I’m in Albany, but most of the stuff you’ve been seeing here lately is when I joined up with the BA Buffalo tasting group for the Gang Bang BIF Round 2. (I don’t mind traveling for great beer.)
I’ve done a northern VT trip about three times now, and while I’m no expert I can give you a few pointers of where I’ve been. First off, what weekend are you going? If you can swing if, there’s a Harvest Festival happening at Hill Farmstead that you can’t miss if you’re going to be in the area. Tickets are still on sale here.
As for the breweries, you can visit both HF and The Alchemist, but Lawson’s doesn’t currently have a public brewery. You can see Sean Lawson show up and sell beers some weekends when he’s at the Waitesfield Farmer’s Market (in the month of September he’s there on the 15th). Around Waterbury there’s a couple of brewpubs that are worth checking out. I’ve been to the Prohibition Pig (which is where The Alchemist Pub & Brewery used to be) and the Blackback Pub is the next on my list, as they often times have more Hill Farmstead on tap than the brewery does! From their Facebook page on Friday:
Okay new this week is Hill Farmsteads Life w/o Principle citrus blonde and James black IPA. Double Sunshine is back from Lawson and Jolly pumpkin brett pale Luciernaga is on as well. Still pouring 8 Hill Farmstead. Two Zero Gravity and three Lawson’s and also Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Stout and Meantime Old Naval College Porter and Petrus barrel aged sour
That’s a really solid line up. As I’ve never been there I can’t tell you much about whether it’s a dive or not, but the Hen of the Wood can’t be beat overall (it has a 28 Zagat score, that’s insane).
As for Burlington, I’ve been to American Flatbread, Vermont Pub and Brewery, and The Farmhouse Tap & Grill. Flatbread is where Zero Gravity beers are brewed, and VT Pub is a brewpub as well. If you can only stop at one place I’d hit up Farmhouse as there’s going to be a bigger and (personally) better selection and the food is absolutely outstanding.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a bottle shop to stock up at and take a few more beers home (as if the Heady and HF growlers weren’t enough) there’s a bottle shop near Burlington in Winooski called Beverage Warehouse. I’ve picked up some pretty good imports there, plus some Lawson’s Three Penny Especiale and Big Hapi, and badass Lawson tulips. I think their delivery for that happens on Fridays but it goes quickly.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now. If there’s anything else I can help you with, let me know. Good luck on your trip!