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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog


August 10, 2013

Grazing: Gas, And Growler Fills, at South Burlington's U-Save Beverage


When the junior Richard Bushway suggested to his parents, Rick and Karen, that they add a growler-filling station to their South Burlington gas station and convenience store, they were understandably lukewarm. "We didn't know how well it would move," says his mother.

They gave him their go-ahead, though, and their son got to work on a wood-paneled, publike nook at the back of the store. He crafted three tap handles — using brass knuckles, a knife handle and a gun barrel — and on April 15, tapped three inaugural brews: a milk stout from Long Trail Brewing Company, a Belgian-style blonde from Harpoon Brewery, and a double IPA from Breckenridge Brewery.

Ricks2Five months later, U-Save Beverage is about to sell their 500th growler. "Turns out there was quite a calling for craft beer," quips Karen, pulling a growler of Lost Nation Brewery Saison for me when I dropped in this week. (Also on tap were a stout from Dieu du Ciel and an IPA from Ballast Point.) 

"I noticed they [his parents] weren't make a lot of money from gasoline," notes the younger Bushway, a longtime craft beer lover. "I began bringing in beers that I liked and that people were talking about. Then I thought, you know, some restaurants and bars are doing growlers — let's do a growler bar."

It wasn't as easy as pulling a handle; the law dictates that as a convenience store, Bushway had to directly contact every brewery whose beer he wanted to tap. "So I had to write 15 different emails to 15 different breweries. Some people said, I don't want my beer in a gas station.' But I told them, 'I'm a beer store that sells gas.' Some laughed at that." Yet talking to Bushway, it's clear that's exactly how he sees U-Save.

Bushway estimates they now fill about 25 growlers a week. Next on tap are a black IPA from Dieu du Ciel, and a lemon-pepper kolsch from Long Trail, and another as-yet-undetermined IPA. "It's Vermont. I always have to have an IPA on tap." 

The refrigerators here are well-stocked with interesting bottles, too, from the likes of Mikkeller, Six-Point Brewery and Founders Brewing Co. As Karen Bushway narrates their contents, she has to explain to a customer from Boston that she could only buy one four-pack of the Alchemist's Heady Topper at a time. "They'll be gone by tonight," she says of the limited supply. Even so, the woman — who has been charged with bringing some back to Boston — sneaks on line a second time, with a second four-pack.

U-Save Beverage, 1332 Williston Rd., South Burlington. 862-2907.

July 19, 2013

Scalpers Are Selling Bogus Tickets to Vermont Brewers Festival

Screen shot 2010-07-27 at 1.12.09 PMDesperate to join the pack for an orgy of brewed goodness? You're probably not alone. The Vermont Brewers Festival sold out just 34 hours after tickets went on sale back in May.  But if you're willing to shell out, scalpers are finding ways to help beer geeks soak in the suds. But watch out — some are selling bogus tickets.

A quick Craigslist search turns up a slew of tickets, with price tags of as much as $85 per person. This may seem like a steal to some — one person posted an ad saying they were willing to pay $100 for a ticket. But for those who scooped up legit tickets from the festival, that's a $55 markup. And the tickets might not even be real.

Continue reading "Scalpers Are Selling Bogus Tickets to Vermont Brewers Festival" »

July 17, 2013

Sneak Peek of the Vermont Brewers Festival

BeerIf you don't have tickets for the sold-out Vermont Brewers Festival on Burlington's waterfront this weekend, you might want to stop reading — unless you're a glutton for punishment. As usual, the line-up is amazing, and the few thousand people who were on point enough to buy tickets (they sold out in 34 hours) will soon be marinating in liquid goodness. Some highlights:

The festival virgins

Of the 43 breweries taking part this year, at least four began brewing in the last year: Covered Bridge Craft Brewery in Lyndonville; Foley Brothers in Brandon; Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville; and Whetstone Pub & Brewery in Brattleboro. Covered Bridge is offering up what they're calling "the result of a one night stand between a blonde and a pale ale." Foley Brother's Ginger Wheat is brewed with Vermont-grown Cascade hops. And tart, German-style gose (among other brews) will flow from both Lost Nation and Whetstone.

Continue reading "Sneak Peek of the Vermont Brewers Festival" »

June 6, 2013

Magic Hat Settles Trademark Dispute With Kentucky Craft Brewer West Sixth

MagicsixthMaybe they hashed things out over a pint.

In a statement released on its Facebook page this morning, Magic Hat Brewing Company announced that it has reached a settlement with Kentucky-based craft brewery West Sixth Brewing. You may recall that Magic Hat filed an injunction claiming trademark infringement against West Sixth and its "6" logo, which Magic Hat claimed looked a little too close to the label for the South Burlington brewery's #9 beer. This led to a very public round of sniping between the brands online (see here, here, here and here) and even a little bit of Wikipedia vandalism.

We'll update on the Bite Club blog accordingly when we know more information. In the mean time, read the full statement after the jump.

Continue reading "Magic Hat Settles Trademark Dispute With Kentucky Craft Brewer West Sixth" »

June 4, 2013

Taco Tuesdays and Pizza Fridays

TacoDid you ever wish there were a Mad Taco in the Burlington area? Starting today, there almost is. Winooski's Mule Bar, owned by the same team that owns Mad Taco, inaugurates its Taco Tuesday today with a menu similar to the small chain that has links in Waitsfield, Montpelier and Waterbury.

Each Tuesday the bill of fare will be different, but will likely always include a range of tacos, tortas and dinner plates. Today, those include several different toppings for both tacos and tortas that feature tender pork carnitas. The al pastor features salsa verde, while another is bathed in chef Jean-Luc Matecat's long-cooked mole sauce. Other meats include a beef carne asada and "roadside chicken." Vegetarians will opt for kimchee, black bean and cilantro tacos.

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May 31, 2013

Grazing: House-Brewed 'Heifer-Wisen' (With a View) at Whetstone Station

Whetstone1A deck overlooking the Connecticut River. A glass of house-brewed hefewiezen. Some mahi-mahi tacos. Blinding sun. These things defined my last May afternoon.

Brattleboro's Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery opened just about a year ago, but since Brattleboro is at the opposite end of the state from Burlington, I hadn't yet made it — until today, a 90-degree scorcher that feels more like late July.

Fortunately, Whetstone has a breezy deck — two, in fact — with plum views of the Connecticut River, which resembles an estuary here. On May 6, Whetstone finally began brewing its own beer in a cozy brewhouse just off the main dining room. The bar taps one of these at a time, and the first — a pale ale called SMaSH Pilot Batch #1 — apparently kicked pretty quickly.

Lucky for me, today brought another fresh beer: Heifer-Wisen, so named for Brattleboro's Strolling of the Heifers, which takes place next weekend. Brewed on May 20 using organic malt from Valley Malt of Hadley, Mass., and New York-grown hops, Heifer-Wisen flows "unfiltered, unpasteurized, and served straight from the fermenter," as the menu says.

Continue reading "Grazing: House-Brewed 'Heifer-Wisen' (With a View) at Whetstone Station" »

May 22, 2013

Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6

486828_10151439770029067_1296824877_nBack when he was an assistant manager at Magic Hat Brewing Co., 7D music editor Dan Bolles and his then colleagues tried to push a fictional Magic Hat #6 on April Fools Day. "The joke was that it was a light version of #9, with one-third fewer calories," writes Bolles. "We even had fake logos made up with the number six mimicking the #9 artwork."

Bolles' prank was eerily prescient. Last week, Magic Hat filed an injunction against a year-old Kentucky craft brewer, defending one of its flagship beers, #9.

The complaint against West Sixth Brewing Company alleges that that brewery's beers, branded with the numeral 6, have a mark that's "confusingly and substantially similar" to #9, a beer Magic Hat has been making since 1995.

West Sixth was founded by four friends in spring 2012. Cofounder Ben Self, who lived in Vermont briefly during Howard Dean's presidential campaign, says his company wasn't trying to imitate Magic Hat. They chose the name because their brewery is located on, well, West Sixth Street. "We worked on it for a long time," he says of the logo, which features a swirly, encircled number 6 next to a star dingbat. It was created by the Lexington company Cricket Press. "From the beginning, we were very comfortable with our logo design," says Self.

Continue reading "Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6" »

May 10, 2013

Haters of Large Quantities of Beer, Unite

A lot of people and organizations leave posts on the Seven Days Facebook wall, and most of them are crap that no one wants to read. But every now and then there's a weird little gem. Last week we spotted this post, which, WTF:

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 4.17.29 PM
Beerpitcher_dreamstime_12676280A little background: In most parts of America, you can get a nice big jug of beer that can fill many pint glasses with beer, thus fostering a communal atmosphere around your pub table filled with merriment, joy, German drinking songs and maybe a few drops of brew spilled.

But you're out of luck here in the Green Mountains — the buzzkills that control liquor sales here prohibit bars from serving you beer in anything that holds more than 32 ounces, aka two pints. From item #37 of the Department of Liquor Control's General Regulations:

Continue reading "Haters of Large Quantities of Beer, Unite" »

May 7, 2013

Penny Cluse Owners to Open New Café Next Door; Mule Bar Opens Thursday

05-pennycluseThis week brings happy news for lovers of the drink, both hot and cold. Penny Cluse Café co-owner Charles Reeves has announced that he and his wife, Holly Reeves, are purchasing the building next door, at 163 Cherry St., to build out a new 25-seat café devoted to "espresso, smoothies, beer and wine, with limited food service," writes Reeves.

The new spot will be called Lucky Next Door and should be open by September, adds Reeves. Though plans are still taking shape, "It seems like word has started to spread," he says — which is why he let the cat out of the bag. It's the first expansion in Penny Cluse's 15-year history. 

Up the road a piece, Winooski's restaurant row will welcome Mule Bar, which opens at 38 Main St., this Thursday at 11 a.m.

Co-owner Joey Nagy says he and his partners are keeping mum on exactly what beers will flow from the bar's 15 taps. “We want to surprise everyone,” he says. However there will be ginger beer from Dave Rooke of Rookie’s Root Beer.

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May 1, 2013

Food TruckStop and New Gallery/Café Coming to Burlington's South End

Food-burgerbarnThey've spread from Austin to LA to Montréal, and now food trucks have reached a critical mass in Burlington. In a few weeks, Pine Street will gain its own semipermanent mobile food lot: the South End Food TruckStop.

Every Friday night beginning May 24, the parking lot behind Speeder & Earl's will morph into a bazaar of trucks and carts peddling barbecue, tacos, ice cream, fresh juices, beer and even maté. Live music and a few late-opening galleries will add to the festivities.

"There's enough food vendors around to constitute a rally, and we said, 'Hey, other places do it and it's a lot of fun,'" says Felix Wai of ArtsRiot, who organized the event with his partner, PJ McHenry. He says they will put out tables and chairs, provide access to bathrooms, and carve out "a little stage for music." 

Nine vendors have signed on so far, says Wai, each with its own niche. There will be tacos from Muchacho Taco; burgers from the Burger Barn; ethnic street food from ¡Duino! (Duende); sandwiches and hot dogs from Cloud 9 Catering ("Either the Hindquarter or the [Local] Grind [will take part]," says Wai); barbecue from Southern Smoke Foods; fresh juices from Tomgirl Juice Co.; maté from Mocean Maté; ice cream from Lake Champlain Chocolates; and beer from Fiddlehead Brewing, which is one of the event's sponsors.

"We're at max capacity now," says Wai. He and McHenry will see how the space shakes out before changing the balance of vendors. 

The event will run from 4 to 9 p.m. every Friday until November 1. ArtsRiot plans to donate a portion of each week's proceeds to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. "That's what we hope to do," Wai says. "Our mission is to destroy apathy through art, food and music."

Continue reading "Food TruckStop and New Gallery/Café Coming to Burlington's South End" »

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