This Place in History: Brewing in Burlington Part 2

Vermont Historical Society

BURLINGTON, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History‘, we’re in Burlington with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

To view Part 1, click here.

“We’re going to talk to Jeff Baker, the author of a new book on brewing in Burlington, the history of what happened here and especially the resurgence [of brewing] in Burlington,” began Perkins.

“Prohibition hit Vermont in the 1850s, much earlier than Federal Prohibition. Actually, Vermont went wet again in 1903 and then snapped dry again in 1920. So, it really messed with the brewing industry. Burlington went about 100 years without a brewery,” explained Baker.

“Burlington went from 1933, after Federal Prohibition ended, to 1988. 1988 was when Vermont Pub and Brewery opened, which is where we are now. Greg Noonan and his wife Nancy had to change laws to open a brewpub. It was a new concept in the Northeast. They were happening out West, but they had to work for three years with the Vermont legislature to get a series of laws changed so that they could manufacture beer on the site and then sell it to you on that [same] site,” said Baker.

“They worked with state representative Bill Mares and Peter Clavelle to get those laws changed and then Governor Madeleine Kunin signed them in. So, there’s this interesting thing that happened because there was this 100-year gap where all the brewing traditions if you will, got lost. The brewers that were coming in ’88 and thereafter really had a blank slate.”

“You know, you have bigger cities like Milwaukee, which has a very German brewing tradition and that tradition stuck. Whereas here in Burlington, it was fair game to brew English ales or German beers or Belgian beers. Something that Vermont Pub and Brewery got on board with was these English styles and Belgian styles that Vermonters hadn’t seen before,” added Baker.

“I’ve heard that Vermont Pub and Brewery was even responsible for creating a new style?” asked Perkins.

“That’s right. A brand new beer style was invented here in Burlington at Vermont Pub and Brewery. It ended up becoming called the ‘black IPA’. It was 1994 and Glenn Walter was brewing here, who owns Three Needs now. Working with Greg Noonan he came up with this dark, bitter IPA,” answered Baker.

“It was the first brewery in Burlington and so it became in a way, a training and a proving ground where people would come. You also have John Kimmich who is at the Alchemist now. He worked and brewed here for many years. Part of that is that Greg really was a teacher and a writer. He literally wrote the book on beer and for many styles that homebrewers and then professional brewers use,” said Baker.

“Adam Krakowski and I wrote a book called Burlington Brewing: a History of Craft Beer in the Queen City. It took us about two-and-half years to do all of the really hard research. We went from the 1800s, all the way through to 2018. In the current brew scene, there are 11 breweries in the City of Burlington,” concluded Baker.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.

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