Vermont Business Magazine No winter was in sight on a balmy 50-degree day as crowds enjoyed the 5th Annual Homebrew Winter Festival in downtown Bennington, Vermont. The festival was again hosted by the Southwest Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Hopridge Farms and attracted over 500 attendees.
The Saturday festival opened its doors at noon to exclusive VIP ticket holders for a private tasting of regional food and beer. General ticket holders were able to attend from 1 to 4 p.m.
The festival, now in its fifth year, has invited top home brewers from across the Northeast who have brought with them their own home-brewed beer, cider, mead, braggot and wine. The nineteen craft breweries in attendance were vying for the chance to be crowned “Best VIP Hour Drink”, “Best Overall Brewery” and “Best Overall Drink”. New this year, the festival also hosted a panel of professional brewers to also judge the house beers. This panel of judges included: Joey Nerney of Calmont Beverage Company, Christian Engel of Ratu’s Liquor and Market in Wilmington, VT, Kellen Beardsley of Vermont Beer Makers, Sean Dunleavy of Harvest Brewing, Josh Frament of Brown’s Brewing Company, Orion Howard of Bright Ideas Brewing and Seth Barrows of Farm Road Brewing.
Additionally, the festival invited regional restaurants and food vendors to serve sample soups, chowders, chilis and stews to the crowd. The crowd was then able to vote for the “best winter dish in the region”. These vendors included: Chris Bates of Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped, Hannaford Supermarkets, Madison Brewing Company, The 421 Craft Bar and Kitchen, Ramunto’s, Pangea, Sheriff Candidate Joel Howard, M&J Taste of Home Catering and Events, and the Norshaft Lions/Kevin’s . Restaurant.
As in recent years, this festival sold out again just before the doors opened. “We pretty much got to the place we wanted, especially as we try out this new space.” says Will Gardner, festival co-producer and owner of Hopridge Farms. “Of course the phone starts ringing and people start reaching out on Facebook for tickets, but we’ve warned them that every year we’ve seen this festival sell out. Every year word spreads about the uniqueness of this festival and so every year we end up closing ticket sales earlier and earlier. We always strive to strike the perfect balance between homebrewers, space, food, attendees and safety.
This year’s awards:
Favorite winter meal: M&J’s Taste of Home with Roasted Corn and Potato Chowder
Best beer of the VIP hour: Teddy K’s Brewing with Dark and Minty Stout
Best drink: Bear Hole Brewing with Slick Machines Begin to Rust, Kettle Sour with Lime and Activated Charcoal
Best home brew: Bearhole Brewing
Best drink judged by professionals: Albany Brew Crafters, Jason Galea, with Windy Acres Wild Ale
“This festival gets stronger every year with the help we get from brewers, volunteers, food vendors, businesses like Uncle Bob’s Septic, Hannaford, Ramuntos and the community,” said Matt. Harrington, executive director of the Southwest Vermont Chamber of Commerce. and co-producer of the festival. “A sincere thank you to our over 30 volunteers who put it all together and our great sponsors such as Coggins Auto Group, The Bank of Bennington, Dion Snowshoes, John Ray and Sons, Farm Road Brewing, Kaman Composites, LeafGuard, Hannaford, CAT -TV, The Bennington Banner, and of course our excellent hosts Bo and the Bennington Sports Center team.”
Vendors were also selling everything from hops, brewing books, chocolates, hot sauces, and more. Vendors this year include: Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped Hot Sauce, Nutty Bavarian and Kettle Fudge, Highland Ledge Farm, Hoppy Valley Farm, A Taste of Pomegranate Tarot, PhytoCare Vermont, and Mettowee Valley Maple!
The Winter Homebrew Festival will return in 2023, but for now the two organizers suggest visiting their 7th annual Summer Homebrew Festival in August this year.
For more information on the two Homebrew Festivals, visit: https://www.vthomebrewfests.com/
(Bennington, VT) –– Southwest Vermont Chamber of Commerce