Saturday, March 8, 2014

Grazing at Burlington Beer Company

Posted By on Sat, Mar 8, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Joe Lemnah at Burlington Beer Company - CORIN HIRSCH
  • Corin Hirsch
  • Joe Lemnah at Burlington Beer Company

It's been a long road for brewer Joseph Lemnah. Two years ago he began sniffing out a location for the microbrewery he envisioned, Burlington Beer Company. In spring 2012, when Lemnah held his first tasting at Chef's Corner in the South End, he hoped to soon set up shop somewhere in that neighborhood — perhaps on Pine Street.

Lemnah looked and looked, but didn't see anything that fit his needs. In the meantime, he and his wife, Beth, moved from Delaware — where Lemnah had worked at the venerable Dogfish Head Brewery, among others — back to his native Vermont. In a Jericho barn, Lemnah honed the locavore beers he hoped to eventually sell; beers that drew inspiration from what he found at the farmers market, or hanging from trees or growing in a field. He also built a model for a community-supported brewery — a sort of "beer CSA" that would offer members either 12 growler fills a year (for $100) or a series of special bottlings (for $150).

CSB memberships were challenging sells without a brewery to back them up, says Lemnah, but he kept holding informal tastings. He also continued to scout locations. Turns out, the perfect space for Burlington Beer Company wasn't in Burlington at all, but in a 4,700-square-foot warehouse in Williston. He signed the lease last July and planned to open by November. In the meantime, Lemnah also launched a Kickstarter campaign for barrels and kegs, ordered and began assembling his brewing system ... and, with his wife, welcomed a baby boy to the family. (Life happens.)

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Friday, February 14, 2014

(Late) Midweek Swig: The Shed Brewery Nosedive

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 2:38 PM

On the food desk, we've been busy planning the newest edition of our annual dining guide, 7Nights, as well as plotting events for a smashing Vermont Restaurant Week. Hence, this late-week edition of the Midweek Swig — I finally got to the "swig" last night.

This week: the Shed Brewery Nosedive, a "robust vanilla porter" (according to the brewery)

Cost: $4.99 for a 22-ounce bottle at Richmond Market & Beverage

Strength: 6.75 percent abv.

The pour: a rich, opaque, cocoa brown with a thumb-width, creamy head that evaporates to a thin lace. It smells like dark-chocolate mocha with a fistful of coffee grounds thrown in, and it appears almost syrupy.

The taste: Though there's barely any bitterness, this tastes bright for a porter — an electric porter? The espresso and cacao flavors are spiked with a noticeable vein of vanilla that somehow doesn't feel integrated, as if it's floating on top. The beer has a subtle cola-like quality, both in texture and taste, as if it were a blend of Coke, Guinness and Rookie's Root Beer, sans sugar.

Drink it with: a snowy night, a chocolate ganache tart, or both.

Backstory: The Shed Brewery (which is housed at Middlebury's Otter Creek Brewing) announced this porter last month as a limited, Vermont-only release. It gains some of its flavor from aging with Madagascar vanilla beans. The folks at Richmond Beverage had only received it a day or so earlier.

Verdict: I wouldn't necessarily call this "robust" — rather, it's sprightly, as if a porter was ambling down the street in bright-yellow rain boots. Still, it's also toasty, malty and don't-think-too-hard-about-it delicious.

Midweek Swig tackles a new liquid release (almost) each week. If you have suggestions for something to sample, send them to

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Alchemist to Expand With New Tasting Room

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM


On November 5, 2013, the owners of Vermont cult brewery the Alchemist announced they were closing their tasting room to the public. Now, Jen Kimmich, who runs the company with brewer husband John, has announced the plan to add a new property that will hold a second brewery, a tasting room and a retail shop.

Jen Kimmich says she has been looking at properties in the Waterbury area, and down the Route 100 corridor into Stowe. "We've had tons of people contact us who want us to go to Rutland or Barre or Colchester, but we don't want to drive that far," she says.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Kimmich described finding what she and her husband thought would be the perfect addition, before learning it wasn't zoned for retail. After a busy day hunting on Wednesday, she tells Seven Days she still hasn't found the perfect complement to their small brewery, which turns out 9,000 barrels of Heady Topper each year. "We have a few options," Kimmich says.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

14th Star Brewing Takes Over St. Albans Bowling Alley

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 5:42 PM


Just 18 months after opening, the owners of St. Albans' 14th Star Brewing are moving from their cozy Lower Newton Street digs into a far vaster space — the former St. Albans Bowling Center.

Co-owner Steve Gagner and his partners have signed a 20-year lease (from Pomerleau Real Estate) on the bowling alley at 133 North Main Street, which opened in 1958 and closed last July. The 14th Star crew plans to open a 2500-square-foot taproom and a 13,000-square-foot brewery in the space by next summer. "The plan is to have a place where people can come and enjoy some of the world's best beers," says Gagner, who will devote a few of the pub's 24 or so taps to other beers from around the state.

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Midweek Swig: Steven Sour

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 4:06 PM


This week: Steven Sour, a "sour IPA" collaboration of Magic Hat Brewing Co. and Vermont Pub & Brewery.

Cost: Sample provided by Magic Hat, but 22-ounce bottles are for sale for $4.99 throughout Vermont (the beer is also on tap throughout the state).

Strength: 5.6 percent abv.

The pour: A murky, burnt orange with a faint head that quickly dissipates. The beer has little to no aroma, but if you try hard you might smell apricots.

The taste: There's zestier carbonation than its appearance suggests, and each sip bristles and roughs up the tip of your tongue before rolling across the middle with the slightest hint of sourness. It's quenching, with dry, lingering wisps of grapefruit — but it's also ever so chalky.

Drink it with: This made me want to start whipping up a chicken curry with almonds and apricots — or maybe just a plate of Comté, sliced baguette and quince paste.

Backstory: Two Vermont brewing heavyweights got together to brew this beer in celebration of VPB's 25th anniversary, and it's only for sale (in bottles and on tap) in Vermont.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Midweek Swig: Noonan Black IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:53 PM


This week: Noonan Black IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth, N.H.

Cost: $1.55 for a 12-ounce bottle at Lebanon Health Food Store, Lebanon, N.H.

Strength: 5.7 percent a.b.v.

The pour: Inky and almost syrupy, like a porter, with a foamy head that holds its form for up to 10 minutes. The beer smells vaguely like a Dove Dark Chocolate Promise dipped in pine resin. 

The taste: Hoppy-ho, this is bittah! At least to my wino palate. It's dry but substantial in the mouth, with coffee-like edges, hints of smoke and a roasty undercarriage. It lingers a looooong time on the back of the tongue.

Drink it with: I would love this with a plate of chicken molé, a sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich (on Harpoon miche from King Arthur Flour — I'm just sayin') or hunks of Callebaut chocolate. As it was, I sipped it on its own.

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Should Vermont Lift the Ban on Happy Hours? Thinks So

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM


A website called has published an article suggesting that the Vermont ban on happy hours — selling drinks at lower prices during certain times — is economically illogical.

Writer Jon Street quoted the owner of Burlington's Ake's Place, Ronnie Ryan, who suggested that the state should allow bars to lure in customers with occasional happy hours.

“Burlington is so rich in young professionals and college students, I’m confident it would help business, and if it helps our business it also helps the state as it will generate more money in taxes,” he said.

Bill Goggins, director of education, licensing and enforcement for the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, broadly explained the role of the state government in keeping people safe, while a fellow at the Cato Institute lamented, “Why should Vermont insert itself between deals that please restaurants and customers alike?”

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Québec Microbrewery Stirs the Pot With Questionably Named Beers

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 2:24 PM


A microbrewery in the northern Québec burg of Lévis — just across the Saint Lawrence River from Québec City — is garnering unwanted attention from branding a few of its beers with names and imagery that is less than flattering to women.

This summer, Le Corsaire produced a beer called La Tite Pute, which translates to "the little whore/slut," and was advertised as "easy and fruity." Another beer, Le Perruche, means "the parrot" in French but features a label of a naked woman in a birdcage. Yet another beer is named the Hooker.

Julie Miville-Dechêne, president of Québec's Council on the Status of Women, told the CBC why this was not OK.

"The name La Tite Pute disgusts me," Miville-Dechêne said. 

“[Prostitution] exploits women. There isn’t a lot of choice involved, there is a lot of exploitation, a lot of violence. It’s not something we should be laughing about,”she said.

In the meantime the brewery's owner, Martin Vaillancourt, has explained to various media sources that he intended no harm, and chalks up the names to bad taste. Rather than a slur, for instance, the term "La Tite Pute" is more reflective of the easy-brewing and easy-drinking nature of the blond ale, he explained.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Alchemist Cannery to Close Retail Store

Posted on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM


In a blog post earlier today, the staff of the Alchemist Cannery in Waterbury announced that they plan to close their retail store and self-guided tour area. "We had hoped our location at 35 Crossroad would be capable of handling the traffic, however, with growth comes growing pains," they wrote. You can read the full announcement here.

Fans of the Alchemist's main beer, Heady Topper, seemed to reel from the news. The double IPA has cult status among beer drinkers, who mob the cannery's retail store in a steady stream (there has long been a one-case limit at the store).

Their passions flared on the Alchemist's Facebook page, where those who love Heady Topper inexplicably turned on those who produce it. One person called the Alchemist staff "selfish," and another called it an "absolutely horribly run business."

One sad fan wrote, "This is terrible, terrible news," echoing those who complained that it's next to impossible to find Heady Topper in stores. "Remember, remember the 5th of November," wrote another, while others defended the brewery's decision and suggested it might help improve foot traffic in area stores.

Whoever is managing the Alchemist's Facebook page suggests complex forces at work behind the closure, and hints another solution is in the works. They've also done an epic job of keeping up with comments.

"There are a lot of moving parts here," the Alchemist wrote to one follower. "We are thinking long term and we will have a plan in place soon — but Ben & Jerry's didn't start where they are, and they had to make plenty of tough calls like this in order to get where they are. Have patience. Thanks."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Alchemist Cannery Starts Growler Fills

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 7:28 PM


This gloomy Tuesday brought bright news for lovers of Alchemist beers. Starting just a few hours ago, the cannery in Waterbury Center began growler fills, launching a brand-new German-made system with 15 barrels (or about 900 fills) of Donovan's Red — an Irish-style red ale that used to pour at the pub when it was still down the road in Waterbury.

"This has been an exciting day for us," writes co-owner Jen Kimmich on the cannery's website. "John [pictured, from a Seven Days file photo] and the entire brew staff are psyched to brew and release some of our old favorites from the pub."

First-time customers will need to fork over $15 each for the sleek stainless-steel growlers that were designed especially for the Alchemist, where the brewers make every effort to keep any sunlight from hitting their beers. Each 64-ounce fill is $12, and the staff request that people clean the vessels before returning for a refill — they won't be fillin' no dirty growlers, and no growlers but their own.

In the coming lineup are a series of "randomly" released beers — about one per month — that will be announced via the Alchemist's Facebook page and Twitter feed on the day of release. The beers "will lean heavily toward hop-forward styles," writes Kimmich.

And in case you're wondering, yes, there's a limit: One growler fill per person, per visit. Read all about it here.

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