13 Best Breweries In Vermont, Ranked

If you are a fan of craft beer, whether you're a novice or an expert, a trip discovering the bounty of excellent brews in Vermont can best be described as a craft beer pilgrimage. Not only are there well-established and highly regarded breweries across Vermont, but craft beer culture is also embedded within the state's culture. Vermont's spirit of creativity and community are embodied within the beer made there and enjoyed along with those you share it with.

As you will find with many of the beers made at the breweries listed below, it is that sense of togetherness that fuels the beer-making, each brewer taking advantage of the bounty of natural resources found throughout and the dedicated, hard-working people that strive to get the best out of the Green Mountain State. Vermont craft beer really is its own thing, and the following are exemplary exports of the best of the best.

13. Green Empire Brewery

Green Empire Brewing was founded in 2016 in Colchester, Vermont, one town away from the vibrant city of Burlington. Since its establishment, Green Empire has been fueled by a dedication to creativity and innovation, two principles wonderfully reflected in its eclectic lineup of beers.

Green Empire operates within a smaller location than most breweries, but its selection and variety make for endless discoveries that go beyond the realm of brews. You can find classics done exceptionally well such as pale ales and different styles of IPAs, as well as more interesting beers such as Chill Session, a low-ABV ale aged inside chardonnay barrels, or the Red Eyes, aged in cabernet barrels.

Other less popular beer styles are also given that modern twist, such as the Eldest Brother, a barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale, and a 10% alcohol Imperial Stout aged in gin barrels and conditioned on chocolate. Furthermore, Green Empire also cans its own cold brew coffee, including one infused with Nitrogen and CBD. Even if you're not a beer fan, Green Empire has something crafty for you.

12. Freak Folk Bier

Freak Folk Bier is another modern-style brewery stamping its personality on classic-style beers. The brewery was founded by two beer lovers who wanted to take control of the beer they enjoyed by using brewing as a creative outlet.

It started out of another brewery, however, Queen City Brewery, where one of Freak Folk's founders, Lillian MacNamara, was head brewer, according to the Burlington Free Press. There, MacNamara and Ryan Miller began testing out mixed culture fermentation, a brewing process where the beer is fermented with yeast and other bacteria in oak barrels for six to eight months before being bottle-conditioned for three months to achieve the right carbonation. This style of beer-making makes for beers that lean towards the sour side but remain easily palatable and smooth, definitely, a unique combination that makes Freak Folk well worth a visit.

In March of 2022, MacNamara and Miller opened Freak Folk Bier in their own space in Waterbury and have been offering the results of their experimentations since. They offer unique beers like their mixed culture Saison on draft as well as bottle pours of beers like their New Flesh, a mixed culture black ale aged and fermented in oak and conditioned on valencia orange zest. If you're ever in the area, this spot is a hidden gem with plenty to offer that will be difficult to find elsewhere.

11. River Roost Brewery

Located in White River Junction, River Roost Brewery is another spot utilizing mixed culture brewing techniques and has been doing so since 2016. Its founder, Mark Babson, garnered extensive experience in the industry as a brewer and quality technician before opening and running River Roost.

The trifecta of favorites at River Roost Brewery includes the Mas Verdes, Mo'Rilla, and Glimpse — two IPAs and a Double IPA, respectively. These hop-forward brews are the foundation of River Roost, but that is nowhere close to all they have to offer. Bottled beers include the Saison Du Roost, a farmhouse ale aged in oak foeders, which is like a really large barrel. Others include the Grimace, a wild ale aged with plums, and the For All We Know, a blended mixed-culture Saison fermented inside Sauvignon Blanc barrels. You can get something familiar as well as something totally new at River Roost Brewery, and you can expect either to be delicious.

10. Red Clover Ale Co

Red Clover Ale Co is run by the owners, themselves, call a chain of brothers-in-law. Riker, Pete, and Andy founded the brewery in 2019 and were born out of the family's history of farming. The idea to start a brewery was born during the years Pete and Riker ran their family's dairy farm, an operation that's six generations old. The concept behind their beer is the cold one you look forward to at the end of a hard, long day's work, and they are executing that concept brilliantly. The brewery won a 10Best Award in USA Today's Best New Brewery Category in 2021, as well as one of the 10 best new breweries by Hop Culture the year it opened.

Red Clover Ale Co strives to produce straightforward, accessible, and excellent brews that everyone can enjoy without being overwhelmed by industry-insider phraseology. Simple IPAs and Imperial IPAs dominate the menu, all of which come with nothing more than traditional brewing techniques that make for familiar, comforting beers. Additionally, Red Clover Ale offers a maple stout as well as a traditional German Dunkel, a dark beer that gives you everything you want in a crisp, crushable lager with an added toasted flavor from the dark, roasted malt. Located in Brandon, Vermont, Red Clover Ale Co. is another exceptional checkpoint off the beaten path of Vermont's craft beer paradise.

9. Lost Nation Brewing

Craft beer in the Green Mountain State is known for being a fantastic representation of the New England-style IPA. This category means hazy, juicy, boozy IPAs that can be as simple or complex as the brewer wants. At Lost Nation Brewing, however, brewing fundamentals are honed and championed as a passion for basic, European-born ales and lagers command the draft list. These include a Czech-style pilsner, Franconian-style pilsner, Gose, Belgian ale, Maibock, Bamberg-style Helles, and an amber lager, all of which are difficult finds within the Vermont craft beer scene, especially ones crafted so well.

The Franconian-style pilsner utilizes the natural resources of Vermont, while the Maibock is worthy of comparison to any authentic, German celebration beer. The Gose is another traditional bavarian brew, a sour-style lager with a kick of salinity that is as delicious as it is palate-cleansing. Located in the northern part of Vermont, Lost Nation brews all of its beer through its 7,000 bbl brewhouse — a unit of measurement reflecting the number of barrels produced annually. With so much beer being made and in a variety of styles hard to come to by in the U.S., making your way in for a couple may make you rethink everything you thought you knew about craft beer.

8. Fiddlehead Brewing Company

Fiddlehead is one of the giants of Vermont craft beer and was opened in the small town of Shelburne in 2011, just outside of Burlington. With a decade and a half of brewing experience, Matt Cohen opened a 15-barrel brewery that has since grown to brew Vermont's best-selling craft beer. With this explosive growth and popularity, Fiddlehead expanded its operation by building a larger brewery to accommodate demand in Massachusetts and New York state.

After releasing Second Fiddle and Mastermind, two double IPAs, demand grew even further, and an even bigger, 60-barrel brewery was built and opened in 2021. Now, Fiddlehead is distributed across the entire east coast and beyond, but its original location in Shelburne is still open for visitors to enjoy some beers in the tasting room.

Here you can enjoy Fiddlehead's flagship IPA, its two imperials, as well as a bourbon barrel-aged porter and a fruited wheat beer, to name a couple. Fiddlehead Brewing Company has grown to become what it is now because of its mission to brew beer for everyone. Whether you are a beer connoisseur or a newcomer, Fiddlehead has something for you.

As if excellent, accessible craft beer was not reason enough to make a trip to Fiddlehead, 25% of sales from their Mastermind double IPA go toward Team Mastermind, a charitable fund working to improve pediatric health and community wellness throughout the country. Today, the Team Mastermind Fund has raised over $400,000 for this cause.

7. Four Quarters Brewing

Four Quarters Brewing is not only serving up a wide variety of great beer, but they also serve the needs of any customer who visits, beer drinker not. In addition to a tap list consisting of ten different IPAs, two sours, 11 dark beers (which are great for winter), and two light lagers, Four Quarters also offers house-made cocktails utilizing spirits from the state, as well as Vermont wine.

Plus the food menu includes burgers, house-smoked barbecue, cheese boards, sandwiches, and salads. Thai place has everything you need to keep yourself and the whole family satisfied. It's even dog friendly.

There are two beers of the many on the tap list, however, that make this spot's creativity worth a visit. One, the French Toast Great Bear, is Four Quarter's Great Bear brown ale with the addition of maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon, a decadent brew almost fit for breakfast. The other, the Waffle Star, is an Imperial Milk Stout with lactose and maple that is conditioned on waffles and coffee beans, another brunch-worthy brew fading the lines between beer and indulgent dessert.

The options at Four Quarters are endless, no matter your vice. When you are here, you can rest assured you will have your craving taken care of.

6. Lawson's Finest Liquids

Lawson's Finest Liquids is one of the most storied breweries on this list, with its origin dating back three decades. The brewery's founder, Sean Lawson, first began brewing beer as a home brewer while a student at the University of Vermont. In 2006, Lawson dug out the foundation by hand for his brewery in Warren, which was given its brewing license in 2008 for the one-barrel brewery.

The humble beginnings of Lawson's were quick to gain attention, however, as rapid word of mouth and local media coverage began inspiring trips to Warren to try the beer, then sold in 22-ounce bottles. In 2010, Lawson's Maple Tripple Ale was awarded a bronze medal by the World Beer Cup in the Specialty Ale category and, from there, the brewery was able to expand to a seven-barrel location. In the years following, Lawson's Finest Liquids has added four more signature beers to its lineup, including many specialty releases along the way. These are not being brewed, sold, and distributed out of its current brewery, taproom, and retail store in Waitsfield.

Lawson's Finest distributes its maple ale and IPA varieties to nine states across the east coast. It has been awarded numerous accolades for both the beer, itself, and the business's engagement with the community as a thriving small business. Lawson's Finest Liquids is some of the best Vermont has to offer, and if you live on the East Coast, chances are you don't even have to visit Waitsfield to try some.

5. Foam Brewers

Foam Brewers is a little gem located right on Lake Champlain in Burlington. This spot is not the biggest, but the beer on tap makes it one of the best breweries in Vermont. Foam was founded in 2016 by a team of industry pros with a passion for their craft of making beer, art, music, and culture altogether.

Foam currently offers eight different IPAs, some of which do more good than just being a tasty beer. A portion of proceeds from the Lakekeeper IPA is donated to the Lake Champlain Lakepeer to help keep the body of water as clean and pretty as it should be. The Link Up IPA was made as part of the Link Up program, which strives to give those from underrepresented communities in the brewing industry opportunities to learn about beer-making and the agriculture and business behind it to eventually be able to run their own brewery.

Other beers on the menu include several lagers, a stout, a mixed culture wild ale, and a barleywine, one style that is harder to come by in the modern craft beer world. Foam Brewers is always pumping out new beers of different styles for customers to try and whenever they do, chances are its quality. Plus, you can enjoy each of them in the brewery's outdoor seating space with a lovely view of beautiful Lake Champlain.

4. Burlington Beer Company

Burlington Beer Company was founded in 2014 with the mission of, as they put it, "finding a balance between going too far and staying rooted in tradition." Based on their extensive, unique, and delicious menu, they have accomplished just that. Burlington Beer Co. was founded by Joe Lemnah, a Burlington native who worked at three different breweries between 2006 and 2012. During that time, Lemnah used the professional knowledge he acquired to experiment at home, brewing over 200 batches of beer, some of which went on to be developed into the beers on the tap list today.

Currently, Burlington Beer Co. offers 25 beers on tap, including IPAs, double IPAs, triple IPAs, fruited sours, a variety of stouts, and other dark beers. The brewery also reserves guest taps for outside brewers, as well as local cider, wine, and spirits options to go along with the locally inspired, seasonal food menu.

Recently, Burlington Beer Co. opened up their brand new taphouse, barrel house, and restaurant in Burlington inside of a 120-year-old brick building. The massive beer hall is a casual, vibrant place to hang out with friends or family to eat, drink, and be merry. There is plenty of merchandise and canned beer to pick up on your way out to bring this iconic piece of Burlington home with you.

3. Zero Gravity Craft Brewery

Speaking of Burlington staples, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery is another fantastically diverse and high-quality brewery that remains true to its roots while always pushing out new and exciting brews. The flagship beers at Zero Gravity are their Green State Lager, Little Wolf, an American Pale Ale, Conehead, an IPA, and Madonna, a double IPA. Throughout the year, however, Zero Gravity brings fan favorites back to the tap list, such as their Black Cat Porter and Extra Stout in the fall season.

Additionally, a brand new beer release can be expected at least once a month, which is normally canned and distributed across the states where Zero Gravity is sold. Just this month, Zero Gravity announced the release of its Irish Cream Porter, a dark malt foundation beer barrel-aged porter with vanilla and cacao nibs that is infused with nitrogen at the canning process. This is the type of innovation and delight you can expect from this brewery on a regular basis.

Furthermore, Zero Gravity is a prideful member of its community. For example, every month, the brewery partners with a new charity to donate $1 from every Green State Lager sold. The best part is, the Zero Gravity beer hall is located down the street from Burlington Beer Company, so if you make the trip to one, it only makes sense to visit the other.

2. The Alchemist

The Alchemist started as a small pub and brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, and has since become of the most recognizable craft beer brands in the entire world. In 2011, founders John and Jen Kimmich expanded their small-scale operation to a full-scale brewery and cannery. In 2016, as the craft beer scene continued to explode, another brewery was erected and opened in Stowe.

While The Alchemist does introduce limited-release beer now and then, it's the brewery's two flagship beers — Focal Banger and Heady Topper — that have earned acclaim from every corner of the craft beer world. In fact, Heady Topper remains the highest-rated beer on Beer Advocate with a perfect score of 100 with over 12,000 ratings and counting. The only problem is, The Alchemist remains very protective of their widely sought-after double IPA and rarely distributes it out of state.

This one-of-a-kind hop experience is more than deserving of all the hype around it. Each sip, which should only be taken directly from the can as instructed, plays a harmony of layers evoking every flavor you look for in a well-crafted IPA. The Alchemist runs a very simple operation, but Heady Topper and its little brother, Focal Banger, are reason enough for this brewery being so high on this list. The mark of a good brewery should mostly rely on the beer itself, and when it comes to The Alchemist, it really does not get any better.

1. Hill Farmstead Brewery

The number one Vermont brewery on this list, Hill Farmstead is a one-stop shop for absolutely everything Vermont craft beer has to offer. Nestled within the luscious hills that give the Green Mountain State its name, this brewery reveres its eight-generation history that continues to thrive today.

Hill Farmstead was founded by Shaun E. Hill, who worked in the beer industry in Denmark, where he and his mentor earned multiple World Beer Cup awards. In 2009, Hill returned home to his family's farm in Greenboro Bend and established Hill Farmstead Brewery in 2010. Luckily, this was just in time for the craft beer boom, and, despite the brewery's remote location in Northeastern Vermont, Hill Farmstead has been a titan of this renaissance.

Now, Hil Farmstead runs a massive operation and has brewed hundreds of different beers since its establishment just over a decade ago. A rival to the fantastic beer as the main attraction at Hill Farmstead is the property it is brewed on.

Coming to Hill Farmstead is not like a routine to trip the local pub or microbrewery. This is an all-day experience that is a scenic and transcendent venture. Once you are at Hill Farmstead, you will not want to leave, as the combination of great beer, heavenly views of the stunning Vermont countryside, and the people you share each with make for a craft beer experience greater than the sum of its parts.