Bikepacking Vermont’s Beer Trail
This past fall, local Vermonter Joe Cruz and I designed and scouted a bikepacking loop weaving together a selection of dirt roads, flowy New England singletrack, and rugged historic woodland paths to create a majority off-tarmac circuit of some of the world’s best and most coveted craft beers. The result is the Green Mountain Gravel Growler—a 248-mile loop that links 13 breweries.
The seed for the Green Mountain Gravel Growler was planted back in 2013, when I visited Vermont and discovered a rabbit hole of a craft beer scene. The stage was set once I learned that Vermont boasts the highest percentage of unpaved roads in the country, making it the perfect state to plan a gravel bikepacking route.
Our trusty Salsa Warbirds posted up at the Alchemist before the doors opened. Visitors travel from all over for the brewery’s iconic Heady Topper, an award-winning double IPA. By the time it opened, there was a line around the building. Our favorite was the Focal Banger, an incredible American IPA (7%) that’s a bit more forgiving than the Heady (8%). It’s hopped with Citra and Mosaic, and it smells and tastes damned near perfect.
One of many covered bridges to be found in this quaint New England state.
Joe Cruz jots notes in his custom-made beer sampling notebook. This was for the House Pale, an American pale ale being served at Lost Nation Brewery in Morrisville, Vermont.
Daniel Golden, owner of Search and State, a New York City–made cycling apparel brand, stops to adjust his headlamp and take a breather.
Daniel and Joe puff up a long climb en route to Hill Farmstead for a morning beer tasting.
The old sign for Hill Farmstead, perhaps the most sought-after brewery in Vermont. Located in the middle of nowhere, the brewery is one of only a handful of places where you can buy their beer.
Joe properly sniffs the incredible Self Reliance #2, an American pale ale hopped with Vic Secret and Enigma from New Zealand. Perfect in every way, Self Reliance has an amazing and unmatched complexity. Joe says it might be the best beer he’s ever had. I agree.
After an incredible tour and tasting at Hill Farmstead, Joe and Daniel chat up a storm before getting back on the bikes.
The number of quaint barns that dot Vernont’s countryside is staggering. This one was too interesting not to stop and snap a photo.