Small Is Beautiful
Twelve years ago, Dave Broderick—owner of two well-known bars in New York City—was making frequent forays to Vermont in search of little-known beers and farmstead cheeses. His explorations of obscure breweries and small farms kindled a love for Vermont that was reflected on tap in his New York bars. Now a resident of Barnard, Vt., Broderick finds himself immersed in an eclectic community of brewers and pub owners offering a vision for craft beer that echoes the nature of this state—small by design and utterly focused on quality and innovation.
“Right now we’re in a golden age for beer in Vermont,” says Broderick from his 1790s home, once an early American tavern on the Royalton Turnpike in Barnard. An enthusiast and increasingly an expert on Vermont’s vibrant and hyper-local beer scene, Broderick has a barn filled with casks of aging beer, cider, and mead from around the state. Like many of Vermont’s small-scale farmers, the Green Mountain State’s brewing community is on the leading edge of a movement that values quality and sense of place as important benchmarks for success. These artisans of liquid libations envision a small brewpub or brewery in every community in the state, and there are more of them all the time.
Here’s Broderick’s list of just a few of the new places and people that you must check out if you’re into beer. For an even more comprehensive listing, visit the Vermont Brewers Association Web site (brewersvt.com).
Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Warren, VT
Sean Lawson is the director of Mad River Glen’s Environmental Program, and he also happens to brew beers that are recognized as some of the best in the world. A hobby home brewer since his college days at the University of Vermont, Lawson is now one of the country’s smallest commercial brewers. He brews one barrel at a time. “I’m interested in variety. In a given year, I’ll release 20 different beers.”
Lawson’s beers sell out quickly whether on tap or bottled. At the Warren Store, a sign limits customers to a single case of 22-ounce Lawson’s Finest bottles in a given day. Find it on tap at Mad River Glen or at American Flatbread in Waitsfield.
The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT
Head north on Route 100 and stop into a Waterbury hot spot, the Alchemist Pub and Brewery. Just a short drive from Stowe, Bolton, and the Mad River Valley, the Alchemist caters to localvores and beer aficionados alike, serving affordable local pub fare and a variety of highly sophisticated ales from its seven-barrel brewery. Brewer John Kimmich is often named one of Vermont’s best, and the pub is hopping nightly with both an après-ski crowd and an after-work crowd. Try the Holy Cow IPA.
Trapp Lager, Stowe, VT
Stowe’s historic Nordic ski resort Trapp Family Lodge is the home of brand-new Trapp Lager. Inspired by the great local brews of Germany and the Austrian alps, brewmaster Allen Van Anda and the Trapp family are bringing Old World flavors to Vermont. “They’re brewing exceptional lagers, which is very hard to do,” notes Dave Broderick. Trapp is just beginning to bottle and ship kegs throughout the state. Look for the goat’s horn tap handle.
Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro Bend, VT
Almost equidistant from Stowe, Jay Peak, Smugglers’ Notch, and Burke is the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend. Shaun Hill is a young brewer whose family ties in Greensboro stretch back to the 1780s. “All my beers are named after ancestors that worked this land. I’m keeping their memories alive. The barn burned down in 1978, the year before I was born. I might have been born into dairy farming. Instead I’m revitalizing this farmstead the best way I know how.”
Hill encourages folks to visit his farm to taste the beer on tap. His farmstead is a busy place, with guests dropping by to sample and purchase beer, and other brewers making the pilgrimage to collaborate with Hill.See All Food and Land Articles