Vermont’s license plate claims it to be the ‘Green Mountain State’ which is not something you can argue with. Crossing the border from Quebec Provence, we weren’t expecting much from this New England state but were massively surprised at the vista of rolling green mountains (the license plate doesn’t lie), picturesque country roads (silky smooth after Quebec’s monstrosities) and picture postcard farms. But we weren’t here for the vistas. We were here for the magic hats, and one magic hat in particular. Located in Burlington, Vermont’s biggest city (which you could blink and miss), Magic Hat is Vermont’s best known microbrewery, and for good reason. This has to be the best and most unique brewery you will ever visit in the world, if you are so lucky.
Arriving on a Monday we missed the daily tours that happen every other day of the week, but that doesn’t stop the awesome staff from directing you on a self guided tour. Making our way up the Information Superwalkway we proceeded through an adventure of artistic, beer lover’s heaven. The brewery hosts a number of regular local events including music festivals, Madi Gras and charity fundraisers to name a few, and have examples of the captivating event posters spread throughout the tour. There’s also an art wall updated every year by local artists with some more than reasonably priced funky artwork for sale.
Staffed with a creative marketing department that would make any wanna be funky corporate jealous as hell, this place has massive amounts of charisma. The off kilter ideas these guys come up with for event posters, beer labels etc. shows the free reign they’re given to give this label its alluring edge. Finishing our tour with the tongue in cheek 50’s style educational video of how the beer is made (don’t skip this if you’re here, because Mr Hoppy and Mr Malty would be very disappointed if you did), we arrived at the free tasting bar (yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s free) to select our four tasters from the eight on offer, whilst also entertaining ourselves with the free photo booth, props ‘n’ all. Can this place get any cooler?
Vermont, and Burlington in particular, is a craft beer fans heaven, with one microbrewery for every 24,000 people in the state (according to the 2010 US census). If Magic Hat doesn’t sound like your pint of IPA, there are loads more to choose from, and there are brewery tours here to rival even the best Napa winery tour for variety.
A few souvenir beverages in hand we hit the road for Kingsland State Park (which by the way was a random choice on the way we were headed) to park up and make some lunch. Little did we know we would end up staying all afternoon. A few miles off the main road out of Burlington, we snuck in through the back door, which we thought was the front door, and avoided the $5 daily cover charge. What a remarkable pitstop for lunch.
With the 30deg heat, we were hoping the map didn’t lie that this place was right by a lake, and bingo bango, we were in the money. A gently sloping lawn takes you down past an old house built out of the blocks of an old HOMESTEAD, leading further down to a concrete jetty jutting out into a pristine pleasure hole for swimming in. Unfortunately after five hours of chillaxing it was time to get back on the road for the big smoke of NYC.