Monday, November 15, 2010

Brew England Visits: Woodstock, Vermont

This weekend Adam and I spent a few days in one of our favorite New England spots - the lovely town of Woodstock, Vermont.

There are a few reasons we love this town, for one it is a reasonable driving distance from Boston (about 2.5 hours of divine scenic views), and second that it is a quintessential New England town - with a main street littered with quaint shops and great restaurants. Not to mention it is a stone's throw from a couple of our favorite breweries and the area chock a block with wineries/wine tastings and offers tons of diversions for weekend vacationers from touring the Billings Farm or Sugarbush Farm to perusing the gorgeous glass works at Simon Pearce. It's an ideal getaway for people like us, who just want to get away for a few days and take in some nice scenery, some great beer and good times.

This is not our first time in Woodstock. We spent a weekend there a couple of years ago and that experience, especially the great time we had at Long Trail Brewery, is one of the reasons we started this blog! To chronicle our brew-trips. Though we did not have the blog at the time, the pics from that trip are here.

We arrived in the Woodstock area around noon on Friday. We stopped first in Quechee for the Cannot Be Missed Cabot Store where we sampled pretty much every cheese offered by Cabot (including several hard to find flavors such as Sage and (my personal fave) Tiki Masala, and some cheese offered by other makers as well. There was also a section of the store devoted to a local winery, Putney Mountain Winery where we got to sample their inventory of fruit wines, leaving with 2 bottles of the Apple Maple wine. I know, it sounds odd. But it is not as sweet as you may think, and it paired amazingly with the Grafton Smoked Maple Cheddar we bought to enjoy later that night. This wine is also great mulled with cinnamon. If you ever have occasion to purchase any I highly reccomend it. We also picked up some Cabot Sharp Cheddar and some of Northeast Kingdom's heavenly sweet garlic mustard to have with some pretzels.

From there we eagerly joureyed from Quechee, through Woodstock and into Bridgewater Corners for lunch at the Long Trail Brewery. The last time we were at the brewery, it was a Saturday and it was PACKED. As in, three hour wait for a table packed. This time, since it was a Friday afternoon, the brewery's pub area was pleasantly crowded but we were able to snag two seats at the bar right away. We got right down to business and ordered a sampler, and then settled on our first round: Double Bag for Adam and a Harvest Ale for me. For Adam, Long Trail is a desert island beer. As in if he was going to be stranded on a desert island with only one beer, Long Trail Ale would probably be it. For me, I am simply continually surprised at how much I enjoy their beer. The Harvest is not the typical fall beer I would like. It's not filled with cinnamon and nutmeg and clove-y scents and tastes. Rather it is crisp, refreshing and hearty with just a hint of spice. But it seems the more you drink, the more notes of spice you pick up and he more attached to the beer you become. Well played Long Trail.

(Me and my Harvest Ale)

We sampled a few other brews while we were there - look for reviews as well as some more photos and information about the brewery later this week in our Long Trail Brewery post. (Trust me, Adam's passion for this beer really needs a post of it's own!)

After the brewery we went back to Woodstock and checked into The Shire, reccomended to us by our good friend Andy who has impeccable taste in lodgings. It was exactly what we wanted: a cute room with super comortable bed and nice accomodations, not to mention a to die for view from our window and door. It's also a 5 minute walk from downtown. Really the perfect place to stay if you ask us! After we had settled on we walked to a nearby market to buy the essentials: for us it was a gallon of water, a wine opener and some plastic utensils.

After dropping that back in the room we headed out into the crisp evening air to explore downtown. We did some shopping at Gillingham's (reccomended to us by my smart friend Alisa!), one of the oldest general stores in the country. I appreciated their excitement over the imminent arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau!

(I know this is a beer blog but we can still talk about wine sometimes right?)

We poked around some other shops and then it was back to the Shire to open up a bottle of the Putney Valley Apple Maple Wine, some Long Trail Ale purchased from the brewery earlier that day (you dont get fresher than that) and the cheese and crackers and pretzels and mustard we purchased earlier at the Cabot store. A nice end to a busy day!

The next day we woke up early and walked to the Daily Grind for coffee and croissants! It was such a beautiful day ( we couldnt have paid for nicer weather) that we decided to drive up to Killington to check things out.

Even though it was 58 degrees there were a decent amount of skiers and snowboarders hitting the trails and it was a neat area to explore. And since it was the end of Killington's Hay Festival there were some interesting sights to see!

If you consider enourmous bears made of hay interesting. Which I do. The next stop was in Quechee, to visit the tasting room of the Charlotte Village Winery for a little tasting and lesson about their wines.

Adam and I are more and more surprised at home much we continue to enjoy fruit wines. This winery had a raspberry wine that just screamed SUMMER ON THE PORCH to me. But I went for the practical and bought some nice cabernet to enjoy on Thanksgiving.

We could not dilly dally with the wine for long because we had important business to attend to! We were off to meet Andy and his Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary at the Norwich Inn for lunch!

Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary live in a neighboring town of Woodstock, and Andy was planning on visiting them anyway so it was amazing luck that he planned on visiting them the same weekend we planned on being in Woodstock. And even better luck that his Aunt Mary knew of this great local pub/microbrewery called Jasper Murdock's Alehouse at the Norwich Inn!

We sampled each of their beers (brewed on location and pumped right into the tanks behind the bar!), and each had different and definite favorites and we even brought some of their beer home! Stay tuned this week as our Tuesday Night Tasting will feature the beer we purchased as well as a wrap up of the delightful time we spend not only at Jasper Murdock's but also at the Seven Barrel Brewery located in nearby Lebanon, NH which we visited after our lunch at Jasper's.

(The gang at Seven Barrels Brewery. After we led the crowd in singing the Pina Colada song.)

A great day filled with good friends, good food and GREAT beer!

On the way home we stopped at Simon Pearce, the famed glass company, to check out some glass blowing and, I had thought, to purchase some glass. I was all "We should commemorate the weekend by buying maybe like a set of four goblets! Or maybe some candle sticks? Or how about a serving bowl?) Or maybe not! Since the least expensive thing in there was a Christmas ornament and even it was $72. Yikes Bikes. Gorgeous stuff though and I have my eye on a goreous 3-tealight holder that will make it's way into my life at some point, just not this past weekend. In any case it was really nice to look around, exciting and informative to watch the glassblowers and ask them my myriad questions. And hey you can't beat the view out back!

All that glass and fire and waterfall gazing made us parched so we popped next door to the Parker House Inn for a drink and to relax a bit. Another cute place that should be on anyone's list for a cozy drink after a long day.

From there we journeyed to Bently's Restaurant and Bar which included a delicious dinner of seared tuna and steak. This was my third time ever at this restaurant and I am proud to share with you that as of now I am still four square Mayor of that joint. Boo yeah. After that it was back to The Shire and calling it a night after our long but seriously fun day.

The next day we slept late, checked out and headed to Sharon to pick up Andy. After an incredible lunch with his aunt and uncle we were off for our last stop of the trip - The Harpoon Brewery in Windsor VT!

We were able to get a seat at the bar and within minutes our orders were placed before us, fresh, delicious and ready to be enjoyed.

(Apple Pie (Harpoon Apple Cider + Harpoon Winter Warmer) for Andy, Grateful Harvest for Adam, and Winter Warmer for me)

The pub area of the brewery was pretty busy for a weekend, which is not too surprising. Their food is wonderful, the beer is as fresh as can be and they even offer live music and entertainment on certain days. They offer regular tours which are something to try even if you have been on the Boston tour - it's must quieter and more intimate. You can also bring your beer outside and put your feet up from the fire pit, as Andy and I did.

And after you've had your fill of beer and food and taken a tour and relaxed by the firepit you can purchase some swag in the gift shop. I bought a fourpack of Leviathan Barleywine and the matching glass for my brother, because I am the best sister ever.

So all in all, it was a fantastic and fun-filled weekend. If any of you out there are looking for a nice weekend away, a weekend that, say, involves lots of fresh beer, and delicious wine and cheese, and tasty food and good people, I could not reccomend Woodstock more and The Shire is a great place to stay! As I mentioned before stay tuned later this week for an indepth look at the Long Trail Brewery, Jasper Murdock Alehouse and Seven Barrels Brewery.


1 comment:

Trixana said...

It looks and sounds like an awesome weekend! I wish I had been there!

P.S. - Yay Beaujolais! We must have a glass (or 8) over the holidays!