Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Road From Bartlett

The road from Bartlett, New Hampshire through the White Mountains and into Vermont is long and winding. Passing mountain lakes and impossible villages and homes that seem to have been planted in place centuries before. Is it possible for a house to look like it’s grown out of the landscape?

This was the road we travelled in late summer on our way to Waterbury, Vermont in search of ice cream, coffee and beer. Three innocuous vices when handle separately, but cram them into one small town and cover them in maple syrup and you’ve got yourself the sweetest place in the nation.

From Bartlett, the road drives northbound through Crawford Notch, passing the Mount Washington Hotel, site of the Bretton Woods Conference, and finally turns west towards the Green Mountain State.  We opted to steer clear of the capital until the ride back and instead headed straight for Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury. A fun tour, as always, but I can get Ben and Jerry’s almost anywhere. No, I was after a much more illusive confection, whose sweet ingredients were malt and hops…and hops, and hops.

To say that Heady Topper is a perfect beer is to misunderstand the meaning of perfection.  The truth of the matter is beer can be perfect, yet a certain beer, in a certain place, at a certain time can achieve a moment of theoretical perfection that cannot be replicated. I’ve experienced this phenomena several times throughout my beer-odyssey and it is as rare as it is fleeting.

After a quick nip of the beer in question and a look around the brewery, I walked out with several cases of the finest beverage brewed in Waterbury, Vermont. A thousand apologies to Green Mountain Coffee, who we also visited, but your libation will never find the same foothold in my heart. I secured my silver and black treasure in the back seat and Amanda scouted a place for us to grab some bread and cheese and a place to park for lunch.

A quick romp through Montpelier and with a loaf of bread, some cheese and grapes from the Hunger Mountain Co-Op in hand, we made our way up a gently sloping hill just outside the city.  If you know anything about Montpelier as a “city” you’ll know that we were quickly in the middle of nowhere. We discovered an impressive sugar shack with ample parking and backed our vehicle up to the neighboring field.

Now, The Alchemist’s John Kimmich expressly demands that his beer be enjoyed directly from the can so I consented to do so and popped the top. The setting was beautiful, the company wonderful and the summer breeze light and easy. As I mentioned before, no beer can be perfect, but with the warm, summer breeze blowing in and the excellent company, this beer was as close to perfection as you can get. Thank you Vermont.