We headed up to Burlington last weekend to visit family and go to the Vermont Brewers Festival.
From the beginning, the festival showed signs of careful planning. Online ticketing went smoothly, even though the tickets sold out in a few hours. There were three 4-hour sessions planned over the course of the weekend. Each attendee received a number of tickets, so the beers were limited. And the food/merchandise area opened 30 minutes earlier than the beer booths. So we arrived early, had a quick lunch, and pored over the taplist while waiting for the main event.
When the beer started flowing, long lines quickly formed at three booths: two breweries you may have heard of, and one we hadn’t heard of (the only booth that we saw run out of beer). The benefit of the multiple sessions and those long lines was that the other lines were pretty short, ranging from at most ten minutes to no wait at all. So we were able to leisurely make our way through nearly 30 beers (15 tickets each). Some of our favorites:
- Lost Nation Petit Ardennes – a spicy, fruity saison — perfect on a warm day.
- Alchemist Crusher – a sweet, resiny big brother to Heady Topper.
- Brasserie Dunham Saison du Pinnacle – a tart saison with nice Brett funkiness.
- Foley Brothers Fair Maiden – a big woody IPA with pungent grapefruit hopppiness.
- Mystic Chardonnay Saison – a fine wine-barrel fermented saison, with notes of honey.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without some strange beers you’d never try otherwise:
- Burlington Beer’s Folklife – a gruit which tasted exactly like a nice loaf of rosemary bread. Not unpleasant, exactly, but pretty far from what I normally expect from beer (even with a pretty liberal definition).
- Kingdom Brewery’s Jack Piipa – a pumpkin IIPA, very rummy and hot. One of the strongest beers I saw at the festival too.
Overall, one of the best festivals I’ve been to — short lines, good portable bathrooms (not portapotties), good food, a great variety of beers and plenty to go around. The setting in the park right on Lake Champlain was fantastic. The only shortcomings I can think of is that there wasn’t much shade, and water was only available over at one side of the site. Unlike Florida, you don’t have to have coolers full of water at every booth to prevent heatstroke. But it definitely would improve the experience.