When people think craft beer, it might be Colorado or Oregon springing to mind. But you might be surprised to learn that it’s Vermont that has the distinction of having the most craft breweries per capita.
Burlington, Vermont, the state’s largest city, is a student town with a hippie vibe. The downtown is extremely walkable, particularly the pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace, lined with shops and twinkle lights, the big white church steeple overlooking it all. The sun sets over Lake Champlain. And the craft beer culture is hopping.
In a brief trip to Vermont, we visited 10 breweries in and around Burlington. Due to our short timeline, we had to miss some great breweries around the state. But we’ll just have to save them for another trip. Here are our top 5 of the ones we made it to:
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, 115 St Paul St, Burlington
Downtown, but hard to spot – it’s inside American Flatbread, a wood-fired pizza restaurant. It has an extensive beer list, inspired by all sorts of Old World styles. There was a special push for IPAs, though there was enough beyond that for the non-IPA-lovers. We went home with a growler of Whole Lotta Lov, a cream stout. And by the way, the pizza is outrageously good.
Fiddlehead Brewing, 6305 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne
They had just two brews on tap: their flagship Fiddlehead IPA, and our favourite, Hodad, a porter with chocolate, toasted coconut, and vanilla bean. You can actually taste each flavour in the porter, and we both fell in love with it. We didn’t stop by the attached pizzeria, but it smelled delicious.
Citizen Cider, 316 Pine St, Burlington
A hip little bar with food and a friendly buzz. Jess was in cider heaven, as she’s a fruit fiend. We ended up trucking three ciders home with us: Unified Press (their flagship, quite dry), The Dirty Mayor (a ginger cider, named for the mayor of Fort Ethan Allen), and Americran (a cran-apple).
Burlington Beer Co., 25 Omega Dr, Williston
It’s in the back of a loading dock, with mis-matched couches, ping pong tables, and a bar. And it was overflowing with patrons. We’d hang out there too if we lived nearby! Beer styles – and names – are creative, and it was good stuff. We ended up with Mason Jar Mild (brown ale), Chasing Rabbits (American pale wheat ale), and Barista (coffee porter).
Queen City Brewery, 703B Pine St, Burlington
There’s a pub-style atmosphere where you can see right into the brew works, and a beer list that focuses on English and German styles. We went home with one of their English bitters – 7 Oaks, plus a smoky Rauchbier, and the Munich Dunkel (classic Bavarian-style dark lager).
MORE DRINKING IN BURLINGTON, VT
There’s Drink, an aptly named place on St Paul in downtown Burlington, with excellent cheap pint deals and in-shop infused liquors. Small and simple, but exactly what you’re looking for in a casual bar.
And there’s Three Needs Tap Room’s “Duff Hour” weekdays at 4pm, where they open their doors and there’s $1 pints of some mysterious light beer until the keg is kicked, then $1 pizza slices for an hour. We made sure to be there at 3:50, and stood in line with a bunch of university students, feeling like we were in on a local secret.
EATING IN BURLINGTON
Penny Cluse Cafe was our breakfast winner, using fresh, local ingredients to make themed breakfast plates from across the United States. These ranged from Cajun (the “Zydeco breakfast”), huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy, and New England-style sourdough French toast with Vermont maple syrup
The Farmhouse Tap & Grill was Josh’s favourite dinner spot, with farm-to-table fine dining in a casual setting, and a giant beer list with a comfortable beer garden out back.
Skinny Pancake was Jess’s winner, a creperie right on the waterfront to satisfy all crepe cravings. Sweet crepes. Savory crepes. All the crepes. Holy crepe!