Turning off of the Mountain Road in Stowe, Vermont, you coast past a cemetery and turn right into the parking lot of The Alchemist Brewery & Visitors Center. And wow, is it a sight to behold.
The new facility (opened in 2016) is gorgeous, almost reminiscent of a church—a house of worship for a beer so beloved by so many. A spiritual, existential experience (if you will) for those who come from near and far for Heady Topper, perhaps the godfather of the New England-style double IPA.
Inside the Visitors Center, the smell is intoxicating, as if you’ve climbed inside a can of Focal Banger and are now facing an olfactory onslaught of Citra and Mosaic. The beer line winds its way through a space filled with playful and colorful merchandise sporting The Alchemist’s brand and iconic label artwork. You grab a taste of the beer, and it is just as delicious as you had hoped and envisioned, hoppy and expressive and flavorful.
Even with the reputation of Heady Topper, the brewery is far, far away from being “The Heady Topper brewery.” In reality, the breadth and diversity of the beers that John Kimmich and the incredibly talented production crew are putting out is quite astounding. An IPA, a double IPA, a porter, a hoppy Red Ale, a Belgian-Style Dubbel, a Belgian-Style Double Wit, a rotating, seasonal IPA, a Saison, a hoppy Imperial Stout, a Dark IPA, another killer double IPA, and on and on… It’s an impressive line-up, if not slightly skewed toward the hoppy end of the spectrum.
Despite the incredibly storied past of the brewery—rising the floodwaters that all but destroyed the pub in Waterbury and the brewery altogether—it’s clear that the future of The Alchemist is right here in Stowe.