By Natalie Wise
Vermonters know what they like, and what they like is craft-brewed beer made with locally sourced ingredients. The Southern Vermont brewery scene has been hopping for the past few years, with no signs of slowing down.
How’s a hops-lover supposed to taste every brew that’s been fermenting in these Green Mountains? Here is a tour to the best local breweries, from Bennington to Brattleboro, with a quick jaunt up Route 91 if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.
Madison Brewing Co.
428 Main St., Bennington, Vt.
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
Opened in the early 1990s
Try their DownTown IPA
Start your journey at the Madison Brewing Co., a seven-barrel brewery in Bennington owned by the Madison family. The brewpub also makes their own sodas for the underaged in your party, which means this is a great lunch stop for the whole family. Try a Waldorf Melt and some truffle-parmesan fries with your DownTown IPA, what Madison’s calls a true Vermont IPA.
108 County St., Bennington, Vt.
Hours: Thursday-Friday, 1 to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Opened in 2010
Try their Equinox Pilsner
Don’t miss checking out Northshire Brewery before you leave Bennington. Let your four-legged friend enjoy their big, pet-friendly backyard while you kick back with an afternoon Equinox Pilsner. All of their brews are named after local things and places, such as the Battenkill and the Northshire, of course. Try the Chocolate Stout, too, in a tourist-friendly bottle featuring a moose.
J’Ville Craft Brewery
201 Vermont Route 112, Jacksonville, Vt.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Opened in 2015
Try their Maple Brown Ale
Maple Brown Ale, you say? Sounds like Vermont in a glass. This small brewery only has four beers on tap, but the maple brown ale alone makes it worth the slight detour off Route 9. This brewery is unique because it is the sister company of Honora Winery. The idyllic setting on Route 112 has a tasting room for the brews and the wines, and they grow the hops and grapes on the property. On your way back to Route 9, stop in at the Maple Leaf Tavern on North Main Street, where you’ll find local beers brewed just for this friendly town favorite.
7678 Route 9 East, Marlboro, Vt.
Hours: Thursday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Opened in 2015
Try their No Left Turn IPA
Halfway between Bennington and Brattleboro, you’ll come across this new gem. The BeerNaked Brewery just opened their new location in the old Skyline Restaurant on Hogback Mountain, famous for its 100-mile view. They have a restaurant, too, called PizzaPalooza, that will also occupy the new location in January 2018. Currently, though, stop by on Saturdays, when an authentic Polish food cart makes an appearance and offers fine food companions to any of their brews.
36 Bridge St., Brattleboro, Vt.
Hours: Daily, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Opened in 2011
Try their Putney Porter
Billed as an “in-house experimental nano-brewery,” you never know what you’ll find at this restaurant, brewery and rooftop biergarten in Brattleboro. They even own a bed and breakfast and campground just down the road, so this is the ideal place to set up for the evening, nearly halfway through the trip. The “Crazy Happy Waitress” goes down easy with any of their house-brewed beers, and if you make your way through 99 brews in a year you get a mug on their famous mug wall.
Hermit Thrush Brewery
29 High St., Suite 101C, Brattleboro, Vt.
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Opened in 2014
Try their Brattlebeer
This relatively new brewery in Brattleboro is rapidly expanding its line of “new American sours” brewed with a Belgian sensibility and a Brattleboro eco-friendly sustainability. The duo behind the brand, Chris and Avery, filled a new warehouse center with imported Italian founders and red wine casks, along with state-of-the-art brewing and canning equipment. Growlers are their specialty, but cans are available if you’re lucky, as are tours of their facility. Otherwise, grab a tasting flight, then fill a growler with your favorite.
McNeill’s Pub and Brewery
90 Elliot St., Brattleboro, Vt.
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday to Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Opened in 1991.
Try their Firehouse Amber Ale
Another Brattleboro staple, McNeill’s looks like a good ol’ fashioned pub from the outside, but they are a mighty microbrewery with up to 25 of their house-brewed beers on tap. Since they’ve been located right across the street from the Brattleboro Fire Department for decades, their Firehouse Amber Ale is a no-brainer to try first. Sink into a corner here and stay awhile; this pub has an old-fashioned feeling that will remind you this isn’t some newfangled creation you’re drinking … it’s pretty much a native Vermonter.
336 Ruth Carney Dr., Windsor, Vt.
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Opened in 1986
Try their Don’t Be Bitter IPA
Chances are you’re a fan of Harpoon, so it makes sense to hop onto Route 91 North in Brattleboro and drive another 45 minutes to Windsor, where you’ll find the brewery just past the covered bridge. Make sure you try one of their Brewery Pretzels, which are not only made with Harpoon beer, but are boiled in it, too. Try to visit on Friday afternoon or during the day on Saturday or Sunday to get a tour and tasting. At other times, you can still view the production area, grab lunch and drink a pint on their beautiful grounds.
Natalie Wise has a masters degree in poetry from Dartmouth and is the author of four books. When she isn’t writing, she is likely baking or spending time exploring this beautiful area with her husband and their chocolate lab.