Vermont Brewery Tour Photos, Part One: The Alchemist, Otter Creek, Harpoon, Long Trail

Overlook Stowe

For the third year in a row, my my wife and I (and dog) drove up to a cabin in Vermont to celebrate our anniversary. It’s not that far of a drive from Brooklyn, and we’re starting to get to the point where we don’t need the GPS to figure out how to get around town. We’re almost locals! (okay not really)

This year, we wanted to visit a bunch of breweries we’ve never seen. With the Vermont Brewery Passport Challenge as our guide, and many breweries being very close to each other, we set out to try and visit five of them. On our first day we visited The Alchemist, home of Heady Topper, a favorite for hopheads. Located just a block from the Ben and Jerry’s Factory and down the road from our cabin, this small brewery is dedicated to only produce one beer perfectly, and they’ve certainly accomplished that mission. Heady Topper is a favorite among hopheads, and while we were inside the small brewery, the smell of hops was stronger than anywhere else we visited on our trip. (Note: They do have a gluten-free beer, Celia, but it’s not brewed at their cannery). Bonus: being able to buy a 4-pack of Heady Topper that was canned that same day.

The Alchemist Cannery
The Alchemist Cannery

The Alchemist Cannery

Alchemist Cannery

Rob and Heady Topper
Hey, it’s me!

Friday was our big brewery adventure day, beginning with Otter Creek. Besides making a lot of great beers under the Otter Creek brand name (my wife loves their Oktoberfest), they also produce the Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales family, and very recently started to brew a line of beers under The Shed name, a local Vermont brewery that closed down but was revived.

Otter Creek has a tap room where they serve food, so we had a small lunch and flight. The Shed’s Mountain Ale was my favorite, and we picked up a six pack to go. Bonus: I’ve noticed a few bodegas in my neighborhood carrying The Shed line.

Otter Creek Brewing

Otter Creek/Wolaver's/Shed sampler

From there, we drove to Long Trail Brewing. In a scenic area of the mountains, their taproom and outdoor seating would be a great place to spend a relaxing day. Alas, we had a mission so we only grabbed a flight, some nachos, and hit the road.

Long Trail Brewing

Long Trail Brewery sampler

Out back at Long Trail Brewery

We ended Friday at Harpoon, certainly the largest brewery of the day. This was the only place on our itinerary that you could get a comprehensive guided tour of their operation, walking through the entire operation. Our tour guide was great, giving us great insights into the history of Harpoon and beer making in general. We were able to drink some “green beer”, which does not get its name from the color but the fact that it was taken right from the fermenters.

After the tour, there was a rather liberal tasting so you could sample all of the Harpoon beers. They also have a great set up for dinner, and although it was a long day we didn’t want to leave.


Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Cascadian Sour Apple Cider

Harpoon Brewery beers
Chalk board of Harpoon beers on tap at their restaurant area

Harpoon Brewery taps

Stay tuned for part two, which includes visits to Switchback, Magic Hat, and more..

Robert Duffy

Robert Duffy is the co-founder of Empty Growler and lives in Brooklyn, NY

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