Almost 200 years ago, during an embargo on English goods, Vermont’s Long Trail was used as a smuggling route for British goods and supplies. Then, 100 years later, the trail was used once again to smuggle alcohol from Canada during the Prohibition. Smugglers used Smuggler’s Notch, made up of dense woods, dark caves, and steep cliffs, to aid in their operation. These days, modern day smugglers make their way through the Notch to get their hands on delicious, and completely legal, beer and food from Vermont’s new brewpubs: the Crop Bistro and Brewster River Pub.
The easiest way to begin your smuggling adventure is at the Crop Bistro and Brewery off route 108 in Stowe, Vermont. The Crop Bistro and Brewery has been open since January of 2012 and brewing beer since January of 2013. They have a pub type area perfect for snacks and beer, in addition to bistro style dining, both indoor and outdoor. The brewmaster is Will Gilson, a 20 year veteran of the industry, who was previously Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing’s brewmaster. Although Crop seems to specialize in German lagers, Gilson also produces deliciously hoppy IPA’s and even tart cherry milk stouts. In addition to a solid selection of house-made beer, Crop sustains a magnificent bottle and draught list, including beers handpicked from Vermont and around the world. I prefer to spend my time in the pub where I can sit at the bar with their hoppiest house beer, their house-made pickle of the day, and a big soft pretzel.
The real smuggling adventure begins as you continue on route 108 towards Mount Mansfield and Brewster River Pub. You’ll continue along 108 as it slowly begins the ascent up Mount Mansfield ultimately zig-zagging around large boulders towards the top. When you finally make it to the top, you could park your car for some hiking around amazing views, waterfalls, and caves, however, your mission requires you to begin the descent into Jeffersonville and, ultimately, the Brewster River Pub and Brewery.
Positioned right down the road from the locals’ favorite skiing resort, Smuggler’s Notch, the pub has a classic ski lodge feel to it. Yet, it is equipped with an outdoor volleyball and horse shoes, perfect for spending time outside during those beautiful summer sunsets behind Mount Mansfield. Brewster River Pub is also the most indoor fun available on Jeffersonville’s side of the mountain with free pool on Sundays, pub quiz night on Mondays, and open mic night on Wednesdays. Most importantly, though, co-owner, Bill Mossinghoff, started brewing Brewster River’s own beer this year in their brand-new brewing system. Brewster River consistently has at least a couple taps devoted to their house beer with recent offerings of a rye IPA and a barleywine. Visitors can look forward to a multitude of styles including an Irish red ale and a honey orange blonde beer. In addition to the tasty beer, Brewster River offers food that utilizes local ingredients to create delectable bar food such as duck wings and Andouille corn dogs in addition to different sandwiches and burgers. I couldn’t pass up an order of Chili Rellenos washed down by their house-brewed barley wine.
You won’t go thirsty when visiting the Stowe-Smuggler’s Notch region, but if you do find yourself looking for more, check out nearby drinking attractions Smuggler’s Notch distillery in Jeffersonville, Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, and Lost Nation Brewery also in Morrisville.