35 unique beers and ciders, 5 breweries, 1 surf themed restaurant, 40ft of filing cabinets and a torrent of rain! What better way to spend a Saturday in Burlington, Vermont?
Vermont has the most breweries per capita of all the states in the US and beer is a big part of a Vermonter’s way of life. We picked out a few places that we could visit which were within walking distance of one another, caught a cab across town so both of us could drink and got to work.
Our cab driver, Bobby (a Michael Moore lookalike), was a riot! Born in Boston but living in Vermont for most of his a life it was clear he didn’t come into contact with foreigners much. Most of our part of the conversation was repeated as we struggled to find the ‘right words’ to help him understand us. He was funny though, joking he kept his kid in a cage! Turned out it was actually a chinchilla. We confirmed these weren’t native to the UK then showed him some of our funny money.
Our first port of call was the Switchback Brewery, about an hour’s walk out of town but just 15 mins from the next stop so a good place to start. They offered a varied range of styles and had some cool boards on which they delivered their flights of samplers. The Gose they had to offer was actually quite drinkable since they infused Berliner Weisse with lime and sea salt.
Now we’d heard about some funky art sculptures knocking around town and we knew that on the same street as Switchback was a 40ft tall tower of filing cabinets. I think we’d hyped this one up too much in our heads because it was somewhat underwhelming. Maybe it was because we were getting wet or maybe because it didn’t look like it was going to fall on top of us. Nevertheless we found it and it was pretty tall, what more can you say?
Leaving behind this ridiculousness we marched on up through the rain and wind fighting to keep the brolly from turning inside out, to the Queen City Brewery.
QCB is amazing, our favourite of the breweries we visited that day. We arrived just before a large tour group so we’re able to claim a place at the bar and began chalking off each beer on the menu. The beers here were more European in style, hefeweizen, English bitter and stout. Throw some Barley Wine in at the end and you’re on your way to tipsyland. While we were here we got talking to a local called Tom who gave us some good tips for places to drink and also a brief, albeit unrequested, account of local history and general facts. He was a nice chap who even offered us a lift to the next pub; we politely declined since our next stop was only over the road and we didn’t know how much he’d been drinking (He was escaping his wife’s choral practice).
To soak up some of the alcohol we high tailed it over to The Spot; an abandoned gas station converted into a surfer themed restaurant. It was cool in there, we were glad of some warm food and hot coffee to fight off the icy winds. The cheesesteak sandwich we chose to share was one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten! I had to save a little bit for the end so I could have that as my lasting taste, to compliment this we also ordered pulled beef and sweet potato tacos which were equally delicious.
Back into the rain then to Zero Gravity Brewery. It’s later on in the afternoon now and things are starting to get busy, a space at the bar appears just after we walk in – the gods are shining on us again! 2 more flights of ale – here they have a cask on offer containing Irish Oyster Stout; a standard porter affair but quite unusual as most beers here are keg.
As the light fades we head on closer to the city centre and stop off at Citizen Cider. Again there are a couple of stools at the end of the bar so we pull up a pew. Justin is our bartender. He’s an Anglophile and is very keen on visiting Manchester. He’s also very generous, giving us free samples of raspberry cider to try because he loves it so much! On the back of the bar are two two dollar bills. We asked if they were fake but it turns out they’re just rare, one of them has a picture of Bernie Sanders covering the President. They love Bernie in Vermont, our taxi driver later that evening would go on to tell us about the letters he’s written to Bernie with suggested improvements to the law!
It’s dark now and we have one final stop on our tour – The Vermont Pub & Brewery. This was our least favourite bar, we only really came here to eat and the food (cock & bull) was just OK. Amy had given up drinking and I could only manage a couple more; another seasonal Oktoberfest and a stout. I liked that you could order drinks in 12oz servings here although the waitress seemed to think I wanted to upgrade to a pint for my final beer. Feeling bloated and tired, but satisfied with a successful day’s drinking we left Burlington behind and returned to our hotel.
For those who are interested here is a full list of all the beers and ciders we drank:
Switchback Brewing Co.
- Switchback Ale
- Extra Pale Ale
- Roasted Red Ale
- Connector IPA
- Export Stout
- Thai Lime Gose
Queen City Brewery
- Munich Dunkel
- Basic Ale
- Rauchbier – smokey tasting like jerky
- Yorkshire Porter
- Barge Canal – named after the colour of the sludge of a nearby canal
- Monk of Underhill
- Old Monty – the barley wine
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery
- Little Wolf
- Sea Level Oyster Stout
- Buckminster Brown
- Green State Lager
- Unified Press
- Citizen Dry
- Wit’s Up
- The Lake Hopper
- The Dirty Mayor
- The American – the free sample (and also the point Amy stopped drinking)
The Vermont Pub & Brewery
- Handsome Mick’s Irish Stout