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Living in Vermont

Want a Beer? Bring your Water Shoes!

Beer lovers in the greater Woodstock area know that one of the best summertime beer experiences can be found at the Long Trail Brewing Co. in Bridgewater Corners.

Why? Glad you asked!

A river runs through it! (Almost & I’m not referring to Irene) There aren’t many breweries that have a river for walking, sitting, or (why not) lying in whilst sipping craft beer. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better.

The Long Trail Brewery Co. is fashioned after the Hofbrauhaus in Munich (one of the most famous of the Munich beer halls), so it’s not your average American tavern. They close early and have created an atmosphere that lends well to family gatherings and comfortable socializing. Long tables encourage group seating and there is no large screen television to stare at so you soon find yourself chatting with your neighbor.

After you’ve enjoyed reviving the art of conversation, over well-prepared pub fare, and refreshed your soul by soaking your feet in the Ottauquechee River, you can meander through a self-guided tour of the brewery to check out the spotless, hi-tech brew-house and cellars. I like to spend a little time gazing down on the bottle spinner, dazzled and a little dizzy from watching the rapid-fire shuffle of bottles as they spin upside down, round and round, on their journey through the filling and capping machine.

For those of you who don’t know the story, Long Trail Brewery Co. (originally Mountain Brewers) began production in 1989 as a 15-barrel brew-house in the basement of the Old Woolen Mill just east of their current site. At the time, malt beverage options in the States consisted of mass-produced beers like Budweiser, Miller, and Coors.  Imported (and expensive) beers from Holland, Germany and elsewhere in Europe bore little resemblance to the classic brews more well-traveled Americans enjoyed on the continent. Irish pubs all offered their own basement-brewed ale or lager along with the ubiquitous Guinness on draught. Here, in the US, it was a bleak landscape for the thirsty palate of beer connoisseurs.

Andy Pherson decided that there was no reason why American’s couldn’t make high-quality beer at an affordable price, so he started production of one of the first American craft beers. A risky and rare venture at the time is now approaching a significant anniversary.  The Long Trail Brewing Co. has been in business for 25 years and now distributes their brew all along the eastern coast. Vermont has become a mecca for newly converted acolytes of the craft brewing art, which is nearly a religious calling for some.

Maybe cooler than the actual place is the mission of Long Trail Brewing Co. The words on their website indicate a commitment to the environment, community, and healthy lifestyles, but you can read that on just about any website these days. If you Google Long Trail Brewery Co., you’ll find videos and articles about their success with water conservation and their investment in ‘cow power’ (converting methane to energy).  You may find out that they have built their own wastewater plant, they source as many ingredients as possible from local vendors, and they have even made a pact to sell only merchandise that was made in the US of A (not as easy as they’d hoped but they’re halfway there).

Long Trail Brewing Co. is just one of those places that is always looking for a new way to reduce impact and produce a product that is out of this world. If you haven’t already, I suggest you taste it in this world, preferably with your feet chilling in the river.

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