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Side Dishes: The buzz on Brewers Fest, Boyden and Boloco

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Vermont Ice Apple Creme
  • Vermont Ice Apple Creme

Until 2008, Woodchuck Draft Cider poured its hard stuff at the Vermont Brewers Festival. “It was really popular,” says marketing director Bridget Blacklock.

But last year the Middlebury company was told it was no longer welcome. “They changed the regulations so it’s a malt-only festival,” Blacklock says.

Despite plenty of emails and an online petition from fans, Woodchuck staffers haven’t been able to sway the festival organizers. It’s “disappointing” and “a little sad” that the company can’t do anything about its exclusion, Blacklock laments.

Why the apple freeze-out? “The intent of the festival is to promote artisan craft beer,” explains fest director Laura Streets. With so many Vermont breweries and limited space on the Burlington waterfront, she says, excellent beer makers from nearby regions have to be turned away. “That’s why we’ve tried to narrow our focus,” she explains. “We simply don’t have space for everybody.”

Streets hopes that members of the burgeoning cider-making community will eventually start their own event. “[The Vermont Brewers Association] really supports cider makers,” she says, “It’s unfortunate that we can’t support them through our festival.”

Nearly all the Vermont breweries will be there, excluding newbies Hill Farmstead Brewery and the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. Why? The budding businesses have been “so successful they didn’t have enough beer to bring,” said Streets. She explains that each company is required to cart 120 gallons to the event.

Out-of-town attendees will include Montréal’s Dieu du Ciel!, Brooklyn Brewery and Maine’s Peak Organic.

The busy Boydens of Cambridge may be one of Vermont’s best-known agricultural families. Mark and Lauri Boyden raise beef and run an on-farm market and scoop shop. David and Linda Boyden own an award-winning winery and sell maple syrup. Now the latter couple is about to add another product — Vermont Ice Apple Crème — to their roster.

“It’s a cream liqueur made of ice cider and apple brandy,” David Boyden explains. He likens the style of the drink to a “lighter and more refined” Baileys, and says it will be made from a mix of Northern Spy, McIntosh and Empire apples: “It uses a lot of Vermont apples, which is good for the growers.”

Why branch out into the liqueur market? “We like developing projects and packaging; we like the R&D part of our business,” Boyden says.

Because they’re waiting for numerous permits, Boyden doesn’t anticipate having the booze on the market until September, but he thinks the product — which has been in the works for 15 months — will be worth the wait. “It tastes really nice,” he boasts.

Want beer with that burrito? Like their round-the-corner competitor Bueno Y Sano, the Church Street outpost of the Boston-based Boloco chain now has a liquor license. “It got approved just a couple of hours ago,” Nicole Ravlin, Boloco’s publicist, said on Monday.

On July 19, the resto will start serving a mix of local brews and other fan faves — including Magic Hat, Wolaver’s and PBR. “There will also be a gluten-free offering to go with their [our]-to-be revealed gluten-free menu,” says Ravlin.

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