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?
Visited Apr-2013, on a Friday afternoon that gradually became super busy. The farm is tucked away quite a ways from the road, and the brewery is in one of the barns. We arrived fairly early and tried a few samples at the tasting bar while deciding what to get. The lady pouring our large order of growlers was extremely patient... despite the ever-increasing crowd. (I think maybe this happens a lot, but we appreciated it!) Boy, this is a popular place, and it’s no wonder: the beers truly are excellent. If you’re in the state, and you like beer, you had better stop here. This was a definitive highlight in our beer adventures for the weekend. (5/10/13/NA/9/19) 94
Visited here the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Found it easily, using the website’s directions. I had no bother with the dirt tracks I’d been reading about. They’re in better nick that some of the roads where I live! Anyway, we arrived just on opening, and saw a small gaggle of punters filing in to the bottle shop. By the time we parked and faffed about, we walked in, got given a glass of the Madness & Solitude and walked straight to the counter. 20 minutes after parking up, I’d a car full of bottles. Similar experience in the growler fill / bar. Got a ticket. Had a sample of beer and a full pour of beer (obviously all spot on), then it was my turn to be served. It really was a lot less busy than I’d expected. The only downside to the experience was the pair of exhibitionists busting weird Yoga moves in front of the bar, to the 80s music that was playing! Once they, and their grinning idiot boyfriends left (I don’t think they were there for beer, probably just to say they’d been) normal order was resumed. Great experience. Stunning beer.
Visited in early June add post of a friend’s bachelor party weekend in early June. First of this was royal pain to get to. Buy i won’t hold that against them. I actually liked what i consider to be a very different look for brewery. I appreciatef the farm/barn look. Once inside the area where you place/receive your orders I was a bit overwhelmed. We basically walked in blindly and just tried to figure out how the chaos was supposed to work. Basically you complete an order form get in one line, drop it off and pay. You can then get in the sample line 4 sample pours for $5) and re enter the line for each pour. Eventually you will be called to pick up your order. We we’re there for roughly 2 hours before we all got our stuff filled. Could have used someone at the entrance directing people. Nice selection of beers available for purchase at fair prices.
The last 3-4 miles of driving to the brewery are all dirt roads with tight turns up and down hills and barely wide enough for 1.5 cars. Consider yourself warned. I arrived on Wednesday morning at 11:25am. It wasn’t a special bottle release or anything, just a normal business day. There were already 25 people ahead of me. It opened at noon. The retail shop itself is really just an adjacent space next to the brewing equipment, which means you get to see Shaun Hill in action. You are literally 5 feet away from the brewing equipment, just seperated by a thin rope. The girl will bring you 4x2oz tasters while you wait in line for $5 cash only. The line is insanely slow. Like I said, 25 people ahead of me and I didn’t get my beer until 2pm. So, figure 12 or so customers served per hour. Ambiance is like being in a brewery, which you are. There is no food. There are only porta potty toilets to use.
Yes, it’s the brewery turning out the best beer in the world against a beautiful fall foliage backdrop, but there’s literally nothing but beer and views. No places to sit. No food. Long lines and slow service. No cell phone reception. They did have wi-fi, but it stopped working. the only reason to visit this brewery is to pick up beer and then leave.
UPDATE:After the new expansion, this is THE craft beer Mecca. No other word can describe it. Bottles are bought in one building (if that’s your thing), growlers, tasters and full pours are available in the new expansion. Along with tables, chairs and cheese plates. God Tier destination. This is the only brewery I need to go to for the rest of my life.
I have been wanting to visit this place for a few years now! Finally made it! And were we lucky!!!! Planned months before to visit on a random wednesday, which would later be known as the day they released Clara Gin! Also Leaves of Grass and Genealogy was just released that very day!! Awesome!! The apparantly knew set up is nice and functions as it should. First you get your bottles/merchandise (ID!!); and afterwards you get a ticket and wait for them to call you for your growler fills. Meanwhile, you can enjoy some fine beers. What an amazing draft list ^^ Mainly blond, light and hoppy stuff. Tasters are free. We had a bottle of the CD as well, which was BRILLIANT. Service was impeccable. To bad we couldn’t hang out any longer guys! Had a great time anyways. Thanks a lot, hope to be back soon!
Another visit here. Old score 90. The main difference is the new room for growler fills. They are in the soft open stage, so things are still kinda coming together. No lines for once! The new place will allow better service and still keep the line moving as there are three sets of taps. On site consumption is available, but only one pour per person. Large table inside and lots of outside places to chill. Overall a definite upgrade on the old experience.
The old growler fill place Finally made it to this beer mecca. I got there about 30 minutes after opening and it took me two hours before I got my beer. Four people working but they could have easily utilized one or two more to keep things going. Two of the employees were exceptionally friendly and helpful, and two were not terribly friendly, but they were doing less customer focused things so CS was overall great. Ambiance is nice enough, light woods, farmhouse feel. The golden lab Charlie was wandering around, obviously overjoyed by the number of people he was getting to meet. That was nice. 4 samples for $5 while you’re in line. I tried Edward, Susan, Harlan and Galaxy, all were as excellent as you would expect. Growler fills are reasonable for the glass and for the beer. No bottles available at my visit, save for two Crooked Stave guest bottles. This goes without saying, but, this is an essential stop and worth the hike to get here.
brewery/bottle shop in the middle of nowhere. Inside, it’s separated in 3 areas. On the right, you have the cashier where you give them your orders and pay, in the middle it’s the sample tasting and on the left, all the orders that are being prepared. When I went, there were only like 2 people and I got there around 11:10AM. I know that usually I should have waited a few hours to get my growlers filled but it wasn’t the case for me. I basically gave my order 2 minutes after entering the place and then took their flights. Once I was done with their flight (about 30 minutes later), my order was ready to go. Apparently it changed lately but anyway, when I went there I really liked the ambiance and the waiting time...and of course the beer selection. Will sure be back again this year.
Visited 7-10-15. After my GPS led me to what appeared to be a ATV trail of sorts, I was not in the best of moods. In unfamiliar territory, I followed the trail for just a short time because I had no idea where I was and people said it was a bumpy, rocky, dirt road in the middle of nowhere. After hearing rocks scraping the bottom of my SUV, and branches scratching my doors, I knew something was wrong and backed down the road and decided to type in a different road near the brewery and that worked. I found my way from there.
Arrived about an hour 15 before open and within a little while they ended up opening the doors early for everyone. There was an employee who clearly explained everything to us, gave us an order ticket to fill out, and said to get samples while waiting. We brought our order forms to the desk and then paid for a 4 sample thing of beer. They give you a small ticket and you circle the four beers you want (numbers match their draft board) and they mark off each one you’ve tried each time you get a fill. It was nice trying four of their IPAs while waiting. They fill orders based on the number on the ticket (bottles only were a different line and my friend got taken care of before me since I had growlers on my form as well). In all, we probably spent about 45 minutes to and hour there. Not bad at all. They had a water cooler to rinse your glass and take a drink between beers. Bottles were all on a shelf showing what they had for sale. Merchandise was also on the same shelf.
In all, I had a far better experience than I expected based on many reviews. I was thinking my bad day would get worse dealing with bad service, but not the case at all. Price was pretty solid on stuff, a few things we maybe a bit high, but in all very good. I’m sure each day was different, but when I went it wasn’t confusing and things were explained well. This was also my first ever trip to Vermont, so I was a complete noob. Hoping to go back in the near future to see the new tasting room.
Well, certainly in the middle of nowhere, but worth the trip... Selection is what you expect. Staff is efficient rather than necessarily friendly. Loads of rules but I guess it has to be that way. Will be interesting to see what happens once their new tasting room is finished.