The best beer town in New England
The best beer town in New England
Beer for sale at Hill Farmstead Brewery (802-533-7450, hillfarmstead.com) in Greensboro, Vermont.
Kegs in a field behind Hill Farmstead Brewery.
An employee fills growlers for visitors at Hill Farmstead Brewery.
Six beers created by Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead make RateBeer.com’s top 25 double IPAs.
Waterbury’s The Alchemist (with lead brewer Jim Conroy) produces Heady Topper, BeerAdvocate’s third highest-rated beer in the world. (802-244-7744, alchemistbeer.com)
Heady Topper is still brewed and sold in cans at the Alchemist cannery .
Samples are served up at the Alchemist.
At Prohibition Pig (802-244-4120, prohibitionpig.com), local pickled vegetables and a pulled pork sandwich make for a satisfying lunch. The bar is the only place besides cannery tastings where you can drink Heady Topper — a citrusy, aromatic beer loaded with hops — on tap.
A bartender retrieves top-shelf liquor at Prohibition Pig.
“I don’t know how all these people are finding us,” says Chad Rich, owner of a pub in town called Prohibition Pig. “There’s a lot of word of mouth. In the craft beer world, people talk.”
Sean Lawson presides over his Lawson’s Finest Liquids (802-272-8436, lawsonsfinest.com) in Warren, Vermont, whose Double Sunshine brew fetches a perfect rating of 100 on RateBeer.com.
The good stuff in the works at Lawson’s, which is a half-hour away from Waterbury.
Dried hops wait their turn at Lawson’s.
A small selection of what's on tap for the evening at The Reservoir (802-244-7827, waterburyreservoir.com) in Waterbury.
Outside The Reservoir. Located just northwest of Montpelier, Waterbury is about a 3½-hour drive from Boston and pops up off the highway on the same road as Stowe. Lodging is available within walking distance of the town’s beer attractions, making an overnight stay appealing.
Blackback Pub (802-505-5115, blackbackpub.com) functions like something of a beer geek’s rec room. There are about 30 seats, and owner Ricky Binet writes each customer’s tab down on the back of a coaster. When a friend calls on the phone, Binet puts him on the bar’s speaker system so everyone can say hello.
On tap at Blackback Pub are rare creations from Vermont breweries such as Hill Farmstead Brewery of Greensboro Bend and Lawson’s Finest Liquids of Warren.
BREWERY TOURS OF NEW ENGLAND Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine: Located in an industrial park, the brewery makes Belgian-style beers and ages many of them in oak. Allagash White is the company’s flagship and a way better version of the macro brew Blue Moon. One of the best parts of the tour? You get to do the tasting first. There are up to four tours daily; registration on the company’s website is required. 207-878-5385, allagash.com Atlantic Brewing Company of Bar Harbor, Maine: A little off the well-trodden tourist path, Atlantic Brewing is a must-visit for any beer lover planning a trip to Bar Harbor. Coal Porter and Bar Harbor Real Ale are solid, but the must-try is the Brother Adam’s Bragget Ale. Tours are free and given daily at 2, 3, and 4 p.m. from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. 207-288-2337, atlanticbrewing.com Harpoon Brewery of South Boston: The largest brewery on this list, Harpoon sees about 2,000 people tour its facility every week. The South Boston Waterfront has exploded in popularity in recent years, and Harpoon founders Dan Kenary and Rich Doyle say they have plans to expand their touring space by the end of the year. Test batches and home brews are sometimes available. Weekday tastings (2 and 4 p.m.) are free; weekend tours start every half-hour (Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and cost $5. 617-574-9551, harpoonbrewery.com
BREWERY TOURS OF NEW ENGLAND Smuttynose Brewing Company of Portsmouth, New Hampshire: You may have tried year-round classics like Old Brown Dog, but a tour of Smuttynose will give you the chance to sample some of the brewery’s rare beers. If available, a must-try for hop lovers is the Big A IPA. Tours are Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged and should be made on the website. 603-436-4026, smuttynose.com. Pictured here, lead brewer Dan Schubert. Jack’s Abby Brewing of Framingham: One of the rising stars in the New England craft beer scene, Jack’s Abby creates “approachable beers for the everyday beer drinker that still push the boundaries of brewing,” says brewer Sam Hendler. On-site, you can sample drinks that aren’t available retail. Tours and tastings are free and run Thursday and Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. 508-872-0900, jacksabbeybrewing.com The Olde Burnside Brewing Company of East Hartford, Connecticut: Olde Burnside brews ales in the Scottish tradition. “Burn” is a Scottish word for brook or stream, and the water beneath the brewery led to the founding of the Burnside Ice Co. in 1911. That same water is now used to brew beer. Tours of both the brewery and the icehouse are available by appointment only, with Saturday and Sunday afternoons being the preferred times. 860-528-2200, oldeburnsidebrewing.com