ST. ALBANS — Chad Spooner was one of the first people in the fast-growing line at Smokin’ Butt’s Bar-B-Q here on a recent Friday evening.
Spooner, a St. Albans resident and city councilman, has quickly become a fan of Smokin’ Butt’s pork, chicken and beef brisket menu.
“The pulled pork and chicken at Smokin’ Butt’s were both very succulent, with the perfect amount of flavoring, and the fries the meat was covering were thick and tender,” Spooner said.
As a city councilman, Spooner has other reasons to appreciate Smokin’ Butt’s new presence in St. Albans.
“An authentic BBQ establishment in downtown St. Albans will fill a void, and offer an option for those searching for something distinctively different,” Spooner said. “Located within one of St. Albans’ main attractions, 14th Star Brewery, combines BBQ and beer for a win-win situation.”
NORTHFIELD — “Vermont is the best state for beer in the union,” Scott Kerner said. “The amount of tourists that pour into our state each year is one barometer for the strength of this industry. The brand is strong, and the community is stronger.”
Kerner should know. After he moved to Vermont from Oregon — where he worked for that state’s oldest microbrewery, Bridgeport Brewing Co. — he helped open three beer-focused restaurants: Three Penny Taproom, The Mad Taco and Mule Bar.
Beer matters in Vermont. Not only do we have more breweries per capita than any other state, we also consume 25 percent more beer than the national average per capita. That’s not surprising — if everyone else’s beer was as good as Vermont’s, they’d drink more of it too. The brewery industry is also an increasingly important part of Vermont’s economy. According to a study released last year by the Vermont Brewers Association, “Vermont’s brewing industry operations and investments, including food sales, other merchandise sales at breweries and brewpubs, and new plant and equipment capital expenditures, generates $199 million in total economic activity and 1,575 jobs in the state.
RANDOLPH — Three new events, including the first Central Vermont Brew Fest, are coming to the Randolph region Oct. 8. Organizers hope that holding the brew fest and two new races on the same day will draw a big crowd to central Vermont and bring lots of customers to local businesses. Shane Niles, president and co-owner of One Main Tap & Grill, is leading the effort behind the brew fest; Zac Freeman is organizing the Braintree 5 Gravel Grinder, a 35-mile dirt-road bicycle race; and Matt Murawski is heading up the Vermont Foliage 15, a 15-kilometer running race with a shorter 5k option. The brew fest is from 2 to 8 p.m., the Gravel Grinder starts at 11:30 a.m. and the Foliage 15 kicks off at 1 p.m.
The brew fest, a 21-and-over event, offers free parking and has Vermont bands playing throughout the day.
BURLINGTON — Growler Garage has re-opened, with a new location on Main Street at the corner of Battery Street in Burlington. Just a block from the waterfront, the space was most recently occupied by Noonie’s Deli. Growler Garage offers both a bar for onsite consumption and a “filling station” for growlers of beer-to-go. The bar side launched with a soft opening on July 1, while awaiting formal receipt of its second-class license, to enable it to sell growlers and other take-home offerings of beers on tap. Liam O’Farrell is the owner, and Taylor deLisle the general manager.
STOWE — The Stowe Brewers Festival is back for a second year on July 29-30, adding a third session and featuring more than 40 craft brewers at the Mayo Events Field in Stowe. This 21-and-over event offers three sessions: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 29; and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 30. Standard tickets are $45 and a limited number of VIP tickets are available for $75 each. As a new addition to the festival, all attendees will receive five bonus “Spirit Tasting” tickets to use at a selection of Vermont distillers. The festival will also feature live music, free workshops and demonstrations and a wide variety of specialty food and product vendors.
ST. ALBANS — A good buzz is growing here over the recent announcement that another local beer and brewpub will emerge from Franklin County later this year. Mill River Brewing, a veteran- and woman-owned establishment, is on track to open in December at the former Hands On Car Wash site, on the corner of Lake Road and Beauregard Drive in St. Albans Town. Brothers and co-owners George “Dan” and David Fitzgerald, along with third owner Joyce Fitzgerald, David’s wife, hope to close on the 3,200-square-foot building at the end of July.
ST. ALBANS — When Merrill Hersey needed a logo for his new home brew supply store in downtown St. Albans, his girlfriend’s coworker drew one freehand, in 30 minutes. Now, the image of the “Bearded Expert,” which bears a striking resemblance to Hersey — especially the “bearded” part — is featured on the Web site and other marketing materials for his business, Open Barrel, located at 118 North Main St. Hersey, 33, of Richford, launched Open Barrel to rave reviews in April, during Vermont Maple Festival in St.
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Big Fatty’s BBQ of White River Junction recently unveiled a new space where it’s offering 20 additional craft beers, crowler style. The Crowler Pit, located in the same building as the restaurant, offers an alternative to the growler containers that have become a popular part of the beer industry. “A Crowler is a 32-ounce can that we fill on site with fresh draft beer. Then after it’s filled, we can it right there right before our customers. Crowlers offer our customers fresh draft beer every time without sitting in a warehouse for two or three months,” said Brandon Fox, the owner and general manager of the business.
BURLINGTON — The Vermont Brewers Association added six breweries and businesses to its membership this month. They are Brocklebank Craft Brewing in Tunbridge; Foam Brewers and House of Fermentology in Burlington; River Roost Brewery in White River Junction; Trout River
Brewing Company in Springfield; and Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury. With the acceptance of these six businesses, the association’s membership now includes 48 brewery members. Many of these members will be present at the Vermont Brewers Festival, which will be held July 15-16 at Burlington’s Waterfront Park.