What do you get when you mix artisan cheese-makers and craft brewers together on a farm in Vermont? During a festival of farmhouse ales at the Hill Farmstead Brewery in North Greensboro, over 25 beers were the main attraction; in bottles for sale and on draft. While sometimes it felt like pulling teeth to get a recommendation on what beer to try, nonetheless careful conversation revealed a few clues.
The Belgian White Ale by Fantome went well with the lightly grilled focaccia sandwich with tomato, basil and queso fresco made by Marisa Mauro, owner of Ploughgate Creamery from the Northeast Kingdom. Her velvety and mild brie-like Hartwell cheese is an award-winning favorite. She sells her cheese on Saturdays at the Montpelier Farmers Market.
On special release was Hill Farmstead’s Clara, described as a Grisette brewed with malted wheat, raw oats, hat, black pepper, and fermented with their new house saison yeast. It had a nice golden color, a medium light body, and a subtle taste. The beer festival attracted an interesting crowd, and opened my eyes to an intense world of craft brew.
For example, I met a guy from Philadelphia who was up to visit his nearby son in New Hampshire, and try out some local beers; and from our conversation, wow! He gave me a glimpse of the passion and knowledge beer-drinking enthusiasts have, and quite some insight into the growing craft-beer market itself.
And he told me a story about the difficulty he had on Friday trying, to no avail, to get his hands on some bottles of Sean’s Lawson’s Finest from the Warren Store. He suspects a conspiracy theory – that employees tip-off friends the moment Sean arrives with his shipment. Sometimes he walks in at 9am; others times at 5 pm., but it sells out each week. Only a limited number of bottles are listed on reserve, so that the rest can be shelved; or so they say. We’ll have to investigate this important matter.
Not only did I stumble upon a link to an international community of Belgian beer lovers, and a new world of craft brew festivals, but I later learned from a new friend what a wonderful treat I had enjoyed by choosing the queso fresco. Both beers where delicious and the sandwich was a delightful snack.
Can’t wait for the Mad Taco in Waitsfield to re-open next week after we found out it was closed for employee rest and vacation. (during the middle of tourist season; the peak of summer, and The Valley’s Festival of the Arts?)
Here’s the link to a friend’s blog with some words from a fresh perspective: Divine Taco Intervention
It was sad to see Micheal’s Good-to-Go go gone; to close up shop. He was one of the first chefs I met in Vermont who prepared meals with fresh organic ingredients and introduced me to the Vermont Fresh Network.