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16 Gallons of Beer from 14 Breweries: A Smuggler's Guide to the Best Vermont Breweries

BY: Shannon Jewitt | Nov 10, 2015

Vermont breweries hero pngAs the state with the largest number of breweries per capita—8.6 per 100,000 adults—you’d think Vermont was handing out pints of beer like candy on Halloween. (Which would be the best Halloween tradition ever.) However, most Vermont breweries adhere to small-batch production methods, making the fruits of their labor difficult to obtain.

But fear not! We’ve outlined a road trip to 14 of the 14th state’s best breweries. And for those that aren’t open to the public, we’ve included a few tips for smuggling these hard-to-find craft brews out of state. (And by “smuggling,” we mean purchasing legally with money but still feeling like you got away with some tasty treasure.) 

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Harpoon Brewery | Windsor

Brews with a view: The satellite location of this Boston-based brewery calls Artisans Park home, picturesque grounds that also house a sculpture garden, cheese shop, and glassblowing factory. Take in the endless foliage while lounging on Harpoon’s beer garden.

What to smuggle: One 22-ounce bottle of Czernobog, four 12-ounce bottles of Leviathan IPA, one 22-ounce bottle of Nordic Saison

Open to the public/tours? Yes

Long Trail Brewing Company | Bridgewater

Coming-of-age tale: Long Trail started out scrappy in 1989, recycling Beck's and St. Pauli Girl bottles for their eponymous ale. They’ve definitely grown since then, though, moving to a spacious brewery, pub, and visitors’ center that’s inspired by Munich’s Hofbräuhaus.

What to smuggle: Four 16-ounce cans of Space Juice, one 64-ounce growler of Limbo IPA, six 12-ounce cans of Smash Project #1

Open to the public/tours? Self-guided tours

Lawson’s Finest Liquids | Warren

Description: If you asked a Vermont hophead what sunshine tastes like, they might say an IPA. That’s because Lawson’s most beloved beers are their Sunshine IPAs, brewed in traditional, double, and triple varieties. Fitting for a brewery tucked away in the majestic Green Mountains.

What to smuggle: One 17-ounce bottle of Maple Tripple Ale, one 22-ounce bottle of Double Sunshine IPA, one 22-ounce bottle of Triple Sunshine IPA

Open to the public/tours? Sadly, no.

Smuggling secret: Once a month, Lawson’s owner travels to Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Connecticut to brew Sip of Sunshine IPA. Try sneaking down there for a taste, or calling these retail locations to track some down.

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Alchemist | Waterbury

Evasive ales: Alchemist may be the best known Vermont brewery, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find. After closing its original location due to flooding from Hurricane Irene, the brewery moved to a spot that’s closed to the public. Fortunately, there are plans to open a second brewery—with a visitor center and tasting room—in the near future.

What to smuggle: Four 16-ounce cans of Heady Topper, four 16-ounce cans of Focal Banger, four 16-ounce cans of Luscious

Open to the public/tours? Sigh. Not yet.

Smuggling secret: Heady Topper is so popular—and elusive—it has its own tracking website. For Alchemist’s other beers, check out their Where to Buy link. Just be sure to call ahead.

Lost Nation Brewing | Morristown

Lost Nation View jpgPhoto courtesy of Lost Nation Brewing

Getting lost: Morristown isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, so you may get lost trying to find Lost Nation. However, the brewery’s lesser known European beer styles, as well as stunning views of the state’s tallest mountain, are worth a trip off the beaten path.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Lost Galaxy, one 25-ounce bottle of Lamoille Bretta, one 25-ounce bottle of Fuzzy

Open to the public/tours? No, but you can stop by the tasting room

Hill Farmstead Brewery | Greensboro

Good things come to those who wait: After RateBeer.com named Hill Farmstead the best brewery in the world and Shaun Hill the best brewmaster in the world, demand surged. However, Hill is committed to remaining a small-batch brewer, which means visitors wait in line for up to four hours for his sought-after beers.

What to smuggle: A pair of 2-liter growlers of pretty much anything. Seriously, look at RateBeer.

Open to the public/tours? No

Smuggling secret: You can take home growlers, but there are several rules to keep in mind.

14th Star Brewing Co. | St. Albans

Patriotic pints: Founded by a US Army veteran in 2011, this brewery stays true to its roots by donating a portion of its proceeds to Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit that returns lost or stolen military medals to veterans or their families. They also support the arts, with twice monthly Paint and Pint events led by a local painter.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Tribute Double IPA, one 64-ounce growler of Saison du Miles, one 64-ounce growler of Valor Ale

Open to the public/tours? Yes

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Infinity Brewing Co. | South Burlington

Endless pint possibilities: According to the owners of Infinity, their only goal is to brew beer for beer lovers. Operating with a 7-barrel brewing system custom-built and delivered by Oregon’s Portland Kettleworks, their brews run the gamut from a Scottish ale infused with Vermont maple syrup to a golden saison.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of 80 Shilling Scottish Ale, one 64-ounce growler of Witbier, one 64-ounce growler of American Double IPA

Open to the public/tours? No, but you can call to schedule a tasting

Vermont Pub and Brewery | Burlington

Vermont Pub and Brewery jpgVermont Pub and Brewery by Patrick under CC BY 2.0

Craft-beer pioneer: The state’s oldest craft brewery was founded in 1988 by the late Greg Noonan, author of Brewing Lager Beer and mentor to many area brewmasters, including Alchemist founder, John Kimmich.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Sorachi Session Ale, one 64-ounce growler of Smoked Porter, one 64-ounce growler of Spruce Tip IPA

Open to the public/tours? The brewery doesn’t offer tours, but Burlington Brew Tours does.

Citizen Cider | Burlington

100% local: All of Citizen’s ingredients are locally sourced, including the hops and apples picked from area orchards and growers. Locavores are clearly craving the brews, as rapid expansion has led to moving into a former U-Haul storage facility.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of The Full Nelson, one 64-ounce growler of The Dirty Mayor, one 64-ounce growler of Unified Press

Open to the public/tours? No, but you can stop by the tasting room

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Zero Gravity Craft Brewery | Burlington

Crafting the classics: Zero Gravity originally operated just out of the American Flatbread restaurant, but the demand for their classic beer styles, including porters, pilsners, and lagers, led them to opening a second a brewery on Pine Street in 2015.

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Conehead India Pale Ale, one 12-ounce draft of Bretthead, one 14-ounce draft of TLA IPA

Open to the public/tours? No tours, but visitors are welcome

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Photo courtesy of Zero Gravity Craft Brewery

Switchback Brewing Co. | Burlington

A small, but successful switch: Switchback specializes in very small-batch brews, allowing them to experiment with unexpected flavors and processes. In fact, several of the beers are 100% naturally carbonated thanks to a special treatment of the yeast.

What to smuggle: One 12-ounce draft of Thai Lime Gose, one 22-ounce bottle of Citra-Pils, one 22-ounce bottle of Extra Pale Ale

Open to the public/tours? Yes

Magic Hat Brewing Company | South Burlington

Keep Vermont Weird: Magic Hat’s Artifactory just might be Vermont’s strangest, most fun brewery, thanks to surrealist tap handles, brews named after songs, a staff known to dress up in beer-case costumes, and a growler bar featuring up to 10 beers, including some experimental varieties. Plus, you can bring your dog, so…

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Magic Hat #9, one 64-ounce growler of Belgo Sutra, one 64-ounce growler of Feast of Fools

Open to the public/tours? Yes

Magic Hat Brewery jpgMagic Hat Brewery by fabulousfabs under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fiddlehead Brewing | Shelburne

Second fiddle to none: Although the brewery only opened in 2012, celebrated brewmaster Matthew Cohen—who served as Magic Hat’s head brewer for more than a decade—brings a lifetime of experience. (Which is probably how he had the foresight to put his growler fill station next-door to a BYOB pizzeria.)

What to smuggle: One 64-ounce growler of Second Fiddle Double IPA, four 12-ounce cans of Mastermind Double IPA, four 16-ounce cans of Hodad Chocolate Vanilla Toasted Coconut Porter

Open to the public/tours? No tours, but visitors are welcome

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