Since moving to its fantastic art deco-designed new digs in Stowe during 2011, THE ALCHEMIST has fully extended its expansive brewing operations as a small production brewing facility.
Founder John Kimmich’s inconspicuous beginnings took a major turn for superstardom when Heady Topper became the premier New England-styled India Pale Ale in America, capturing the attention of experienced craft beer aficionados.
Helped along by a large canning line that snakes around the Beer Cafe, The Alchemist now sells its beer to the entire East Coast.
Inside The Alchemist, its ornamental art nouveau styling provides a beautiful backdrop for the black-tabled pub. Many one-offs, variants and specialty beer can be found at the small black bar’s refrigerator.
There’s a tremendous black and white ceiling mural that captures the eye on the left wall and exposed pipes hand from the high angled ceiling. Brewtanks are behind the cafe while an overlooking mezzanine and large back deck provide seating.
I bought rich, fudgy, decadent Luscious Brit-styled Imperial Stout (reviewed in Beer Index) during my November ’22 stopover.
The article below was written thirteen years hence – before Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the original Alchemist.
In the valley eleven miles south of Stowe lies the pastoral village of Waterbury, home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and since Thanksgiving 2003, top-notch midtown brewpub, THE ALCHEMIST, visited November ‘06. A cheery abbot figurine sits atop tap handles at right side bar across dining area and fronting billiards table, serving as a cool mascot.
Unfortunately, a flood hit The Alchemist in 2011 and shut the pub down permanently. Thankfully, the owners were able to secure a 15-barrel brewing system and cannery for their universally renowned flagship beer, Heady Topper IPA. (The following notes are from my 2006 visit.)
Brewer John Kimmich began his brewing career at the famed Vermont Pub & Brewery working alongside beer prodigy Greg Noonan. Kimmich’s basement tanks served wonderfully diverse beers-ales with fine general pub fare. While diacetyl peppery-hopped corn-husked wheat-chaffed vegetal-tinged Lightweight German Pilsner will suit novice thirsts, intermediate drinkers may prefer nutty-topped dried-fruited mocha-coffee-bottomed Donovan’s Red and dry nut-chocolate-roasted phenol-coarsened Dunkler Stern.
Better yet were frothily black coffee-embittered, cocoa bean-soured, walnut-backed Pappy’s Porter and Pinot Noir cask conditioned Petit Mutant (with its sour grape esters wafting above tart oak-dried cherry-cranberry nuances).
Even more intriguing were two dry piney-hopped India Pale Ales.
Red-yellow-fruited floral-pined alcohol-astringent Holy Cow IPA really impressed.
But who’d guess the lusciously charismatic Heady Topper would gain enormous worldwide acceptance, alongside Pliney The Elder, as one of the most sought after India Pale Ales. Its briskly pine-sapped hops embraced captivatingly rounded spruce-tipped fruitfulness and an elegant floral bouquet above creamy sugar-spiced Vienna malting, scintillatingly promoting tangy cherry-bruised grapefruit rind, orange, peach, mango, nectarine, tangerine, guava and lychee tropicalia in a well-integrated, balanced manner.