It’s been a busy weekend in Bennington. Friday night Harvest Brewing, my favorite place for grabbing a drink in town, hosted local artist Sosé Gjelaj. All weekend, Friday through Sunday, the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival was going on at Camelot Village. And yesterday was the Four Corners North HomeBrew Festival. Kris and I never seem to be around for Bennington’s homebrewing events. We’ll never miss another after yesterday’s experience.
The Best Little Homebrewing Festival In Town
The Festival is an awesome event for brewers and drinkers, alike. And it’s huge. For taking up a tiny portion of County Street, near the Taproom at Catamount Glass and Bennington Potters there were 41 entrants, many of whom had multiple styles available. They were spread over two tents, with another tent offering music and food.
The event was very well organized. Each station had water jugs for rinsing and many had little things to nosh on. A random dude had pretzel necklaces he was handing out, which came in very handy. Catamount was grilling up a limited menu and was manned expertly by staff who weren’t phased by the size of the crowd. There was also a food truck. Despite the number of attendees, things kept moving and there were high tops with golf pencils that made tracking the huge number of tastes possible. Full disclosure: I only got through one tent before I had to tap out (no pun intended). But Kris made it to nearly every table. He’s dedicated.
With well over 40 beers there were plenty that were just okay. There were some that were not okay. But there were a surprising amount that were really good. Here’s the rundown of my favorites from the day.
Shieldmaiden Brewery | Valkyries Tears Mead
I was psyched that we started our tour with mead. Julia Humphreys was a delight in her cosplay getup. Warm smile and a mead that warmed us right up. The mead was sweet and boozy with citrus and some cinnamon and clove. She uses local honey from a family farm in nearby Pownal, VT to make her mead, which immediately won me over.
Bootinelli Brewing | #Trendfollower
I have to admit, my love of hops has gotten me to a place when I taste an American Pale Ale I immediately question where the hops are. But I’ve been working on reminding myself that not every pale ale is an IPA. This excellent APA from Massachusetts had a great mouthfeel and delightful selection of hops: Galazy, Citra and Azacca.
Lanning Brewery | VT Maple Breakfast Stout
Spencer won last year’s competition with this beer and it’s very obvious why. I could have drunk it all day. Delicious, perfectly balanced, a tad boozy, a tad smoky. Everything about Spencer’s beer was spot on. I also tried his cyser and loved it but the porter quickly became my favorite.
Knot In The Grain Brewery | Multiple
I’m surprised James Casey doesn’t have a space yet, but I bet he will soon. The Rutland homebrewer had multiple beers. I couldn’t try the Oyster Stout thanks to that pesky food allergy, but I put aside my fears of possible cross contamination to try two others and I’m really glad I did. The Chocolate Coffee Mint Breakfast Stout had smoke and sweetness. I also tried the Raspberry Fruit Sour and loved it. James’ setup was awesome with a banner, chalkboard, business cards, handmade taps and one of those fun glass cleaning doohickies.
Kris March | Vanilla Cream Ale
There were so many reasons why I should have disliked this beer but it just goes to show that palates, and tastes, are constantly evolving. I don’t generally like cream ales. Not even generally. I don’t like cream ales. Period. But apparently I do. Because this one was incredible. Nice sweetness but also a floury (yes, not flowery), cakey quality that sealed the deal for me. Bready, but with the sweetness I wouldn’t call it bready. I’d call it cakey. And delicious.
Bennington has been doing a lot on the homebrew front, with multiple competitions popping up throughout the year. The next? A music themed festival in October if I heard right. If you’re located in or around Southern Vermont or you like to travel, I cannot recommend our corner of the world enough for fresh, local brews and food.