beer and farmers markets in VT, Berkshires?
Hi! We're traveling to VT and perhaps western Mass. this weekend, and we're looking for great local beer, brewery tours and brewpubs - also the best farmers markets for cheese and other yummy local stuff. Our itinerary is open and we're willing to plan our trip around great food and brew stops. Any suggestions? Thanks!
The Friday afternoon Farmers' Market at the Lenox House Shops, right outside of Lenox Village is terrific. There is an extraordinary variety of products.
Where in Vermont will you be? We have lots of small breweries scattered around the state. If you find yourself in Middlebury, check out Otter Creek. Middlebury has a great farmers market as well. In Bennington is Madison's Brew Pub. Burlington's got Magic Hat, Switchback, Vermont Pub & Brewery, Three Needs, and American Flatbread who brews their own beer. Near Killington is Long Trail.
Madison's Brew Pub in Bennington shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence with the other breweries. The beer is poor, the food worse.
If you are going to be around Brattleboro, I highly recommend their farmer's market. I'm a huge sucker for the ginger juice at the West African (I think) booth, and I like the guy on the end for pate and cheese.
McNeil's brewery in Brattleboro is a great place to hang and drink their excellent beers. Several are available “hand-pulled“. The Extra Special Bitter ale is extra good.
The West River Farmer's Market in Londonderry (Saturdays 9 - 1) has 3 small cheese producers: Woodcock Farm (sheep's milk; they're protegées of Vermont Shepherd); Taylor Farm (cow's milk; have won awards from the American Cheese Society for their smoked gouda) and Consider Bardwell Farm (goat's milk; their fresh chevre is some of the best I've had domestically, and their bloomy rind aged “Mettowee” is very good).
Edited 6/30, 10:27 am to add: in addition to the cheesemakers mentioned, the West River market has about 40 vendors, including a lot of organic produce, baked goods, homemade foods, and some crafts (pottery, hand-blown glass, folk art, etc.).
If you like the idea of a brewery visit, you might also enjoy West County Cider in Colrain, MA, just over the VT state line. They make varietal hard ciders and sell apples and related products. It's a beautiful spot and their cider is excellent--if not on this trip, perhaps in the fall
Thanks for all the tips! We didn't make it very far north, but we had a great time with some super eats and drinks. I hope to get to the Alchemist sometime soon. Here's the report:
Dorset - Breakfast at the Dorset Inn cost about twice as much as I usually like to pay for breakfast, but it was worth it. The eggs tasted amazingly fresh. My man had the bacon potato pancake and that was great too. The Dorset farmers market is small, but has a great selection of produce, very nice honey, and Consider Bardwell Farm cheese. I bought way too much excellent cheese here - I wanted some of everything.
Londonderry - Taylor Farm was a great place to stop and visit. Their gouda really is great, and they sell cheese from other small farms, plus nice bread and fruit too. We also bought a cheese board here so we were ready for our picnic lunch!
Grafton - Grafton Village cheese was a less charming visit, but their aged cheddar is good.
Brattleboro - McNeils was indeed a great place to hang out and taste. We absolutely agree with GG Mora above about the ESB. We noticed a great selection of McNeils bottles at the Co-op around the corner, and even a few at the Mobil station on the way into town! We went to the Chelsea Royal Diner based on some tips elsewhere on Chowhound - it was unremarkable except from some really delicious split pea soup and the fact that they have McNeils on tap.
Putney - We had another great breakfast at the Putney Diner - especially the home fries.
Windsor - We came across the Harpoon Brewery entirely by accident, and it was another swell place to stop. Sure, it's a commercial production and Harpoon wasn't born in Vermont, but the brews were tasty (especially the Munich Dark and the Saison) and the beer garden has a really nice atmosphere. We'd already had our cheesy lunch, but the sandwiches here looked and smelled great too.
Sunderland, MA - Heading back towards home, we happened into Bub's Bar BQ. Really good for a northern joint! The ribs were delicious and tender, and the Cajun catfish had a nice smoky flavor. Good beer selection here too.