Three brew-focused itineraries from the Hotel Vermont's beer concierge.
Matt Canning might just have the best job ever. The son of two craft beer enthusiasts, the Vermont local has taken his love of brew and turned it into a unique career--the beer concierge at Hotel Vermont in Burlington. "I'm a beer enthusiast who found his way into the scene by enjoying the product and the people who make it," he says. "My life has consisted of residencies in some of the country's best known craft beer scenes: Burlington, VT, Boulder, CO, and northern California. I'm a resource for our guests who travel for beer tourism." Below, three of Canning's suds-inspired tours.
The Hotel Vermont Craft Beer Tour
Enjoy a full day of drinking without the frat party grime. Canning leads the day trip that starts at Greensboro's Hill Farmstead, located on an old diary ranch, where the beer is so coveted you can only get it on site. Sample the ancestral series, a selection of beers devoted to the family's lineage. Stop two is Lost Nation in Morrisville for a tasting and tour from brewmaster Allen van Anda. His beer is known for its low alcohol content (topping out at 5.9 % abv) and flavor-packed taste--perfect if you plan to have a couple. The day finishes at Waterbury's Prohibition Pig, a brewery housed in a former schoolhouse, and the surrounding pubs that feature more draft lines of Hill farmstead and Lawson's Finest Liquids than anywhere else in the state. The small town is also the only place to find Heady Topper, rated the number one beer by beeravocate.com, on draft anywhere in the world. Full day tour available every other Wednesday May - October; private tours available for minimum of 6 people.
The Bike and Brew Tour
Combine art, activity, and ale into one afternoon by hopping on a bike and heading to Burlington's vibrant south-end arts district. Ride along the shores of Lake Champlain to Oakledge Park towards the Pine St. corridor, which is home to three breweries and a cidery. On the way, you'll stop at Switchback Brewing, a Vermont institution, for flights of the slow-fermented brown ale and citrusy pilsner, among others varieties, and a tour of the copper German-imported brew tanks. Then it's on to the newly opened taproom at Zero Gravity to sip on local favorites like Green State lager and Conehead IPA. Right across the street, Queen City Brewing is a traditional Bavarian-style brewhouse with old-world IPA's. Finish the tour at Citizen Cider, home to dry artisanal ciders made primarily of Vermont apples. Three-hour tour available everyday throughout the summer.
The Winter Beer Package
Winters in Vermont conjure images of skiing, but a little history and hops are ideal for a day off the slopes. Canning greets guests with a branded glass and flight of suds at Hotel Vermont's onsite restaurant, Juniper, then gives a brief lay of the land: the story behind the local brewery explosion and an overview of local tap lines, i.e. where to get hard-to-find draughts and score six packs of cult labels that sellout in stores hours after delivery. Available all winter.
-- By Jordi Lippe
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