PRECIOUS POUR Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, VT.
After the Alchemist, we headed downtown for a late lunch at the reincarnation of the Alchemist Pub: PROHIBITION PIG (the Kimmiches are the landlords). The menu, inspired by new owner Chad Rich's wonder years in North Carolina, leans heavily on barbecue, but we're talking beer here: There are 24 taps and more than 100 bottles, and the list is heavy with local offerings, natch — it's the only place to get Heady Topper on draft, and you can indulge in pours from Lawson's, Zero Gravity (a highly-regarded Burlington brewery), and HILL FARMSTEAD, the exalted beermaker in Greensboro Bend. We couldn't make time for that northward trek and settled on crossing them off the Beer Barrel List based on their availability at the Pig. We had the very impressive Society & Solitude #5 (plus a sweet Lawson's/Maine Beer collaboration) and hope to make the trek to Shaun Hill's outpost next year.
BEER LIVES HERE Vista Country Store in North Conway, NH.
Then: 119 miles, 2-1/2 hours to North Conway. The rental house happened to be 2 miles away from the VISTA COUNTRY STORE (Beer Advocate's Travel Guide had pointed us there). At most general stores you're happy to find six-packs of Smuttynose or Long Trail, but at the Vista, there's Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (yeah, NH gets Dogfish, we don't) and Oskar Blues cans and bombers of Firestone Walker's Wookey Jack (which won the Gold Medal for American-Style Black Ale at the Great American Beer Festival; have you had it yet?) and Chimay Blue and Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde and so much more. The owner, Clem, has brought a little corner of beer heaven to a most unlikely place, though these tales are becoming more common as devotees share and spread their passion for the Good Stuff (and when we got to enthusing over the Wookey and other choice selections, Clem offered to procure bottles of Parabola and Founders' Frangelic Mountain Brown from his private stash; we'll be back, sir).
On Saturday, we set out for Lovell, Maine, to EBENEZER'S PUB. Like the beers we stalked in Vermont, Ebenezer's has a lofty reputation, which it proudly embraces: a sign over the entrance lists its citations from Beer Advocate and RateBeer.com as the Best Beer Bar in America and the #1 Beer Destination In the World.
In 2001, Chris and Jen Lively left Los Angeles and bought the restaurant (which sits on the edge of a golf course), gradually transforming it from a pedestrian roadhouse in the sticks into a beer mecca, a showcase for diverse and delicious Belgian ales that is second to none. But Ebenezer's is a laid-back, unpretentious place. It has a small bar (eight stools and a bit of standing room) with 35 taps and a four-door cooler packed with bottles (an adjoining dining room seats about three dozen, and there's a large seasonal space); and the walls are filled with beer signs and posters, and a bevy of tiny pink Delirium Tremens elephants hang from the ceiling. In the legendary cellar, there are hundreds of rare bottles (maybe we'll ask for a peek on our next visit). Our gang of six indulged in 15 or so beers (plus some great burgers and salads), starting with St. Bernardus Abt 12 and sipping and sharing for a glorious few hours. It was a special Beer Barrel List event. (Oh, on Sunday, the car stayed in the driveway.)
Hmm, it seems like we've talked ourselves into another trip next year. We're already working on a new change jar . . . .