Beer flows through the Green Mountains like the water in our rivers and streams: plentiful, spirited, and singular. Some Vermont beers are dark and dusky, others are clear and bright. Many are sourced from the working lands around us, where local field-grown hops, forested fiddlehead ferns, and maple sap are recreated into robust beverages. All of our brews course through Vermont’s hills and valleys as part of our lifeblood.
From a heady tankard to a pale ale pint, Vermont’s beers have recently garnered national, and even global, accolades. Three brands in particular, Waterbury’s own Heady Topper from
The Alchemist, Lawson’s Finest Liquids from not far away in the Mad River Valley, and Hill Farmstead in Greensboro, stand out from the crowd. In the Waterbury region, you can find these craft brews and many more on tap or by the bottle at pubs and select farmers markets. Some are available right where they are manufactured, and many of Vermont’s breweries are expanding to accommodate the acclaim they’ve received. Our local pubs proudly cater to the many beer fans from all over the world. They recognize the important role beer has played in Waterbury’s recent history. From beer comes life and vitality which celebrates our localvore farm to plate business model.
Breweries to visit while staying in Waterbury (listed South to north with distances):
Prohibition Pig, Waterbury (0 miles)
von Trapp Brewery, Stowe (11.7 miles)
The Alchemist, Stowe (11.8 miles)
Idletyme Brewing, Stowe (11.8 miles)
Rock Art Brewery, Morrisville (18.6 miles)
Lost Nation, Morristown (19.4 miles)
Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro (47 miles)
Don’t forget to ask for a Vermont Brewery Passport at any of Vermont’s participating breweries or download the free app. Submit your stamped and completed passport for Vermont beer gear! https://www.vermontbrewers.com/brewery-challenge/
Variety is the spice of life and The Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room features more than three dozen draught beers, among the most in the state. Located right in the center of Waterbury’s downtown, The Reservoir is one of the only places in the world where you may access on draft brews handcrafted by the winning duo of Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s Finest. Drift downstream with a beer sampler paddle on the outdoor patio in summer, and sample delicious eats locally sourced from Vermont’s farms. Try out The Reservoir’s own brew, created in the one-barrel system formerly owned by another renowned craft beer maker, 14th Star Brewery.
The Pig lives practically next door. Prohibition Pig, that is. An extensive selection of craft beer and serious barbecue meet in this house of smoked meat and libations. Serving lunch and dinner, Prohibition Pig taps mostly Vermont beer, with some notable exceptions. Currently brewing a house ale in Lawson’s former one-barrel system, The Pig has expanded its pen with the addition of a brewery out back.
Stop across the street at Blackback Pub for the quintessential beer bar. At Blackback they are all about the beer, and with over 30 beers on tap from all over New England and the world, they have been named the best beer pub in the state. Sit at the bar amongst locals and visitors alike, or settle down for an exquisitely prepared localvore meal showcasing Vermont’s farm to plate movement.
Thirsting for beer to take on a picnic or take back home? With more than 700 and counting different craft beers, Craft Beer Cellar features beer, cider and Mead from Vermont, New England, and all over the world. The well-organized layout is easy to navigate with ample cold storage as well. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can provide tips on beer and food pairing, specific Vermont insights, or any other questions related to beer -- the staff is always available for questions and recommendations. Come by for tasting events held on some Fridays and Saturdays to learn about and taste some new brews!
There are a number of world-class beer destinations within an hour’s drive of Waterbury, but before you leave town, check in to the Old Stagecoach Inn where the small bar serves Fiddlehead, Four Quarters, Citizen Cider and Magic Hat by the bottle. Many beer aficionados appreciate the Inn’s location within walking distance to Waterbury’s fine downtown pubs. Breakfast is included with your stay at this historic inn, and if you’re checking in later and you’ve been shopping, innkeeper John Barwick welcomes you to leave your purchases in the refrigerator so they’ll be ready upon your return. Alternatively, purchase a cooler at a local hardware store.
Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro is worth the 75-minute drive from Waterbury to the Northeast Kingdom, the rural crown of Vermont. The brainchild of brewmaster Shawn Hill, Hill Farmstead was recently named the best brewery in the world by RateBeer.com, a worldwide crowd-sourced beer review and rating site. This modest, rustic farm is only open to the public on Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm. Before you go, check their website for bottle releases (typically named after philosophers or Hill’s ancestors) and Hill Farmstead’s growler policy.
You will find Lost Nation Brewery in Morristown as you head back from Greensboro to Waterbury along the Green Mountain Byway on Route 100. With a taproom serving lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, Lost Nation is another great environment in which to enjoy a snack and browse the “We who wander are not lost” gear in the retail shop. Nearby in Morrisville, growlers, bottles, and tastings are available at Rock Art Brewery, which sports a birds-eye viewing area and more formal tours twice each afternoon.
You’ll know that you’re almost back in Waterbury when you come near von Trapp Brewery in Stowe. Located high on the hill at the Trapp Family Lodge, this four-season resort is known for its innkeepers, the von Trapp’s of Sound of Music fame. From the highly-rated restaurant, bakery, full-service spa and fitness center to the rambling chalet-style lodge and timeshare villas, a day Nordic skiing or mountain biking on Trapp’s 2,500 private acres will go down quite smoothly. Get out and enjoy the trails, then grab your lager-filled stein and sing an Austrian ballad at the Australian-style bierhall.
North, South, Yeast, and West…Waterbury is at the center of it all. Whatever direction you may go, sample Vermont’s beer culture and take your taste buds on a magical microbrew tour.