Vermont Brewers Festival

Do not cease to drink beer
To eat
To intoxicate thyself
To make love
And celebrate the good days
//Egyptian Proverb

Last weekend we got to spend our time in the awesome town of Burlington, VT on Lake Chamlpain. A couple months ago, our friend Evan sat on his computer refreshing the webpage so that he could purchase tickets to the 2014 Vermont Brewers Festival. It sold out in 11 minutes- all three sessions. So, with that being said I was really excited and happy that we got the chance to go! You can read more about the Brewfest here or visit their website at VT Brew Fest. I had not been to Burlington since I was a kid, but had heard over the years how awesome of a town it is and was looking for the perfect excuse to go. What better reason than Brewfest!? We headed up bright and early Saturday morning in hopes to get there an hour or so before the festival gates opened at the Waterfront. The drive was three and a half hours, but it was a really nice and pretty route so I didn't mind it at all. Lots of valleys and mountains and greenery, Vermont is really a beautiful place.
You can just barely see it but the photo on the right is just as you cross into Burlington and there are two huge whale tale sculptures coming out of the ground. The remote woods of the North can in fact still be nautical!
      
A week or so prior, Evan had contacted us to tell us that the morning of Brewfest he would be proposing to his long time girlfriend, Brenna! We were SO excited for them and for the big surprise but it was really hard to not say anything to anyone in fear of spilling the beans. Vermont has always played a special part in their relationship from childhood and vacations and Brewfests of years past, so Evan felt it would be the perfect place to pop the question. He wanted to do it in private down by the waterfront of Lake Champlain. He and Brenna had gone to breakfast with her sister and then he suggested they take a walk down by the water before the festival began. When he found the perfect secluded spot and the right moment, he asked Brenna to be his wife and she happily accepted! Nick and I arrived probably 15/20 minutes later and it was so nice and such an honor to be the first ones there to celebrate with them. Check out Brenna's bling, it was literally GLEAMING in the sunshine! We could not be more happy for them, such great and fun people who deserve nothing but a long and happy life together.




Congrats guys! After the initial celebrations we took a walk along the waterfront and I had my big camera with me so I snapped just a few pictures of the beautiful lake scenery and the newly engaged couple. Such a picturesque spot with lots of special meaning to Evan and Brenna. They will forever be able to come back here and relive this moment!



  



Shortly after, it was approaching 11am so we headed over to the gates for the Festival. It was being held at the Waterfront park right long the edge of the lake. It was a sunny and hot day but luckily being on the water made for a little breeze and fresh air that helped. We met up with our other friends Jamie and Noah and the fun of Brewfest began! We took some pictures and some group photos before we got started in case we ended up splitting up. The last time we were all together was at a ski trip to Killington in which we failed to get a group pic, so we weren't going to let that happen again.





The way the Brewfest worked was that breweries from all across VT and surrounding areas came and set up with several of their best beer selections and each had a designated tent to display their signage and gear. Upon entering, each person is given a wristband, the signature Brewfest glass, 15 tickets, and a booklet with a map and list of the beers and breweries present. I took these little details shots after the fact but wanted to give you a glimpse at what they give you and how it works. Each beer you try you have to give one ticket. Beers that were 8%alc or higher required you to give two tickets. Also, each person was able to buy up to 5 extra tickets if they wanted. All of the breweries had t-shirts and memorabilia you could purchase, as well as a lot of free stuff like stickers and tattoos and matches.







Evan had his course of action mapped out via an excel spreadsheet. It listed each of the beers he wanted to try and their alcohol content and description. It was really funny how serious a lot of people take it. Don't mess with beer lovers and their beer festivals! As Evan said, "This is how you Brewfest!" I had gone through the list and written down a bunch that sounded good in an email to myself, so I was able to try most of those but I also just kind of chose whatever tickled my fancy when I got up to the tap.

It was easily apparent that Lawson's brewery was the most popular, as displayed by the GIGANTIC line spanning the entire field throughout the course of the day. We ended up waiting and it really wasn't that bad. Time seems to fly by when you're sipping multiple beers and chatting away with your friends! I tried the Knockout-Blonde ale, twas pretty good. Although I much prefer wine to be honest, I do enjoy beers and getting to taste a lot of different types and styles was neat and something that I wouldn't normally do. You mean to say they don't have Coors Light?! Nonsense.
Awhile back I had seen Evan and Brenna post a photo from another event in which they were mysteriously wearing pretzels around their necks on string. Amused and intrigued, I immediately inquired to find out just what such attire was for. Evan enlightened me that it was in fact a "Pretzel necklace", and I just about keeled over from laughter. I don't know why, but I just found it absolutely hilarious. I guess the reasoning is that a lot of festivals don't allow you to bring in food and a lot of the times the food lines are long or expensive when all you really want is a quick snack. What better way to solve that problem than with a WEARBLE snack! I demanded requested that pretzel necklaces be made for Brewfest and was so happy when Brenna passed them out before we headed in. To be honest, it was actually pretty genius and all of our pretzels were gone before we knew it. Lots of beer and the hot sun suck the energy right out of you, so it was nice to have a little snack close by to hold you over and refuel.
Nick and I have an obsession with VW buses, and the whole weekend turned out to have an underlying VW bus theme. One of the breweries, Otter Creek, uses the bus as their logo and had this cute painted cutout for us to take photos with. It was also orange, my favorite color.

Sadly, I was not able to use all 15 of my tickets, little ole me just cannot consume that much liquid, let alone beer! It was so fun to be with friends and walk around trying and seeing all different types of beers and the people who make them. Some of my favorites were from Crop, Kingdom, Lawsons, and 14th Star. My pick of the day was the Helles Lager from Crop Brewery. Big thanks again to Evan and Brenna for inviting us and getting the tickets!
Nick and I love to do activities and adventures, and that is one of the things I like most about Evan and Brenna as well. They are always down for a fun time and for things that are out of the ordinary. We have been to Killington together skiing, to the casino on a party bus, a beautiful farm dinner, and now the Brewfest to name a few. Thanks for planning such a great weekend and inviting us to be a part of it.



Goodbye Brewfest! See you next year!


Although Brewfest was over at 3:30pm, our time in Burlington had just gotten started! We all headed to the downtown area to have a celebratory drink for the newly engaged couple. Another great couple, Jamie and Noah, surprised Evan and Brenna and the table with a bottle of Champagne for a big toast. We all had a great time laughing and sharing appetizers and celebrating the engagement.






Check out this VW bus that was parked right next to our table on the street! There was also another red VW bus parked on the other side of the street a few blocks up. The VW bus theme continued!

Afterwards, Jamie and Noah had to head out as they were staying across Lake Champlain at Noah's Dad's in NY and had to catch the ferry. Nick and I walked backed through the downtown area to our car, all while checking out the sights and sounds of Burlington.
Evan and Brenna were staying at a hotel in Burlington, and Nick and I were staying at my Aunt's best friend Ruthie's house in South Burlington as well. We headed out to settle in and change at Ruthie's before meeting back up with Evan and Brenna at their hotel. It was so nice for Ruthie to let us stay with her and she was so great and hospitable and made us feel right at home, we can't thank her enough! Once we got to the hotel Evan had another bottle of fancy champagne waiting for Brenna, and they opened it up for another toast and to continue the celebration. Getting engaged is a big deal, and something that only happens once, so we had a fun night in store as to not let this momentous occasion pass by!

We all got our swimsuits on and headed down to the pool with our champagne flutes (No glass allowed? Try and stop us.)! It was really fun to sit by the pool and listen to music while sippin' champagne! Nick had been up for 24 hours at this point, so he laid on one of the lounge chairs for an hour in attempt to nap a bit before dinner. As an introvert, it was really nice to get to spend some one on one time with Evan and Brenna to get to know them better. I don't always do well in large groups and tend to get quiet if I don't know the people I am with well enough, but they always make me feel so comfortable and are really easy to talk to, humble and down to earth people. Brenna and I were both swimmers our whole lives, so we got to talk about the perils of swim practice and even critiqued Evan on his stroke as he does Triathlons. After the pool we headed up to the room to get fancy for our dinner and night out on the town. 

Evan had made reservations at a restaurant in Burlington called Pizzeria Verita, and it was absolutely amazing! You may be thinking, pizza joint? How good could it be? But this was the furthest thing from a "pizza joint" and had amazingly fresh and creative Italian/American cuisine. Nick and I chose an appetizer from the antipasto section where you could pick one or more items to pair on a plate. We went with the mixed olives, baked crusted goat cheese, and speck (smoked prosciutto). It was bomb! Evan and Brenna also had an order of speck, along with a really good 'Rocket' salad with arugula, fennel, pine nuts, romano and a vinagrette. For dinner we each split a pizza- Nick and I got the 'Bianca'- argula, fior di latte, proscuitto, pecorino romano, balsamic and EVOO. Evan and Brenna split the 'Salsiccia', which was a home-made sausage pizza with tomato, basil, and a few other toppings. Both were to die for!


We split a bottle of red, a Cab Sauv mix, which I really enjoyed! The waiter was great and the service was exceptional. My water glass never got below a sip! Happy engagement you two!


    


As we walked in the restaurant before we sat down I had secretly let the owner/maitre d' know that we had a special engagement celebration on our hands and asked if they could provide some type of dessert or surprise for Evan and Brenna at the end of the dinner. He was so excited and happy to help, and they ended up bringing out probably one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in my life. Feast your eyes, on Nutella pie. DELCIOUS! And a great way to end a fabulous dinner. Many thanks to Pizzeria Verita for giving it to us on the house, it was truly appreciated.
After dinner, we hit up the bustling downtown area for some drinks and dancing! We went to an Irish bar 'Ri Ra' and did some dancing and then headed afterwards to a smaller place called 'The Daily Planet' for some night caps.

Sincere apologies for the profanity but after thinking this was Michael Kors for a good five minutes while trying to take a picture to send to my friend Lea (we have a deep-rooted, long-standing Michael Kors inside joke) Nick finally made me realize that this was not in fact Michael Kors, but an IMPOSTER AND COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT-ER named Michael Kehoe...! The nerve! Screw you Michael Kehoe!
The Daily Planet was a really cute bar and we had a great open-air window seat. I loved all of the murals around Burlington. Such an artsy town with a really chill vibe.
Don't worry Evan, I wasn't trying to take a cute candid of you and Brenna or anything... :-)

After 34 hours of being awake, for once I don't blame Nick for having his eyes shut!! Such a trooper that day.


We soon headed back for a good nights sleep and parted ways with Evan and Brenna. They were off to Stowe in the morning so it was just us for the rest of the trip. We woke up with no real agenda so we got some breakfast recommendations from Ruthie and set out on the town once again. We wanted to go to her favorite spot, Penny Cluse, but the wait was almost two hours, so we settled on her second choice, Mirabelle's, which was very good! We still had a half hour wait at Mirabelle's so we strolled around town for a bit and stopped into 'The Scuffer' for a morning mimosa. 

     


     

We headed back to Mirabelle's for our breakfast as it had been about a half hour, and we still had a few minutes to go so we just checked out their bakery area. Fun/Random Ashley fact: I have NEVER had a Macaroon. I always see them, and I have always wanted them, but for some reason have just never actually gotten one! They look so colorful and good... so if anyone out there is with me in the near future and spots a macaroon, please force me to buy it and eat it! Thanks in advance.

Mirabelle's had Cold-Brewed iced coffee- something else I have been meaning to try for awhile, so I had to get it. I am actually making a batch at home as we speak, but I plan to post more on that another time. When you have a serious iced coffee addiction like myself, we take things like this very seriously!
After a yummy breakfast we strolled around the streets a little more and took some photos before heading back to CT. Loved the crazy and huge mural down an alleyway! I really enjoyed Burlington- lots to see and do and it just had a great feel to it. We shall be back! Another fun thing we learned is that Montreal is only an hour and a half from burlington! What?! I think a Canada trip is in store.





     
As a continuation of our VW bus theme, Nick and I had seen an instagram awhile back of someone who had posted a photo of a VW bus graveyard that was geo-tagged in Vermont. A couple of google searches later we were able to find where it was and that it was right on our way home off of I-91! A pit-stop was in order. It ended up being pretty cool, and only further fueled our flames and desires to get one someday.They didn't really have any of the older 50's/60's two-toned models that are our favorite, but they had a bunch of cool buses and buggies nonetheless.
     





     




     
Nick really liked this little bears sign. So fresh, I tell ya.


A fun little stop on the way home broke up the long ride and added another adventure to our list. You never know what you'll find if you just take a little extra time to look!
     
After we got home, it was really a momentous occasion in that Nick was FINALLY going to experience my Aunt Izzy's famous Salmon BLT's. He has wanted one forever as bacon salmon is one of his faves, but it seemed like every time we had them something came up where Nick couldn't make it or was sick and couldn't enjoy it. We didn't talk too much about it over the weekend in fear of jinxing it yet again but it finally happened this time and they were delicious as always! One of my favorite Auntie meals.

 It was a great weekend with so many new memories! Congrats again to Evan and Brenna on your engagement! Let the wedding planning begin! I leave you now with a few (meaning 8) photos from Monday and Tuesday. My best friend Chelsea, the one we recently visited in Washington, DC, was home for a couple of days before her and her family head to Martha's Vineyard for vacation so we had to make time for a girls night at Rooftop. Love you!!







Hope you all are enjoying your summer! Live every day to the fullest, sunniest, and warmest!

2 comments:

  1. This was a wonderful summary of the weekend Ashley! Thanks so much for the kind words and Brenna and I were elated you two were there to share the special day. Loved all the pictures and reliving the weekend; can't wait for our next adventures!

    ReplyDelete