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Hike for your Hops, Walk for your Wine!

The troops stood at the entrance to the lodge, geared up with hiking shoes and water bottles. Introductions were made as everyone filed into the van, and off we went! With 7 guests and 2 Naturalists doubling as Local Brew Enthusiast Guides, Basin Harbor’s inaugural Vermont Libations Leg-Strech Mini-Tour headed south to Middlebury in search of tasty brews and some pleasant wooded strolls.

The Green Mountain State has become well-known for both its lush, forested hiking trails as well as its hopping craft beer scene and, more recently, its award-winning cold climate wine. Why not put all these things together? That’s just what we were aiming to offer our guests with this exciting new activity.

First stop: Drop-in Brewing, which just opened last summer with their flagship Belgian-style golden ale called Sunshine and Hoppiness. The brewery has continued to put out a range of styles from Imperial IPAs to red ales, brown ales, and their newest addition, a witbier called Katarina Wit. Drop-In just so happens to be adjacent to the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM), a 16 mile footpath circuit that runs through various outlying parts of Middlebury and over Otter Creek. Trailheads are accessible in many different areas, including right from the parking lot of the brewery!

BHC TAM trail sign

BHC Sip n Stroll happy beer sippers

With the aroma of malt in the air, we set off on a quick 20 minute loop through these lovely woods, stopping to check out interesting mushrooms and birdlife, and returned ready to sip our first suds. The tasting room attendant provided enthusiastic service as participants sampled all 6 pours. Growlers and smaller “Squealers” were purchased by a few guests (buying beer is optional with the complimentary tasting), then off we went to the next trail.

Heading back up Route 7, we parked at a lot that accessed the Otter Creek Gorge trail, another part of the TAM. The trail begins at a hydropower unit over a large waterfall, and meanders across a bridge over the rushing falls to the West side of the creek. Another 20 minute stroll had us admiring the calm pool of Otter Creek as it opened up into a gorge. A lovely sight!

Finally, it was time to cap off the adventure with a wine tasting. Lincoln Peak Vineyard has been making a name for itself as an International Cold Climate Wine Competitor, winning many awards including a gold medal for its Late Harvest ’11. The winery uses 100% Vermont-grown grapes to produce red, white, and rose blends and maintains a beautiful, inviting estate and tasting room that encourages guests to bring picnics and relax on the deck. Lincoln Peak even hosts music nights on Fridays during the Summer.

BHC Lincoln Pk porch

Our guests were happy to pay the $5 tasting fee, in exchange for 5 pours of what some consider to be Vermont’s best wine, and a keepsake glass to take home. The attractive wooden deck overlooking a serene pond provided the perfect conclusion to BHC’s Libations Mini-Tour, and participants were delivered safe and sound back to the Harbor, pleasantly buzzed and natured up, just in time to get ready for dinner.

An afternoon of nature intermingled with locally crafted libations—it’s the Basin Harbor way!