watching beer ferment in their tanks was fun. I also got to see a bottling line up close (not running at the time), which was a first for me and something I found very intriguing (had a “How’s it Made” vibe). Since it was their grand reopening there were others things going on including a broken bottles ribbon cutting extravaganza, free ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, free chips from Mad House, live music (one band played Killer Cars, an early Radiohead b-side, so props to them), and a variety show. Though the weather could have been better, it did not dampen our mood. Of course there was plenty of Magic Hat, with a special hat tip to Bob’s 1st Ale. I am not a big amber drinker, but found it very enjoyable. Maybe Magic Hat will introduce a six-pack flashback featuring the beer?
Magic Hat Bottling Line
From Magic Hat we hit Burlington, with a slight rest in-between. We decided to do dinner at American Flat Bread Burlington Hearth. Though there are a few American Flat Breads in New England, only the one in Burlington brews its own beer. Being a party of three and arriving around “dinner rush” (though our friend mentioned the place tends to be always bustling) we decided to find a place at the bar, which has full menu service. Ordering a two flat bread pizzas, we scanned the beer menu. The interesting thing about the beer menu is the fact they stock other craft brewery beer on tap and bottle. I am not sure how common this is, but around Boston, I can not think of one brew pub that does that. Through the meal our party ordered Calamity IPA, IPL (India Pale Lager), Conehead from Cask, Kolsch, and London Calling. Though no notes were taken (the beer list is constantly changing anyway), everyone found their associated purchases enjoyable, with IPL sticking out for me (is the IPL style the next big thing? I have seen this style popping up in a few different places recently).
Next up was the Vermont Brew Pub, which is right up the street from Flat Breads. Fortunately Burlington is a very walkable city, so no need for cabs, designated drivers, or public transport schedules. The place was bustling (it happened to be UVM graduation weekend) but we were able to find some seats at the bar. Their Springtime IPA really stuck out, with a great noble hop character from the Perle hops used. I just do not seem to find that characteristic all that often in an IPA. The Red Burly Irish Ale, and Dogbite Bitter were both pleasant, enjoyable beers too.
Statue at The Alchamist
The next day on our drive back to Boston, we decided to stop in at The Alchemist in Waterbury for an early dinner. I had a burger, which was cooked competently, along with their Wild Child (American Wild style) and Shut The Hell Up (American Mild style). The Wild was excellent with a great sour flavor, and the Shut The Hell Up had a rather intense hop aroma but a great malty presence in the mouth. If I did not have a three hour drive in front of me I would have loved to have a couple more of their beers. My wife, along with getting a sampler, enjoyed a pint of the Heady Topper (DIPA), which just smelled hop-riffic. Unfortunately The Alchemist does no off-site sales, no bottles or growlers, so to sample their wares you have to go to the source. I hope to be back soon.
Overall a very enjoyable trip into Vermont. I just scratched the surface with my trip, and I hope to explore Vermont in more detail in the future.