After our delicious breakfast at Lou’s Restaurant in Hanover, I took Mountain Goat and her friend Puddles to a church where the pastor allows hikers to sleep in the basement, then dropped Mountain Goat at a trailhead south of Hanover so she could slackpack the ten miles into town.
I then drove north-west through Vermont to Burlington where I spent three and a half days with my friends Sue and Rob, taking in a couple of covered bridges along the way.
I arrived at the Stephenstermacher residence in time for homebrew happy hour 👍.
The refizzing machine!
After sampling Rob’s intensely spicy delicious habanero brew (aptly named “Grow a Pair”), we headed to El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina for a Mexican feast. This lovely restaurant had some impressively elaborate bathroom decor:
As a senator for Vermont, Bernie Sanders has an office in Burlington, so after dinner, Rob & Sue took me for a walk through the prettily lit downtown precinct to check out his likeness on the Church Street Marketplace alleyway mural.
Sue made me a sazerac later that evening, a New Orleans mainstay that I have been wanting to try since watching Treme. It was so delicious. I just wish I’d thought to photograph it. Here is the recipe:
- 1/4 oz Absinthe
- 1 sugar cube
- 1.5 oz Rye Whiskey (or cognac)
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
The next day, Sue and Rob suggested cycling the Burlington Bikeway. Rob had to head to work in the afternoon so he joined us for the first section before retracing his steps, while Sue and I continued on, taking in the Burlington waterfront, the causeway (which comes to an end 1-2 miles on from where we chose to turn around, with a ferry service connecting you to an island if you wish to continue your ride), and the Winooski River, rewarding ourselves for our 20+ mile bike ride with some beers at the Switchback Brewing Company Tasting Room upon completion.
Burlington has turned the tasting room concept into a fine art, with at least 20 craft beer establishments currently in operation, most of them only large enough to serve local clientele. They have banded together, forming something of a local alliance, and developed a fun beer passport stamp system (similar to that which has been employed on hiking trails and in the National Parks), whereby each brewery has its own unique stamp that the patron can collect. Once enough stamps have been collected, they are redeemable for beer-related merchandise. There is a wonderful atmosphere in these artisanal establishments, an ethos of supporting local talent, generated in equal part by residents, visitors and the businesses themselves. This is a community in which small, intimate and authentic spaces are being championed and celebrated in the face of our increasingly homogenous and corporatised world. I call that a win.
After dropping the bikes at home, we grabbed a bite to eat at the St Paul St Gastro Grub Pub, then arrived at Zero Gravity just in time for last call.
Rob was able to take the next day off at work, so after relaxing on the back deck with a cup of coffee, the three of us headed to Mt Philo State Park, where we summited the mountain via the Devil’s Chair, for amazing views across the lake and down into the Green Mountains of southern Vermont. After climbing our mountain for the day, we stopped by Fiddlehead Brewery for some more tasting, to fill Rob’s growler, and for a fun-four-pack of a beer called Mastermind to go. (Unfortunately I neglected to get a photo of the growler, but essentially, you can take a bottle with a four pint capacity into the taproom and they will fill it with a brew of your choice. Awesome.) Rob told me there was also the crowler (which I’d heard of but knew not what one was). You can read more about those over here if you’re interested in expanding your craft beer vocabulary 😉.
While we were there, we ordered delicious wood-fired pizza from Folino’s (which is conveniently located right next door to the taproom), then headed home to eat our pizza and drink our beer on the back deck.
After lunch, we headed back out to Magic Hat Brewery for (you guessed it) more tastings!
After we’d toured the premises and sampled near everything they had on tap, we returned to Switchback so Rob could try the Berliner Weisse stoplight flight (with the Woodruff syrup), then we headed down to the Burlington Bay Market and Cafe for a creemee (maple syrup infused soft-serve ice-cream), a Vermont specialty. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
Our final stop for the evening was the Foam Brewing Company, where we had one last beer.
For my last day in Burlington, Sue and I decided to spend an afternoon at UVM (Universitas V. Montis: University of Vermont), where she is a Psychology Prof. Sue spent the time preparing for next week’s resumption of classes while I explored the library, some of the old buildings on campus and found a patch of shade under a tree where I lay down on the grass, caught up on some emails and watched the squirrels frolic.
We dined at Sweetwaters in the Church Street Marketplace for our last evening, then Sue brought out the Absinthe fountain and we watched video footage shot during our time at Murdoch University in Western Australia in the mid 90s. It was cringeworthy and uncanny but so very nostalgia-inducing. I didn’t even recognise Sue when she first appeared on screen! Yet in my mind, to look at her now, she hasn’t changed one bit since those days. And anyone who has ever seen old footage of themselves knows how disturbing that simultaneous feeling of familiarity and strangeness is… Memory is a funny fascinating thing. One thing I can say: We looked far too young to have been unleashed on the world. Sigh.
Off to Washington next. Super excited, though temperatures are set to soar. Bye bye Burlington. Bye bye Sue and Rob. It’s been swell!