Brewery Name: Fiddlehead Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 6305 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne, VT
Facebook: Fiddlehead Brewing Company
Growlers: Yes. Fiddlehead fills both 64 and 32 ounce growlers.
The Beers: We were able to taste two beers at the brewery itself, and (of course) we also picked up a pack of the famous Second Fiddle Double IPA.
Second Fiddle: What can I say? This is an excellent double IPA. Second Fiddle is often discussed in the same breath as Heady Topper and Sip of Sunshine, and while my personal preference certainly lies with Heady Topper, Second Fiddle is still a very tasty beer. I’ll say this though...it wasn’t even our favorite Fiddlehead beer we had. The three of us unanimously agreed that their top beer was...
Fiddlehead IPA: Who needs a double IPA when you have a single IPA that tastes this good? It might not have the ABV heft that Second Fiddle has, but the Fiddlehead IPA was a delicious surprise to us. I could easily grab a few of these and have a great day in the sun.
Fiddlehead Kolsch: Like saisons, kolsches are a little outside my wheelhouse, so I may not be the ideal person to judge this one. I’d say it’s an above average kolsch as far as my own palate goes, with a nice sourness on the back end that made it a little more palatable to me (and our resident sour expert, York).
Vibe: It’s a little tough to get a read on Fiddlehead. The public area of the brewery itself is pretty small, without a real "tasting room" with tables and chairs. That said, you can sidle on up to the bar and enjoy free tasters of whatever is on tap (they’re small tasters, obviously, but come on--you’re not there to get hammered). You can also buy four-packs of Second Fiddle and of course get growler fills.
The pizza restaurant next door (in the same building) is interesting. They have a good relationship with Fiddlehead, and they have no problem with people getting growler fills and taking them over to enjoy in their restaurant. This easily makes up for the lack of a place to sit and enjoy beers in the Fiddlehead brewery itself, and the smell of pizza wafting through the place is, in a word, wonderful. So really, it’s a toss-up here. While we weren’t blown away by the atmosphere within Fiddlehead, I’d be hard pressed to say that’s even what they’re going for. They just want to make good beers and get them to you as efficiently as possible. And when it comes to that, they do a fantastic job.
Pete's Thoughts: I love beer because obsession fascinates me. Fiddlehead clearly has all the brewing talent to make a ton of different styles at once, but they didn’t start that way. Vermont is full of wonderful brewers who start with one beer, and make it perfect. This IPA is top-notch and honestly tasted better than Second Fiddle, which gets more press. Great location even with only two beers on tap. We definitely need to go back for pizza and beer.
York's Thoughts: Second Fiddle was on our list of must-finds for the weekend so it was a no brainer to make it over to the brewery. I’m a huge from-the-source fan so going to the home of a beer is always my prefered route. This brewery wasn’t the most user friendly as far as a place to hang out and drink beers, but they set up the tasting bar as Shane described, and I suppose if we had taken the time to grab some food with their partner, that it may have made the overall experience a bit more personable. The beers we tasted were both great in addition to the Second Fiddle we walked away with. Cool view into the brewery portion of the building, just hard to really endorse as a destination.
Dogs: Unclear. You might be able to get away with bringing a dog into the brewery itself, but I’m not sure I’d risk it. It’s in the same building as a pizza restaurant, and they might take issue with animals being on the premises.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. I was pretty surprised at how affordable a beer as famous as Second Fiddle was, and tasting glasses of the beers on tap at the brewery were free.
Food: Fiddlehead doesn’t sell food, but, as I mentioned, they are in the same building as a very highly regarded pizza place. If you feel like grabbing a slice they have no problem letting you bring your beer in and drink it there.
Final Thoughts: The brewery was nice, if small. The pizza restaurant next door really serves as the “tasting room,” and I say that as a compliment: it’s a REALLY cool arrangement that the two establishments have. There’s nothing like sampling beers at the bar and having the delicious pizza aroma waft over you. I do wish that the tap was a little larger, with a few more beers to sample, but it’s possible that we were spoiled by overachievers like Burlington Brewing Company: it’s hard to expect everyone to have 10 beers on tap. Overall, we came away feeling pretty positive about our experience there. I hope we have the chance to grab a growler and a pizza there next time, because I’m sure the full experience is that much better.
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