Craft beer devotion in Vermont is such that you don't need to just know about the best brews coming out in the state, you need to know the delivery schedule. When the Alchemist's Heady Topper, for instance, is unloaded in local stores, it sells out quickly.
"The most sought-after breweries in Vermont only distribute to the state of Vermont and specifically northern Vermont," says Matt Canning, beer concierge for Burlington's Hotel Vermont (hotelvt.com).
So a beer concierge/guide was essential for the hotel in order to showcase an important area of Vermont culture.
"Burlington – and Vermont – are a unique place," says Canning, a Burlington native who leads a weekly road-trip beer tour. (The hotel also has a fleet of old seventies bicycles for bike-and-brew tours.) "Local here is a given. We've been drinking local for a long time."
Here Canning shares five of his favourite beer-inspired stops in and around Burlington.
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery
"Zero Gravity is my favourite brewery in Burlington's South End. It has outdoor seating and a beautiful tap room. The Green State Lager is my favourite. Craft beer's opposition is generally from the large-scale lager crowd. Give a Budweiser drinker a Green State Lager and it will be something they are used to but 10 times better. It's a beer for people who don't like craft beer."
716 Pine St., Burlington.zerogravitybeer.com
"I'm happy to put cider in the same realm as craft beer. I think Citizen bridges the gap between cider and beer with the likes of Wit's Up, a cider fermented with Belgian Hefeweizen yeast. They also have the Full Nelson, a cider dry-hopped with Nelson hops. Both of these drink like a light beer. One has the bread and banana notes of a hefeweizen and the other the floral notes of New Zealand hops." 316 Pine St., Suite 114, Burlington. citizencider.com
Hill Farmstead Brewery
"When the brewery opens at noon, there are 20 to 50 people waiting. It's a very enthusiastic crowd. People talk beer while they wait. You can buy bottles and fill up growlers. It's a pretty authentic experience. No spiel from the staff there. Shaun Hill [is known for his ability] to brew all styles: lagers, hoppy ales, saisons and barrel-aged sours. A favourite for me is the Susan, a single IPA. It is heavy on Citra hops, which is a specific varietal that is quite citrusy."
403 Hill Rd., Greensboro Bend.hillfarmstead.com
Lost Nation Brewing
"So much of what has made Vermont famous is the pop of the IPAs, especially the double IPAs. For the most part, Lost Nation is a session brewery, with lower alcohol content so you can enjoy multiple drinks. My favourite is Gose, a traditional German-style beer that was extinct for the better part of 60 years. The beer is brewed with salt and coriander. It is salty and tart and always invites another sip."
87B Old Creamery Rd., Morristown.lostnationbrewing.com
"In Waterbury, on the old site of the Alchemist brewpub, is Prohibition Pig, a craft beer bar with comfort food and southern barbecue. They feature eight to 10 of their own beers, but also the favourite craft beers of Vermont. It's a beautiful little town, located about 25 minutes from Burlington. Try their house beer. My favourite is Mosaic Blonde, a cloudy blonde ale that's brewed with the mosiac hop varietal." 23 S Main St., Waterbury. prohibitionpig.com
This interview has been edited and condensed.