Fall Folliage 2013

Fall Folliage 2013

I blog for many reasons. One of those reasons happens to be to document those moments that I wonder about year to year. When was the first snow last year? Was mud season this horrible in 2012? Is this a late foliage season? Every year I wonder these types of things, and I have always looked forward to the day when I actually have it documented to look back on. I began last year with the first snow of the season. I was surprised looking back on it that it was as early as November 5!

Anyways, foliage season started last weekend with this weekend seeing A LOT of changes. On Saturday we got up bright and early to make it to the last Mad River Valley farmer’s market that the brewer of Lawson’s Liquids would be at to sell beer. Bright maroons were beginning to explode from the tree lines as we zig-zagged down route 100 towards Waitsfield. By the time we made our way back that afternoon, the tree line seemed to be even brighter and more magnificent before. Then, the very next morning we noticed more colors outside of our window. So, I believe this week will be the peak foliage, and hopefully, I can get some more pictures. I am planning on climbing Mount Elmore, as Pup and I do every year (this will be our third year!), just her and I. That should give me a good opportunity for Fall Foliage pictures.

 

Zwanze Day in Vermont

Zwanze Day in Vermont

Have you ever heard of Zwanze Day? Every year, beer enthusiasts celebrate the release of a special sour beer made by Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium. In Flemish, a zwanze is actually a joke, and Zwanze Day is meant to be fun day of drinking this rare beer that is different each year. Cantillon actually hand picks the bars and breweries across the world that they would like to participate in Zwanze day. Then, they send the Zwanze beer over to be tapped at the same time around the world (3 PM EST for us).

Zwanze Day Tickets

Zwanze Day Tickets

Here in Vermont, we were lucky enough to have a brewery that was picked by Cantillon to participate – Hill Farmstead. Hill Farmstead aka Shaun Hill (the brewmaster) really knows how to throw a party! Only ticket holders were allowed at the brewery for the day, and a tent was set up complete with five different beers: 2 Grassroots beers & 3 Cantillon beers (including Zwanze). They decided to approach the festival in a different manner than usual, handing out colored tickets that corresponded to each beer. Each person received one ticket per beer. This gave each drinker a guarantee that they would be able to try all of the beers so that they didn’t have to worry about waiting in any lines. For once, a beer event wasn’t all about getting a beer and drinking it in line so that you could get your hands on the next beer. Instead, we were able to hang out on Hill Farmstead’s beautiful land, enjoying each and every beer in a civilized manner. Shaun Hill mentioned that he is always trying to think of better ways to organize beer events, and I really thought this way worked well.

After the Zwanze event, we headed over the “Zwanze After Party” at a local restaurant, Parker Pie. This is one of our favorite hang outs in Northeastern Vermont. I’ve actually mentioned it before here. Parker Pie had some great Cantillon bottles and I was hooked on their Kriek as usual!

Post Zwanze Day at Parker Pie

Post Zwanze Day at Parker Pie

Burlington Brewers Festival 2013

Burlington Brewers Festival 2013

It’s July 19, just before 11:30 am, and beer enthusiasts from across New England, and beyond, crowd behind a single white string, their empty sample glass in hand. When time changes to 11:30, the white string instantly disappears beneath the crowd, and the beer tasting commences. This is the scene as the Vermont Brewers Festival begins, and although this year began much the same as previous years, 2013 introduced new breweries and beers to the thirsty visitors who were able to get their hands on completely sold-out tickets.

Burlington Brewers Tents

Burlington Brewers Tents

Tickets sold out, to all sessions, for this year’s festival in just 34 hours. The three sessions saw more than 7,000 visitors this year and for good reason. As New England’s oldest and largest beer festival, the Vermont Brewers Festival consistently showcases the best of what Vermont beer has to offer in addition to highlighting Quebec brews. This year, lines began forming early for certain breweries, quickly displaying what breweries had the beers highest in demand. Some Vermont breweries with longer lines included: the Alchemist, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, Hill Farmstead Brewery, Kingdom Brewing, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. In addition, a number of Quebec breweries saw long lines including Brasserie Dunham, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, and Micro-brasserie Le Trou du Diable.

Brewers Festival Goers Enjoying the View

Brewers Festival Goers Enjoying the View

I was most surprised by the lines that formed at Fiddlehead Brewing Company and Kingdom Brewing (whose line formed towards the end). These two breweries are lesser known outside of the Vermont community, but showed up with such great beers that became quick favorites. Fiddlehead’s stand out beer that brought forth the crowd was the ‘Hodad Vanilla, Chocolate, Coconut Porter’. It is described by Fiddlehead as “paradise in a glass” and did not disappoint. The coconut notes stuck out with a powerful chocolate porter punch that followed. Kingdom Brewing showed up with ‘Benedict Arnold’, a sour porter that hit all of the right notes in terms of sour and drinkability. It left me smacking my lips for more. Although I noticed quite a buzz about this beer, a later crowd formed for Kingdom’s ‘Addy Pearls Spice Maple Rum Ale’, an ale made with pure Vermont maple sap and stored in Thomas Tew Spiced rum barrels. I was amazed at the maple and rum tastes that hit my taste buds at full force as well as how much I ended up enjoying the combination of those tastes.

The Vermont Brewers Festival continues to deliver a different kind of beer festival in New England. It’s set in a truly idyllic location and features the best of what Vermont has to offer. The festival continues to reveal new and breakout brewers from across the region, in addition to groundbreaking and experimental beers, making it the most exciting beer festival in New England for both the visitors and the brewers.

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Overview of my Summer: 2013

Summer has come and gone, with little to no blogging accomplished. I have no excuses. I had every intention of displaying my favorite summer recipes that used all of the veggies out of my new garden, but instead gobbled most of these up before I had time to snap a couple of photos. No worries, though, I will be writing some more about the summer in the upcoming days. Then, maybe once I am all caught up, I can get back into current blogging.

Anyways, I really had another amazing summer. It was so great, that I feel fine with letting it go and welcoming Fall with open arms.

Trapp Family Lodge

Anth and I kicked Summer off with a visit from my parents. We were able to show them around some of Vermont including Burlington and Stowe and made sure they ate and drank the best of Vermont (maybe too much!). Trapp Family Lodge, pictured above, offers amazing views, delicious beer made on the premises, and a variety of luscious baked goods.

Young Garden

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also started our first real garden this year. We have been wanting a garden for the longest time, but have been moving in and out of new places with little to no land over the past two and half years during summer. This year, we moved to our new place, that had some room for a small garden in May, and were quick to start planting. Considering the hard ships many gardeners and farmers had this year with too much rain, we had a bountiful year. Here, you can see our baby kale turning into more adult kale. It was convenient and fun having kale, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and parsley whenever we needed it. In addition, we had beets, zucchini, mint, hot peppers, and chives at other times.

We didn’t end up camping as much as I had hoped but did get a trip in at the beginning of summer. Our favorite place to camp in New England is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This time we ended up at a cute little campground set right behind a covered bridge.

White Mountains

White Mountains

Shortly after camping, we made our way into Portland, Maine for the “Festival“, an amazing international beer event. There, we got to chat with some of our favorite brewers from across the world, while also sampling their beer. We love Portland, so we also enjoyed the weekend eating, drinking, and basking in the sunshine around the city.

Portland

As I briefly mentioned above, cooking this summer was fantastic. I had so much to cook with from the garden, plenty from the farmer’s markets, and it seemed like everywhere we went, we were ending up with more vegetables and meal ideas. Although soup is usually thought of as a savory winter meal, whenever the garden would get too overwhelming, I would end up throwing everything together for some of the best summer vegetable soups I have ever had. One of my favorite memories of this summer, is having the door wide open, Pup laying outside in the sun, while I cook up a hearty vegetable soup.

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer in Vermont is not complete without a trip to see Bread and Puppet. I have other posts on here just about Bread and Puppet, so if you have never heard of it, take a look here.

Bread and Puppet Show

Bread and Puppet Show

I continued my mentorship with Jeremy this summer and we ended up having all kinds of fun, finally getting to enjoy swimming holes and hiking. One of his favorite places ended up being Moss Glenn Falls which is located in Stowe, Vermont.

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

The Festival wasn’t the only beer festival of the year. Of course, we also enjoyed the Vermont Brewers Festival that takes place right on Lake Champlain. This year the underdog breweries were the highlight, and I will be adding an article about it shortly.

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Surprisingly, Anth, Pup, and I also took a trip outside of New England this Summer. We usually try to save those types of trips for the other seasons, but when my Mom invited us down to the Outer Banks for a few days, we just couldn’t pass it up this year. I was able to show Pup and Anth all of my favorite childhood spots, including my favorite Southern Lighthouses.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

This year, I finally jumped the Ausable River Gorge, right outside of Lake Placid. We had toyed with this idea late last Summer, but were never able to figure out the logistics of it at the time. This year, though, I took the leap.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Most of our Summer was spent enjoying hikes, covered bridges, and brewpubs right in our backyard of Vermont and New Hampshire. As usual, the Vermont Summer activities did not disappoint.

Martin Covered Bridge - Marshfield, VT

Martin Covered Bridge – Marshfield, VT

Sterling Pond - hike from Smugglers Notch

Sterling Pond – hike from Smugglers Notch

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

Vermont’s Great Indoors: Brewpub Hopping Smuggler’s Notch

Vermont’s Great Indoors: Brewpub Hopping Smuggler’s Notch

Crop Bistro & BreweryAlmost 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.

Crop Bistro Beer List

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.

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.

Brewster River Beer & Horseshoes

My May in Vermont

Ramps

Things change here in Vermont very quickly once we reach May. Spring turns from Vermont from mud and maple back to the Green Mountain State. Once the snow completely melts and the grass and trees are able to breathe a bit, different shades of green seem to sprout from the valleys to the mountains all at once. Then the dandelions begin to appear. Before we know it, the middle of May brings ramps, fiddleheads, and deep green fields covered in bright yellow dandelions.

We began May in the Mad River Valley, foraging for wild baby leeks (ramps) and exploring the valley before tourist season hits. We make the trip to the Mad River Valley a couple times a year, and also enjoy driving through it on our way to the Middlebury area. I’ve updated the site with an article on Warren, but the Mad River Valley has many towns, forests, covered bridges, and swimming holes to explore outside of Warren also.

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

Anth and his ramps!

Anth and his ramps!

You have to get your hands dirty!

You have to get your hands dirty!

Vermont’s Great Indoors: Waterbury

Blackback Pub

I’m on a constant quest to find small towns that offer all of my favorite indoor indulgences: delicious cuisine, top rate beer and wine, and friendly company. I’m on the lookout for towns I can visit that only require crossing the road to go from one great establishment to another. These towns may be far and few, but I recently found one more to add to my list: Waterbury, Vermont.  Waterbury, Vermont is the kind of town that appreciates food and drink. Known best for being the birthplace of the Alchemist Brewery (parents of the top rated beer Heady Topper), Waterbury offers a relaxed tone perfect for indoor amusements.

Mad Taco in Blackback Pub

Although the Alchemist Brewery no longer owns a brewpub in town, the Blackback Pub & Flyshop will give you exactly the atmosphere you are looking for. Located on the corner of Main and Stowe Street, Blackback is comprised of two rooms and one bar completely made out of old bowling alley flooring. Although there are a couple of televisions, the entertainment is mostly good conversation. On my last visit to the pub, there were 16 beers on tap with half of them being from local breweries and all of them being top rated craft beer. It didn’t take long for me to get comfortable with a Hill Farmstead beer, and a highly recommended burrito. In addition to serving great brews, the Blackback Pub & Flyshop is also home to the Mad Taco, one of the best known burrito spots in Vermont.

Cork's SelectionsWhen you’re ready for a change in scenery, it won’t take long to find your next destination. Cork Wine Bar & Market is Blackback’s neighbor and offers a variety of wines, beer, cheese, and other delicacies such as oysters on Wednesdays. The interior is simple yet gorgeous and there is a wide, carefully selected variety of wine by the bottle for sale. There is no better way to enjoy Vermont than with a glass of local wine, a wedge of local cheese, and a spot on Cork’s patio. Fridays and Saturdays can be quite packed at this local hotspot, but it is well worth it, especially for the live music on Saturdays.

If wine isn’t your thing, then head across the street to the Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room. With a whopping 38 draft beers, a full bar, and a pool table, you won’t be disappointed in your options. This place specializes in comfort food, but the outrageous beer list certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.  There is always something going on at the Reservoir including frequent beer promotions and live entertainment.  Cork is across from the Resevoir

You will undoubtedly visit Waterbury, Vermont because it is beer capital of Vermont, however, you are likely to come back because it offers all of the indoor amenities we value and appreciate in one place. To get to Waterbury, follow 89 North two exits past the Montpelier exit.

The Resevoir's Heady Topper Pool Table

Don’t Miss Warren

Warren Town SignBe careful when driving through Warren, Vermont. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you

could just miss one of Vermont’s original classic villages.  To get there, you must take route 100, a curvy, hilly road that sticks close to Vermont’s rivers and mountain valleys, and is also known as one of the most scenic drives in all of New England. Watch out, the Warren Village sign is your only reminder to change course towards town. Once in town, Warren Village welcomes visitors with a timeless atmosphere and many outdoor recreation opportunities, certain to make you feel like a kid again.

Throughout the 19th century, Warren was a lumber and grain milling center. The mills produced everything from wooden bowls to shingles and exported most products to southern New England. You can experience this 19th century history by visiting many of the original town buildings. There are over 75 buildings and sites in all that are a part of the Warren Historic District. Start your tour in the center of Warren Village, on the hill that houses the Warren United Church. The church dates back to 1838 and is a good viewpoint of the rest of town. Be sure to also include: the 1867 schoolhouse (now the Municipal Building and Library), the Village Cemetery of 1826, and the Warren House Hotel (1840) which is now the town’s general store. Although this building has a new purpose, it is still the center of village activity.

The Warren Store is a Must-Stop for local specialties, exotic clothes, and friendly chatter.

The Warren Store is a Must-Stop for local specialties, exotic clothes, and friendly chatter.

After you have enjoyed the classic ambiance of Warren Village’s rich history, you can move on to Warren’s outdoor amusements. On your way out of the village, though, don’t miss Warren’s unusual covered bridge. The Lincoln Gap Bridge, built in 1879-80, is a queenpost type covered bridge; unusual in how the two portals differ, meaning that the entrance extends farther than the exit. To this day, a town ordinance exists that restricts any alterations to the bridge unless two-thirds of the voters approve a change.

Don't forget to stop at Warren's covered bridge. Make sure to drive through, then park and read about the bridge on the plaques inside.

Don’t forget to stop at Warren’s covered bridge. Make sure to drive through, then park and read about the bridge on the plaques inside.

A trip to Warren in the summer is not complete without experiencing its natural wonders. An absolute must is a visit to what the locals know as Warren Falls. Although somewhat hidden off route 100 south, Warren Falls, is a natural water park for all ages, complete with water slides naturally carved out of boulders and diving platforms high enough to get your adrenaline going. Whether or not you are interested in taking a dip, the cosmic variations of blue and green that exist throughout the falls are sure to impress. Next, drive or bike down route 100 south to Moss Glen Falls. This unique landform is not a swimming hole but is an easy hike to two magnificent, clear blue waterfalls. If the swimming holes of Warren are too off the beaten path for you, take a trip to Blueberry Lake, a warm, pristine lake that was actually once a marsh. The lake is great for swimming, kayaking, and sailboats.

Warren is a must stop on any trip to Vermont. It is close to many other Mad River Valley attractions in addition to being less than an hour to Stowe, Montpelier, and even Burlington. Although summer is the best season to enjoy its many swimming holes, Warren is remarkable during any season.

Enjoy more pictures below:

Warren Falls is one of Vermont's most beautiful swimming holes.

Warren Falls is one of Vermont’s most beautiful swimming holes.

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