Merry Beer Christmas!
Kevin’s recent craft beer obsession takes us on a weekend trip to Vermont on the hunt for gold. We decided the take a weekend and drive up to capture the Heady Topper Kevin has been drooling over since we left the cabins. We met our good friends, Lauren and Ben, to join us on this, our Beer Christmas.
We drove up after work on Friday for a 6 hour car ride to Burlington and made it into our hotel room around 11PM. After a few drink and catching up with Lauren and Ben, we set our Saturday agenda- we only had one day to accomplish to to-do’s of Beer Christmas.
We managed for us all to get out the door around 7:45AM (magic!) and found a breakfast place that opened at 8AM- The Skinny Pancake . This place was perfect since we were on a tight schedule as it was quick service styled- you ordered, payed, and then ate at your own pace. Kevin and I aggressively ordered two crepes each since dessert crepes are a requirement, but alone will not keep you full for long enough- a day full of beer hunting meant a hearty breakfast. Between the four of us we tried a variety of crepes- including Crepe Monsieur, Foragers Crepe, Choco Monkey Crepe, and the Pure & Simple Crepe Bellies full, we left a little after 9AM for Stowe.
A gray, snowy morning, we made it to the Alchemist parking lot 10:03AM (parking lot opens at 10AM, store opens at 11PM) and there was already a line of over 10 people. We quickly parked and found our place in line… and waited… in the cold… and snow… for Beer Christmas. After ten minutes the excitement started to wane as the cold began to pierce through our gloves and boots… How were we going to make it another 50 minutes until 11AM for open? Perhaps take turns sitting in the car? Would our line mates kick us out of line? Is that cheating? As the scenarios rolled in my head, a man came out and announced the beers of the day and limits per person:
- 6 four packs Crusher
- 4 four packs Heady Topper
- 6 four packs Farmer’s Daughter
- 6 four packs Focal Banger
- 6 four packs Beelzebub
- 1 four pack Skadoosh
It was 10:15AM and they were opening the doors- a Beer Christmas miracle! We walked in and the four of us chose the left turn to try samples (right turn was for immediate purchase). We sampled the beer, looked around the facilities (pristine!) and got in line to buy the beer. The group on front of us exclaimed “Max me out” and out came two flats of beer- serious beer buying. We got our supply (Heady Topper, Focal Banger and a few cans of others) and tetris’d the four flats of beer into the trunk. Victory and it was only 10:40AM- way ahead of schedule!
With a half hour ahead of schedule, we decided to make our way to Prohibition Pig for lunch. Since it didn’t open until 11:30AM, we had time to go across the street to Craft Beer Cellar to take a look. This store had such a big selection (the surprise find being Sip of Sunshine) and spent quite a bit of time rummaging through the cans, bottles, and beer supplies. More beer in the trunk and we got our place in line for lunch. We all grabbed a drink at the bar as we waited for our table, getting a preview of everyone’s food coming out of the kitchen- we walked in at 11:45AM and it was already full. The extensive beer menu kept us well entertained during the 15-20 minutes we had to wait for a table to being available. Here, we got a round of dry rubbed wings (very spicy!) and each ordered a sandwich- three of us got a beef burger while Lauren got the brisket- and we were instantly jealous. Don’t get me wrong- the burgers were fantastic- juicy and well portioned, flavorful with a fried green tomato on top- but the brisket was so tender! Highly recommend the place- the boys even got shirts.
von Trapp Brewing
Time for another brewery! We made it to von Trapp Brewing around 2PM. As a fan of Sound of Music, I have to admit I wasn’t aware of their recent addition to the brewing world! The Bierhall was filled with beautiful exposed wood and large bar area. We indulged in their beer and I a white wine that was on tap. We stayed here until 4PM as I noticed if we left we could still make the last tour at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory at 5PM!
Ben and Jerry’s Factory
Getting back in the car, made our final leg to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory. Of course they situate an ice cream parlor as you walk in because holy moly that smell of fresh cones and ice cream is hypnotizing. After grabbing our tickets for the tour, I quickly grabbed a place in the long line for ice cream. Yes, I knew the tour had an ice cream sample at then end, yes I was enormously full from lunch, yes I wanted ice cream anyway- chocolate therapy. Happy camper with my ice cream as we waited a few more minutes for the tour to start, and I am sure chocolate all over my face as tends to happen when I get a chocolate snack as my husband can attest to. It was a very nice half hour tour of the facilities with a little history on the company and how ice cream is made now and the factory is impressive. A sample of Milk and Cookies ice cream to send us off back to Burlington.
Dinner back in Burlington was a 6:30PM reservation at Leunigs. We were not very hungry given the consumption from the day thus far so we decided to get a bunch of appetizers to sample the French cuisine: escagot, beef tartar, foie grais, duck pate, and duck confit sliders. Everything was very good – I know the entrees would have been delicious had we had another stomach to store the food!
We walked around the town square of Burlington down Church Street to help digestion. There is a pretty large music scene in this town and took advantage as we walked by the Radio Bean – we sat with drinks and listened to several different performances, including Eugene Taylor Band and Congress. Since we did not have a proper dinner, we grabed a late night snack at American Flatbread for pizza. Feeling unbelievable accomplished and exhausted by our day, we all slept well tongiht.
After a well earned slumber, we packed our bags and headed our for brunch. While we had to try a few places to get a table without waiting (rookie move to waiting until after 10AM for brunch), we found The Farmhouse Tap and Grill. A nice variety of beers on tap as well as farm-to-table styled menu. The hash brown patties were a huge hit with our table, a were the biscuits!
We headed back to the cars and prepared for the six hour hike back to Jersey around 1PM. I was so impressed how much we accomplished during these few hours together- Beer Christmas was definitely a success and a tradition I know we will continue!
Where is the next area of brewing our Beer Christmas should hit?