Hunting Heady Topper? New Visitors Center Makes Beer Search Easier

The makers of the wildly popular craft beer opened a new retail space in Stowe

The new Alchemist brewery and visitors center in Stowe, Vermont, is drawing long lines of enthusiastic beer lovers, just days after its opening. The Alchemist brews Heady Topper, the wildly popular double IPA.

"We came up here for this beer," beamed Jennifer Shaw of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, who waited in line for about an hour Thursday morning for a case of Heady Topper and some of the Alchemist's other creations. "It's a beer that doesn't taste like any beer you can get in the grocery store, so it's worth it."

Glowing internet reviews and critical acclaim have fueled Heady Topper's mystique, along with its reputation for being hard-to-find, even near where it's made. The beer is only available in Vermont.

"It's very important to keep this beer cold," said beer lover Tesh Satram, who came to the Alchemist with a large cooler and ice to keep his Heady Topper cold until he got home. "It's best when it's cold and fresh."

In late 2013, the brewery closed its previous visitors center in Waterbury, citing traffic concerns. A regular crush of customers was clogging a small street, the company explained at the time.

The Alchemist’s new place has much more room to park and wait, and offers other styles of its beer to try or buy. This summer, in addition to Heady Topper, the Alchemist said it will be selling its Focal Banger, Crusher, and other small-batch specialty beers.

"We're just really excited to be connected with the community again, make as much beer as possible in a responsible way, and get it out to as many people as possible," Jen Kimmich of the Alchemist told necn. "We are humbled and grateful every day we open and see people excited to enjoy our beer."

The Alchemist is one of more than 50 craft brewers in Vermont, a number that's more than doubled in the past five years. The state now produces more craft beer per capita than any place else in the country, according to the Vermont Brewers Association.

The association said in 2015, Vermont brewers churned out the equivalent of 17.4 gallons of craft beer for every adult in the state 21-years-old and older.

"This is the epicenter," said beer lover Meg Valovage of Syracuse, New York, whose beer tour through Vermont included a stop Thursday at the Alchemist. "You guys know how to do it the best, for sure. Everyone's following Vermont's lead right now."

Jasmine Bigelow of the Stowe Area Association said she hopes folks coming for beer will check out the other offerings in the village, which she predicted could boost Stowe's reputation as more than just a place to ski.

"We're incredibly happy with the addition of the Alchemist to town," Bigelow said. "They bring something new for visitors to do, and it's incredible for the rest of the business community."

Kimmich said even though the company has its own retail space again, it will still work hard to service its restaurant accounts and mom-and-pop stores that helped jump-start the Heady Topper craze.

The Alchemist's new Stowe brewery and visitors center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m.

For more information, including frequently asked questions, you can visit the company's website here:

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