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

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Smelling Jerry Garcia in Northern Vermont

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August 25, 2012:

“Are you ready for winter?”

“Yeah, I love the snow!”

Much of the country is still experiencing scorching temperatures at the end of August, or preparing for hurricane season. However, in Vermont, the end of August quickly brings cool weather and polka dots the hillsides with bright oranges and deep maroons, as the trees prepare for autumn.  I’m not exactly fazed by this conversation, as I have already begun dreaming of hitting the slopes this winter myself. Preparing for winter in August may not exactly make sense to the rest of the country, but it seems fitting here. It must be a bug you catch after you have lived in Vermont through all four seasons. After the first full year, you realize that the locals weren’t kidding you when they said there were only 2 months of summer here in Vermont. Yet, instead of getting bummed out, you enjoy each season to the fullest.

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On Saturday we were able to make it up to the Newport area for our first time. Though we have been through Newport before, we never spent any actual time there. When we found out that Jay Peak was showcasing Jerry Garcia art and memorabilia, we figured we could head up and stop in Newport also.

Newport, Vermont is located just over the Quebec border in northeastern Vermont right on Lake Mephremagog. The highlight of this small town is walking along the boardwalk on a nice, summer day and eating at one of the restaurants that overlook the lake. We chose the Eastside Restaurant, which was not only filling, but had an outside bar on the lake and a wonderful bakery. We were also able to stop a little outside of town at the recently opened, Kingdom Brewing. This nano-brewery just opened this summer and has a tasting room located at the brewery. The brewery is definitely off the beaten path but wasn’t too hard to find with directions. We tasted all of the beers and were quite impressed with the beers that had replaced hops with spruce tips. These were unexpectedly easy to drink and delicious! We ended the day at Jay Peak Mountain resort to look at Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead’s artwork. I had no idea Jerry was such an artist (outside of music) and so the display was really interesting. I found the smell in the room to change from the smell of paper to B.O. in one corner of the room. Interestingly enough, this was where Jerry’s signature black t-shirt was on display. It’s not every day you find yourself smelling the B.O. of a past musician.