It was an epically cold and dismal day last month in Burlington when I was scheduled to join the Burlington Brew Tour, which made it, in my opinion, the perfect day to get lost in the multitude of beer offerings this winter-bound town had to offer. A bit before 11 a.m., the Burlington Brew Tour’s minibus rolled up to my house to pick me up for my adventure before gathering other tourists and curious local beer enthusiasts from the Sheraton and Hotel Vermont. (The Brew Tour conveniently picks you up and drops you off at your desired location-earning them high safety and convenience marks in my book!)
Our first stop was the historically significant Vermont Pub and Brewery-Greg Noonan's original brewpub, and the first of its kind in Vermont. Noonan was the godfather of the craft beer movement in Vermont, and a stop at his original brewery is on every beergeek’s bucket list. They treat you well there. After our tour of the facilities we walked into the barroom to a lineup of six ample tastings. The sun made a momentary appearance and set off the rainbow of hues in our flight-from their famous Black IPA to their bright pink Forbidden Fruit, which is colored by the 500lbs of raspberries used in its brewing. Our tour guide Matt took us through each sample, and answered all our questions with the enthusiasm and knowledge of a brewer - which Matt has been since his teens.
At the Switchback Brewery, our next stop, we got to marvel at their 1964 German copper brewhouse and explore (and imbibe) with the guidance of one of their brewers, whose enthusiasm about their beer was contagious. Switchback is a great Vermont success story and the brewery was definitely a highlight of the tour. After the 8 (ish?-this is where I stopped counting) beer samples, it was time to shuttle down Shelburne Road to Fiddlehead Brewery and Folino’s pizza! Fiddlehead Brewer Matt Cohen has taken Vermont by storm with his highly drinkable IPA and it paired beautifully with the wood fired Neapolitan pizza we had for lunch. Burlington Brew Tour timed and paired lunch perfectly, and we were all psyched to dig in to the various steaming pies they kept bringing to our table.
No Vermont brew tour would be complete without a visit to Magic Hat Brewery. The tasting room at the Magic Hat “Artifactory” is a veritable beer circus, featuring 48 beers on tap, a gallery showcasing local artists, even a photo booth complete with props. Magic Hat has been a strong supporter of art and music in Vermont, and the factory celebrates Burlington music and culture as much as their beer. Our tour guide Matt was much needed at this point to point us in the right direction for our sampling, with almost 50 beers to choose from one must be discerning. I was thrilled to see many beers you can’t find bottled, and particularly enjoyed the Steven Sour-a collaboration between Magic Hat and our first stop, the Vermont Pub and Brewery.
I left my first Burlington Brew Tour thrilled to have all this new insight and pride for my hometown’s brew history, plus a few new favorite pints! Check out Burlington Brew Tours different excursions and get your own inside look at Vermont’s booming beer scene!
To find out more about the Burlington Brew Tour visit their site at http://www.burlingtonbrewtours.com/. You can also find listings of Vermont breweries open for visitors at our Places - Breweries page.