Pairing: Hiking and Beer (part 2 of 3)

For this pairing, let’s head to the great state of Vermont!  Vermont is one of my favorite states.  For me, Vermont has been a central part of many great memories, such as hikes, brewery visits, food, and friends at the University of Vermont.

There are many, many great pairings in the state of Vermont.  It is home to some great hiking (such as a portion of the Appalachian Trail, and the Long Trail), and also home to some great breweries.  In my humble opinion, Vermont is fighting for the title of the east coast mecca of brewing, rivaled only by North Carolina.

For the hardcore hikers and total beer enthusiasts out there, you might think I would suggest a big hike up the picturesque and fully exposed summit of Camel’s Hump (Vermont’s third highest peak) with a post hike stop at the Alchemist in Waterbury for a life changing sip of the elusive and magnificently hoppy yet balanced Heady Topper.  Maybe, I’d suggest a long hike up Vermont’s highest mountain and sleeping giant, Mount Mansfield, with a smooth, malty, traditional German Lager afterward, brewed at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.  While those are both AMAZING pairings (I do suggest them to any hikers/beer lovers out there), I’m going to take this pairing to a very different place.  Here you have it:

Vermont

Mt. Philo and Fiddlehead Brewing Company’s India Pale Ale!

The Hike

Directions:  From Burlington, head south on US 7, and turn left on State Park Rd. (2.5 miles past Church Hill Rd. in Charlotte). Continue 0.6 mile to trailhead parking lot (fee required).

For the serious hikers out there, Mt. Philo is a cakewalk, but it should not be taken for granted!  The hike to the top is just over a mile, gaining around 841 feet of elevation on a well maintained trail, through a great example of Vermont forest.  The summit of Mt. Philo stands at 986 feet.  If you have a family, this is a must hike in Vermont, great for kids or the able elderly.  However, despite whatever disappointment you may have about this hike’s distance, difficulty, or elevation, it makes up for it in view!  Philo boasts a view not to be missed!

View from the summit of Mt. Philo
View from the summit of Mt. Philo

The view, proud and inspiring, gives you a taste of pastoral Vermont and the expansive Lake Champlain, with the towering Adirondack Mountains of New York in the background across the lake.  Truly breathtaking, and one to be enjoyed by anyone in Vermont and the Burlington area!

More info about Mt. Philo here:  http://www.vtstateparks.com/htm/philo.htm

The Beer

After a quick return to your car, Mt. Philo is just a short 8 miles along Route 7 to Fiddlehead Brewing Company!   Just take Route 7 north until you see Fiddlhead Brewing Company on your right.

Fiddlhead's sign along Route 7 in Vermont
Fiddlehead’s sign along Route 7 in Vermont

Fiddlehead, while one of Vermont’s newest breweries, is also one of its best!  They have only been open for just over a year, but its kegs are flying out of the brewery to bars in Burlington and all over the state!  It seems, that their India Pale Ale is the people’s favorite.  I have had the opportunity to have this beer on multiple occasions, and I have to say it’s tasty!  It’s an ultra-refreshing IPA, that is slightly sweet, with fruity notes on the nose and

Growlette of Fiddlehead's Mad River Glen Lager - German Style Helles Lager
Growlette of Fiddlehead’s Mad River Glen Lager – German Style Helles Lager

in the flavor.  It casts a brilliant golden hue, with a cloudy body (it’s unfiltered).  I think the real gem about this beer is its use of Galaxy hops.  Galaxy hops are relatively new on the beer scene, and they are somewhat rare.  It is certainly a flavorful, fruity hop, coming out of Australia, that is definitely worth a try.

And I forgot to mention the extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff at Fiddlehead!  You can have free samples in the tasting room (which includes a window view of the brewery), or purchase a growler or growlette (small growler) to take home!

So, I didn’t want to suggest to you two Pale Ales in a row (see last “Pairing:..” post), but this one was hard to pass up.  My other reasoning for suggesting this beer is that Fiddlhead Brewery is actually attached in the same building as Folino’s pizza.  Folino’s offers rustic, thin crust, brick oven pizza that my brother Owen describes as “maybe the best pizza I’ve ever had.”  IPA’s pair well with pizza, as their carbonation and bitterness contrasts the fattiness of the cheese and breadiness of the crust.  You can take your freshly filled growler into the restaurant to enjoy with the food.  And if you finish it, you can get it refilled before you leave!  A win-win situation! Folino’s is a must try, if you’re already at Philo and Fiddlehead!  Just check their hours, as they are a little strange.

More info –
Fiddlhead:  http://www.fiddleheadbrewing.com/

Folino’s:  http://folinopizza.com/?page_id=2

Conclusion

This is an amazing pairing, because of it’s proximity to Burlington, convenience, options, and delicious food.  Philo is breathtaking, the beer is beautiful, and the pizza delicious.  All three of these locations are so fun, and close to each other, it is just a no-brainer to check this pairing out!  This pairing is a triple threat:  great hike, great beer, and great pizza.  As a matter of fact, you can turn this pairing into four part afternoon, with an additional visit to Shelburne Vineyards (literally right across the street from Fiddlehead/Folino’s), for a winery tour, tastings, and wine sales!

Get out there and check this pairing out, it truly makes for a great day, with a sampling of the finest that Vermont has to offer!

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