Updated 8/13/2012. Previous sins have been washed away by the excellence of the recent Festival of Farmhouse Ales. It was easily one of the best festivals Iíve ever been to, incredibly well managed, well supplied with beer and food, and just a beautifully peaceful time. The setting is unparalleled. I should give Shaun a break for his first year and some of the bumps that he went through, because this festival was impeccable.
Original review. Love the concept of a remote, farmhouse style brewery, but was a little underwhelmed with the facilities and attitude of the brewer. Stopped in and had a full tour of the brews, which we all quite good. The unfinished building was very messy and hoarded by flies that made standing in the brewery a nuisance, which meant little opportunity to talk to the brewer, since he was in there dealing with the light, but steady trickle of traffic. He spent most of his time ignoring things people said to him and texting on his phone. When he did have things to say they were showed a bit of an ego and were often snotty and dismissive. He wasnít downright rude, but it was easy to tell that he was full of himself and was far from humble. It really put me off, which is too bad, because the beers are good and the rural setting is beautiful. Also, get an f-iní public crapper if youíre going to have people visit you this far out in the woods.
First let me say...I love Hill Farmstead beers (and who doesnít!). Before arriving I expected that I would be rating this place over 90...and if you are rating the beers...they all would
be...but Iím rating the place from which the beers come and the beers contribute only a portion of the score to this "place" rating...so please keep that in mind. I have no real complaints mind you. I just think the place is nice in looks...not amazing...the main tasting/growler fill area is attractive...the real tasting room is not very special at all (itís obvious they are encouraging growler and bottle sales over onsite beer drinking). The outside has an unfinished look and really isnít that special. Now donít get me wrong...the grounds and land around the brewery...the farm and the adjacent surroundings are gorgeous. But they could have done so much more to make this place look great given they have the money and spent a lot to do what they did do. Iím just not a fan of what they came up with given who they are and the high expectations people have when they travel to this remote location. Yes itís about the beer first...but the place is just above average...not amazing or anything. I am also disappointed there were only 4 beers available for tasting...and a max of only "2" that we could actually buy to drink onsite. Thatís a tad stingy to say the least. Overall...I would still highly recommend a visit here...and an 86 is normally a high rating...just lower than the over 90"s most people are giving. I think they missed the opportunity to make this even better...
Visited plenty of times in the last 4 years. This lost place in the middle of nowhere at the end of a muddy road has changed a lot within the last year. Goodbye the 2-hours line with a sweaty guy in front of you just to fill your growlers and grab a couple of regular beers. Yes, you still have to wait at least an hour but now the tasting room beside and the number system make the waiting easier and you can discuss beer with someone from Boston or St.Louis or a weird French Canadian like me. Beers are so good, even the regular ones worth the trip. Prices are good for regulars and growlers but special beers are expensive (up to $40 for a 750ml). This is why I avoid the special Bottle Releases. This place has a high reputation and you know why after a visit.
Completely re-written review as my old notes were for the pre Reno space. Now the experience was awesome. The draft/growler room flowed so well. Grab a number, get a glass to drink on site, order some food from a food truck. I was in and out with 4 beers on site and growler fills and lunch in less than 1.5 hours. Had I been in a hurry I could have been in and out in 30 mins. Beer is obviously spectacular and still some weir rules (why canít I take an empty bottle that I purchased for on site consumption to my table???), but overall this is now a real top notch spot. No headaches. Grab a beer take in the serene setting. Wow.
Everything was awesome. We arrived around 2 on a weekday so it was pretty empty. The server poured us samples of every beer to try before we ordered a glass. Number system for growlers was simple (and I imagine necessary when busy). Had a pizza from s vendor out front that was delicious.
This place was killer. We got there early, and they came out and talked to us, letting us know the special rules and even opened an hour early! The place is awesome. Great view of the Green Mountains and it looks like a postcard. Damn. The two drink limit is a total bummer, but I can understand it. The people were incredibly helpful. No food, other than some cheese, but who needs that when there are 2 drinks to be had. Overall this place is just great. Itís a bucket list worthy venue.
Two drink limit was a shame, but helpful and friendly staff, the selection was great, and I paid $8 total. Solid. The building was quaint and off the beaten path, with a great view of the Green Mountains. A must visit for any craft beer enthusiast.
A pilgrimage in every way. Yes, itís RBís best brewery in the world. Yes, itís in the middle of nowhere in the woods of Vermont. Yes, itís completely worth the trip. Not only is the beer phenomenal, but with the new addition the experience is genuinely pleasant. There are two areas now, with the old brewery on the left dedicated to bottle sales, and the new area on the right open for not only tastings and growler fills, but also glasses of beer and On-Site consumption of rare and one-off bottles from Hill Farmstead (I had a bottle of Civil Disobedience 6 for $25). Worth the drive, worth the effort, worth the hype.
Visited on a Friday afternoon while (after) turkey hunting nearby. Iím not sure what else besides an outdoor activity would get you ínearbyí - which is of course part of the charm of the place. Beautiful tasting room in a building overlooking the mountains 180 degrees. Growler fills on the left side of the bar and pours on the right. You take a number and queue for growlers, of which 3 were available out of the 6 or so draft offerings. I did both pints and a growler fill - plus grabbed a darn tasty Sandwich from the Carolina BBQ food truck outside. The beer is the obvious attraction and does not disappoint. Retail shop with limited bottle selection is in the building next to the tasting room (may be the old tasting room). I do like places that offer a 750 growler option since I am often just going to drink the whole thing myself and thatís a lot easier (and cheaper when buying the glass). The beers here are just oh-my-god good, but thatís well known so no need to dwell on it. There was also a cheese plate on offer with some local specialties.
Note that they do not accept tips, but direct you to a donation box of which the collections are given to local charities.
Visited 20160217. New tasting room was just opened so you can basically forget all the old reviews talking about small place because new tasting room was huge and very beautiful. I drove from Waterbury and it took 45 minutes with only one wrong way driving. It was Wednesday and bottle release day (Flora Plum). Place was opening 12.00 but there was already line at 11.15 when I arrived. Shawn came somewhere and opened the bottleshop around 11.30 so I could get my bottles easily. Tasting room was quite big and there was queue automat for growler buyers. Free samples were available for most tap beers. For some reason you could get only growler fills for some beers. If I got it right they did sell only 2 pours per customer so if you want to get drunk this is propably wrong place for you. Place was very well organized. Great place.
Finally made it to Mecca (at least the US Mecca) with a group of students and profs from my work trip. There were a dozen people in line at about 3PM on a Thursday already, but they ran them through the line pretty efficiently. A very interesting setup - it really is a barn, with an HF flag identifying it for what it is. Sean was walking around in stained clothes on the phone and inspecting the beer. Hard to believe so much goodness comes out of so few gallons of production capacity! It was kind of weird hanging out in the parking lot with all these folks who were there to stock up to the hilt - one guy must have had twenty cases of Heady in is truck and was cycling through the line getting five growlers a crack. Weird, but then again when I got to the front I ordered enough to fill a 12-bottle shipper, and then headed to the Alchemist :)
Update based on the new tasting room being open for business. Getting there is just as much fun as ever, but now they have many more beers in bottle, higher limits and the same great prices. Bottle line is separate from the growler / tasting room, which is a bonus. New tasting room is pretty awesome, with a great view of the much expanded brewery, spotless as ever. Growler fills are handled on a take a number priority, and a separate line for sample pours and other onsite fun. They have an onsite consumption bottle list which includes a mix of stuff available to go next door and other fun stuff (they had CD16 and Flora Plum when we were there). There is a bout a 25% markup for the onsite bottles. Tap beers served in 5 oz pours, supposedly limit 2, but I did not see anybody counting. I found it odd that the list of beers available for pours was not the same as that available for growler fills. No idea why not. If you are getting growlers filled however, you can try small (like 1 oz) samples of the other stuff as well. All in all, this new setup is just about as well organized as a brewery on-site operation could be. Would you expect less from Shawn?