Vermont Is Officially America's Craft Beer Capital
It's official. C+R Research has named the Craft Beer Capital of America and it's Vermont, home to 11.5 craft breweries for every 100,000 of-age adults. Here's how to do an epic craft beer road trip across the Green Mountain State.
Photo By: Becky Lotka
Photo By: River Roost Brewery
Photo By: The Parker Pie Co.
Photo By: Hill Farmstead Brewery / Bob M Montgomery Images
Photo By: Rock Art Brewery
Photo By: The Alchemist
Photo By: Prohibition Pig
Photo By: Burlington Beer Company
Photo By: Otter Creek Brewing Co.
Photo By: Northshire Brewery
Begin your tour of Vermont brews in the artsy mountain town of Brattleboro on the far east side of the state. Thanks to Hermit Thrush Brewery, Brattleboro is home to the only brewing company in Vermont to specialize in sour beers, like Party Guy and Po Tweet, which are made from locally-sourced hops, grains and fruits. Next, drive one hour north on I-91 to Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden in Windsor. Take a 30-minute tour on weekends, then settle in with a pint as you look out on the bottling line.
White River Junction
Just 20 minutes up I-91 lies White River Junction, a historic village that's home to River Roost Brewery. This small batch brewery is known for full-flavored IPAs, like Strong Suit and Martian Moon House (both double IPAs). When your IPA of choice is on tap, fill up a growler to bring home. The blossoming arts and culture scene makes this small town worthy of a weekend getaway. Make this stop part of a road trip or hop off at the end of Amtrak's Vermonter line.
Settle in for 90 minutes of driving and take in the stunning views in every direction on the way to Glover. It's home to just 966 people as of the 2000 census. Stop in The Parker Pie Co., a small country store turned funky, laid-back pizza shop touted as a foodie destination. It's also known for a variety of exceptional beers brewed in-house and across the state, like Hill Farmstead's Abner. For the littles, order up a pint of Rookie's Root Beer. The Parker Pie Co. is a favorite among both locals and visitors making their way through town.
Re-position your car southward and drive along Vermont's Route 16 to Greensboro for a pint or two at Hill Farmstead Brewery. Named the Best Brewery in the World for 2018 by RateBeer (for the fifth year in a row), this microbrewery also earned accolades as the Best Brewery in the United States and in Vermont. Now that's some good beer. It's not easy to find, located down a dirt road in an area not known for good cell reception. But once you settle in, you'll realize the barrel-aged brews were worth the journey.
From Greensboro, wind along Route 15 from one charming village to the next before linking up with iconic Route 100, which boasts one of the best fall foliage drives in all of New England. Stop at Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville for a sample flight or a pint of their flagship ale, Ridge Runner. It's been said that Rock Art has been brewing craft beer well before "craft beer" was a part of anyone's vernacular. They may be little, but they are mighty, even taking on Monster Energy Drinks over the naming of their "Vermonster" beer (Rock Art won).
Drive 15 minutes along Route 100 to postcard-perfect Stowe, a small town deservedly feted as the "Ski Capital of the East." It's also home to The Alchemist, a family-owned brewery known for unfiltered IPAs. Among its many accolades, The Alchemist is celebrated for its Double IPA Heady Topper, which currently ranks sixth on Beer Advocate's Top-250 list. The Alchemist operates two breweries in Vermont and distributes both Heady Topper and Focal Banger (#73 on Beer Advocate's list) throughout the Green Mountain State.
The next village along scenic Route 100 is Waterbury, home to some of the best craft beer bars in Vermont. Stop in Blackback Pub for a rotating tap of incredible brews from across the state, as well as a full menu of locally-sourced fare. Another popular choice is Prohibition Pig for mouthwatering smoked barbecue and more than 20 craft beers on tap. Save room for a scoop or two at the Ben & Jerry's Factory, which also calls Waterbury home.
From Waterbury, it's a 30-minute ride up I-89 to Williston, home to Burlington Beer Company. One prized brew is Inertia, a double stout made from a rotating roster of ingredients, like marshmallow, graham cracker cereal and chocolate (campfire perfect, in our opinion). From here, it's on to Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington. Settle in at this farm-to-table gastropub's seasonal beer garden, which boasts a rotating tap of 30 beers from across the state and around the world.
Next, hop over to Route 7, making your first stop at Otter Creek Brewing Co. Start in the visitors center, then move over to the pub for a delicious lunch, including a sampling of Vermont cheeses from a curated menu. Four year-round brews are available, including the All Souls Lager and Daily Dose IPA. From here, Drop-In Brewery is less than three miles down the road. Sample flagship brew, Sunshine & Hoppiness, as well as Heart of Lothian, another favorite that's on tap year-round. Seven house-made brews are always on tap.
The last stop before leaving Vermont is Bennington. It's a scenic two-hour drive from Middlebury, but the time in the car is well worth it once you stop at Northshire Brewery. This pet-friendly neighborhood craft brewery welcomes with a half-dozen beers on tap, including Battenkill Ale, a chocolate stout, and Northshire Hefeweizen. Before you leave the state, make a stop at the Bennington Battle Monument, the tallest man-made structure in Vermont. It's also Vermont's most popular state historic site.