Haven’t you heard? Craft beer is all the rage these days.
Join Adrian Tierney-Jones as he leaves his local to explore the best brews on offer around the world.
‘Fancy a game of darts?’ It’s a perfectly reasonable request in an English pub, but I’m in a bar in Brattleboro, Vermont — McNeill’s, a bare-floored, austere space dimly lit by art-crafty light fittings. I decline, but the banter continues as I sip my pint of Warlord Imperial IPA. Brewed on the premises this powerfully hopped barnstormer of a beer is the colour of bruised gold and pulsates with an aroma reminiscent of ripe peaches that have sat in a bowl upon which the rays of the mid-afternoon sun have brushed and stroked with obsessive zeal. There’s an invigorating blast of bitterness on the palate, which continues to clang away on the finish. I like it.
Meanwhile, perhaps in honour of my visit, one of the locals croons a poignant folk song on the decline of the English pub. Another chap introduces himself. ‘Hi I’m Open Mike.’ He’s wearing a trilby, collarless shirt and tie. Punk meets hippy meets surf dude. I nod and give the beer the thumbs up. He flashes me the shaka sign. Meanwhile, the crooner at the bar stops and tells me that he once saw a catamount, the legendary mountain cougar. Definitely time for another beer: this time I plump for a glass of Dark Angel, a robust, impenetrably dark, roasty and coffee-like imperial porter. This evening is as good a start as any in my attempt to follow the Vermont craft beer trail.