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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Vermont - Part 2 - Day 2

Break out the horns... The awaited Vermont Day 2 post is here...

(George, if this is too long for you to read, print it out and bring it to the potty..)

Lets have a quick recap.
Amber and I went to Vermont. We ventured to Waterbury Vermont. The Alchemist brewery rocked the house. Recap over.

So, we got up the next morning and decided to take a quick drive around Waterbury. We were shocked to stumble upon one of Ben and Jerry's ice cream factories. We had some time to kill, so we went on the tour and sample some ice cream. It was pretty cool to see the factory, but unfortunately it was the only day that they weren't in production. At the end of the tour, we sampled a cross breed of the chunky monkey and chocolate chip cookie dough. Yum Yum.

Tour was over, we check out the joint and went on our merry little way (to BURLINGTON VERMONT)

It was early in the day, but we had tons to do. We planned on visiting Magic Hat, American Flatbread, Vermont Pub and Brewery, and Three needs. PLUS... we were meeting our resident Vermont tour guides in Burlington (Steve Rheaume and Sharon something).


Magic Hat Brewery
. Home of the hippies and dark lords. For those who are unaware, Ian and I already had numerous email communications with folks from Magic Hat. The coolest thing is that each of them get to pick their own nickname. For Example, Kate La Riviere is the Minister of Fermentation Elation Relations and Michelle Noonan is the High Priestess of Peddling. Pretty cool, huh?

So, we arrived at the brewery and noticed that things were getting started. Workers were setting up tables and getting ready to serve the masses (hotdogs and burgers) and wash dogs. Pretty cool.

We ventured on in and immediately joined the tour. The first part of the tour takes you through a collection of Magic Hat history. It was pretty neato. Then you walk up a ramp and take a pit stop to watch a movie. We didn't get to see the whole movie (cause we joined a tour that had just started), but it was about the history of Magic Hat and information about brewing beer. I wondered if they have this movie on their website or if they send it to adoring fans.

After the movie, we continued up the ramp to a big landing area. From this spot, in the middle of the brewery, you could see where the magic happens. The tour guide proceeds to explain how their beer is made and describes the whole process. (For those interested, they also use the Ringwood yeast and ferment their beer in open fermenters.)

The tour guide provided a lot of information to the novice user, but didn't clearly explain some parts of the brewing process. I was shocked that she came off a little arrogant when describing their bottling line and whom they purchased it from. It was ok.. I sorta shrugged it off... (If I had fully shrugged it off, then I wouldn't be mentioning it now..)

The tour was over, so we ventured back to the store and to the tasting area. This is where it gets exciting. Magic Hat had many offerings available on tap that they either don't bottle (because it was a special batch.. maybe a test batch) or because it wasn't in season for that offering yet. Here are some of the beers that we tried...

* Thumbsucker - Russian Imperial Stout
* Kerouiac
* Circus Boy
* Hocus Pocus
* Belgian Double - (one of the wonder beers)
* Belgian Wit
* Single Chair (temporarily replaced with a Springfield tap)
* #9

The Thumbsucker was very tasty. After enjoying some samples, we shopped a little and realized that we needed to get this wagon in gear.

Since Magic Hat is on the outskirts of the city, we followed Steve/Sharon to the center of Burlington. We weren't quite sure where the breweries were, but we decided to walk around the shopping area and ask for direction.


Our SECOND STOP was the American Flatbread Company.

Yes, you are right. Flatbread pizzas. The home of the pie. The place to indulge on good food and beer. While waiting for seats, we sat at the bar and ordered a pint. While waiting, we talked to the hippies next to us. We learned that the guy was a fellow home brewer. How freakin cool. He doesn't brew beer, but had been developing a recipe for a medicinal meed using herbs and maple syrup. It was interesting, but I'll stick with beer for now.

American Flatbread was cool. It could be considered the Sunset Tap and Grille of Vermont. They had about 8 beers of their "Zero Gravity" brand on tap, along with other microbrews on tap and in the bottle. It was a very tasty offering.

T.L.A - American IPA It was just OK.
Extra Stout - (Irish style dry stout, but bitter) Creamy and hoppy, it was very tasty.

After getting a table, we ordered a pizza and asked the waitress what was her favorite beer. She informed us that the Heavyweight Brewing Company in New Jersey, that has ties with their head brewery, was going out of business and they had a few of their last kegs. We decided to to give their beer a try.

Heavyweight Lunacy (from New Jersey) - Medium Amber color with a hazy body. Very typical Belgian wit, smooth, strong banana notes, soft carbonation, fruity. Served in a tulip glass.

Heavyweight Baltus (from New Jersey) - Dark brown color with hints of malts. Moderately sweet and a light body. It had a strange finish feel on the palate, partially astringent. Served in a tulip glass.

The lunacy ranked in the 76 percentile and the Baltus ranked in the 79 percentile on Ratebeer.com. The American Flatbread company was a fun place to visit. Their pizza was good and it is definitely a place that I would return to.


Our THIRD Stop was the Vermont Pub and Brewery -

This brewery is side by each with the Flatbread company, so we ventured on over. It was busier, but we managed to score a table outside. Amber and I ordered a beer sampler and some gravy fries. Sharon tried the Sweet potato fries and Steve had regular fries and their own sampler.

Amber and Sean's list (with quick notes)

* Devil was kicked so we had the Burly [Smooth, a little weak in taste, not a typical red]
* Cask Stout (Amber's Favorite) [Smokey, clean and smooth, buttery aroma, long duration on the palate]
* Beetle [A lemon would be a nice compliment to the drink, sorta weak, watery, light, cloudy body]
* IPA (Sean's favorite) [sprucy aroma, good lacing, much better than flatbread's IPA, moderately bitter taste on the palate]

* Bitter [pretty decent, fruity citrus hops]
* Fruit (Steve and Sharon's Favorite) [Raspberry greatness - best of show, Red cloudy body, light, great lacing
* Alien [very bud like]

Steve and Sharon's list

* Beetle
* Burley
* Cask Stout
* Bitter (ESB)
* Alien


Fourth STOP Three Needs

Also in walking distance, we ventured on to three needs. This brewpub has a fairly small bar on the right with some tables on the left. Pool table in the back. No food offered. Atmosphere more like a run-of-the-mill bar rather than a brewpub. No printed menus of the beers, though they are listed on a board. The bartender was friendly and you could tell it was a townie hang out.. but we were there at a slow time.

They had three beers on draft, but we just shared two of them amongst the four of us (the Flemish Sour and a Stout). It was a pretty cool place, it would be fun to go back when we had more time to hang out. BTW.... What are the three needs?

This was the end of our schedule tour and off to St. Johnsbury, Vermont. For those who don't know, Burlington is on the west border of Vermont and St. Johnsbury was on the East border of Vermont. Once we arrived to Steve's abode, Sharon was off to meet a friend. As a team, we decided to visit one additional brewery - Trout River Brewery in Lyndonville, Vermont to grab some dinner.

This happens to be the same town that Steve works in, but he never visited. We ventured into the restaurant and it was very laid back. Unbeknownst to us, the only thing on their menu was pizza. (For those who lost count, this would be the third pizza mean in two days.) We ordered up a pizza and a sampler to share amongst the three of us.

The sampler was ok. Each one of us had a different favorite.. Once dinner was over, we went back to Steve's apartment and raised the white flag. I was tired, not from drinking too much beer, but from all of the traveling. It was a long day, but we had a great time.


In Summary, the best of the day was Magic Hat. They had many different beers on tap and they were the only one that we toured. Had we known it would have been pizza pizza pizza day, I might have picked up a hotdog or two.

The place that I would most like to return to would be American Flatbread's because they had a great selection of beer and sharp looking pub.

The least favorite of the day was the Vermont Pub and Brewery. BUT... I recommend that you check it out for yourself....

*** More story to come in the Day 3 blog....


  • At Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 10:54:00 PM EDT, Blogger Steve Rheaume said…

    Damn, that was a massive day, eh? Looking forward to your report on Day Three! Wish we could have joined you for Long Trail and especially for Harpoon. Perhaps another time! Here are my thoughts to follow up on your detailed review:

    Magic Hat: I have never been a fan. Was not too keen on the options I tried but I did find the Thumbsucker delightfully tasty despite not being a fan of Stouts. The brewery itself was interesting, entertaining, and full of that off beat Chittenden County flavor of having hip and cool Burlington mixed with the hippie factor. Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work was a nice touch, lots of happy pups walking around with their owners/workers.

    American Flatbread has an impressive selection though I was disappointed in the T.L.A. American IPA and owe Sean big time for the assist (oooh, my turn would come at stop three!). Great atmosphere and selection, it is disappointing to have only found this place after more than two years of frequenting Burlington.

    No disappointment; however, in not having missed out on the Vermont Pub and Brewery these past two years. Though I was blown away by the Fruity Beer offering. Not normally found of fruity tasting beers, this was my favorite of the afternoon. The Ethan Alien was a typical lighter beer. Sean, you need to post the picture of Sharon and I suffering through the Bitter and Burley for the No Beer Left Behind Campaign!

    On the Three Needs, I believe the bar keepers exact words about the Flemish Sour was that it would "make you pucker up." Truer words of a beer have never been spoken. That was definitely an experience.

    Stop five at Trout River was perhaps my biggest surprise of the day. I generally have found Trout River's brews to be excessively watery and not noteworthy. While that opinion is unchanged and reinforced, I was pleasantly surprised by the Barely Wine which I had not sampled before. And the Stout was extremely mild and pleasant for a Stout of which I usually do not like but found the Trout River Stout to be enjoyable.

    Definitely too much pizza just Saturday, let alone for your entire weekend. Next time up, you will need to put some local Northern New Hampshire brew pubs on the list for some of the finer craft brews I have sampled in the area. Cheers!


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