Has there ever been a better time to be alive and a beer drinker? A new craft brewery crops up every
day (unauthenticated fact), and with that another handful of impossibly hopped IPAs rolls off the
canning line, right into a growing number of fine purveyors of such sudsy
The Upper Valley is as rich in craft beers as it is in places to get them. I’ve been to a bunch of these local stores, and here’s the lowdown on some of the best:
Woodstock Hops N’ Barley – Woodstock, VT
This is the craft brew store for the craft brew academic. It’s like the Library of Alexandria of beers—lots of hard-to-find, limited-release bottles in stock. You’ll catch yourself reading labels over the bridge of your nose. Don’t scoff at the impressive wine selection here either. Oh, also? Growler bar.
Jake’s Quechee Market – Quechee, VT
You go in pretending you’re here for fresh organic produce or whatever, but really it’s the whole third of the store stocked in beer that draws you in. Don’t forget the walk-in cooler that seems these days always to have Lawson’s Finest, Upper Pass, and Bent Hill Brewery selections in ample supply.
The wall of beer at Mike's Store & Deli in Hartland, VT.
Store & Deli – Hartland,
A Valley Brews personal favorite. Basically all refrigerated inventory is beer, with a deep selection of Vermont craft brews. You’re liable to find anything by Frost Beer Works, Foley Brothers, Burlington Beer Co., and Rutland Beer Works. Extra points for their little section dedicated exclusively to craft ciders. Stowe, Citizen, Shacksbury, Downeast. All them apples!
Big Fatty’s Crowler Pit – White River Junction, VT
Come for the barbecue and Big Fatty’s eat-in draft list, but as you’re leaving, stop in at the Crowler Pit next door. Like, right next door. An extensive draft-to-can selection, arguably the best anywhere in the Upper Valley. And they’ve curated a helluva nice stock of bottles and cans, too.
Beverage King – West Lebanon, NH
Kind of the OG of Upper Valley beer stores, amirite? Sort of a warehouse-y, party store vibe, but did that ever stop you? International beers maintain a wide variety, as do craft brews from Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere they do beers as good as here.
Co-Op Food Stores – Lebanon, NH, & White River Junction, VT
Know that not all Co-Op beer offerings are equal. At the Centerra (Lebanon) store, expect to find very little in the way of Vermont beers. Blame obscure distribution boundaries for that. Literally a few miles and a river crossing away, the White River Junction store has (according to this writer) it all. Still, either way, you’ll find something interesting.
Chef's Market in Randolph. Inside here? Beer.
Chef’s Market in
Randolph – Randolph, VT
Recently reopened in the beautiful depot station in downtown Randolph, Chef’s Market devotes a pretty good amount of cubic footage to local beers. You got your Brocklebank, your Bent Hill, your Upper Pass, too.
South Royalton (SoRo) Market – South Royalton, VT
Haven’t been here personally, but I have on good authority that SoRo Market is the local place for craft beer—outside of Worthy Burger, of course. And a growler filling station keeps a solid rotation of local brews for on-tap takeout.
Lebanon Brew Shop – Lebanon, NH
Lebanon Brew Shop has reconfigured its space, gosh, half a dozen times (?) over the past several years, gradually making more room to expand its home brew supplies. Steadily improving, too, what was already strong: the beer there. Find countless styles spanning the globe: English, Belgian, Czech, Quebecoise. Careful, though—you may walk out with a carboy and fresh-milled barley.
Did I miss your favorite beer store? Don't get mad. Let us know in the comments!