14 of Our Favorite Vermont Beers —2nd Edition

14 of Our Favorite Vermont Beers —2nd Edition

Just before the turn of the 19th century, Colonel Jasper Murdock constructed a variously named hotel in the town of Norwich, and with it came Vermont’s first brewery. Often described as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” Vermont now boasts more breweries per capita than any other state and plays host to countless beer festivals through our beautiful three-and-a-quarter seasons.

Much like an inexplicably appointed Supreme Court Justice, I like beer, and living in Vermont affords tremendous opportunity to sample some world-class offerings. These may not be the most sought-after, the most award-winning, or even objectively the best beers Vermont has to offer, but they’re certainly a few of my favorites.

1. Cloud Drop, Upper Pass Beer Co., Tunbridge

In a state seemingly overwhelmed with great IPAs, it can be difficult to hone in on the exceptional ones. With the New England style IPA (or Vermont-style, depending on who you ask) gaining traction across the country, Cloud Drop stands out as an ideal barometer. This golden, hazy, double IPA carries intense aromas of pine and tropical fruit with a dry, lingering finish on the palate. 8% ABV | 60 IBU

2. Edward, Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro Bend

Talking about Vermont beer without mentioning Hill Farmstead would be like talking about basketball without bringing up Michael Jordan. Since opening in 2010, this unassuming farmstead in our Northeast Kingdom has won ‘Best Brewery in the World’ from RateBeer.com six times over. Named for Sean Hill’s grandfather, Edward, their flagship American pale ale, uses a proprietary blend of hops, balanced with good residual malt sweetness. 5.2% ABV | 85 IBU

3. Barn Coat, Good Measure Brewing Co., Northfield

Much like kimchi and George Clinton, Barn Coat brings the funk. Brewed with flaked oats for body, this Belgian-style saison holds strong aromas of citrus and peach, with a heavy dose of funk from their house yeast strain. 4.8% ABV | 17 IBU

4. Green State Lager, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Burlington

What is there to be said that hasn’t already been said? In a time when beer is often held to tremendous standards, it’s nice to have a well-made lager that you really don’t have to think about very much. Without venturing into the likes of Pabst or Narragansett (both serviceable in their own right), I would describe Green State Lager as the perfect “lawnmower beer.” 4.9% ABV | 25 IBU

5. Tractor Pils, Hired Hand Brewing Co., Vergennes

When most folks think of Pilsner, what they probably think of is a light American lager. Sampled during this year’s Nano Brewfest at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, Tractor Pils immediately set itself apart. Hired Hand takes the style back to its Czech roots while featuring locally malted grain and locally grown hops. 3.7% ABV | 24 IBU

6. Folk Metal, Burlington Beer Co., Williston

Setting aside my own affinity for bands like Korpiklaani, Folk Metal is regularly one of my favorite beers of any style coming out of Vermont. A dry, English-style oatmeal stout, with strong notes of coffee and chocolate courtesy of copious roasted malts. Be on the lookout for Smoke Metal, a version featuring cherrywood-smoked malt. 6.3% ABV | n/a IBU

7. 12- Hefeweizen, Farnham Ale & Lager—Vermont Laboratory, South Burlington

While the Vermont outpost of this Quebecois brewery has been doling out its fair share of IPA styles, their hefeweizen shines as a great example of the style. Pale, with a strong creamy head, all the big players come out in this one: citrus, wheat, hay, coriander, and a bit of complexity coming from the yeast. 5% ABV | n/a IBU

8. Session IPA, Rock Art Brewery, Morrisville

All too often, the old-guard of the Vermont craft beer scene seems to be left behind. Started in 1997, Rock Art has maintained some of their standbys while making bold strides into IPA territories. Their aptly named Session IPA does just that, with enough hop character to appease more well-versed drinkers and a lighter body to make it less daunting than some of the double IPAs out there. 4% ABV | 35 IBU

9. Connector, Switchback Brewing Company, Burlington

Connector was named for the infamous “Southern Connector,” an abandoned stretch of highway in Burlington’s South End. A welcome change of pace, Connector more closely resembles a West Coast style IPA than its hazy New England counterparts: a quick bite of bitterness, light citrus flavor and aroma, and a smooth, dry finish. 6.2% ABV | 65 IBU

10. Obviously You’re Not a Golfer, Prohibition Pig Brewery, Waterbury

I was hesitant to put a brewery-only release on this list, and generally, I get bored of IPAs pretty quickly, but this one was pretty remarkable. Thick and juicy, with plenty of Nelson and Galaxy hops. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for Big Lebowski references. The world may never know. 5.6% ABV | n/a IBU

11. Maple Red Ale, Bent Hill Brewery, Braintree

The name says it all: It’s maple, it’s red, it’s supremely good. Made with Bent Hill’s own maple syrup, it’s a perfect beer for the chilling weather that’s sure to make an appearance in the next few weeks. 4.8% ABV | 17 IBU

12. Vienna Style Lager, von Trapp Brewing, Stowe

When I was a kid, I think I probably had an idea what “a beer” was like—light, refreshing, somewhat brown colored. With that in mind, Trapp’s Vienna is a beer that I continually come back to. Malt forward, minimal hop character, and a long finish reminiscent of warm, buttery toast. 5.2% ABV | 33 IBU

13. Beelzebub, The Alchemist, Stowe

Obviously, the elephant in the room here is The Alchemist. While Heady Topper has gained countless accolades, their other offerings are just as good, and often better. An American imperial stout, Beelzebub cuts back on the alcohol (compared with their British Imperial Stout Luscious) and combats the characteristic molasses-y sweetness with massive hopping. The result: a stout that is, at the same time, dark, heavy, and incredibly drinkable. 8% ABV | 90 IBU

14. Party Guy, Hermit Thrush Brewery, Brattleboro

I first my first sour beer in college, and was convinced somebody was trying to pull one over on me. Despite any expectations, sour beers are bordering on commonplace, and Hermit Thrush leads the pack. In keeping with historical brewing practices, Party Guy is brewed using spent mash from their Jolly Abbot Barleywine. The sour-mash process brings out flavors of lemon, herbs, and a light hop presence. 3% ABV | n/a IBU

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