Bikepacking Vermont’s Beer Trail

21 Nov

Photo Gallery: Bikepacking Vermont's Beer Trail

The seed for the Green Mountain Gravel Growler was planted back in 2013 when I visited Vermont and discovered a rabbit hole of a craft beer scene. The stage was then set once I learned that Vermont boasts the highest percentage of unpaved roads in the country, making it the perfect state to plan a gravel bikepacking route.
Our trusty Salsa Warbirds posted up at the Alchemist brewery before they opened the doors. Visitors travel from all over for their iconic Heady Topper, an award winning double IPA. By they time they opened there was a line around the building. Our favorite was their Focal Banger, an incredible American IPA (7%) that’s a bit more forgiving than the Heady (8%). It’s hopped with Citra and Mosaic and it smells and tastes damned near perfect.
One of many covered bridges to be found in this quaint New England state.
Joe Cruz jotting notes in his trusty, custom made, beer sampling notebook. This was for the “House Pale”, an American pale ale being served at Lost Nation Brewery in Morrisville, VT.
Daniel Golden, owner of Search and State, an NYC-made cycling apparel brand, stopping to adjust his headlamp and take a breather.
Daniel and Joe puffing up a long climb en route to Hill Farmstead for a morning beer tasting.
The old sign for Hill Farmstead, perhaps the most sought after brewery in Vermont. Located in the middle of nowhere (Greensboro, VT), the brewery is one of only a handful of places you can buy their beer.
Joe properly sniffing the incredible “Self Reliance #2” , an American pale ale hopped with Vic Secret and Enigma hops from New Zealand. Perfect in every way, Self Reliance has an amazing and unmatched complexity. Joe says it might be the best beer he’s ever had. I agree.
After an incredible tour and tasting at Hill Farmstead, Joe and Daniel are chatting up a storm before getting back on the bikes.
The number of quaint barns that dot Vernont’s countryside is staggering. This one was too interesting not to stop and snap a photo.
Our scouting mission of the Green Mountain Gravel Growler started on October 15th. It was timed perfectly to “peak season” for leaf viewing. Everywhere we turned the maples were ablaze with reds and yellows, making the backdrop to our trip positively stunning.
Onward across the countryside. After we left Hill Farmstead we faced the longest stretch of the trip without a brewery stop — 42 miles.
The unpaved roads in Vermont range from smooth packed gravel, to the rugged “Class IV” roads that should hardly be called roads at all! Here we start up one on the way to Montpelier.
Joe takes a pull from our ‘samples’ we picked up at the Alchemist… the Focal Banger in his right hand and a Heady Topper in his left.
No craft beer tour of Vermont would be complete without a stop at the famous Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, one of the only places that has Hill Farmstead on tap.
A look back across the Winooski River at Montpelier’s state House.
We made sure there were a few bits of single track on route to keep people on their toes. Here is Joe tearing downhill on his capable Warbird.
Scott Kerner, owner and proprietor of Good Measure Beer, showing us some of the relics he found in his historic in Northfield building during renovations.
Joe Cruz tackling another excellent Class IV road on the way to Warren.
Our Big Agnes Fly Creek tents in a backcountry camp spot just after the wicked ascent up Lincoln Gap — a ~1,500 climb with a 16% grade — a sought after ride for many self-loathing road cyclists.
Our Salsa Warbirds decked out with Revelate Designs bikepacking bags… black and white, just like the iconic dairy cattle of Vermont.
Joe taking a pause on the swinging bridge after Middlebury, perhaps a little dazed after our extended tasting at Otter Creek Brewery.
Throughout the trip as we name-dropped places we were going, Frost Beer Works was a common point of excitement. Tucked away in the small town of Hinesburg, VT, they are creating a buzz with their beers. Joe loved the Belgian style Farmhouse and I thought the Lush DIPA was amazing.
Adjoining Fiddlehead Brewing in Shelburne, Folino’s Pizza serves some of the best pie in the state. Make sure and grab some Fiddlehead cans to go along with it
A proper final bike portrait leaning against a graffiti wall with the Vermont area code and state silhouette. Our Salsa Warbirds proved to be the perfect bike for the trip.