On a tour of U.S. craft beer, it seems that Central Oregon and Vermont are far more alike than different.
Vermont state, for one, is laden with natural beauty. Tourists flock to it during the summer months, and the Subaru ownership rate is through the roof.
Maybe that's why beer from Bend and the rest of Oregon seems to fit so well with the Green Mountain State. In places like Burlington's Farmhouse Tap and Montpelier's Three Penny Taproom, you can find beers from places like Culmination, Worthy, The Ale Apothecary—even Boneyard Beer, whose RPM IPA shares tapwall space with local giants like Switchback and Lost Nation. (This is Boneyard's sole distribution outside the Pacific Northwest, and it's thanks to Vermont Beer Shepherd, a distributor based in the mountain town of Waterbury run by former Oregonians Mark and Indy Ewald.)
According to Brewers Association stats, Vermont has the most breweries per capita and the most gallons of craft beer produced per adult in the United States. Much of its rep as a beer tourist's dream was built by The Alchemist, which started as a pub in Waterbury in 2003. Heady Topper, an unfiltered double IPA, is its runaway success. With a hazy and delightful citrus blast, its perceived rarity once made it intensely sought after and a regular presence in the bootleg secondhand beer market. Now The Alchemist has a shiny new production brewery in Stowe pushing out cans of both Heady and Focal Banger, Heady's sweeter and smoother cousin, and supply is finally starting to meet demand. That doesn't mean it's no longer special, though—whether it's paired with fine dining or some pretzels while watching the Pats game, it remains a total joy to experience.
For the ultimate Vermont beer experience, though, head for Hill Farmstead Brewery, run by Shaun Hill on the plot of land his family has lived on since the 1790s. The brewery is best known for its IPAs and blended beers, although there's never any predicting what will go on sale there. A recent visit featured Genealogy of Morals, a wheat imperial stout with Ethiopian coffee, and Juicy, a saison with New Zealand hops and a generous amount of time in wine barrels.
Hill is in Greensboro, a little dot of a town in northeast Vermont, and while the beer can be found across the state, the drive to the brewery site is a breathtaking, snowcapped experience in itself.