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The Alchemist - Waterbury, VT?

s
slices Aug 28, 2007 07:45 AM

We'll be staying in Stowe for a wknd in Oct. and I wanted to surprise my husband with dinner at a brew-pub kind of place since he is a major beer aficionado (he thinks I'm making reservations at a swanky French bistro-esque spot). What's the verdict on the Alchemist -- food? beer? I'm hoping to find some higher-end pub food. Other spots in the Stowe area for this kind of thing?

  1. Veggo Aug 28, 2007 08:03 AM

    I recently had a very wet lunch there after a very wet kayak trip. Excellent beers and sampler, good avocado & jalapeno soup. Nice outdoor seating, which may be too chilly for an October dinner, but might be fun with a sweater. We had a delightfully smarmy waitress who made the visit doubly memorable.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo
      Veggo Aug 28, 2007 02:40 PM

      Forgive my error, I mistook The Alchemist for a lovely spot a bit upstream on the Winooski River, in Richmond.

      1. re: Veggo
        d
        Dave S. Sep 29, 2007 10:56 AM

        You're probably referring to Cider House BBQ place "downstream" along the Winooski, between Waterbury and Richmond. Good food, but the beer does not match the Alchemist. Both are worth the trip, though.

    2. MightyFrog Aug 28, 2007 08:42 AM

      The Belgian-style fries and the sausage plate are particularly good. I'd say the Alchemist is certainly your best bet in that region. One minor word of caution: the place gets quite loud, especially at night.

      1. m
        mjp81 Aug 28, 2007 08:55 AM

        I'm unsure what veggo is talking about since the alchemist does not do lunch or have outdoor seating. The beer is some of the best in new england and the food is a step up from standard pub grub. Individual pizza's, paninis, burgers, etc. Definitely worth it. Rock Art in Morrisville does brewery tours on Fridays as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mjp81
          PaulB Aug 28, 2007 12:21 PM

          Great summary of one of my favorite brewpubs in NE. The OP's husband will not be disappointed with the beers, which range from interpretations of Belgian styles (including some sour brett beers) to some of the hoppiest and most flavorful american IPAs and DIPAs.

          Here is a link to a site with 40 reviews of the Alchemist:

          http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/...

        2. Morganna Aug 29, 2007 04:07 AM

          I work near there and we sometimes go there after work for parties. I don't drink alcohol but I've been told that their brews are very very good by my coworkers. I had their sweet potato fries once and liked them. I know they have some higher end pub food, and everyone I know really likes their food as far as I've heard.. In short, I've never heard anything bad about the food or brews, but it -does- get loud at night.

          1. h
            HeyCarl Aug 30, 2007 10:23 AM

            We've eaten there a few times - only menu miss we had was on a fairly dry & flavorless brisket sandwich special. (Which was a surprise, as their pulled pork bbq is pretty good.) The mussels preparation varies, but has been consistently tasty. The Belgian frites with homemade catsup and garlic aioli are not to be missed. No thoughts on dessert, since we're always too stuffed with beer and food to order any!

            1. j
              Jestner Aug 30, 2007 10:39 PM

              I think its a pretty safe choice. It does get very crowded on the weekend nights, and does get loud - as noted. I personally like their food more than their beer. I haven't found a beer I liked there really - but I think I may be in the minority. No one I've gone with has ever been blown away by the beer - I personally think its overhyped. However - it is a very safe choice, and he will probably be stoked.

              I personally like the beer at Bobcat Cafe in Bristol better - but thats not as convenient to you so I'd stick with the Alchemist.

              1. signothetimes53 Aug 30, 2007 11:55 PM

                I find it interesting that no one here recommended The Shed on the Mountain Road in Stowe. Personally, I like their pub food, and I like the atmosphere. I can't speak to the quality of their beer, though, it might be great, it might be awful, I just don't know....I lost my interest in beer, especially brew-pub beer, a long long time ago.

                I became a wine enthusiast instead...and if I were you, I'd do the swanky French bistro instead.

                :-)

                15 Replies
                1. re: signothetimes53
                  s
                  slices Aug 31, 2007 08:55 AM

                  Is the Shed a micro-brew place? I don't remember seeing those there -- but I've only been a couple of times during ski season when it's been pretty chaotic. It didn't even occur to me as a "dinner" destination. Thanks to all for the input. Sign: I was actually secretly hoping they'd have a small wine list at the Alchemist b/c I'm not big into beers either! Just thought it would be a fun surprise.

                  1. re: slices
                    y
                    Yankunian Aug 31, 2007 09:04 AM

                    The Alchemist DOES have a wine list, though it's not amazing. They have a great selection of single malts though, and also Guinness on tap, as well as some good local sodas. I personally don't like their beer at all. No matter what kind I try it always seems way hoppy which is not my thing. In my experience, some like it and some don't.

                    The food is good, but I'd say stick with the simple stuff. The fries and burgers are solid.

                    A word of caution, though: It really does get crowded, especially as you get on towards the end of the week, and they don't take reservations. last time we were there we had to wait an hour for a table. My advice is come early, like 5:30.

                  2. re: signothetimes53
                    Bellyacher Aug 31, 2007 09:07 AM

                    I second the Shed. Not the best beer in VT, but still good. Mr. Pickwick's Pub, also on the mountain road, is not a brew-pub, but has an extensive beer list (and some wines too) that include world favorites as well as VT's top micro's. I'm sure a beer enthusiast would enjoy this place.

                    1. re: Bellyacher
                      s
                      slices Aug 31, 2007 09:36 AM

                      Funny, we're actually staying at Ye Olde New England Inn I think it's called, and if I'm not mistaken Pickwick's is the bar there. Might be fun to do an early dinner at the Alchemist (particularly given these crowds and waits I'm hearing about), and then come back to our hotel for some nightcaps. And then no worries about driving home either, which is another plus.

                      1. re: slices
                        Bellyacher Aug 31, 2007 10:00 AM

                        Perfect plan, slices. I grew up in Jeffersonville (the other side of Smuggler's Notch), and Pickwick's was always a favorite for my Dad and me to share a pint of good beer.

                        1. re: slices
                          j
                          Jestner Aug 31, 2007 12:09 PM

                          Pickwicks is a good choice. Nice beer menu, with a bunch of foreign selections - served in nifty pint glasses. This is a more upscale choice than the others - but out of the 3 (Shed, Alchemist, Pickwicks) this would be my favourite place to go for beer for sure. The food is a different category - leaning more in the fine dining range vs. Shed & Alchemist which leans more towards casual fare.

                          1. re: slices
                            Morganna Sep 1, 2007 05:06 AM

                            I think Pickwick's is overpriced for what you get. We had an anniversary dinner there uhm, oh maybe five years ago I think, so it's an old experience. The atmosphere was nice enough, and the service was just how we like it, they left us alone to enjoy each other without hovering (I hate waiters who hover, makes me jealous 'cos I can't do anti-grav). I remember our appetizers being great, but I wasn't as happy with the mains, as I recall. I mostly remember thinking on the way back to the car "I wish I'd just had several appetizers, that wasn't worth the price." I'll poke around their website to see what it was we had and mention it in more detail if I have the time. :)

                        2. re: signothetimes53
                          j
                          Jestner Aug 31, 2007 12:07 PM

                          Shed used to have better beer. I believe about a year or two ago, they switched brewmasters and ever since I wasn't too fond of it. The brewmaster may have gotten better in the past year.

                          The Shed is more of a restaurant feel, whereas the Alchemist is more of a bar feel. So if you are looking for more of a bar feel - Alchemist is your better bet.

                          1. re: Jestner
                            l
                            LStaff Sep 20, 2007 11:46 AM

                            The beer at the Shed had always been horrible - diacetyl problems due to yeast/procedures (mountain ale is the only one that had enough malt/hops to mask it), but then Shaun Hill took over about 2-3 years ago and changed up the yeast and was making clean beers - his Saisons were all the rage with beer geeks. About a year ago, he left, and since then the beers have been horrible - all with the same off flavors. Maybe he was playing around with some wild yeasts/bacteria that he couldn't kill and left before it effected the quality of the beer and his reputation? (all conjecture on my part) I believe he is brewing with Trout River now.

                          2. re: signothetimes53
                            b
                            Blumie Sep 1, 2007 02:54 PM

                            IMHO, The Shed sucks! I've given them several chances, as recently as last month. I personally do not understand why people continue to recommend the place. I think it's well worth the drive to go the The Alchemist instead.

                            1. re: Blumie
                              m
                              mjp81 Sep 4, 2007 02:12 PM

                              I agree..... went once and all of the beers had the same aftertaste. Possibly bad tap lines/ yeast strain. By far the worst beer I have had in New England. The Alchemist on the other hand is just about the best in NE.

                              1. re: mjp81
                                s
                                Scotchie Sep 4, 2007 03:45 PM

                                All I saw was someone mention RockArt, I'm a VT native stuck in Boston hell, I miss my micro brews soooo very much and have to wait to visit the in laws in Jericho to get my RidgeRunner(my mother in law always give me a case to take back.) MA doesn't import or Rockart doesn't export into Boston and it makes me very sad. If anyone has any ideas on how to get a few growlers to the flatlands without the drive I'd love to hear. Sorry bout the tangent, Alchemist is by far your best bet, enjoy VT! I surely miss it

                                1. re: Scotchie
                                  j
                                  Jestner Sep 4, 2007 07:41 PM

                                  Rockart also happens to be my fav VT micro...I went over there a year back and talked to Matt and he said he was working on getting them distribuited throughtout the various states around VT. I know he has been successful with the CT endeavour as I've seen various places in CT stock it. Can't help you in Boston as I'm never there.

                                  As for The Alchemist - its one of those hate it or love it places when it comes to beer in my experience. I'd much rather have a Rockart or even a whole slew of other things before an Alchemist brew. I've sampled a ton of their beers and none of them do it for me - in fact, some of them I can hardly finish. But, for every one of me there seems to be three or five of people who love it.

                                  1. re: Scotchie
                                    l
                                    LStaff Sep 20, 2007 11:40 AM

                                    I could have sworn I've seen Rock Art six packs (not growlers though) in area beer stores lately - they are definitely registered with the state since they participate in the Beer Advocate beer fests. I would think Downtown Liquors in Davis Sq. has them if anywhere - give them a call.

                                    1. re: Scotchie
                                      Bri Sep 28, 2007 06:17 AM

                                      I read this thread several weeks ago and then just last night I saw Rock Art beer at my general store (Mtn Paul's in Putney). So of course I had to try it...and I loved it! No six packs, just the larger single bottle, but I'm definitely asking the owner to keep it in stock or try for the 6 packs. Thanks to everyone who mentioned it!

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