Cider Doughnuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Food was in order before making our trek to Hill Farmstead. Our first stop, K C’s Bagel Cafe, was less than fulfilling. I understand that, being a New Yorker, I am accustomed to some of the better bagels available in our country, but these were literally the worst bagels we’ve ever had, even by grocery store and gas station standards. After taking a couple of bites and throwing the rest of my bagel out, we continued on our way to Hill Farmstead until we stumbled upon Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Cold Hollow is very reminiscent of the apple orchards we have here in Upstate NY. It’s very “country-store” themed, with a focus on apple products (obv), jams, cheese, fudge, doughnuts, sauces and other odds and ends, all of which are made on premises or by local farms and businesses.

After shopping around for a few we left with a doughnuts, cider, dog treats and other snacks in tow, which we chowed down on outside at one of their several picnic tables out front. The cider doughnut itself was excellent, albeit missing the  granulated sugar we’re accustomed to around here (but I was later told that’s an available option we just happened to miss).

This was the perfect pit stop to start our day before heading to Hill Farmstead and as Elise puts it it’s a “required stop” now any time we head up that way.

Independence Day at The Prohibition Pig

The last time I’d walked into this building was late last year. The appearance and the emotions were a little different that day. Back then, it was still called “The Alchemist Pub & Brewery” but it was only a shell of its former self. Irene had taken her toll on both the pub and the suds in the basement. I was there to pick up bottles of their “Hell or High Water” beers, which were the only beers left of the former Alchemist. I grabbed my case of beers, a shirt and was on my way; the first and only time I’d ever been in “The Alchemist”. Today, it’s known as the Prohibition Pig and walking in the same door sets a completely different tone.

Chalk-board art and even some news articles alluding to it’s past adorn the walls of The Pig. The bar on the right and the dining area are separated by a wall that greets you on your left. Like usual, we sat at the bar to chat up the bartender and get our fill of stories from the locals.

The bar, while dark, was beautiful. The taps (serving an impeccable tap list, by the way) were saddled by two huge bookshelves complete with a library ladder featuring all of the spirits used to make their impressive cocktail list. This was my first time seeing Heady Topper on tap and I couldn’t help myself but to do a Hill Farmstead Abner versus The Alchemist Heady Topper versus Lawson’s Finest Liquids comparison (pictured from left to right).

As much love as I have for Heady Topper, I gotta hand the win to Hill Farmstead. (I ended doing this same comparison with three other Hill Farmstead DIPAs later on this week again Heady Topper and Double Sunshine with a similar outcome. More on that to come.)

The problem with going to restaurants on trips like this is that I never have any idea when the next time I’m going to be back. (Sure I might be back in the area, but do I go back here or do I try another place like Hen of the Wood? Who knows.) Which leads to the question, do we get large main dishes or a bunch of small ones? Lately, it’s been the latter and I’m happier for it, since I get to try a larger array of dishes from the chef. Sometimes I get burned by this and don’t get to try something that only comes in a main dish, like the BBQ here at The Prohibition Pig. Oh well, the other dishes more than made up for it:

  • Pork Cracklins – dusted with house spice blend
  • Pretzel Knots – with Heady Topper mustard (yes Heady Topper mustard. You read that right)
  • Panko Fried Pimento Cheese – with chili pepper jam
  • Jumbo Crawfish Cake – with caper dill remoulade, field greens and diced peppers
  • Vermont Cuban – with smoked pork shoulder, house Canadian bacon, shoulder bacon, Heady Topper mustard aioli, sliced pickles, and Vermont swiss

Let that lineup sink marinate in your head a little bit. It’s pretty impressive. They really knocked the food out of the park on this one. I absolutely LOVED the VT Cuban, and for only $11 it was worth every penny. Sadly, it started pouring rain and not knowing the situation with our campsite, our dinner ended rather rapidly. Well, not before sneaking in one last beer, a James Bean.

I’d never seen the beer before (only three other people had checked into it on Untappd at the time) and I assumed it was a leftover from a recent Allagash event. I LOVED Curieux the last time I had it and a coffee aged version definitely piqued my interest. It was a little strange getting so much coffee out of such a light colored beer. It was definitely a different beast than Curieux, and I suggest you try it if you ever get your hands on it. Some of the beer’s flavors are lost due to coffee overpowering them, but it’s a strangeness you just need to experience. (And the weirdness is done in a fashion where I’d drink this again, by the way, unlike some of the completely out their Dogfish Head beers.)

Plenty of beverage centers no longer carry Heady Topper due to shortages and their inability to pick up from The Cannery any longer. (I commented about this here.)  This means those of us who used to only travel to Manchester or Bennington for their Heady Topper fix are now making our way to Waterbury instead. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate making a stop at the Prohibition Pig. Not only are you going to be able to get some Heady and some other great Vermont DIPAs on tap, the food here kicks ass (and is making salivate here writing this and looking at the pictures of this post). Go here!

Flood Suds Bottling at The Bobcat Cafe

I met The Bobcat’s Brewmaster Mark Magiera at the Summer Vermont BA Meetup where he brought along a some of Bobcat’s beers including Bourbon Barrel Aged South Mountain Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged Unrepentant. After the recommendation of pretty much everyone at the meetup, Elise and I decided to go there for dinner that Monday. Lucky for me, Mark, Joe and the rest of the guys were downstairs bottling a new beer that day: Flood Suds.

Flood Suds is a Belgian-inspired Witbier using grains (mostly) from Vermont and hops grown by UVM Extension’s The Vermont Hops Project, to benefit farmers that were hit hard by Hurricane Irene last year. I’ve been told they’re using Lawson’s to distribute so you should see the bottles show up at the same places Lawson’s is available some time this month (possibly even the Waitesfield Farmer’s Market but I do not have confirmation on that). Draft will be available at the cafe and also the Vermont Brewer’s Festival.

This is the closest I have ever been to beer bottle production, and it’s definitely the smallest scale production I’ve ever seen (that wasn’t homebrew). Everything was done by hand including bottle fills, corking (with a floor corker), caging, labeling and boxing. Pretty cool stuff and I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.

All of this awesomeness was followed up with a couple of flights of beer (we tried every draft on the menu) and some of the best food I’ve had in Vermont. Pics of all of that deliciousness is coming up in the next post.

Summer Vermont BeerAdvocate Meetup

– After heading up to the Beverage Warehouse to grab some tasting glasses (which we forgot to pack) and setting up our tent and the rest of the campsite we headed up to the pavilion where the meet had started. The pavilion was next to Mt. Philo’s outlook and we couldn’t have been treated with better weather and scenery for the event. Seriously check out this view of Lake Champlain:

The Vermont BA crew was amazing, generous and hospitable. The bottle lineup was insane. The beers I brought were shamed by this massive collection of exceptional brews. Consider this lesson learned. You’ve seen a lot of these beers posted through out the week so I’m not going to get into it. Check out this tag here to catch up if you haven’t.

Some of the food like the beer soaked brats and pulled pork were warmed up on the charcoal fireplace but Tucker and I grabbed my Weber Q too cook the skewers and bacon-wrapped hot dogs (I promise I’ll bring more of those next time, to go along with the beer pickles).

There were a few canine attendees (even another shiba!) that were well-loved and fed the entire day.

The coolest thing for me was I got to sink my teeth into some lambics, gueuzes and other sour beers that I haven’t really gotten the chance to try and I generally shy away from in the past. I didn’t like them all, but it was a learning experience and really makes me want to snag tickets to the Night of the Funk and try as many of these beers I can get my hands on.

Overall the meetup was pretty awesome. All of the people I met were badass and we were even able to meet up with some of the later on in the week. I’ll definitely be attending the next one and look forward to seeing you guys at future Vermont beer events!

Finally home!

So that’s the end of our week long camping trip at Mt. Philo. The bottle pictures from the Vermont BeerAdvocate Meetup should dry up sometime tomorrow and I should be returning to regularly scheduled programming during the week, including some summaries of the trip, staying (camping) at Mt. Philo for the week, plus some individual posts on all the places we stopped along the way. There’s about 750 pictures to sort through so needless to say it could take a while.

While I’m at it, I’m going to take a look at Tumblr’s Pages and Mass Post Editor to try and lock down a way to display all of my trips and stops by state, the ultimate goal being to visit (and drink) in every state of our great country. This will also give me an opportunity to post some of my past trips whose pictures have never seen the light of day, since most of my recent trips have been pretty New England centric.

Lastly, a lot of you commented on some of this past week’s posts and I’d love to reply to every single one of them, which I’ll probably get to in a post tonight. Unfortunately, Tumblr’s comment and messaging system is about as advanced as the old Facebook Wall system circa 2007, pre-“comments” but without the “Wall-to-wall” feature. So pretty shitty, in my opinion. Until then, enjoy this picture of Kuma intimately, intently licking this ice cream covered wooden spoon like a complete effing weirdo: