I visited during the farmhouse ale festival, so there were tents and taps set up outside, plus a stand selling great local cheeses and another selling fresh local grilled sausages. So the "facilities" were totally adequate. And, of course, the beer is spectacular. The staffand the locals are extremely friendly, and went well out of their way to be helpful (hey, how many places would allow free camping?). And I think the atmosphere of the fresh air and rolling Vermont green hills (referred to locally as mountains, ;-)) more than make for the lack of tables, chairs and real toilets. Worth going well out of you way for.
Sort of "the" place, right? Second official beer stop on the New England trip and the first real destination after landing in Burlington. Just a heads up to travelers, cell service is really spotty here and can be non-existent on the way, so be aware if you’re using your phone for navigation.
A large property with open lawns and trees in the background. Pretty ample parking, particularly for a Thursday early afternoon crowd. We walked in directly to the bar and were able to get seats in the tasting room or outside.
Sort of a number of options in the tasting room--samples, full pours, growlers, and on-site bottles. Be aware that there is a maximum of two drinks per person. Not sure how strictly that is enforced or if that includes your bottle pours or what.
Sample pours are free and about 1 to 2 ounces. Full pours are like $4, and growler fills are quite cheap as well. The to-go bottles from the retail shop are quite reasonably priced. They price the on-site bottles with a definite premium, though I guess its understandable.
The people are very, very friendly here and quite helpful. They get a lot of visitors/beer tourists, and seemingly are very patient explaining the rules. Very efficient in getting everyone served as well.
I don’t think this place really requires a recommendation. It’s obviously quite an effort to get here, but I found it to be a worthwhile trip.
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?
What a unique trek it was out here. I rented a car in Montreal to drive down here (and a few other Vermont destinations). Over a 5 minute drive on a dirt & gravel road to this place, through farmland and the beautiful Vermont country side. Sampled 4 beers on tap for $5 and purchased a few bottles and a growler to take away with me. The freshness of the hoppy beers is unparalleled right from the tap at the brewery. No wonder this stuff is in such high demand and so hard to get - out in the middle of nowhere and made quite difficult to get. Get your ass over here if you’re anywhere near.
A friend and brewer here in London, UK heard I was going to be in NH and asked if I could travel a bit into VT to get some Hill Farmstead bottles to bring back. Being the good sport that I am, I agreed. He loaded me up with numerous bottles from The Kernel for me to take to Hill Farmstead, and thus the journey began. These Kernel beers travelled from their brewery to my flat in London, to Heathrow, to JFK, to a hotel in NYC, to my parents’ house in CT, then to my parents’ house in NH before the final leg to VT. (The HF bottles I bought at the brewery have traced a roughly equivalent reverse journey and will be delivered to The Kernel tomorrow.) All that being said, the visit to Hill Farmstead was worth it. True, the brewery and "retail shop" are not much to look at, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. (I don’t hate many things, but I do hate pretense.) Thankfully Shaun was there to receive the Kernel beers, to give me the complete tour of the facilities, and to guide me through a tasting of the seven or so tapped beers. I bought all the available bottles as well as one "off-the-menu" (Civil Disobedience 1). I chatted with Shaun and some of the other brewers for a bit and, on this particularly sunny and calm late summer day, everything was just about perfect. Right before I left Shaun told me to wait and headed up to the house adjacent to the brewery. He brought back two very special HF beers especially for the guys at The Kernel but, he said, I had to be there when the beers were drank. Not a bad guy this brewer Shaun. So all in all, I think Hill Farmstead is pretty alright.
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.
Hard to rate this one, as I can’t really rate the Festival of Harvest ales selection which is what I got to sample. There are several great beers available on tap or in bottle, but what you get is a crap shoot (well, it is listed online, but it’s not like many people can just come here at any time!). Great agrarian location. Great people. A bit too many rules maybe, which make it inconvenient regarding some things. If I lived nearby, I would come here at least twice a week for growlers.
One of the best breweries in the world, in a beautiful surroundings. The drive is tedious for almost anyone, but this only adds to the draw. So good that they can thrive with what would be unacceptable delays almost anywhere else. While the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, the operations are annoyingly inefficient, but then again, could it voluntarily be part of the charm and myth?
First let me say...I love Hill Farmstead beers (and who doesn’t!). 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 I’m 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 (it’s obvious they are encouraging growler and bottle sales over onsite beer drinking). The outside has an unfinished look and really isn’t that special. Now don’t 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. I’m 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 it’s 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. That’s 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...
Type. . . . . . . . . . ..Growler Filling Station Level. . . . . . . . . . .High Location. . . . . . . .Poor, Middle of Nowhere, Dirt Roads Prices. . . . . . . . . .Medium to High up to $30 per bottle Tap Selection. . . .Medium, 6-7 House Beers on tap Bottle Selection. .Medium, 6-7 Bottles including guest bottles Samplers. . . . . . ..Yes, only 4-5 allowed though 6-7 beers on tap Full Pours. . . . . . .No Beer Level. . . . . ..Extremely High Food. . . . . . . . . . .No Food Level. . . . ...N/A Staff. . . . . . . . . . ..Fairly Nice Growlers. . . . . . ..Yes Noise Level. . . . .Quiet Décor. . . . . . . . . .New Wood, Modern Barn Good for Kids. . .No Parking. . . . . . . .Private Gravel "Lot" WiFi. . . . . . . . . . .Yes, But Did Not Work Cash Only. . . . . .YES Recommended. .No, See Explanation Comments: This is not a brewery tasting room as there is no place to sit down and try the beer. You are limited to only a few samples and cannot get a sample of every beer on tap if it exceeds 4-5. WiFi is free, but didn’t work. Extremely slow moving line once you walk in is for growler fills only. If you are buying bottles, you use a separate, unmarked line. If you are just there for tasting beers, then you came to the wrong place. You can taste beers while you are in line for growlers as a way of deciding which beers to fill your growlers. Small line took 45 min to suffer. Location is In the middle of nowhere with no food. So come with a packed lunch I guess? 5 bottles were available including 3 that are nationally distributed through Grassroots/Anchorage and Shelton Bros. So only 2 bottles not available elsewhere. No full pours available by Vermont law. Disappointing. Would not recommend coming all the way out here. Better to go to Waterbury and hit up the beer bars with full pours. This is why Hill Farmstead’s Anniversary event was not at Hill Farmstead. They are also cash only even though they have really high prices, have an iPad, and have WiFi. That is just inexcusable. Closest ATM is miles away and charges a fee. So I guess if you go here you have to be rolling like $300 in cash deep. Should tell the local gang to start holding people up on Hill Rd.