I’m not sure how I made it through four years of college in Burlington without visiting the famous Artifactory, but Sunday was my first time stepping through the doors of this wild and wacky world of unique brews.
Ian and I arrived just as a guided tour was starting up, so we picked up our tickets at the desk (tours are free!) and joined the large and rambunctious group as they headed out. We stopped in a dark room covered with photographs and Christmas lights as Quinn, our enthusiastic tour guide, told us about the history of Magic Hat–did you know that they once brewed a garlic ale that was so bad they had to buy back all of their stock within two days? After passing the graveyard of deceased beers, we went into another room to watch a short, funny film about the annual Magic Hat Mardi Gras event, and then made our way to the mezzanine overlooking the brewery itself. Since it was Sunday they weren’t actually cranking out bottles, but the massive wall of boxes ready to go was impressive enough. We learned about the brewing process and about some of the special ingredients that Magic Hat uses (real apples for their new Apple Pie Ale and elderberries for the delicious Elder Betty).
Once the tour was over it was time to head to the bar for four free samples per person! Brewery tours are great opportunities to taste beers that may be rare, have limited releases, or may only be available at the brewery. On tap that day:
Encore: American Wheat IPA with hints of grapefruit
Heart of Darkness: Smooth, deep black stout with an undercurrent of cocoa
Wooly: Extra Special Bitter made with spruce tips–like a Christmas tree in a glass!
Graupel: Wheat Wine, part of the Humdinger series of complex, small batch, seasonal brews
#9: Described as a “not quite pale ale” with a touch of apricot; the most popular Magic Hat beer, shipped as far away as Australia!
Maple Chocolate Stout: From the Artifactory Series; Chocolatey, but we couldn’t taste much maple flavor.
Single Chair: Year-round offering; golden beer with easy drinkability and likeability!
Circus Boy: Another year-round concoction; Refreshing Hefeweizen brewed with lemon grass
Feast of Fools: Chocolate raspberry stout brewed for the holidays
After Ian and I were done sampling, we looked around at the piles of merchandise–everything from T-shirts and pint glasses to Frisbees and dog toys. The dark room filled with swag, beer, and colored lights gives off the vibe of a cool and quirky ware house packed with grown-up fun, which is kind of what every bottle of Magic Hat is anyway.
Tour Secret: Ever wonder where Magic Hat’s most popular beer, #9, got its name? Our tour guide’s theory is that it comes from the Beatles’ White Album.
Magic Hat Brewery & Artifactory
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT
Free tours and samples