[Originally published in the Rutland Herald on 9/30/10] For beer lovers, sampling Vermont’s wide variety of craft beers usually requires traveling to all four corners of the state and all points in between.
On Saturday, however, you can taste some of Vermont’s best brews as well as others from around the country at the 15th Annual Killington Brewfest from 1 to 6 p.m.
The event, which will be held at Killington’s Snowshed Lodge, will feature 22 breweries and more than 60 flavors of craft beer available for sampling.
This year, festivities kick off early Friday evening with a Vermont Brewmaster V.I.P. Dinner at the Wobbly Barn at 7 p.m. The five-course dinner, prepared by Justin Blais, Killington Resort executive chef, “pairs Vermont brews with culinary creations from local producers.”
According to Tom Horrocks, Killington Resort communications director, the dinner is a unique opportunity for guests to meet and chat with brewmasters from Long Trail, Otter Creek, Harpoon and Magic Hat breweries.
A practice that is more commonly associated with wines, pairing beer with food, is becoming increasingly popular as the public’s appreciation for craft beer grows.
“People’s palates are adjusting,” said Kelly Spear, Long Trail Brewery’s southern Vermont sales representative “They prefer quality over quantity.”
This year’s featured brewers are a mix of local favorites like Long Trail, Otter Creek and Switchback as well as regional pours from Brooklyn Brewery (New York), Dogfish Head (Delaware) and Red Hook (New Hampshire) among others.
Brewfest is also a chance for brewers to show off some of their unique flavors. This time of year, that typically includes lots of signature Oktoberfest brews and even some more adventurous seasonals such as Peak Organic’s (Maine) Maple Oat Ale, Magic Hat’s Green Apple White and Shipyard’s (Maine) aptly named Pumpkinhead.
While brewers from around the country will be in attendance, it’s the Vermont breweries that everyone should be on the lookout for says Kurt Staudter, executive director of the Vermont Brewers Association.
“Vermont has a long tradition of brewing beer,” he said, adding proudly, and with a pinch of swagger, “We taught the rest of the country everything they know.”
Indeed, with 21 breweries, (the most per capita of any state) Vermont beer drinkers have a lot to be proud of.
That local pride is doubly important for Long Trail considering Saturday’s Brewfest is practically in their backyard.
The Long Trail team will be there in force Saturday, serving up their fall seasonal, Harvest, which, according to Spear, is the number one selling beer in Killington.
Of the competitiveness between breweries, Spear says that it’s all in good fun.
“It’s nice to sample everyone else’s,” she said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie there.”
In addition to sampling some superlative suds, visitors will also enjoy live music by Tommy Lee Thomas at 1:30 p.m. and Joey Leone at 2:30 p.m.
For those looking to fill their bellies before filling their glasses, burgers and pizza will be available at Snowshed food court and Ana’s Empanadas of Rutland Farmers’ Market fame will be on hand dishing our some authentic Argentinean cuisine.
“It’s a big weekend,” said Horrocks, who expects approximately 2,000 people to attend the Brewfest itself with many others arriving to see the fall foliage, which is nearing its peak.
Weather permitting, a limited number of Brewfest tickets are still available. V.I.P. dinner tickets, which include admission on Saturday, are also available. Call 800-621-MTNS or visit www.killington.com/summer for more details.