Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rock Art Brewery & Hill Farmstead Brewery

Second Stop: Rock Art Brewery

Beers: Whitetail Ale, American Red Ale, IPA, and Ridge Runner

So the plan was to head up to Rock Art Brewery for 1:30 p.m. and get there in time to do a tasting (Offered Wednesday thru Saturday) and then get a tour which I didn’t have an opportunity to do when Jaclyn and I first visited Rock Art Brewery when we last did the passport program. So I climbed in the family truckster with my Mom & Dad and headed up to Morrisville Vermont and making really good time unlike the Griswold’s we arrived before 12:30 p.m. so I’m sad to say that I’ve still yet to enjoy a tour of Rock Art. But since Jaclyn was missing from the adventure I know we’ll make the trek again.

The beers on tap were all beers that I’ve had before and enjoy with the exception of the new IPA. Most recently I had the Whitetail Ale, which was featured at a Beer and Food pairing hosted by John Atkinson at Timber’s Restaurant Sugarbush. Atkinson a former Magic Hat brewer (designer of Single Chair Ale) paired the Whitetail Ale with a pumpkin soup which was a fantastic mix of flavors. Also featured at the meal (but not on tap was Rock Art’s Vermonster which even if you’re not from Vermont you might have heard of it because of the legal battle of Rock Art Brewery Vs. Monster Energy Drinks but that’s another story all together. The highlight of this tasting (besides getting to share it with family) was getting to taste the new IPA which reminiscent of the Magic Hat Brewery’s Blind Faith and H.I.P.A had a strong hoppy aroma but not an over powering bitterness. If it wasn’t for my love of Ridge Runner (the very first Rock Art I had) I would’ve easily filled my growler with the IPA. Ridge Runner introduced me to the barley wine style and it was love at first taste, the caramel malt flavor is amazing anytime of the year and especially good straight from a growler which way back in 2001 when I turned 21 was the only way I could buy it. Another highlight of trip was to learn that their Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout would soon be on its way which means, I will soon be on my way back to Rock Art Brewery, maybe this time with Jaclyn in tow. In the meantime hopefully the growler of Ridge Runner and the 22 of Stump Jumper will keep her happy.

Third stop: Hill Farmstead Brewery

Beers: Edward, Florence, Harlan, Everett, Sorachi Ace, & guest tap Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch

I was excited to venture to the Hill Farmstead Brewery after getting to sample Edward at my Dad’s house (courtesy of a growler from Frank Pastor, thanks Frank!) and because we recently got to try Florence at Three Penny Taproom’s Beer and Cheese pairing. What makes Florence even more unique is the wheat used in this saison is grown in Vermont and is the first beer I’ve heard of that makes use of Vermont wheat, making this a true Vermont beer. Shaun Hill’s brewery is one of the smaller breweries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and his beers are insane when it comes to flavor. I easily could’ve spent the day savoring each beer but we were lucky enough to roll in before the crowd began forming and didn’t want to overstay our welcome. If you go, I’d say go early and bring your cash (Hill Farmstead is cash only) but don’t be surprised if you have to wait in order to sample or buy a growler because Hill Farmstead is unique in the fact it’s located on the farmland owned by the Hill family for generations. The brewery itself is located in a converted garage, which doesn’t leave much standing room, but I will say I don’t care how far you have to drive or how long you have to wait it will be worth it.

All the beers were amazing but the two standouts were the Everett (robust porter) and the Sorachi Ace (single hop IPA). I had a really tough time deciding which growler I was going to bring home with me and because of a lack of cash (thanks Dad) I had to make a Sophie’s choice and just pick one. My love for dark beer took over and I went with the Everett a beer that even now I cannot wait for Jaclyn to get out of work so I can share it with her. What also made this visit unique is when I last did the brewery tour Hill Farmstead Brewery wasn’t on the passport yet so unlike Magic Hat or Rock Art Brewery this was a first time visit for me and with Earl (Oatmeal Stout) on the way I’m sure it won’t be my last.

Stops #2 and #3 Complete!

And just a special note, I did did indeed get to try the Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast which was a treat due to it's limited availability and found it's coffee/malty taste to be delicious but overall I preferred the Everett.