Holy beer, Batman!
If last year was a banner year for Vermont beer
, 2015 easily outdid it. In terms of numbers, we didn't see quite as many new breweries open as last year (I'm counting eight 2015 openings — or imminent openings — to 2014's 11), but dozens of existing producers expanded their output in major ways. Which means there was more Vermont beer on the market than ever before — by a long shot.
So we saw more bottles and cans on retail shelves — breweries continued to shift from 22-ounce, "bomber" bottles to smaller bottles and cans — which made going to the gas station a whole lot more fun. And heretofore hard-to-find-in-stores beers, such as ones from Williston's Burlington Beer Company, Brattleboro's Hermit Thrush Brewery (both 2014 debuts), Burlington's Zero Gravity Craft Brewing and Stowe's von Trapp Brewing, became widely available.
Since Vermonters are champion beer drinkers, nothing stayed on shelves long. Emboldened by drinkers' seemingly insatiable thirst for the latest, greatest, most exciting samples, brewers continued to be creative. I'd argue that 2015 brought Vermont's most fascinating array of new beers yet. (More on that below, including my list of "bests.")
Bars and restaurants responded by hosting more beer-focused dinners and events than ever. It seems the public finally began to grasp the idea that beer could be as friendly to food as is wine.
Those meals were particularly rampant during the inaugural Vermont Beer Week
in September. And it's noteworthy that Beer Week was organized
not by any group of breweries or by the Vermont Brewers Association
, but guerrilla-style by a couple of Chittenden County beer freaks. Appalled that the state didn't have a beer week, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
On to the nitty-gritty...