Monday, December 6, 2010

Heady Topper

Well, I'm currently finishing up some bioluminescent studies in the lab, but figured I would post a brief update on the beer festivities from last weekend. At around 7 am on Saturday, Jen, Dave and myself made our trek north to the Heady Topper release at The Alchemist in Waterbury, VT. We arrived around 8:45 am with some decent snow flurries and were relieved to see that the line outside of the pub was not too long, so we parked and headed to the closest shop with coffee and food. As much as I love beer, it's hard to beat a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, especially when it's snowing (the sausage, cheese and egg bagel was pretty good too).

After getting some caffeine in the system we ventured back outside and made our way to the Heady Topper line, which had grown a little bit, but wasn't too bad yet. For those of you that don't know, Heady Topper is an 8%, 120 IBU, double IPA brewed by John Kimmich at The Alchemist. Besides being a delicious DIPA, it is also the first beer to ever be bottled by the brewery, mostly as a response to the huge demand for the beer. People have even tried to hand bottle this under the table, so that they can walk out (illegally) with a bottle to go. Therefore, it was not surprising that well over a hundred people were in line when the pub opened at 11 am.

Once inside the doors we paid for our 3 bottle limit of Heady Topper and moved down to the end of the bar where they were serving $5 pints with a free glass. Of course I grabbed a fresh pint of Heady Topper from the tap, which was packed full of hops and grapefruit bitterness like usual. Jen on the other hand picked up a pint of The Alchemist's pumpkin saison, which was also quite good and really brought out a lot of rustic, earthy, pumpkin flavor.

With pints in hand we moved over to where they were hand wrapping bottles of Heady Topper and picked up our allotment. In addition to the free glassware, The Alchemist also had free hot dogs for everyone and you got a bottle opener and a Heady Topper pin with your purchase of 1-3 bottles. This release was definitely classy and I think everyone agreed that it went very smoothly. I'm really hoping they decide to do another bottle release in the future. I'd love to be able to take some of their wilds and other stellar offerings home with me.

After enjoying some fresh Heady Topper and pumpkin saison, we dropped off our bottles in the car and headed over to the Blackback Pub, which is just across the street from The Alchemist. Blackback is an awesome little craft beer bar that usually has 8 or 9 beers on tap and tends to showcase some of Vermont's finest brews. Today was no exception. Blackback had a fresh keg of Lawson's Paradise Ale and The Hill Farmstead's latest saison offering (Dorothy) and winter porter (Twilight of the Idols). Along with the local offerings they also had Stone's Lukcy Basartd, Dogfish Head's Olde School Barleywine and Petrus Aged Pale just to name a few. Having already gotten my hop fix from the Heady Topper I asked for a pour of Twilight of the Idols, which was an excellent choice, especially with the cold winter weather outside.

Tipping back the glass revealed complex layers of vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate, which were all encased in a smooth, velvety, body of liquid. Great stuff, but I already knew that before ordering, since I had been lucky enough to have this once before at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington, VT. Once my glass was empty, we decided to shove off and make our way down to the Warren Store in Warren, VT. The Warren Store is well known by beer enthusiasts in the northern Vermont area, because it is the only store that sells Lawson's, period. The only other places you can get Sean Lawson's beers are at a few select farmer's markets from time to time or from him personally.

Anyways, since we were only about 20 minutes away from the store, it would have been a shame not to go. So we headed on down and actually got to meet Sean there when we arrived. After tasting a delicious sample of his upcoming Barrel-Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout we picked up a bottle of the Chinooker'd IPA, the Maple Nipple and the Red Spruce Bitter and headed on home. As usual, we had a great time up in the Waterbury/Warren area and hopefully we'll be back this winter for some skiing and of course beer sampling.

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