It has broken our hearts this week to watch Vermont and Vermonters suffer the effects of Hurricane Irene. Communities that we know and those that we’ve yet to explore have endured tragic flooding this week, which seems to have devastated towns but brought communities together. We’ve seen these impulses in crises abroad, but it is no surprise to us to see it among communities in Vermont.
We have such beautiful memories of small swimming holes and meandering long walks, and especially of the kind, generous and always authentic people we seem to meet there at every turn. Travelers with whom we’ve shared campsites, locals who are always happy to point us to the best river for swimming, artists happy to open their studios and share their talents, and again and again, Vermonters who carry such well deserved pride in their state – its farms, its beer, its food, its land – and especially their neighbors.
Of all of the destinations in that state that we’ve come to love, the Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury has become our very favorite and it was one of those ruined by flooding last week. Each summer, we camp just down the road from the pub, and night after night we seem to find ourselves back at the Alchemst during that visit.
It exemplifies so much of what we love about brewing beer, about gardening and eating, and about Vermont, too. Their brews are wonderfully creative, small batch beers. I was crazy this summer about their sour beer, the Wild Child, while Christopher adored their delicious Heady Topper. We devoured sweet potato fries, the season’s first heirloom tomatoes on flatbread, and blackened tofu and beans. It’s always packed, but we always manage to squeeze our way to counter seats, happy to chat with their ever-friendly bartenders, who treat you like regulars and beer lovers from the moment you arrive, local brewers who’ve come by for a pint, locals who come night after night, or other travelers on annual pilgrimages to that great state.
Entirely flooded out, the Alchemist has had to close its doors, suffering less than others in its community, but devastated all the same – a loss for a great business and for the neighborhood that loves them. The pub promises to rebuild and we’ll be there when it does. Hang in there, Vermont. We’re rooting for you.