Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >
Nov 6, 2013 06:36 AM

Outraging foodies Alchemist Brewery to stop sales at the brewery

Alchemist Brewery, in Waterbury VT, makes Heady Topper. It really is an amazingly good beer. People travel great distances to acquire their supply. It ain't cheap. I seem to recall that a case was $60 when I made my recent pilgrimage. They can't satisfy demand, so local stores sell their stock quickly. There is a whole "who you know" grey market. There are smugglers who fund their trips to VT by reselling in the "black" market.

Alchemist has taken the decision to stop selling direct to customers, at least for the time being. They announce that yesterday.

I can't say that I'm entirely unable to sympathize and yet I can't help but be amused by the passion some people can put into their comments.

I find myself seeking a variant of "while people problems" for the withdrawal syndrome when a passionate foodie has his supply cut off.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. A case of Heady costs $72, not $60, and this closure is only temporary. They're looking for a new retail location that will be able to handle all of the vehicle traffic caused by high demand for their product.

      Excerpt from an AP article published today:
      "...the couple say they're closing the retail portion of their business on Nov. 15 until they can find a better location for it. Jen Kimmich says heavy traffic and people turning around in neighbors' driveways have brought the concerns to a head. While the retail end of the business is closing until a new location can be found, the brewery will stay in business and its 25 employees in their jobs."

      8 Replies
      1. re: huuvola

        Seriously, they employ 25 people and can't keep up with demand?

        1. re: JAB

          Has nothing to do with # of employees and everything to do with lack of space at the brewery and lack of desire by the owners to expand. When they built the brewery, they still had their brewpub and had no idea that the brewpub would be forced to close and demand for this beer would be what it is. Charging far below what the market would be willing to pay is another factor..

          1. re: LStaff

            My point was that with 25 employees they must be a much larger brewer than I had thought.

            1. re: JAB

              Just under 10k bbl per year which is pretty large for a small brewery but still on the small side (compare to LongTrail which is 18th largest craft brewer in the country that does over 120k bbls. including Otter Creek). I think they initially planned on about 3k bbls when they built the brewery.

              1. re: LStaff

                I still can't wrap my head around 25 employees for that size operation.

            2. re: LStaff

              Also, if you'd driven those roads, you'd totally understand about the problems with traffic.

              1. re: Morganna

                Turns out it's their immediate neighbors that are complaining about people turning around in their driveway and "boisterous beer lovers"

                From this article:

                While grieving customers crashed the Heady Topper website Tuesday afternoon, it drew a big sigh of relief from Amy Kinsell, who owns the house next door to the brewery.

                “The busier they’ve gotten, the more chaotic my life has gotten,” she said on her front porch. She said other neighbors had complained as well.

                Beer lovers can be more boisterous than considerate at times. The driveway at the Kimmichs’ business is easy to miss, and Kinsell said there was one half-hour period last summer when 26 people turned around in her driveway.

                When she parked a vehicle across the entrance to her driveway to slow that traffic down, people turned around on her grass, she said. Then there were the smoke and odors from the brewery’s operations, and noise from the refrigerated trucks in its backyard.

                There was no drowning her sorrows in her neighbor’s product, Kinsell said.

                “I’m not a beer drinker, not a fan of any beer.”

                1. re: LStaff

                  The roads in that area are unpleasant about half the year. There's the winter ski crowds, and the fall leaf peepers. Some parts of the day, it takes a long time to get through that part of town because the road is only two lanes and it's handling a LOT of traffic with no turn lanes. I would absolutely hate living anywhere near route 100. Though that particular area isn't quite as bad as it is in lower Stowe village, it's still pretty darned congested.

        2. A more correct title would also be "Outraging beer nerds..."

          1 Reply
          1. Oh please, oh please, oh please can I wait hours in line to buy beer? No.


            3 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              You must be thinking of Hill Farmstead.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                I stopped by while on a ski trip in January and was the only one in line, I even got a few free pours on tap. Granted it was a Monday.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Both Alchemist and Farmstead had respectable lines on my last visits. Middle of the day midweek for Alchemist and midday Friday for Farmstead. Lordy! Farmstead is remote. My God their beer is amazing.