- Courtesy of idletyme Brewing Company
- Crop Bistro & Brewery's Helles Brook Lager onion tart
After installing a new chef — Michael's alum Jason Bissell — and a new menu, the owners took their time fine-tuning softer factors such as staffing, service style and space layout. "We were in the assessment phase for a long time," says Laura Kloeti. "We didn't want to come in, like, We can cook, so we know how to run this place. We really wanted to watch it and figure things out."
On Monday, after nearly seven months of incremental changes, the restaurant served its final shift as Crop Bistro & Brewery. When it reopens on November 11, it will do so as Idletyme Brewing Company.
Though Bissell will launch a new autumn/winter menu upon reopening, Kloeti says that's more about seasonal rotation than sweeping change. Locals can expect the same burgers, chicken, potatoes and other pub-style comfort food they've been getting to know since May, with adjustments to showcase seasonal ingredients — and beers.
As for those beers, brewmaster Will Gilson's ever-popular brews will remain unchanged. "Will is here, he's incredible and he's an artist," Kloeti says. "[He and the kitchen] work together all the time." That collaboration has given rise to dishes such as a vanilla porter sticky-toffee pudding and an onion tart made with Gilson's Helles Brook Lager.
To help consumers connect the dots between the two brands, Kloeti says she plans to change the beer labeling slowly. For now, Gilson's Helles Brook Lager, Fall Bock Lager and Idletyme IPA will be sold under the Crop Brewery label. Gilson tells Seven Days he hopes to transition to the new labels in early 2016.
The brewery is also adding fermentation tanks to increase production, with an eye toward shipping more kegs to local restaurants and selling more retail bottles. Gilson has begun brewery projects such as aging beers — look for an English-style barley wine aged in rum-soaked oak barrels from Mad River Distillers very, very soon.
Back in the pub, most of the changes are cosmetic: Kloeti says renovations include refinishing the floors, painting and changing the layout to improve the flow. She describes those as just finishing touches in a process that she and her husband hope will return the pub to the laid-back community spot of the Shed Restaurant & Brewery days.
To celebrate that mission, Idletyme Brewing will host a reopening party with snacks, live music and beer tastings — including one very special new brew — on Sunday, November 15. "This property was always the hub of town," says Kloeti, who has lived in Stowe for 16 years and raised her family there. "That is the most important thing to us, and we want this place to become that."