Brewery Name: The Alchemist
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 100 Cottage Club Rd, Stowe, VT. Once you take the turn off the main road, you can’t miss it.
Facebook: The Alchemist
YouTube: Alchemist Beer
Background: Most people know about The Alchemist at this point. Most famous for Heady Topper, one of the most famous beers in the world, head brewer John Kimmich has become famous for making delicious and (until recently) difficult to obtain beers. The brewpub that originally served as the brewhouse for The Alchemist burned down years ago, and the brewery has had no retail taproom in the intervening years. As a result, getting your hands on beers like Heady Topper and Focal Banger required either spending hours outside a beer store waiting for a delivery or hitting up one of the local establishments with a distribution agreement. Fortunately, that changed last year. At long last, The Alchemist finally opened a brand new retail establishment, and good lord is it beautiful. My wonderful girlfriend planned a trip to Stowe for us on my birthday, and was only too happy to swing into the facility for some beer.
Growlers: No growlers, but all of their beers are available in cans.
The Beers: When the new facility opened, The Alchemist was finally able to get back to brewing more of the beers that helped put them on the map in the first place. Sure, Heady Topper and Focal Banger are the biggest names, but the expanded capacity has allowed Kimmich and his team to brew more of their classic recipes--as well as a few new, experimental beers. When I stopped by, there were five beers available:
Vibe: The new facility is, in a word, awesome. The building itself is absolutely gorgeous, with a stunning white facade adorned with Alchemist-themed art on all sides. There are massive picture windows that extend almost all the way to the roof, offering a glimpse at the brewing area that makes up the majority of the building’s interior.
Of course, the best part of the new building is the fact that The Alchemist has really figured out how to streamline purchasing. Gone are the days of standing in line for hours: they’ve made getting in simple, getting tasters simple, and purchasing beer simple. When you walk in the door, you can head to the left to sample the beers the have on tap, and, when you’ve made your decision, you can head over to the registers on the right. There are a few barriers to make sure things remain orderly, but you should get to the front of the line in short order. The fridges are continuously stocked, ensuring that even when the people ahead of you purchase the maximum amount of beer permitted, you’ll never have to wait to get yours.
Speaking of purchasing limits, the fact that you can now walk in on any given day and purchase an entire case of Heady Topper is crazy to me. I remember the days of fighting for every possible can, and you a simple trip to Stowe can result in multiple cases of amazing Alchemist beer. One of the best things about the new taproom is how cleanly laid out it is, and how well labeled everything is. You won’t have to guess about purchasing limits: there are multiple signs telling you exactly how much of each beer you can purchase. And at just $12.50 per four-pack, why wouldn’t you purchase the maximum?
The Alchemist offers a wide variety of merchandise to select from, including the classic t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats. They also offer unique glassware, which I had to purchase, as well as a few more interesting offerings. The Alchemist partnered with a local restaurant to produce Heady Topper hot sauce, and I was too intrigued to pass it up. No shock here: it’s delicious.
Maybe the coolest part of the entire experience was seeing the massive brewing area behind the taproom. The Alchemist has come a long way from their old, limited brewing capacity, and an even longer way from their brewpub days. The massive tanks really drive home just how much beer the brewery is now able to produce, and anyone who has ever tasted what The Alchemist puts out can’t help but be excited by the prospect of more.
Dogs: Yes. You can bring your dog to The Alchemist taproom. They don’t serve food there, so there isn’t much trouble your pup can get into. You’ll obviously want to keep them on a leash, but they’re pretty dog-friendly. You can even get Alchemist-branded dog collars and leashes!
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. I was floored by how affordable The Alchemist’s beers were. Every beer they make comes in at just $12.50 per four-pack, which is astonishingly low for beer of this quality. Given that beers from Tree House, Bissell Brothers, and other well-known New England breweries can cost upwards of $17-$20 per four-pack, this is amazingly affordable.
Food: No food (unless you count hot sauce). The taproom is for beer only.
Final Thoughts: I was thrilled with my experience at the new facility. It’s massive. It’s beautiful. It’s convenient. It’s streamlined. I’d honestly be hard-pressed to think of a single thing they could even improve. The Alchemist makes some of the most delicious beer in the world, and it’s great to see that they’re putting that brewing expertise to work by filling the new facility with old classics, new experiments, and, most of all, amazing people. I can’t wait for the chance to come back.
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