A couple of weekends ago my mother had an awesome opportunity to attend a beer tasting back in Vermont. I have to admit, I am pretty jealous. She did a great job talking-up LIBA while at the event. She graciously agreed to do her first ever guest-post here at LIBA, recapping the trip to the brewery. Moms….
On February 12th I had the pleasure of attending a beer tasting held by Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vermont. Friends of ours asked my husband, John, to accompany them as their designated driver. When asked if I cared to join them, I jumped at the chance as it would be an opportunity to do a little PR for LIBA. As both my husband and I rarely drink alcohol it was sure to be a unique experience for both of us.
On our drive to Greensboro we learned the owner, Shawn Hill, also owns a sister brewery in Denmark. After much success with that brewery, he returned home to Greensboro to start a 2nd brewery on his family homestead. In the 9 months since opening Hill Farmstead Brewery the brewmaster has gained a reputation for producing excellent craft beers. This exclusive tasting (only 50 tickets were sold) was sure to be attended by serious craft beer drinkers.
Greensboro is a tiny town in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the drive to the brewery is by way of several miles of dirt road. As we approached we saw an old farmhouse and an unfinished building sitting alone on a hilltop. A small unassuming sign identifies the business as Hill Farmstead Brewery. A beautiful, one of a kind, oak door leads the customers into the new, and again unfinished, taproom. Although the ceiling is beautifully finished in oak, the walls and floor are bare. We learned more oak will be added to the room & in time the aroma from the brewing room will seep into the oak adding to the unique atmosphere.
Upon our arrival, we each received a glass embossed with the business logo, three beer tickets and two 16 ounce bottles of beer. Our friends tried many beers through out the day. I tasted many of them and can remember only a few because I didn’t take notes. Double Sunshine, our friend Billy’s favorite (very dark, definitely not a beer for a lightweight such as myself); Limoncello, our friend Mark’s favorite (light in color with a distinct lemon taste); Flora (another pale beer, I rather liked that one), one that was heavy on the molasses, and another which was rather vinegary, I thought.
I left our friends to enjoy their beers and began to introduce myself and LIBA to the other guests. I found nearly everyone to be open and receptive of the LIBA cards which I handed out. I quite enjoyed myself talking with a total of about 40 people. I learned 3 couples had driven from Waltham, MA, another man from Connecticut, and all came specifically for this event. One of the men had heard of LIBA (yahoo for Josh!). Another had a friend with his own beer blog (he couldn’t remember the blog name, but did say his friend’s name was Chad, maybe you know his blog?).
The food was kind of Vermont gourmet: a molded, chunky appetizer log, which we found out later was rabbit. (good) Another molded, more solid log that remained a mystery. At first, someone said headcheese, then later someone suggested it was sweetbreads. Regardless it was good. Then 2 kinds of sliders. I had one from the first platter that came out: Thai, really good. I am guessing it was local beef, as it was exceptionally good beef. The Jasper Hill Cheese came in later on. Now that was interesting. Fabulous cheddar. No, let me try again. Out of this world cheddar. A very soft cheese that was very good, but too salty for my taste. And a semi-soft cheese that tasted, to our friend Mark and me, like manure smells! I later absentmindedly put my finger in my mouth and quickly confirmed that the flavor of that cheese was not my imagination!
One of the highlights of the day for me was when one of the assistants asked my name. When I responded “Robin”, he said “I’m Scott Kerner”. Oh, my! I had been looking at him off and on throughout the afternoon wondering about him, but not making the connection. I work at Goddard College from which Scott graduated about 10 years ago. As Scott is a very personable guy, he was not ‘a face in the crowd’ while he was at Goddard, so I should have recognized him. I also should have made the connection because I am aware Scott owns the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, Vermont.
And that brings me to the end of the day: At 4:15 Shawn began selling ‘beer-to-go”. Josh had hoped I would be able to buy ‘Fear and Trembling’ but unfortunately it is not currently available. As Billy is familiar with Fear and Trembling, he was able to make a recommendation for me. Thus, a growler of ‘Everett’ along with a bottle of Phenomology of Spirit came home with us. After making my purchase, John & I opted to sit in the car (there were no chairs and standing on a cement floor for 5 hours ….). At a little before 5, the regulars started driving in, carrying bags or coolers we later learned were full of growlers. We watched the people come and go (mostly coming, not much going), watched customers’ dogs wander around the parking lot, and watched the steady line at the portapotty! At 5:20 a bus pulled in, people piled off with glasses of beer in their hands, first stop: the portapotty.
We decided the time had come to convince our hosts to head home, so I joined the stream of people going into the taproom. I found Mark checking out. He bought two growlers, two types of glasses and a shirt. Billy was doing exactly what he had been all day: drinking and talking. I interrupted his fun to let him know “the big bus had just pulled in and our little bus is headed down the road.” I think Billy could have happily stayed until the last person left or until the beer ran out, whichever came first. On our ride home, Billy told us the bus was a beer club from Waterbury, Vermont. They had been to several local breweries earlier in the day and still planned to visit Trout River in Lyndonville. Since those folks were buying beer tickets by the 10’s, it seemed likely the Hill Farmstead Taproom was going to be staying open past the scheduled 5:30!
-Robin (A.K.A. “Moms”)