On a recent long weekend in Vermont, Katy and I decided to pick up a few Vermont Brewers Association passports and see how many breweries we could hit in a couple of days. After hitting Otter Creek and Long Trail on Saturday, we started our Sunday drinking in Burlington at the Vermont Pub and Brewery. The Vermont Pub and Brewery is Vermont’s first brewpub and “one of the Nation’s 25 Best Craft Breweries.”
The Vermont Pub and Brewery is located right in the center of downtown Burlington (or at least what seemed like the center to a tourist like me). The place screams classic New England pub, with a beautiful brick outside with some patio seating along with a dark and noisy inside. We were happy to find lots of dark wood, lots of TVs, and plenty of seating at the bar and at tables for a weekend lunch.
For a pair of people looking for some good food and great beer, the prices were pretty much unbeatable. We both had massive burgers, and they were only five bucks each. Five bucks! I could hardly believe it. The beer was priced well for sampling a lot of different brews, offered in 16, 12, 8, and 3 oz pours for between 1 and 4 dollars. Along with my tasty burger, I opted for the pub’s Forbidden Fruit oak-aged Framboise and the Handsome Mick Smoked Stout, which I am happy to say was available on cask.
The Forbidden Fruit is a strong fruit beer, and pours an almost florescent red with a pink-tinted head. The nose is dominated by raspberry sweetness, although a bit of wheat and alcohol sneak through as well. If you weren’t a beer drinker, you wouldn’t know this was beer if you had a taste – other than some crisp wheat malt, the flavor is all tart raspberry. The mouthfeel is effervescent and champagne-like, not too syrupy or thick. It’s really a nice, surprising beer. I’d almost call the Forbidden Fruit an imperial berliner weisse or a baby Fort – it exists right in the space between those two beers. One caution – if you’re a guy who isn’t all that secure with his masculinity, you might want to steer clear of a beer the same color as most of Barbie’s dresses.
If you’re one of those folks craving a bacon beer – and I know you’re out there – I’d point you right towards Handsome Mick’s Smoked Stout. Pumped out of the cask, the beer arrived with a chocolate milk-colored head and obsidian body. The nose, broadly, is smokey with oak and nut scents standing out among chocolate, coffee and roasted malt aromas. Specifically, the nose has as much hickory as a pound of hickory-smoked bacon, and smells a whole lot like a weekend breakfast. The taste is nicely complex, with coffee and chocolate and caramel and all those other great stout flavors coming through strong. Still, the best part is the superb bacon smoke that rules the flavor. This was a fantastic beer to go with my burger, and wouldn’t be too shabby on it’s own.
Two beers and one meal down, and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what the Vermont Pub and Brewery has to offer. The place is highly recommended for a Burlington lunch, and the four beers Katy and I had between us were all superb. Vermont has a reputation for unique and creative breweries, and this is one that didn’t disappoint.