A few months ago, Bethany Baker and Eric Lussier were flipping through an index of beer events at a bottle-share get-together. "I didn't really realize what that index was for," Baker says. "But I noticed that Vermont was not listed." The flyer was a list of local beer weeks — weeklong or 10-day series of beer-centric events, as distinct from festivals. At that moment, it occurred to them that Vermont — which boasts the nation's largest number of breweries per capita — had nothing of the sort.
"Around the country, there are more than 70 local beer weeks," Baker says. "Realizing that Vermont doesn't have one yet was kind of a crazy thing."
Baker and Lussier are leading the charge at Measured Methods, a new Burlington-based marketing and branding agency specializing in craft-beer promotion and events. This fall, Measured Methods will team up with the local brewing community and the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing to present the first annual Vermont Beer Week. The nine-day celebration will take place September 18 to 27 in various locations statewide.
"This is not just breweries," Baker says. "This'll be hotels, bars, restaurants, events." Though Baker and Lussier are heading up the large-scale organizing and marketing of the week, they're allowing participating establishments to choose their own format — the more creative the better, Baker says.
The organizers hesitate to mention specific events, but say they envision meet-the-brewer get-togethers, behind-the-scenes brewery tours, talks and plenty of tasting events. They also hope the week will inspire special brews and collaborations, but the format is "very open for interpretation," Baker says.
Lussier says he'd "like to provide a unique opportunity for people to try some unique beers that they'll never be able to have again." "But that's really up to [the brewers]," Baker adds.
By happy coincidence, Eat by Northeast's second annual Brewhaha, the inaugural Oktoberfest Vermont and SIPtemberfest are all scheduled to take place during the same time frame. "September is looking like it'll have a lot of big mainstream events [already]," Baker says.
Measured Methods has 10 to 15 of Vermont's 43 (and counting) breweries on board, she adds. Among them are Shelburne's Fiddlehead Brewing, Burlington's Switchback Brewing and Vermont Pub & Brewery, and Hinesburg's Frost Beer Works. Organizers are planning events at Mule Bar in Winooski and Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington.
"Much of our outreach has been social," Lussier says, "but everyone we reached was like, 'Absolutely, we'd love to see this happen; let us know how this can work.'"
Measured Methods will host a Vermont Beer Week announcement and information session at this week's #VTBEER night on Wednesday, May 13, 4:30 p.m., at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, and will continue to post updates through its social media channels and at measuredmethods.com.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Brewing a Bender"