Burling Brew Tours- Go There Now

There is a place I know of that you need to know about. A small town in VT where someone will pick you up at your hotel in a van and drive you to four breweries in four hours. They are knowledgeable, funny and they even feed you! For those unfamiliar, I am talking about Burlington VT, and I’m talking about the Burlington Brew Tours.

As what I can now officially award the ‘Best Weekend I Have Had in a While’ and the ‘Most Awesome Bday Gift’ award, my girlfriend took me up to Burlington to go on the Burlington Brew Tour. Let me be brief with my review of Burlington as a whole. This was my first time visiting this Portsmouth-like city, and I enjoyed it. The crazies are definitely in full effect on Church St. but with that aside it truly is a great scenic town. When you go you need to eat breakfast at Penny Cluse, and Magnolia Bistro, which were recommended to us by a friend and offered fantastic food, you won’t be disappointed. Also, if you are celebrating something (like a birthday) check out Leunigs, which was amazing. If still on the menu try the Graham Crack Crusted Duck Frites, mmm I can taste them now.

Now that that’s out of the way, back to the tour. It seems BBT (Burlington Brew Tours) has one heck of a business model:

  1. Pick up tourists from their respective hotels
  2. Drive them to the 4 breweries in Burlington (Magic Hat, Switchback, Zero Gravity and Vermont Pub & Brewery)
  3. Give a VIP no line waiting tour at each brewery
  4. Offer about 7+ beer samples per stop
  5. Offer free lunch to clean the pallet
  6. Drive you back to the hotel with all of the souvenirs and Growlers you bought at each stop

Not bad, huh?

Around 12:30 my girlfriend and I were picked up at our hotel by our tour guide. A little hesitant about being picked up in a van, we signed our tour waivers, basically stating we are responsible for our own consumption, act responsibly, etc. and we got in the van. After picking up the 7 other tourists we were off to Magic Hat Brewery. Along the way Darin, our tour guide, fileld us in on the history of Beer in Burlington. For someone who I thought was just the van driver I was amazed and relieved he was very knowledgeable about beer and the brewing process.

Magic Hat Brewery

We got out of the van and went right into the brewery for the tour, waiting in line or anything. When you think about Willy Wonka, you think about crazy ways of showing off your candy making. When you think Magic Hat, you think Willy Wonka. Complete madness and dare I say, artistic genius? The moment you walk into this brewery you are hit with so much creepy yet awesome imagery that you could swear you are drunk but you know you haven’t had a sip of beer yet, it’s such a trip. Even in the brew house there are manikins and giant birds hanging from the ceiling, again you need to see it to believe it. I tried to capture most of the madness I could and it the images are located in the gallery here. After the tour we were taken to the sampling bar to let the day of drinking begin. The samples were decent size and we were able to sample all they had on tap including a mix of two called ‘9 Lives’, which is half of MH Number 9 and MH Lucky Cat. That mix was so good I grabbed a growler of it and hope to enjoy it and reminisce about the tour this weekend. After everyone had their fill we took our souveniers and loaded the van for Switchback Brewign Co.

Side note: Looking for a great gift? The Spork-ener should do the trick. It is a Spork and a Bottle Opener. I got one for MM and he tends to use it as both.

More on Switchback and the rest of the madness after the break.

Switchback Brewing Co.

Those in Northern New England are quite familiar with the Switchback, but only on the taps in the bars. Switchback to this date has no bottles or cans in the store. For those in Portsmouth you can find Switchback on tap at Ri Ra. As for the rest of the readers I say start the hunt for it, as it is worth the hunt. Switchback Brewing Co. is a 10 person operation run out of a building once used to produce hot dogs (fun fact). This tour was short and sweet, but we did get a chance to see brewing on a smaller scale. Without giving too much away, Switchback acquired some sweet brewing equipment from Germany which had a button layout that looked like something from mission control. The brewmaster was extremely nice and made sure our sample glasses were never empty, cheers! We tried their flagship Pale Ale, Porter and their Roasted Red, which is replacing the stout on taps. The Roasted Red was my favorite. As a tin tacker collector I could not pass up the opportunity to purchase a Switchback one.  After all the questions were answered and samples were tasted, we loaded back in the van and headed toward American Flatbread/Zero Gravity Brewing.

Zero Gravity

It became apparent to some of the fellow beer drinkers that this was a serious tour and we were in desperate need of food. As part of the tour, BBT had a table already set up for us in the restaurant with 3 large flatbreads. Accompanying those pizzas were 6 sampling glasses in front of everyone. Zero Gravity really focuses on taste. These were the lightest beers on the tour. As a Stoutsman, these were my least favorite the tour. On the bright side, after all six samples were consumed I asked to try their stout and it was great. Luckily the last stop was literally across the street. To the Vermont Pub & Brewery!

Vermont Pub & Brewery

The tour ends with a bang at this brewery. The environment is much like the Portsmouth Brewery. We were taken downstairs and shown the brewing system and even though it was very cramped down there it was really great to see how all of the great brews of this brew pub get made and sent to the taps. We went back upstairs to where we were given our last gauntlet of six tastings. I’ll be straight with you, they make great beer. We tasted everything from an Ale to a Stout to a Red ale called ‘Forbidden Fruit’, which was brought back in a growler by my girlfriend, perfect for a night of watching Glee with her friend. This is a must visit even if you can’t make it on the tour, their food looked great!

What more can I say, you need to get up to Burlington and let BBT give you a day you will brag to your friends about. The day after I got home I began planning my next trip with my friends sometime this summer. You want photos from my trip? The Burlington Brew Tours now has a featured page on our site which includes photos from my trip and all the information you need to know to get yourself to Burlington, VT to take this journey, located in our ‘Drink Here’ section. Also included are some photos from my trip to the Harpoon Brewery on the way back from Burlington, enjoy!

Thanks BBT for an excellent weekend and I will without a doubt see you again this summer.