The Burlington beer scene has been hopping for years, but now the rest of the country is tapping in. The Vermont Pub & Brewery was just awarded three medals - one of each color - at the Great International Beer Competition in Providence, Rhode Island. And if that weren't enough, http://shermanstravel.com just named Burlington one of the "top 10 cities for beer lovers" in an article that was also posted on MSNBC.com.
Why is Burlington such a microbrew Mecca? Stacey Steinmetz, "Supreme Dreamer and Schemer" at Magic Hat, thinks it's because the Queen City has "a mature beer culture" due to a critical mass of "really refined palates."
Greg Noonan, owner of the Vermont Pub & Brewery, attributes it to the "Vermont mystique." People who choose to attend the University of Vermont or move to Vermont, he says, "are looking for an alternative lifestyle." That often rules out mainstream beer.
It doesn't hurt that so many local beers are available. "Everywhere you go there's Vermont beer on tap," says Noonan. "Every corner gas station has a great selection of Vermont beers. Consumer loyalty to Vermont brands is unprecedented."
Noonan also mentions that brewers here are good about not stepping on each other's toes. "This leads to a very broad selection with hardly any crossover," he suggests - just the kind of thing that defines a beer-drinking destination.
Not everyone is on board for Burlington, though. A report at the Brookston Beer Bulletin - http://www.brookston.org - describes Burlington's designation as "a bit of a head scratcher." On the http://www.tastynews.com forum, a pissed-off poster from Connecticut suggests, "Maybe the reason local beer is so big is because hippies are too stoned to look beyond their neighborhood breweries." Ouch.
Decide for yourself -if you're 21 or older, that is. The Vermont Pub & Brewery has all three prize winners on tap: Burly Irish Ale, Forbidden Fruit Framboise and Handsome Mick's Smoked Stout. Or check out the home brews at Three Needs and American Flatbread. Cheers!