Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vermont Brewer's Festival

This past weekend was the VT Beer Festival in Burlington, VT- right on Lake Champlain, which would have been beautiful, had it not been so hazy.

Now, I don't actually drink beer. I'm more of a wine and froofy girly drinks girl, myself. I went because I've heard so much about it, and some friends wanted to go. I'm also going to be moving before the next Beer Festival, so I thought I ought to go, just once.

The way it works: there are three sessions (Friday evening, and Saturday noon and evening). One buys a ticket (either there or pre-order) for $25, and for the money one is given a small pilsner glass (so cute!) and 10 beer tickets. There were 36 Vermont (ok, and a handful of New Hampshire) breweries set up in tents, each with probably between 3 and 8 types of beer on tap. One ticket, generally, was good for one glass (the small pilsner given at the entrance) of beer. In this way, one can sample 10 different types of beer. Some beers had higher alcohol content, so they could cost more tickets, but extra tickets were available for purchase.

I used 8 of my tickets, 3 on cider (Woodchuck, which I know I like, and Harpoon, which I know I'm iffy about) and the rest on beers, and I sampled many of fiance's beers and a few of D's, so I did try quite a few. I discovered that I tolerate Sam Adam's Blackberry Witbier and Forbidden Fruit (by..... .... I can't remember!) quite well- the former tasted like blackberry iced tea with beer aftertaste, and the latter like raspberry juice with beer aftertaste. One that was interesting and worth noting was by a Quebecois brewery (again, can't remember the name- I'll try to edit this later once I look this up in the pamphlet we picked up) and was called Aphrodite, and labeled as a "dessert beer". It was said to be mildly hoppy (so more likely I'd like it, hops are what promote the beer face- see my facebook photos for info on that) and have cocoa and vanilla. While I didn't exactly like it, I found it quite interesting, and definitely worth trying. Fiance thought it was quite awesome and was very happy to finish off my glass. Another interesting one was the summer gruit by American Flatbread (and something-or-other), which lacks hops. This was another I happily tolerated- so it's the hops that I don't like.

Aside from all the beer (check out the website for more info, if you like beer or would consider going next year- which I highly recommend!- ), there was food. Much of it seemed to be from local VT food places, such as VT Smoke house (serving bacon sandwiches- and no wishy-washy BLTs! Thick slabs of grilled bacon (which looked like a fatty slice of ham to me) on nice artisan-y white bread), a Burlington-based Kettle corn company, a local ice cream place, among many others. It was kind of like county fair food, but without the cotton candy and carnies. I think the best (i.e. most interesting) food I sampled was Long Trail Coffee Stout Ice Cream. I actually stopped and stared when I saw the sign (this may have been after several beers, though, can't quite remember), and fiance and I went back later to indulge. I've forgotten who made the ice cream (I know, I'm so useful), but the ice cream itself was wonderfully perfect. They were also making waffle cones right there in the tent (oh the smell of those waffle cones!!! >drool<). We unfortunately realized that after we asked for a cup, because it was easier to share. Anyway, the coffee stout ice cream. It was kind of like a beer float with coffee ice cream- amazing coffee ice cream. At first it was coffee-and-dairy sweet, with a hint of bitter, but then the beer taste developed after the ice cream coated your mouth. So at first, I thought it was amazingly good, but after several spoonfuls, the beer aftertaste became too much for me. We're iffy on whether we'd ever have it again, but definitely, definitely are glad we tried it. (plus the awesome ice cream! Maybe it was just becuase it was so hot and sunny, but I thought it topped Ben and Jerry's, and I've always thought they're the best).

Then (still more good eats!) we went to the Single Pebble, a chinese restaurant in Burlington. Now, I don't really like Chinese. In fact, I usually avoid it at all costs. But G said it's great, and I haven't had to force it down in a while, so I was fine. Well. This was actually quite good- nothing like your regular chinese restaurants. Everything was served family-style on a giant lazy susan in the middle of the table, so we shared: Spicy Three Rivers soup (coconut milk-based spicy soup with strips of mild white fish), peking duck, mock eel (shiitake mushrooms fried and doused in a teriyaki-type sauce), lemon crispy chicken (kind of like chicken strips in a lemony sauce), chow fun with all types of meats, and kung pao chicken. The soup and mock eel were SO GOOD omg. I would have been happy just eating those. The rest was all quite good, as well, the kung pao and chow fun were just what I'm used to from regular chinese restaurants, but less greasy and sad-looking. The kung pao was actually quite pretty, the colors of the sauce and veggies in it were quite striking.

To end the evening, we visited Lake Champlain Chocolates. Yum. I got white chocolate bark with cherries and apricots, and a caramel cashew turtle- type confection to take home. Fiance got a lemon ginger truffle that was disappointing (the lemon, ginger and chocolate flavors didn't marry well, we all think it should have just been a ginger truffle or a lemon truffle). I think the others got other basic chocolate goodies.

All in all, yum. And we were definitely stuffed.

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