There are so many amazing things about Vermont, but for many a trip to Vermont isn't complete without a visit to one of their world-class breweries. Fair warning: This is not your dad’s beer. You won't find weak, run-of-the-mill brews in the Green Mountain State. This is the home of hazy IPAs, rich stouts, and everything in between. The craft beer scene here has blown up over the last few years, and Vermont lays claim to having the greatest number of highly ranked beers per capita than other any place in the world. Pinned as the IPA highway, Vermont is home to beer kings like The Alchemist, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Fiddlehead, Long Trail, Switchback, Foam Brewers – the list goes on. We set out on a journey to share this liquid gold with you. From the big fish to the up-and-coming small fry, there’s plenty of room in the pond for everyone.
When you ask someone about Vermont beer, they immediately think of The Alchemist. Their famous Heady Topper, once coveted and near impossible to get, is king in these parts. For the longest time, droves of visitors traveled the “Heady Topper Trail,” checking websites for release times, inventory stashes, and bouncing from location to location, buying up these silver bullets four cans at a time.
Now, with their new state-of-the-art brewery in Stowe, Heady Topper is a little easier to come by. Owners John and Jen Kimmich aren’t just brewing gods and goddesses: They are making serious waves in the local community. Their position as environmental activists is unmatched by other brewers, with a waste management solution that sets the bar high for other breweries. Leftover waste grain is sent to local farms for use as feed. What's left – including tank wash, yeast slurry, and spent hops are composted at Vermont Technical College.
Not only are they handling waste management well, but they're now utilizing solar power at both facilities, and any leftover power will be allocated for establishments in need of additional energy. As if you thought the beer couldn’t taste any better, now you can sip and feel good about it. Warning, the brewery does get crowded.
Tucked away in the small town of Brandon, Vermont, Foley Brothers is a true Vermont experience. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d absolutely drive by this place a multitude of times, and we really tested our driving skills making the hairpin left turn with the Airstream in tow. Hanging out at Foley Brothers is like hanging out in someone’s house – drinking some of the greatest beer in the state. The dark barn, friendly smiles, and care-free attitude make this brewery a must-visit. If you’re lucky, like us, you’ll catch them on a day when they just canned their famous Prospect. What they say is true – freshly canned beer really does taste better. Word-to-the-wise, though, if you visit during the week, they don’t serve food. Some must haves: Prospect and Fair Maiden.
For the longest time, Lawson's Finest Liquids pumped out their famous Sip of Sunshine from the Two Roads Brewery in CT. However, with their brand new space in Waitsfiled, VT, you can now visit this beer powerhouse and drink a plethora of draft beers! You’ll be introduced to beers you didn’t know they brewed, such as the Triple Sunshine and The Space in Between. They even serve light fare, such as pretzel bites and cheese plates to soak up those high ABVs.
A small brewhouse in Colchester, Vermont, Green Empire is just starting to make their mark on the Vermont craft beer scene. Brewers/founders Evan Vacarr and Dave Bombard started brewing several years ago and have turned that passion into a nano brewery with distribution mostly in Vermont. You won’t find much info yet on Green Empire, but if you can locate a can of ANY of their beer, we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed, especially if that can is Side Business.
The guys at Ten Bends brewery – Mike Scarlata and Jason Powell – have a small beer operation: A three barrel brewery in under 1400 square feet. But in that small space, Ten Bends is crushing it. Brewing as a side gig out of a tiny garage in Hyde Park, Vermont, Ten Bends is dishing out absolutely delicious beers. We loved hanging here – so down to earth and excited to share their beer with you. Hazy, juicy, full throttle New England style beer, Ten Bends is a must-visit if you are on the Vermont beer trail. Their hours are limited, so make sure you plan accordingly! A must-try is their DIPA Northern Heights.
When you think of Vermont beer, you think of juicy, hazy, unfiltered liquid delight. If there’s a brewery that's making the hazy of all hazy, it’s Foam Brewers. Started in 2016 by a group of industry professionals with a shared appreciation for brewing, science, art, music, and culture, this establishment is located on picturesque Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. They offer a rotating selection of artisan craft beer that draws in the masses. Try getting there on a can release day but beware – the line will be out the door.
Over the hill and through the woods to Hill Farmstead we go. Dirt roads, unsure turns, spotty GPS and the ripe smell of cow farms, the adventure is about as Vermont as it gets. It's an incredible thing to see how many people make the trek to Hill Farmstead, positioned relatively remotely from most tourist locations. But, the location of the brewery is worth every minute spent in the car. Located in the Northeast Kingdom, Hill Farmstead is home to the number one brewer in the world – Shaun Hill. A pioneer and true beer royalty, Shaun is King of the Hill. He is known to be a notorious perfectionist, philosopher, and producer of the most-sought-after beer in the country. Many of his beers, such as the Ancestral Series, are named after beloved family members – making the experience truly “Vermonty”. One of his hallmark beers, the Edward, named after his grandfather, is a true homage to the land and the man who started it all. Hill Farmstead Brewery sits on the property that belonged to Shaun’s grandfather and this American Pale Ale was brewed in his honor.
Even though Hill Farmstead doesn’t serve any food (apart from your standard cheese plate) there are rotating food trucks that pay visit to this famous establishment. Get lucky and you’ll be there on a day when wood-fired pizza is on the menu. We couldn’t have been more excited to smell that wood burning stove and melting cheese. You can enjoy your brews on their beautiful porch, inside at one of their antique-looking farm tables, or outside on their lawn overlooking the grounds. We opted for outdoors, since, well, it is Vermont. No matter where you choose, the beer will never cease to impress.
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As Airstream travels the country in search of unique Round Trip destinations, we keep our eye out for dedicated craftspeople who are passionate about manufacturing quality products. Like like the hundreds of production associates who hand-make Airstream travel trailers and touring coaches in our Jackson Center, Ohio manufacturing facility, they are committed to their craft – and to living their dreams. These are their stories.