Vermont Bike & Brewery Guest Review
Our Vermont Bike & Brewery Tour enjoyed fabulous weather this past August. Sojourn guest, Andrew Mockler, agreed for us to publish the article he wrote about his experience on this tour in the recent edition of Westchester Cycle Club’s “Out Spoke’n.” Thanks to Andy for sharing his adventure with us all (below)!
“Putting aside, for a moment, the wisdom of biking and sampling different beers throughout the day, this 6-day, Vermont Bike & Brewery Tour was great – really, really great in fact. It’s a van supported ride from inn-to-inn and limited to 18 people plus two tour leaders. We stayed in some very nice B&Bs (two especially come to mind: The Inn at Mountain View Farm in East Burke, VT and Hotel Vermont in Burlington – both excellent and very different from one another), had our gear and luggage transported to each property we stayed at (and waiting for us in our rooms at day’s end!) and had most meals as a group. I honestly can’t recommend this tour enough, especially if you’re a beer aficionado and like Vermont. I happen to love both so for me it was an easy choice.
I was really pleased that the group included couples, singles of both genders, and a good range in ages. We all got along really well (beer is a great social lubricant) and had quite a bit of fun together – sometimes pretty raucously (Mike’s Tiki Bar in East Burke with their amazing array of beers on tap especially comes to mind). The group did tend to organically split into those who were more social and those who were quieter, but everyone got along quite well which was a function of our leaders bringing us together for common events.
The average mileage each day was in the 60-mile range and we all rode either with new friends or with spouses – although everyone, at some point or another, chose to ride alone a bit. We received cue sheets and a map each morning and were briefed on the route by the leaders, one of whom rode with us and the other who followed in a support van. The ride was labeled “Avid” due to the hills though Sojourn has a number of different ride locations and abilities in their list of tours.
We started in Charlotte, VT where the Company is headquartered, and where we all had a chance to meet each other and get briefed by the leaders and owner of the Company. For those who drove, we left our cars parked here and for those who flew in Sojourn picked them up in Burlington. Once underway, we biked the 42 miles to Middlebury and the Swift House – a very charming inn that was once a governor’s home. That evening, a representative from Drop-In Brewery joined us to tell us about their beers and let us sample (very generously!). Dinner followed and was quite good, as it usually was across the tour. On Monday we biked to Montpelier and the one property that was kind of disappointing – but, truthfully, there didn’t seem to be a lot of options in Montpelier, it’s not a big town, to say the least.
Tuesday we rode to East Burke which was flat out great. East Burke is the self-proclaimed mountain biking capital of the east and a youthful and lively little town. Mike’s Tiki Bar was hugely fun and populated with a lot of bikers of all stripes and persuasions. That night, on the terrace of the Mountain View Farm Inn, we sampled more beer and had the best dinner of the trip. It was all farm to table and included a cedar plank salmon and 24-hour braised beef with all the sides you’d expect. It was simply spectacular and included as much as you could eat (and drink).
Over the next few days we wound our way from East Burke to Stowe (going over the Appalachian Gap – elevation 2,375) on our way to Trapp Family Lodge (yup, that one!) in Stowe. We had the delightful surprise of a real von Trapp family member visit – with Sam – and sampled his family’s beers on the property. We then rode on to Burlington and Hotel Vermont for another memorable evening. Of note: we did go up and over Smugglers’ Notch, which was the steepest climb I’d done at a 16º grade for roughly a half mile.
During several of the days we stopped at breweries along our route: Otter Creek, Zero Gravity and, famously, Hill Farmstead Brewery – which was so popular they limited the number of bottles of $20 beer you could buy to two. The parking lot (the place is in the middle of nowhere) was not only full of cars but cars with license plates from about seven different states. Supposedly the brewer has a worldwide reputation and it was easy to see why based on the samples we had.
I have one closing comment: this was a supremely well-organized tour. From the support we got on the road, to the inns that always seemed ready for us, to the breweries who had someone who would address our group only, there were no surprises at all during the trip and the two tour leaders made the logistics seamless. All we had to do was get up each morning, eat a great breakfast, pedal a bunch and wonder what wonderful food and beer we’d have that day. Not a bad way to spend a week in Vermont.”
Sojourn is a based in Charlotte, Vermont and conducts tours through the US and Canada. Their trips have received accolades from leading authorities who ranks them among the world’s best.
Visit the Sojourn website to learn more about their Vermont Bike & Brewery Tour.