The Seven Barrel Brewery

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We stopped for a late lunch at the The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, NH. We were on our way up to Vermont and stopped on the way. It is right at the border on NH and Vermont, right off of Interstate 89.

 

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 “The 7Barrel was opened April 20, 1994 by renowned brewer Gregory J. Noonan. While Greg is no longer with us, his tradition lives on …. Under the ownership of Upper Valley locals since 2010, we here at the 7Barrel are focused on continuing to provide our customers with high quality fare, great craft beer, and the enjoyable and unique atmosphere people have come to expect from our establishment.”  

 

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Queche Cream Ale – 4.5 % 14 IBU

Light but creamy flavor, smooth drinking. Good for the light end of the spectrum, we both liked this.

 

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Our sampler tray

 

New Dublin Brown – 4.5% 20 IBU

Good roasted malty flavor, a touch nutty. Not bitter, easy to drink, we both liked it.

 

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The Red #7 – 5%

Not a classic red style, so Megan drank it. A pleasant malt base and medium bitterness, not as hoppy as some reds. This is their most popular beer.

 

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Pumpkin Ale Seasonal – 4.9%

Good, comforting pumpkin pie spice. Light style beer but strong pumpkin taste. Megan really liked this beer. Makes you want to cozy up with a pint, a fire and friends.

 

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Champion Reserve IPA – 5%

Traditional style IPA, was a little bit warm though. More floral hops without much of a hoppy bite.

 

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Wet Hopped Pale Ale Seasonal – 5%

Smooth hoppy flavor without hoppy bite. Hop forward with a good taste, we liked it better than the IPA.

 

Oatmeal Stout – 4.8%

Dry, traditional style irish stout. Mark thought it was a little roasty and toasty. Megan was hoping for a little more from it.

 

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Conan the Destroyer Series: Imperial Coffee Stout – 8.3%

Not quite what we were hoping for. Megan didn’t think the flavors were bold or balanced enough. Mark liked it better than the Oatmeal Stout, but you could taste the higher alcohol content. Less roasty, hints of chocolate and coffee.

 

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All gone!

 

We each ordered a pint after the sampler tray. Mark got the Wet Hopped Pale Ale and Megan got the Pumpkin Ale.

 

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Their Special Burger of the day

 

The food was good, but the French fries were a small portion considering you had to pay $2 extra to get fries.

 

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Chicken Cheese Bagette

 

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Pretty good sized bar area

 

 

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Tanks full of beer behind the bar

 

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The dining area is a mix of booths and larger tables.

 

 

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Nearby? Going to be passing through? Time it well-from 4-6 pm everyday $3 pints

 

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Want to Visit?

Open Daily 11 am to Close

Switchback Brewing Company, Burlington Vermont

IMG_0749While visiting our friends, John and Lindsay, we stopped at Switchback Brewing Company, located in Burlington Vermont. IMG_0750 We had a tour, with Dan, one of the Brewers. There are four brewers, and two test brewers. He gave us the safety spiel: “don’t open things- you’ll get blown through cement!” Dan continued with telling us a bit of the history of Switchback Brewing Company. IMG_0752The owner of Switchback learned how to professionally make beer, even has a Masters degree to prove it! Switchback Brewing Company was founded in 2002, by a brewer and an electrical engineer. That summer, they worked out the kinks in their newly purchased setup, and had their first batch of sell-able beer that September. Ake’s Place, in Burlington, was given the honor of pouring Switchback’s first pint on October 22, 2002.

  • the beer is left unfiltered, and is carbonated naturally
  • their business/marketing plan was to introduce draught beer first, so all could be done onsite, by the brewer until sales justified expanding and hiring help
  • They moved from only 15.5 gallon kegs, to 5.2 gallon kegs and in October of 2012, ten years after the first pint was poured, announced they would begin to bottle.
  • They do not want to do growlers or cans, and believe kegs are the the best way to hold the container to a particular amount of oxygen.

At the beginning, the brewer was brewing one day, cleaning the next. Now, they do more than one cycle a day. The tour was very scientific, while still being great for the average beer drinker. You could tell that Dan knows what he is talking about, and enjoys all aspects of it. Switchback has two brewing areas, on for their original Switchback Ale, and the other for their specialty beers. IMG_0773  IMG_0766  IMG_0765  IMG_0764  IMG_0758  IMG_0753The larger one is more automated than the smaller, specialty one.  Their larger automated equipment is a mismatch of 1960’s German equipment mixed with modern equipment. For filtering, they use a machine instead of diatomaceous earth for a more consistent filter. IMG_0769You will never get a beer from Switchback that is more than 2 months old. They bottle only on Wednesdays, so the beer almost runs out at most stores before they receive a new order in.IMG_0770  IMG_0771 IMG_0781The Beer: Switchback Ale: original recipe from 2002. Naturally carbonated, unfiltered. Available year round. 1:1:1 hops:yeast:malt Very balanced, complex, while still being drinkable. We all enjoyed. 5%, 23 IBU Dooley’s Belated Porter:  First created in December of 2009. Drinks lighter than you’d expect. Caramel, chocolate flavor. John isn’t a big fan of porters typically, but actually enjoyed theirs. 5.7%, 43 IBU IMG_0780  IMG_0777

Want to try some for yourself or, better yet- visit? Bottles are available in parts of upstate New York, all of Vermont and New Hampshire. They are looking to expand to Western Massachusetts.

Tours&Tastings: Every Saturday at 1 & 2pm.IMG_0768  IMG_0760

Zero Gravity Craft Brewery at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, Burlington Vermont

IMG_0799  IMG_0800We visited Zero Gravity Craft Brewery at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, located in Burlington Vermont before we headed home from our visit to John & Lindsay’s.
American Flatbread is a delicious pizza restaurant, which houses Zero Gravity Brewery.IMG_0808IMG_0806 IMG_0807 menuIMG_0814pizza oven

There was not a sampler tray, so we ordered 10 oz beers. We picked the more interesting sounding, less traditional flavors or styles of beer. The waitress was good and told us the hops from the stout would kill the flavor of the gruit, so we had the gruit first.

IMG_0811Winter Gruit Ale 5.8%

No back end taste, all up front. It was smooth and flavorful with low carbonation, drinkable. Megan is a fan of gruits in general because you get good flavor but not that heavy hop flavor.

 

IMG_0812Bermuda Triangle Sour Stout 5.7%

Sounded like an interesting beer, and it was. It was light and smooth, not too hoppy for a stout. It smelled like a stout and was a dark color like a stout, but fairly smooth. Sour aftertaste. Megan thought it tasted like sour chocolate.

 

Conehead IPA 5.7%

Megan thought it was a typical IPA, she is not really a big fan of IPA’s. Mark liked it, extra hoppy. You definitely get the wheat flavor which gives the IPA a different twist.

 

IMG_0819Medicine Wheel Flatbread that we added pepperoni to. The pizza was really good.

The service was good overall.  Not the experience we usually have eating out in Vermont. The waitress we had was good. They have a lot of wait staff for the amount of tables, although it was not a real big place.

Some history:

American Flatbread Burlington Hearth opened in 2004, and they started brewing their own beer that same year. They built their own dome oven to wood fire the pizza. They started out with a 10 barrel system. Beer and bread making go together, and have, for more than 5000 years. They have an ‘unwavering commitment’ to staying true to the classic styles of a beer, which includes using the best ingredients possible. This doesn’t mean they can’t experiment, though. In 2012 they started selling beer offsite. Now they are looking to build a new brewery offsite to keep up with demand. Want to visit? Open every day 11:30 to close.

 

after we left, we found these fun jellyfish sculptures in the park:IMG_0823  IMG_0825

Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne VT

IMG_0745While visiting John & Lindsay, we went to Shelburne Vineyard, located in Shelburne, Vermont. The vineyard has 4 different sites where they grow grapes. 57% of the grapes they use grown by them; that will go up because they have acres of vines that are too young to be used right now. Shelburne Vineyard started with 3 acres of grapes planted in 1998 as a retirement hobby. In 1999, 3 more acres were planted, and in 2000, a partnership was founded. In 2001, the first vintage was released. In 2008, their tasting room opened, and is ready for you to visit today!     IMG_0746

IMG_0737Our tasting:

2012 Louise Swenson
Sweet but dry, “drier than most reds”

2012 Cayuga White
Blend of Cayuga, Riesling and chardonnay. Definitely drier than most Cayuga that we have tried. 30 Different local restaurants have this as their table wine. 15 of those restaurants have it on tap!

2012 Lakeview White
This is their top selling wine. Lindsay thought it was easily drinkable due to sweetness, it is almost like a juice. An off dry Cayuga with chardonnay and Riesling.

 

They have 2 Rieslings, a Vermont (comes out in April) and a New York (their current offering)

2012 Riesling Honey and melon flavors. It was sweeter than Mark expected it to be.

2012 Cabernet Franc This was bottled in December. Dry medium body aged in oak. It had a fruity, cherry and blackberry, and a peppery bold taste. This was our favorite of the 2 reds.

2012 Marquette This is the leading red grape grown in Vermont. It was aged 8 months in an oak barrel, then 1 year in the bottle. Seemed a little drier than the first red.

Dessert Styles

Artesano is a new meadery in Coulchester, which opened in January of 2014. Since they are fairly new, they are utilizing the ability to offer their meads at the Shelburne Vineyard.

Artesano’s Sparkling Cranberry Mead John liked the cranberry flavor. Mark thought it was different but good.

Artesano’s Traditional Cyder 80% Applewine, 20% Mead. Drier than expected. Ha the bright acidity of apples.

2012 Vidal Blanc Late Harvest semi-sweet dessert wine. Balanced, fresh ripe stone fruits, pears and honeysuckle. Both Mark and Megan thought it was very good.

2012 Rhapsody Ice Wine Harvested in December/January in the early morning. Much sweeter than Vidal Blanc. We enjoyed.

Eden Ice Ciders Heirloom blend of eleven different varieties of apples, without spices added. Very good, sweet

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 The store/tasting roomIMG_0738 IMG_0744 IMG_0740 IMG_0739

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shelburne 4Want to visit? They are open 7 days a week, year round. 11-6 May-October, 11-5 October-April
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Free tours offered daily at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Crop Bistro and Brewery, Stowe Vermont

IMG_0707While visiting John and Lindsay, we went for dinner and beer at Crop Bistro and Brewery, located in Stowe, Vermont. Crop Bistro is a farm to table restaurant, and on their website have a list of the local suppliers they use.

The beers were first on tap in January 2013. They have just started selling kegs locally, so they are growing. Slightly expensive, but like you would expect from a nice restaurant, certainly not your typical Brew Pub.

IMG_0708 IMG_0709The food was good overall. The bread was slightly sweet with a good flavor, soft and fresh.IMG_0714 We ordered 3 apps, Rip N Dip, Fried Pickles, and Potato skins. Everyone liked the Rip N Dip, good flavor, like a tomato fondue, had chili powder on top- so don’t get too much of that on one chunk of bread! IMG_0716Fried pickles were cut lengthwise, salty, lots of batter, Megan thought a little too much batter. IMG_0719Potato skins were fancy, cut, covered in cheese in a saucepan.IMG_0718

BEER

Crop says they match the glass to the beer to bring out the best aroma’s, flavor, and appearance. They ‘strive to pour our beers with a head!’ Also on the beer menu it says the ales ferment on top and can be dry, fruity, and complex. The lagers are bottom fermented, aged cold or ‘lagered’ and tend to be cleaner and crisper in flavor, fruity if fermented warm.

We ordered The Crop Brewery Sample Board.

We thought we got to order the beers we wanted since it did not say on the menu, but when I asked the waitress she rudely told me no.IMG_0713  IMG_0711 IMG_0710

Helles Brook Lager – 4.5% – a munich style helles lager
A little sweeter than normal. Lager taste with medium body.

Bavarian Weizen – 5%-  a Bavarian style heffeweizen
Megan thought it tasted slightly like bananas, I only got that smell. Was not overpowering, a little bit of a slightly odd/ spicy flavor.

Belgian Amber – 5% – good fruit notes, slight phenol on the finish
Smooth, reminded Megan of fresh bread flavor.

William Ale – 5% – London ale
Creamy flavor, like other English ales I have tried recently. Fairly light flavor.

The Crop Brown Ale – 5.4% – walks the line between malt and hop finish
Has a richer flavor than other brown ales, still fairly light flavor.

IPA
Traditional IPA taste.

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Since it was not included in the sample board I ordered a pint of the Willi Vanilli.

Willi Vanilli –5.7% – traditional dark lager wonderfully smooth
Megan thought tasted like ice cream, I got more of a sweet, dark porter taste.

 

The beer was definitely good. Very traditional beer styles. They have a lot of other local beers on tap as well, and some of the big name beers for people who are not interested in trying something new. They sell Growlers and Bombers to go. The Bavarian Weizen and Willi Vanili have been rotated out for a Maerzen Lager – a German style march beer, and a Vermont Pale Ale with some homegrown hops.

Dinner

IMG_0723 Megan had the Beef tenderloin. It was cooked nicely, juicy.

IMG_0725John ordered the Crop Burger

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Lindsay ordered the Pacific Red Crab Cake, as well as a salad. She enjoyed this, but after the salad found it was too big to finish!

IMG_0721I ordered the Beer Battered Fish and Chips- the fish was HUGE and tasty and fresh. The fries were also good and tasty.

The waitress seemed rude, not very talkative, not really ‘there’. She took our empty drinks and did not ask if we wanted anything else. John and Lindsay said that is typical in that area, or in Vermont in general. The room were sat in seemed strange, too. It was out in the back, seemed more like a brunch room with metal tables. The front room looked much nicer, had more lights, a fireplace, and more atmosphere. John and Lindsay have sat in the front room every other time they have been there, and said that the hospitality in that room tends to be better.

IMG_0729Lindsay ordered cookies to go for dessert

 

Want to visit?
Hours of Operation:
11:30am- Close, 7 days a week

Our 50th visit! Long Trail, Birdgewater Corners, Vermont


Our second stop before we arrived to John and Lindsay’s was Long Trail, located in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. Long Trail was number 50! Our 50th visit! We parked farthest away from the doorway, not on purpose, and went in and took a seat at the bar.

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the road sign

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the door we had thought was the correct one- so we parked right across from it!

Our second stop before we arrived to John and Lindsay’s was Long Trail, located in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. IMG_0683 Long Trail was number 50! Our 50th visit!

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We went in and took a seat at the bar.

There were two beer samplers to choose from. We chose the one we had tried less beers of.

Vermont Sampler: IMG_0687  IMG_0688 IMG_0689

Brown Bag: Hefeweizen, 5.4%, 10 IBU

Tastes like a Hefeweizen, Mark said it reminded him of Blue Moon.

Farmhouse: White IPA, 6.2%, 55IBU

“Long Trail’s brewers are proud to offer you a series of unique and exclusive Farmhouse Artisanal Ales, crafted with care in our new farmhouse pilot brewery, located at the far corner of our property. These beers are unfiltered and unscripted expressions of Long Trail’s individual and collective brewery personalities. We dropped our little pilot brewery in the Farmhouse so we would have someplace to play and exercise our creative brewer chops outside the rigid confines of our big production brewhouse, which restricts us to producing a minimum 800 cases per batch.

At the Farmhouse, we are able to brew one barrel at a time, so each of these special offerings are very limited. You will not find these unique ales anywhere else but here at the Long Trail Pub and select locations. When it’s gone, it very well might be gone forever. There’s no set schedule, and very few rules. When inspiration strikes, we fire up the kettle! Some of these offerings might be refined into production beers down the road, but most of them will simply end up as fond memories.”- From Long Trail’s website

Very fresh smelling – almost like celery. Mark thought it tasted like spruce tips. Megan wasn’t a fan – the flavor was too different.

Limbo IPA – 7.6%, 80 IBU

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this poster was in their bathroom- got my attention!

Bigger flavor palate than a typical IPA. Not as heavy upfront, but had a different aftertaste – almost earthy.

Brush & Barrel Saison – 7.1%, 30 IBU

“The Brown Bag concept was developed in 1993 as a method for developing and test marketing new products quickly and affordably. The challenge was that developing a recipe was the easiest and least costly aspect of launching a new product. We could quite easily come up with a number of different flavor, color and character options, but getting them in front of customers was difficult and expensive. The time and expense required to come up with artwork and graphics for packaging, as well as printing costs (and the fact that Brown Bag was offered in very small batches) all presented a challenge for a fledgling brewery with limited resources.

That challenge was met by using simple, generic branding. A craft background and a bold, blocky font printed in a single color (black) created a look reminiscent of a brown paper bag stamped with a rubber stamp. The only unique parts were the label and the liquid inside the bottle. Messaging on the outer cartons and six packs read “Check inside the bag for style.”

Removing the time and expense on the package side gave us the freedom to experiment and push the limits of the art of brewing with styles that may have been too risky otherwise. Additionally, the fast path to market resulted in the ability to kick out new beer options quickly and kept our customers engaged and excited.” From Long Trail’s website

Other Beers that went into production after being in the Brown Bag series were Double Bag, Hit the Trail Brown Ale, and Ramble.

Good, what I expected from a Saison.

Blackberry Wheat: 4%, 12 IBU

While looking at the samplers, this was the one beer from the other sampler plate I had wanted to try. The bartender overheard us talking about it, and he let us try it. Good flavor, sweet. Reminded me of summer weather.

Ramble: 5.25%, 25 IBU

Seeing that Ramble was a Kolsch, I mentioned that I had liked the Lemon Pepper Kolsch that was a Brown Bag last summer. Apparently, people liked it so much Long Trail decided to make it their spring beer. They made some changes, but it is still very good!

IMG_0699The beer was better than the food, but it was still better than not having food! We ordered nachos and chicken fingers.

 

As like most brewery’s, they have beer there that you can’t get everywhere else. They have 12 packs samplers that they sell only in Vermont.

 

IMG_0702One of the cool things about Long Trail  (besides the beer itself!) is how they serve the samplers- in a cupcake tin!

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Want to visit?

Open Daily, 10-7, Kitchen: 11-7

We’ve been told that Long Trail is GORGEOUS in the Summer!

Our 49th visit: Harpoon Brewery and the Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden, Windsor, Vermont

 IMG_0639We traveled in Vermont a couple of weekends ago to visit our friends, John and Lindsay. On our way to visit them, we made a few stops. Our first stop was Harpoon Brewery and the Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden, located in Windsor, Vermont.IMG_0634  IMG_0635  IMG_0638

Years ago, we visited the Boston location of Harpoon, and knew they were different from one another but uncertain as to how. The Vermont Brewery has a full restaurant, with a long bar, multiple tables and a nice fireplace.IMG_0657 IMG_0662
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We sat at one of the tables near the bar, where we could see the full beer menu behind the bar and the tap handles. IMG_0642  IMG_0643

We ordered appetizers and a beer sampler. They had two sample trays to choose from. We choose the tray we had tried less of in the past.IMG_0644

IMG_0646  IMG_0640Our Tasting:IMG_0647  IMG_0648  IMG_0649
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UFO Pale Ale: 5.3%, 37 IBU. Medium body, traditional British Pale Ale with an assertive hop character

The Long Thaw (White IPA): 6.2%, 45 IBU. Spiciness of a Belgian Wit, and the American Hop characteristics of an American IPA

Celtic Ale: 5.4%, 25 IBU. Very different than what I expected it to be. Malty and complex. Moderate hop with malts. Smooth, medium bodied. It didn’t present itself as a red ale to me- it was much better than what I expected.

**Beer Tasting Extra**
We mentioned we would be interested in trying this one, and our waitress was great and brought us a little taste:
Pumpkin Chai: 5.7%, great pumpkin smell. Good balance of chai and pumpkin. Not as pumpkin-y as UFO Pumpkin, however, we considered it a good “late winter, early spring” pumpkin beer- a cozy flavor.

Boston Irish Stout: 4.3%, 30 IBU. Similar to Guinness, a little darker and maltier. Fill bodied and creamy.

Glasses we ordered:
Kitchen Sink: 7.2%, 35 IBU. At inventory, they took everything they had left and combined it (ingredients that is- not beer!). Medium bodied, tasted lighter than in appeared. Good flavor, but hard to place.

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IMG_0665Black Forest
: 9.8%, 24 IBU. Interesting cherry and chocolate flavors, but not intense of either. Could be a little more flavorful, but not bad at all. Not as sweet as expected. Not overbearing, but while drinking it, you can tell it is a higher ABV.

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Food:
IMG_0656Sweet Chili Wings, from their specials menu.
Crispy wings, then tossed in sauce. Nice zip to them- just spicy enough that you don’t need to dunk them in dressing. Sweet too!

IMG_0655French Fries: crunchy, beer battered

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IMG_0677wish I had bought this sweatshirt- it was so soft!
 IMG_0676  IMG_0678  IMG_0679They have a store inside as well, with a giant window and door leading to the brewery. You are welcome to step inside the brewery for a “self-guided tour,” just not crossing through the barriers. Or, you can go on a tour over the weekend:

Tours:

FRI 5 PM to 7 PM (starting every hour)
SAT 11 AM to 5 PM (starting every hour)
SUN 12:00 PM to 4 PM (starting every hour

 

 

 

IMG_0659view through the window

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Around five, it began to get busy. We finished up around that time and hit the road…

Want to visit?

We recommend it!

Hours of Operation:

SUN – WED 10 AM to 6 PM
THU – SAT 10 AM to 9 PM

 

 

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Madison Brewing Co.

After the long drive to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont and our quick tasting at Northshire Brewing, we had to stop for lunch. A brewpub? Why not!? We stopped at the Madison Brewing Co, located in Bennington, Vermont.

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I ordered the Southwest Chicken Sandwich (grilled chicken, pepperjack cheese, bacon, lettuce… Chipotle aioli and tomato were also part, but I left those off) which came with a side of fries. 100_0625 Mark ordered the Brewmasters Steak Sandwich (sliced bistro steak, portabella mushrooms, shallots, Vermont smoked cheddar, and garlic mayo served on herb ciabetta) which came with ale fries.  100_0623

We started our beer drinking there with their sampler- 8-4oz pours. They were presented nicely.100_0621  100_0622  100_0626

Our tasting:

Sucker Pond Blonde

Mark: really, really light with a dull, citrus flavor

Megan: tasted like tap water mixed with cheap beer

Buck’s Honey Wheat

Mark: Not very honey-ish. I think I should be able to taste honey and would expect it to be sweet.

Megan: good balance of honey and wheat. More honey would be too sweet. Once we added the lime wedge, I enjoyed it even more

Wassick’s White Wall

Mark: nothing “standoutish,” which is good. Liked.

Megan: Similar to a Blue Moon or Shock Top. Good with the lemon added

Crowtown Pale Ale

Mark: Light start with a hoppy finish. Like

Megan: similar to the first beer, but slightly more hoppy. Unfiltered water flavor

Mike’s Irish Red

Mark: Like it (usually does)

Megan: Don’t mind it, which is surprising because I typically don’t like reds. Might be more flavorful or different

Old 76 Strong Ale

Mark: agrees with the description provided. Fruity undertone for such a “heavy” beer

Megan: Indifferent, would drink it if it were given to me, but I wouldn’t choose it

IPA (seasonal selection)

Mark: Almost tastes light, better than the average IPA

Megan: love the smell. Rich, complex. Very flavorful

Battlefield Stout

Mark: good flavor, a little sweet on the tongue

Megan: Interesting smell, good flavor. A good stout

Mark: They seem to be more about the variety… good to be a local kind of place…. Odd choices, but a little bit of everything (in regards to both food and beer)

The food was really good, but none of the beer really stood out. If you are in the area and looking for a bite to eat, I would recommend it, just stick with the style of beer you usually drink.

Bathroom signs:100_0630  100_0631

Brewery:

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Bar/wall near bar:

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Northshire Brewery

Northshire Brewery is located in Bennington. Vermont.  We had traveled there for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont100_0612It is a small operation, a husband-wife team with a part time sales person. They started in 2010, making beer for local bars and restaurants to serve. They are now available at a few retail establishments as well as a few local Hannaford. They now sell bottles of their beer as well.100_0616 100_0617

We had a quick visit, where we were able to try three of their beers. Their tastings were $5 for the glass and a taste of whatever they currently have on tap.

100_0613Our tasting:

Northshire Hefeweizen: somewhat sweet, flavors of clove and citrus

Battenkill Ale:  A little brown in color but not dark in taste, with subtle hints of coffee.  This beer was their 1st!  5.7% ABV

Sicilian Pale Ale: made with blood oranges. I am not usually a Pale Ale person, but this was very good! Nice flavor! Also great when we had it from the bottle later.

We bought a Sicilian Pale Ale and a Chocolate Stout to bring home. We had to buy the Chocolate Stout- they only had it in bottles so we weren’t able to try it, but we had seen it on their website and a sign in the brewery.

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It was a good tasting, and I hope they continue being successful so we can eventually find them at our local stores!

After our tasting, we went to the Madison Brewing Co for lunch. Look here to see more about our visit to Madison Brewing Co!

6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont

100_0734Last weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, located at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont.

We played tourists for the weekend, visited a couple of breweries and a winery, saw the beginning of fall foliage and went camping. 100_0741
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We started our weekend early, heading over Friday morning. We arrived around 1pm, and started our weekend off with a quick chat and tasting at Northshire Brewing. Look here next week for a review and photos! We followed the beer with more beer (and lunch) at Madison Brewing Company, a brewpub. Look here next week for a review and photos!

We then checked into the campground, and went out on the pond for a little bit. 100_0653  100_0646 We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow… 100_0654  100_0672 100_0684  100_0683  100_0682

The next morning, Saturday, was the day of the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival. After making a quick breakfast of bagels toasted over the fire, we set off for a fun and alcohol filled day.

When we arrived at Mount Snow, we (at first) went the wrong way. Although our GPS was giving us the correct directions, even once we were on the Mount Snow property, we tried to follow the signs to determine where to park. Unfortunately, it was a breezy day, and some of the signs had turned around, misdirecting us. Luckily, the hotel valet directed us the correct way (as our GPS had been telling us to do haha). 100_0717After we found parking, we checked in and proceeded to have our IDs checked. After receiving our “over 21” bracelets and a stamp stating we had paid, we proceeded to get our wine glasses, grab bags and 3 tasting tickets a piece.100_0718  100_0729

We decided to walk around the two large tents before really stopping to taste anything. There were wineries, cider, cheese farms, and distilleries, places sampling jam, pickles and candy…

Oh, a note on the tastes. Each taste cost 1 ticket. A size of a taste varied table to table, some saying it was 1 ticket per pour, others 1 for all they were offering, and others, 2 tickets for all that they were offering. We were not able to try all of the wineries, but were able to try most and didn’t spend too too much on extra tickets (about $13).

Many of our stops at the festival:

Grafton Village Cheese:

We tried:

  • 3 year cheddar (bought)
  • 5 year cheddar
  • Maple Smoked Cheddar (very dry, but good!)
  • Leyden- English style cheese. Really good!

All of their cheese was very delicious! Would have loved to go home with more- will look into buying at least another block next time we are in Vermont. One of the really great things about the Grafton Village Cheese table, besides all of the delicious cheese, is that although this was one of the first tables we went to, they remembered us at the end of our day, when we went back to make a purchase. Something as small as that gesture of remembering really helps make a difference.

Newhall Maple Syrup:

Woodfired, grade A maple syrup

Really good, nice, sweet and thick

Newhall also made a cider, and had it paired with two other small orchards for a tasting:

we tried them in the following order, from lowest to highest in both alcohol and acidity

  • Windfall Orchards Ice Cider- 30 different varieties of apples go into the making of. 9% ABV. Great with dessert or cheese
  • Eden Heirloom Blend-10 different varieties of apples, 10% ABV. Goes well with dried meats
  • Newhall Ice Cider-Won a double gold metal. 12% ABV.

We both liked all three, for different reasons. Each one was unique.

Caledonia Spirits and Winery

All products are made from honey

I was very excited about this brand, due in part to the “Barr” name of two of their products.

Our tasting:

  • Barr Hill Vodka- not harsh, slight honey flavor
  • Barr Hill Gin- honey more powerful here. A sipping gin. Although I am not a gin drinker, i enjoyed this.
  • Elderberry Cordial- really good! Would be great as an after dinner drink or mixed with Prosecco 100_0722  100_0719  100_0721  100_0720

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

100 proof. Highest rated whiskey, 96 points. Good taste, but pricey. I found out after the festival that Whistlepig is not made in Vemont as we were made to think (all the others were Vermont made). I was disappointed in this. I did, however, find out that the distiller who makes this used to work for Maker’s Mark, which could be why I enjoyed it.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company

Tried:

  • Lille- thicker than Brie. Really good! Great flavor
  • Governor’s Cheddar- good, dry cheddar

Mad River Distillers

  • Maple Finish Rum- tastes like whiskey to me (which in later discussions with a distiller I know, I found was actually the oak barrel taste that I associate with whiskey). The maple syrup is aged in bourbon barrels.Good flavor
  • First Run Rum- good mixer
  • Chocolate Rye- nice, spiced, smooth100_0723

Vermont Distillers

  • Metcalf’s Raspberry Liqueur- good, tastes like raspberry jam. Would be great added to other drinks, or even a splash in sprite
  • Metcalf’s Vermont Maple Liqueur- Really good. Mark said it could be his new skiing coffee mixer.

 

100_0724 100_0761 We stopped by their tasting room at Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook on the ride home, but they were not present. We assumed their staff was at the festival.

Vermont Spirits

  • Vermont Gold Vodka- not too much of a burn. Distilled from maple syrup.
  • No 14 Bourbon Whiskey- Mark really liked; they suggested adding water to a glass of whiskey to make the flavors open up

Mother Myrik’s Confectionary

Had their Buttercrunch to sample. Really delicious! It is handmade and made with Cabot Creamery butter.

 

Saxtons River Distillery

  • Vermont Maple Liqueur- good, although somewhat harsh going down
  • Vermont Maple Bourbon Whiskey- Mark tried, he said it was good, but “weird” because the maple flavor is different
  • Perc Coffee Liqueur- tastes just like coffee

Comment made by Mark:

“There’s a lot of maple and cider stuff in Vermont.”

Everywhere we looked, there was maple flavored stuff or cider!

Shelburne Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Louise Swenson- driest of the whites. Not too dry, it had a nice pucker to it
  • Riesling- Mark “that’s good.” Me- dry Riesling, not typical for me.
  • Lakeview White- semidry blend
  • Marquette- dry red. Hybrid grape with pinot noir. I actually liked this one, which surprised me. Mark also enjoyed.
  • Harvest Widows Revenge- semisweet red. Best served chilled. Mark and I really enjoyed.

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North Branch Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Frontenac Gris- dry white. Nice flavor to it, white peach and citrus. Liked it!
  • Miss Maeve- red raspberries. Not strong raspberry flavor, dry rose. Not sweet like you would expect.
  • Traminette- semidry. Similar to a dry Riesling. Rose petal and grapefruit. Mark liked.
  • Lacrescent- semisweet. Intense sweet apricot. Liked it, it is a different flavor
  • Marquette- oaked. Dry, black pepper and cherries. Like it, sweet, although it doesn’t intend to be.
  • Marechal Foch- dry blackberries. We both actually enjoyed this wine, although we tend to not like dry wines (guess our tastes are changing!)

Comment by Mark:

“I think we’re spoiled by Lukes.”

Lukes Liquors, located on the South Shore of Massachusetts in Rockland, hosting a wine tasting twice a year. The cost is $5, and for that price you get a wine glass, booklet, pen, small bites, and the opportunity to taste more than 100 different wineries.

Fresh Tracks Farm

We had to pick 3 each to try

  • American White- Mark tried, it was alright
  • Vermont Rose- I tried, it was ok
  • Vermont Apple Wine- semidry, juicy apple juice front. Refreshing finish. Good apple wine- you don’t see many apple wines that aren’t ice wines, so it makes it to be a more affordable way to enjoy
  • 2011 La Crescent- Mark enjoyed, and later went back for a larger sample (1 ticket for a larger pour)
  • 2011 Frontenac Gris- I tried and really enjoyed. Good amount of sweetness. I went back for a larger sample later.

Crowley Cheese

Had to try this cheese due to it being a family name.

  • Unusually Sharp- soooo good!
  • Chive- really good!

Yum! Understood the high prices, but would have purchased if it were less expensive for what they had left when we got there100_0638 100_0730

Whetstone Ciderworks

Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”

Our tasting:

  • Orchard Queen- dry, crisp, refreshing
  • Barnyard Blend- more rustic, English Farmhouse style. I enjoyed this one more than the Orchard Queen
  • Orchard King- most carbonated of all. Mark enjoyed
  • Whetstone Reserve- a different flavor. Mark enjoyed

Grandview Winery

Our tasting:

  • Pear Wine- Eastern States Wine Convention “double gold” and “best in show.” We both thought it was really good
  • Cranberry Wine- Ok, have had other cranberry wines that I have enjoyed more (such as those from Plymouth MA!)
  • Mac Jack Hard Cider- fresh grown Vermont apples, carbonated
  • Strawberry Rhubarb- nose picks up strawberry, then mouth picks up rhubarb
  • Raspberry Apple Wine- great nose. Nice and refreshing. Great combination. This is the bottle we left with, which was enjoyed with our Grafton Village 3 year Cheddar Cheese by the campfire.

On Sunday, we packed up and set off towards home mid-morning, making a stop on the way at Honora Winery. Look for that post soon!

Want to go to the 7th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival? Look here for more information as the time gets closer.

Due to the nature of our visit (it being a festival), there is not a huge amount of detail for many of the wineries. Since it was a festival, they are all still on our list to visit.

 

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