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 uncommon 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. At The Blackback Pub they are all about the beer. They proudly cater to the many beer fans from all over the world. They recognize the important role beer has played in this towns 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)
Big Tree [email protected] Reservoir, Waterbury (0 miles)
Trapp Lager Brewery, Stowe (11.7 miles)
The Alchemist, Stowe (opening in 2016)
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. Submit your stamped and completed passport for Vermont beer gear!
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 tap 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.
Step right next door to Arvads Grill where they offer numerous craft beers, Vermont brews and spirits. Can't make up your mind? Try a Beer Flight! Choose 4 beers off their tap menu and get a 5 oz. pour of each. Arvads food is prepared with the greatest of care, almost all of it from scratch. They are committed to providing you with an excellent dining experience and value you as a customer. It's fresh, it's local, it's Arvads.
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 dinner and lunch (Friday-Monday), 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 a new brewery that opened in December 2014.
Thirsting for beer to take on a picnic or take away for home? With more than 500 craft beers from nearly 200 breweries, the Craft Beer Cellar features brews and hard cider from Vermont, across the country, and internationally. You’ll discover a dozen Vermont labels such as The Alchemist and The Shed among brands from the Czech Republic, Japan, and Norway. Belly up to the bar to fill a growler to go, gather tips on pairing with food and cooking with beer, or pick up some homebrew supplies and advice. Check the calendar and plan on an evening tasting event with Boyden Valley Winery, Citizen Cider, or Otter Creek Brewing.
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, 4 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 the True Value Hardware store just up the road.
If it’s a warm-weather Thursday, check out the Waterbury Farmers Market for artisan bread and cheese to pair with beer. And if you head to the Montpelier Farmers Market, ermont’s capital city, on a summer or autumn Saturday morning, you may find new bottles released by Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Created on the east flank of the Mad River Valley’s Lincoln Mountain and brewed in a small-batch Sugarhouse Brewery, Lawson’s slogan is “straight from the Green Mountains to Your Head.” At the Montpelier Farmers Market you’ll also find delicious crusty loaves, cheese, and chutneys to accompany beverages.
While in Montpelier, stop in for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch at the Three Penny Taproom. This pub is hopping with many local beers on tap and delicious plates offered in the spirit of pairing. If you’re a soccer fan, the Three Penny is the place to be; check the webpage for soccer “shorts” and shoot for Montpelier for the next big game.
Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro is worth the 75-minute drive from Waterbury to the Northeast Kingdom, the rural corner of Vermont. The brainchild of brewmaster Shawn Hill, Hill Farmstead was recently named the best brewery in the world rated 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 and transactions are cash only. 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 on the Green Mountain Byway. With a taproom serving lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, Lost Nation is another great beer 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 in Waterbury when you come near the Trapp Family Brewery in Stowe. Located high on the hill at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, 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 on the deck overlooking the valley of Stowe. A larger brewing facility is in the works at Trapp Family Lodge, as well.
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.