The Napa Valley of Beer

The old stomping grounds…

The vintner's collection. Photo:

The vintner’s collection.
Photo: Monica Donovan.

In the eyes of many beer drinkers, the best brewery in the world can be found in tiny Greensboro, Vermont, population 760, past an unmarked intersection and an old farm field. And if you want to visit, be prepared to wait – because Hill Farmstead Brewery doesn’t generate customers so much as converts, pilgrims who travel great distances and line up for hours, waiting for a chance to fill their growlers with the latest of brewmaster Shaun Hill’s creations.

“The first time we came here, my phone died, but I still had the image of the map kind of frozen on the screen, so I found it,” says Brendan Attlebury, who often treks four hours from his home in suburban Boston to fill up his growler. “It was the dead of winter, and we had to wait two and a half hours in the cold. But we got ourTwilight of the Idols on tap.”

If you want to get technical, Hill Farmstead is now only the second-best of the roughly 16,000 breweries in the world; it fell one spot in this year’s RateBeer ranking. The number one spot is occupied by AleSmith, in San Diego. But another top brewery, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, is in Warren, just 60 miles south. And the Alchemist, the maker of one of the world’s single top-rated beers – a bewitching double IPA called Heady Topper – is located in between, in Waterbury.

That all of these are in a corner of Vermont is no coincidence. The state has become the beer capital of the U.S., perhaps of the world. What Silicon Valley is to technology, Vermont is to beer. And it makes Napa look tame by comparison: You don’t hear about people lining up for hours to get the latest cabernet.

It all began more than a decade ago when the Alchemist, the precursor to Prohibition Pig, opened as a small pub in downtown Waterbury.

 

By BILL MCKIBBEN

 

Read more at Men’s Journal…

And if you’re going to have another, give a read to Josh Burnstein’s edition of Beer with Baby: Sierra Nevada Harvest IPA over at First We Feast.

A @sierranevada Wild Hop IPA seems like the perfect beer to enjoy with this wild child.

A photo posted by Joshua M. Bernstein (@joshmbernstein) on

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