Want outstanding craft beer? Come visit Vermont!

Full beer mugs.

Outstanding craft beer.

Vermont has outstanding craft beer and brewers as well as creative people undertaking diverse, creative activities. Jewelers, musicians, wood workers, potters, farmers, glassblowers, writers, fashion designers, the list goes on.

The website for the Secretary of State for Vermont provides some interesting background on the production of alcohol in Vermont. “Prohibition reigned in Vermont long before the national law of 1920. The Vermont Temperance Society formed in 1828, and by the 1830s towns were petitioning the legislature to end liquor sales. As temperance forces grew, statewide referenda against licensing were held. 1850’s Act 30 established a permanent ban on licensing alcohol for beverage purposes; two years later Act 24 banned manufacture. Vermont became a dry state for the next fifty years. In 1902 liquor law shifted to local option, so towns could still opt to forbid sales.” (The state website also provides a couple of  biographical notes on some of the more well known bootleggers!)

Vermont has come a long way since then. Greg Noonan hoped to open the Vermont Pub & Brewery, however laws needed to be changed in order to do so. Greg enlisted the aid of Bill Mares, then state legislator, to seek changes in the existing legislation governing the on-site sale of manufactured beer. Together, they rewrote the current language of law to allow manufacturers to sell their malt beverages on-site. In 1988 the Vermont Pub and Brewery opened its doors (and taps) and Burlington had its first brewery in ninety-four years.

Currently the Vermont Brewers Association notes a membership of over 50 breweries. With a state population of  just over 600,000 that means about one brewery for every 12,000 people, said to be the highest number of breweries per capita in the nation!

Lawson's brewery in the Mad River Valley for a great beer experience

Lawson’s Finest Liquids newly opened brewery and taproom.

Beer connoisseurs will recognize the well known breweries including Lawson’s Finest Liquids (Mad River Valley), Magic Hat (Burlington), Long Trail (Bridgewater Corners), Hill Farmstead Brewery (Greensboro Bend) and the Alchemist (Stowe). Becoming more well known are smaller breweries such as Hogback Brewing (Bristol), and 14th Star Brewing (St. Albans). Visitors come from across the country to visit the numerous breweries, large and small, that can be found here in Vermont.

Humourist Dave Barry has a though on the topic of beer: “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

Beer lovers, when visiting the Mad River Valley, a visit to Lawson’s Finest Liquids recently opened brewery, taproom, and retail store should be on your list. The beautifully designed building and welcoming atmosphere provide a superb setting for tasting some of Vermont’s outstanding craft beer along with perhaps a big pretzel. Lawson’s also offers a four season beer garden including three fire bowls and  Adirondack chairs to keep you relaxed and toasty on the colder days. If you plan a beer tour, always have a designated driver and remember to drink responsibly.

As part of the Mad River Path, a board walk connects Lawson’s brewery and taproom to the Mad River Green Shops.

Mad River Green silo, a short walk from the great beer experience at Lawson's

The silo at the Mad River Green Shops

These locally owned shops provide visitors and locals alike the opportunity of a unique shopping experience. During your stay in the Mad River Valley be sure to drop into the Mad River Taste (cheese, charcuterie, beverages & locally made provisions), Whippletree Designs (personalized monogrammed clothing), Product Think Tank (designer clothing), Opulent Design (eco-friendly/fair trade apparel), Peanut and Mouse (high quality baby & children’s products), The Collection (home accents, specialty gifts & toys), Three Mountain Cafe (yummy treats, coffee, antiques, & souvenirs), as well as the neighboring shops and services.

Well Dave Barry, yes beer is a great invention and the wheel may not go well with pizza but, wheels will help you get to the Mad River Valley in Vermont where you can visit Lawsons’ Finest Liquids and the many other great locally owned shops, services, and restaurants.

The Mad River Valley awaits your visit…see you soon!