When Hill Farmstead announced Festival of Farmhouse Ales (FoFA) was going to be held at the brewery on August 16th I started making plans. Fortunately I got tickets through the lottery and we finalized the plans for a short overnight trip to Vermont with my wife, her sister and my brother in law. The week prior to FoFA The Alchemist announced a tent sales for that Saturday morning. Every time they have had a tent sale I had other plans so this was my first chance to experience the craziness of an Alchemist tent sale.
We left on Friday the 15th and made our way to Vermont via Littleton, NH so we could have lunch at Schilling Beer. We sat on their deck that overlooks the Ammonoosuc River and enjoyed a couple flights of beer and some great brick oven pizza. The favorite beer was Clervaux although they were all very good and the pizzas were both excellent. My brother in law bought one of their double walled stainless steel growlers full of Clervaux for the first beer purchase of the weekend.
After lunch we finished the trip to Vermont and arrived in Montpelier just as Hunger Mountain Coop was releasing Heady Topper and bottles of Double Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids. We knew the weekend was going to involve standing in many long lines so we decided to skip the lines at the Coop and just headed to the hotel. Capitol Plaza Hotel is located right in the heart of Montpelier and is walking distance to most shops including Three Penny Taproom. Rooms were affordable, up to date and it worked well for our overnight stay.
That evening we walked the streets of Montpelier visiting the local shops and eventually made our way to Three Penny Taproom for drinks and dinner. The food there was great and my brother in law and I enjoyed several beers including; Hill Farmstead Abner and Edward, Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine, Otter Creek Overgrown Pale Ale, Zero Gravity Sim City, while our wives enjoyed some cocktails. All around a great time was had by all and Three Penny should be on your list of places to visit if you ever find yourself in Montpelier.
Our initial plan was to arrive at the tent sale in Waterbury at 7:00 however we were up and ready to go earlier so we arrived around 6:40. The line was only about 35 people when we arrived, there was plenty of parking and everyone was just hanging out in the parking lot. By 7:00 the line was close to 100 and by the time they moved us to the area the sale takes place at 7:40 there were easily 200 people in line. We grabbed some crepes from the Skinny Pancake food truck and waited as the line grew. There was a band to keep people entertained and lots of talking with the others in line. Around 8:40 John Kimmich thanked everyone for coming and explained that all money from the sale of merchandise was being donated to a school in Rwanda. He also announced they would start selling beer a bit early.
Fortunately we were near the front of the line and we had our beer and were heading out by 9:00. The sale was very well organized and I would recommend anyone interested in The Alchemist beers make the trip to Waterbury to experience the event and buy some great beer.
Due to the early exit from Waterbury we had some extra time between the truck load sale and leaving for FoFA so we hit the farmer’s market in Montpelier, made another trip to the Coop for some snacks and then eventually made our way to Greensboro for the start of FoFA.
Upon arrival at Hill Farmstead we found another extremely well run event. A tent was setup to check in with your required designated driver and grab your Hill Farmstead branded tasting glass. The lines had already formed for Flora from Hill Farmstead and Paraguesia2 from Tired Hands. I opted for the Flora line and that was the last line I waited in all day. The remainder of the festival was walk up, grab a beer and drink. There were a couple of times when Hill Farmstead started pouring La Sarrasin and a couple of others that the lines swelled to 20+ people but it went quickly and plenty of great beer was consumed.
I got to talk to Shaun, Phil, Bob as well as Dan Suarez formerly of Hill Farmstead and currently working towards opening Suarez Family Brewery in New York. The weather could have been better but it did not take away from a great day for a great event.
Based on the success of both the tent sale and the new setup for events at Hill Farmstead; no camping, required designated driver, etc I hope both breweries continue to hold these events as I will certainly be back.
The final haul from the weekend included;
– 2 mixed cases from The Alchemist; four 4-packs of Focal Banger and a 4-pack of Rapture and Crusher
– four 4-packs of Heady Topper
– 8 bottles of Vera Mae and 4 bottles of Florence
Unfortunately we missed out on Lawson’s as we did not want to wait in line at the Coop on Friday but we still came home with plenty of beer.