Vermont Breweries: A Beer Tour of the Green Mountain State

Small state, big beer. That’s Vermont’s M.O., and it’s well deserved. Vermont boasts at least 30 breweries, which isn’t too shabby for a state with the population of Columbus, Ohio. With the second highest number of breweries per capita, and some heavy hitting microbreweries known the world over, the Green Mountain State is a beer lover’s paradise, and a perfect place for a New England beer tour. Given the small geographic size of the state, it’s actually pretty hard to drive through it without passing a couple of Vermont breweries. With odds like that, you might as well add a few more stops on purpose — check out our custom Vermont beer tour and start sampling!

Doug Kerr Flickr (cc by 2.0)
Doug Kerr Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Stop 1: Whetstone Station BreweryBrattleboro, VT

Start your Vermont brewery tour off in Brattleboro, Vermont, right off of Interstate 91 headed north. Whetstone Station is relatively new to the Vermont brewing scene, but they’re quickly making name for themselves with tasty drafts, a great restaurant, and lovely outdoor ambience in their rooftop beer garden overlooking the Connecticut River. Get a burger and a beer, and don’t forget to pick up a Vermont Brewer’s Association passport. This Vermont brewery checklist gives you the opportunity to collect stamps from each brewery you visit, and rewards you with some Vermont beer swag!

Stop 2: Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Continue north on I-91 until you hit Windsor and the famous Harpoon Brewery. With locations in Boston and Vermont, Harpoon has made quite a name for itself. Jasper Murdock's Alehouse, Vermont brewery bottles Stop in and get an hour-long tour of the brewing facility, complete with a tasting and a complimentary glass. The onsite restaurant offers advice on how to taste and talk about beer, and the outdoor fireplace is a great spot to relax. Those looking to maximize visits should stop by Jasper Murdock Alehouse at The Norwich Inn, where the brewery and a bed for the night are in the same building.

Stop 3: Hill Farmstead Brewery, North Greensboro, VT

This Northeast Kingdom brewery is a bit of a hike up 91 past White River Junction, but it’s well worth the trouble. The revival and continuation of a 220 year-old farm and brewery in North Greensboro, Vermont, Hill Farmstead is truly special. Named the Best Brewery in the World by Ratebeer in 2010, and featured in the likes of the New York Times and Vanity Fair, this is true artesenal Vermont beer, and you can only find it here (and in a handful of Vermont bars and restaurants). The beers, with names like Edward, Everett, George, and Abner after the founders of the farm, are some of the highest rated around.

Stop 4: Lost Nation Brewing, Morrisville, Vermont

Take Vermont’s scenic back roads west from Hill Farmstead to Morrisville, Vermont, home to Lost Nation Brewing and Rock Art Brewery. Rock Art offers tours and tastings, while Lost Nation

mamichan flickr (cc by 2.0)
mamichan flickr (cc by 2.0)

delivers with a creative food menu. Try the Gouda and Gose Fondue (Gose is their German style wheat beer)! If you’re looking to squeeze another Vermont brewery in on your way to Burlington, stop in Stowe for a visit to Trapp Family Lodge. The legendary hotel brews its own European style beers as well. Side Note: Although they don’t currently allow visitors to their brewery, pop into a beer distributor in Stowe, Burlington, or Waterbury and get your hands on some of the legendary Heady Topper by The Alchemist. This is considered by some to be the best beer in the world, and this is the only region on the planet where you can get it!

Stop 5: Magic Hat Brewing Company, Burlington, VT

The Burlington area hosts several excellent microbreweries (Zero Gravity Craft Brewing, Vermont Pub and Brewery, Switchback Brewing, and Fiddlehead Brewing Company), and Magic Hat is by far the biggest. Though their beer is distributed nationally and they aren’t quite a local business anymore, their facility is second to none and you’ll enjoy some of the special features of their brewery tour. Magic Hat has its own art gallery, and plenty of big ticket events such as Oktoberfest.

Stop 6: Otter Creek Brewing, Middlebury, VT

Stephen Bugno Flickr (cc by 2.0)
Stephen Bugno Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Begin your descent back south on Route 7, meaning you’ll finish your Vermont beer tour by exploring the west side of the state rather than retracing your steps. Middlebury hosts both Otter Creek Brewing and Drop-In Brewing Company. Though Otter Creek doesn’t offer tours, they do have a great tasting menu, as well as pub fare to accompany their beers.  

Stop 7: Madison Brewing Company, Bennington, VT

As you make your way south, stop for your final beer and burger at Madison Brewing Company in Bennington, VT. This down home pub and restaurant has brews their own beer, and offers flights and tastings as well. Tours are also available at the nearby Northshire Brewery, with tastings and a pint to take home for $5.

Head home with your passport full of stamps and a growler or two of rare beers your friends won’t be able to get at the corner store. As always, with the art of tasting great beer comes the art of good pacing — there’s no need to try to cram too much Vermont beer into one day with so many classic Vermont inns and resorts along the route.

Safe travels and happy Vermont brewery hopping!

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