You find yourself in Burlington, Vermont, and you don’t know why. You’re not frightened. You’re where you’re supposed to be.
It’s night. You walk down Church Street and get a Bombay Grab IPA at Vermont Pub and Brewery. This is delicious, you think.
After tipping the angelic woman behind the bar, you walk up St. Paul and take a right on Bank. You push through the doors of the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. When you get to the bar in the back, you know you’re going to ask the bartender for a Heady Topper, and you know he’s going to say they’ve sold out. But you ask anyway.
“We’ve sold out,” he says. Without waiting for your reply, he pours a beer in a glass and pushes it towards you.
“What is it?” you ask.
“Abner. Hill Farmstead Brewery,” he says and floats away to the next customer.
You drink. Good God. It’s fresh. Piney. There’s tropical citrus. And the finish. Smooth. The words ‘world class’ ring in your head.
You try to catch the barman’s eye. You want another. A man, three feet tall, maybe less, tugs on your shirt.
“Go there,” he says.
“Go there,” he repeats. “Greensboro, Vermont.”
Then he’s gone. You drive to your hotel. You dream of rolling mountains and endless farmland.
You awake with singular purpose. It’s a sunny fall day. A day that feels infinite.
The houses along Route 15 gleam. After forty-five minutes, there are more cows than houses. You see a winery on your left, but you don’t stop. This isn’t about wine; it’s about beer.
Your car soldiers up 15, through towns that seem impossible.
There’s a sign for Greensboro. You turn.
No signs for Hill Farmstead Brewery pop out of the bucolic landscape. You’re lost, but you don’t panic. A woman wearing a full Carhart jumpsuit leads a horse along the dirt road. She’ll have answers. And she does.
“Turn around, just passed the next bend,” she says.
You thank her and she smiles. Maybe you could live here forever, burn your old life and move in with this woman and her horse. You shake the siren song of the landscape and turn the car around.
One bend and there it is. Out of this landscape appears a building with cedar shingles so new they’re still yellow.
Through the construction, you find the hobbit door. You push into the tasting room. Your brother’s there.
He says, “I’ve already paid for your tasting.”
Like all dreams, the tasting is temporal, fleeting. The Double Citra IPA is a citra hop manifesto. The Edward is an everyday APA dream. The Harlan IPA is clean and dry — yeasty. The Abner IPA already tastes like an old friend. There’s one more beer to taste. A porter. A dark beast named Everett. It’s roasty. Malty. Yeasty. You imagine that somewhere on this land there’s a living culture of yeast that brings all these beers together, creating the Hill Farmstead experience.
You buy a bottle of Abner. Your brother rides shotgun in your car and you both marvel at the moon.
“How does life after this go on?” you ask.
“You live your life, and you come back here for more,” he says.
“Oh,” is all you can say as the moon seems to nod in agreement. You clutch your bottle of Abner to be sure it’s real.