On Tap

On Tap: Canadian Beers Rule Vermont Brewers Festival

My tasting glass was still sticky with the residue of an “old ale” aged in brandy barrels when I handed it back to the man who’d poured me the beer just 15 minutes earlier. In that space of time, he’d probably served several dozen 3-ounce samples to other attendees at the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington. But he recognized my face. He paused when he saw me, grinned and cocked an eyebrow. “You again?” he said. Yes, me again. I had precious little time and

On Tap: Judging Beer Is Nice Work, If You Can Get It

The defense attorney preferred hoppy IPAs. The doctor from Massachusetts liked malty lagers. Lately, I’d been into pilsners and kolsch. Unfortunately, none of those were on the list of beers that the three of us were about to judge. The lineup began with a cream ale made with wildflower honey and lemons and ended with jalapeno pepper beers. Plural. “Can I get some water, please?” the doctor kept asking. “And some bread?” Indeed, we were going to need some palate cleansers. We all — more

On Tap: A Good Kolsch is Hard to Find, but It’s a Fine Beer for Summer

A cruel irony of summer is that it is a season when beer consumption is perhaps at its highest, and yet the options become less interesting. Light lagers have never really appealed to me. Most are better for drowning slugs than drinking. And really, how many more wheat beers do we need? I like them every now and then, but there are so many on shelves it’s a wonder there’s enough grain leftover to keep the bread aisle stocked. There is no perfect beer for

On Tap: Salt Hill Pub to Salute its 10th Anniversary With Its Own Beer

Lebanon — Everybody in town knew it was a doomed spot for a business. A hipster coffee house. A pool hall. Nothing seemed to work in the corner location on the Lebanon mall. But then Josh and Joe Tuohy came along with an idea for a pub named for a neighborhood in Galway, Ireland, where their grandparents lived. Certainly, there were doubters. The Tuohys had plenty of doubts themselves along the way. A decade later, Salt hill Pub in Lebanon not only is still around,

On Tap: Three Men and a Stout

Norwich — The three men peered over the edge of a steel tank being filled with water, waiting for it to heat as though it were charcoals burning in a grill. It was a moment of tedium during the beer brewing process that each had experienced countless times before. Over the past two decades, each had taken his turn standing in the brewhouse of the Norwich Inn, soaking grains in hot water with the intent of serving up fine ales to thirsty patrons. But this

On Tap: Larger Brewers Think Small to Keep Innovation Flowing

The R&D lab where Long Trail brewers perform their experiments is inside a drafty old farmhouse about a five-minute walk from the main brewery in Bridgewater. It is an unpretentious little facility and the brewers like it that way. “This is about as free form as it can get,” said Brandon Mayes, a Long Trail brewer. “Any ideas that the guys have, they should be free to pursue.” The “pilot facility” was a small white room where four stainless steel kettles sat on burners, and

What the Pros Know About Beer

“Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life” — headline in The Onion, March 20 Bridgewater — Several of my Facebook friends linked to the headline above, and as with many Onion headlines, we all found it funny because it was true. How many gardeners and crafters out there think about turning pro by selling the fruits of their labors at a farmers market? How many accountants, salesmen, attorneys and (ahem) journalists are

On Tap: The Upper Valley Has Good Taste When It Comes to Gas Station Beer

The menu of beers before me was like some kind of “Greatest Hits” album, each selection just as good as the last. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Stone Arrogant Bastard. Victory Golden Monkey. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I’d be proud to walk into a room of my snobbiest friends and put any one of these down on the table. Here’s the kicker, though. I wasn’t perusing the shelves at some boutique grocer or fine beverages store in Boston. I was at a gas station

On Tap: “World’s Best Beer’’ Is Made in Vermont, but Can You Get It?

Montpelier — The shipment was scheduled to arrive Friday around noon, and I’d heard from a guy who knows a guy that I’d better be there on time if I wanted my share. Sure enough, when I rounded the corner into the beer aisle at Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain Coop, there it was sitting on a rolling cart — 24 cases of Heady Topper. Employees were posing for pictures with the cases stacked shoulder-high. One customer jerked his head around to have a look, as though

On Tap: Rauchbier Has a Hefty Flavor, Too Much for Some Tastes

Deep in the Franconian foothills at the confluence of the rivers Regnitz and Main is an ancient German city known for beer that shocks the palates of even the most adventurous drinkers. The city is Bamberg, a gorgeous cosmopolitan place of 70,000 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where visitors can see 11th-century cathedrals and stroll along the waterfront of “Little Venice.” But it is the smoky beverage known as “rauchbier” for which Bamberg has become a global beer destination. And it was here that