Of Madness & Reason: My Trip to Hill Farmstead Brewery

Greetings from Vermont! We are here this week on vacation, and even though we’ve been coming here for seventeen years, this beautiful state still enchants us. We love everything about you, Vermont!

Our friends are here with us this year, and while plotting out our week’s activities, they lobbied hard for a trip to the holy mecca of beer enthusiasts, Hill Farmstead Brewery. I was all set to sit this trip out and indulge in my favorite vacation activities of napping and reading rather than waiting in a long line for super special beer, but they appealed to my blogging sensibilities. They know I’m a sucker for hype and appreciate any hard to obtain food or beverage that inspires religious fervor, and who knows if I will have this opportunity again? So we set out on the 45 mile journey, growler in hand from our other friend who previously made the pilgrimage.


The trip up to Greensboro, Vermont is every bit as picturesque as one might expect.


When we finally arrived, the parking lot was pretty full, but we found a spot. The brewery itself is fairly utilitarian and rustic, without flashiness, bells or whistles. I found this refreshing, since they hold a boatload of prestigious awards, including Best Brewer in the World. THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! Thank God I didn’t sit this trip out. What was I thinking? Their logo comes from the Hill family tavern in the early 1800s, part of a long tradition of providing quality libations.



As usual, I was a little overwhelmed when faced with a beer choice, but lovely Kristin (pictured above) told me that the Madness and Reason #1 (Nitro) sounded like something I might enjoy: an Imperial Stout base with vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa nibs and chipotle.Well, I knew I loved the name, and it certainly sounded interesting, so we gave it a go.


It’s not often I’m at a loss for words to describe food or beverage, but I was struck dumb. Dumb and in love. This was truly amazing. I needed Kristin to give me words besides sublime, the only word I kept uttering besides, “Yes. More.” Some of Kristin’s words about the sublime Madness and Reason: well-balanced, complex, having it all, sweet-bitter-spicy, rich, velvety, creamy, variegated, 5 star. Yes, more.


Alas, there was no more. It was not available in a bottle or a growler, only in itty bitty 4 ounce tasting glasses. How disappointing for me!

Fortunately, everyone else managed to find beer that that they liked, and we brought some home. I personally enjoyed the Mary, a German style pilsner. Ed also bought the Arthur (saison) and Clara (grisette). And our friends bought…lots more!


Before we departed, we got a quick bite to eat at the taco truck parked outside. We tried and enjoyed all three varieties of tacos offered (black bean with fried plantain, beef with crunchy jalapeno, and buffalo chicken). At four dollars a piece, they were the perfect compliment to our beer.

I’m glad I said yes to this journey. While I’ve always enjoyed an above-average beer, I’m just not part of the #beerculture in a way which the true enthusiasts are. However, I am a big fan of family businesses, high quality, limited supplies and true craftsmanship. Madness and Reason provided me with my first transcendental beer experience, and I finally understood why people get all worked up and travel many miles for the perfect beer.  It was definitely worth the trip.