14 May 1999

Vermont Beer Tour

Vermont has the whitest per-capita population of any state, it is also one of the most sparsely populated states. It is treacherous and rugged, and you need four-wheel drive. There is a lot of granite and slate here and, along with Italy, it is the largest source of marble. During the Civil War, Vermont was New England's leading hops producing state. It is also home to a surprising number of breweries. It gets cold here so you need a beer with some warmth, something that will help pass the time during a stiff blizzard listening to 105.3 WEQX The Mountain.

Most of the people we talked to considered the Magic Hat beers the finest, with the Magic Hat Blind Faith ale earning Brendan's mark of distinction among them: "light and it gets the job done." Magic Hat has cool labels and also brew Ed's 1st Ale, the Number Nine (which is like a good beer except with apricot), and Jinx as well. Dave thinks they're arguably overpriced. The Long Trail Ale, for this reason, is his favorite. Long Trail also offers the Double Bag, a very strong beer, as well as a winter ale entitled "the Hibernator." Catamount "The Pride of Vermont" Amber is staunchly drinkable. The first beer tastes already of the second. Very smooth.

Boston's Harpoon beer is also frequently drank here. Drunk. Here.

We got to sample some truly obscure Vermont homebrews too. Dave's Tub Ale (brewed in his bathtub in Cincinnati) was imminently palatable, a pleated beer, although argably an Ohio beer, still swallowable, with flavors reminiscent of 5-6 pounds of bulk light malt extract syrup and whole leaf hops. We also got to drink some beer brewed by Scott, who's going to be Dave's best man, and who is brewing an IPA for the occasion. They call it an India Pale Ale, because it's got a lot of hops in it, as if it were brewed to stay potent throughout a long sea voyage.

I gotta say though, that, although all the Magic Hats I drank were delectable, the best time I had was drinking Otter Creek Copper Ale by a bonfire at the edge of Lake Bomoseen, looking out at the dark shores of Neshobe Island, where many a great American writer thought, drank, and took off their clothes. Although more extensive controlled studies may well have revealed that this was a great shore on which to drink even a can of Genesee, I do think the Otter Creek provided the correct supple undertones of woodsmoke for the occasion. Or maybe that was the bonfire.

They're all good beers. In Vermont.


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