Living on the Vermont/New Hampshire border, and being the avid beer drinker that I am, I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of the Vermont Brewery Passport Program sooner.  Here’s how it works:

Grab a passport card at a participating Vermont brewery or pub and get it stamped each time you visit a Vermont Brewers Association member brewery. There are several levels to complete, with prizes and swag for each level.

Vermont Brewery Challenge. Day One.

On our way to Sugarbush last week, we stopped for a quick lunch and pint at Long Trail.  I enjoyed a Limbo IPA.  At 7.6% ABV and 80 IBUs, Limbo packs the hoppy bite and bitterness I enjoy, but was probably a bit much for my first beer of the day, and the start of my 2 hour drive to the mountain…

Related: Sugarbush.

Lunch at Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont

Foley Brothers

As we drove through Brandon, we realized that we were just a couple minutes from Foley, so of course we had to make a stop.

This is where we learned about the VT Brewery Challenge. We browsed the participating breweries and realized that of the 39 brewers involved, we’d already hit 12. BUT we didn’t get any stamps since we just got our passports, so looks like we’ll have to revisit each of those 12 and the additional 27.

Challenge accepted.

We happened to be the only people in the tasting room, so we got to hang out with Robert, owner of Neshoba River Winery, and the Foley Brothers’ dad. We spent a good hour chatting and enjoying 4 different Foley offerings, all amazing.

Double Maple Brown – 7.9% ABV
Prospect – Imperial IPA, 9% ABV and 90 IBUs (and my personal favorite from Foley Brothers)
Pieces of Eight – Imperial IPA, 8% ABV
Fair Maiden – Imperial IPA, 8.2% ABV and 100 IBUs

Vermont Brewery Challenge at Foley Brothers in Brandon, Vermont

Drop-In Brewing

After leaving Foley, we were on a mission to get more stamps for our passport, and found Drop-In was on our way, located in Middlebury, VT, so we stopped in and split a flight.

We met Christine, owner and co-founder of Drop-In, and Jimmy the border collie/lab mix, and sampled 7 of their offerings for just $5:

Czech Your Ego – Czech pilsner, 5.6% ABV
Sunshine and Hoppiness – Belgian golden ale – 5.1% ABV
Red Dwarf – American amber ale, 5.2% ABV
The New Brunette – Belgian dubbel, 7% ABV
Heart of Lothian – Scottish 90/Shilling ale, 5.6% ABV
Fetchez La Vache – Milk stout, 6% ABV
Solar Storm – Belgian IPA, 6.8%

Solar Storm, Sunshine and Hoppiness, and Fetchez La Vache were our favorites and we grabbed a “squealer” or 32oz growler of the creamy and light milk stout to take home, for just $6.50.

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On our way to find the restrooms, we stumbed across their Christopher Walk-In… and I lost it. 😉

Christopher Walk-in at Drop-In Brewery in Middlebury, Vermont

Otter Creek

Our last stop was Otter Creek Brewing, also in Middlebury. Bobby had planned this stop, so we could grab a 4-pack of their barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, but of course we wouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy another flight.
Flight of beer at Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont

Over Easy – Session ale, 4.6% ABV and 40 IBUs.  Very light, crushable ale, with a citrus finish.
Steampipe – California common, 6.0% ABV and 55 IBUs
Shed Mountain Ale – Brown ale, 7.4% ABV and 35 IBUs.
Side note: The Shed brewery was purchased by Otter Creek in 2011.
Couch Surfer – Oatmeal stout, 5.4% ABV and 32 IBUs. Very smooth, with chocolate and coffee flavors.
Kind Ryed – American IPA, 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs. Flavorful and bitter, but not my favorite rye.
Citra Mantra – India Pils Lager, 5.75% ABV, 55 IBUs.

Otter Creek Brewing, Middlebury, Vermont

Four breweries down. thirty six to go!

If you’re working on the Vermont Brewery Challenge, I’d love to hear from you!

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