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Drinking Guinness With Hikers at Killington's Inn at Long Trail


Published August 16, 2022 at 2:32 p.m.
Updated August 17, 2022 at 10:04 a.m.

Guinness at McGrath's Irish Pub - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Guinness at McGrath's Irish Pub

I am not a hiker. But, by some twist of fate (and marriage), I'm related to quite a few very serious hikers, and they all traversed the woods of Vermont this summer.

We met Snow and Snake Farm — the trail names of my husband's cousin and her partner — for dinner not long after they had crossed into the Green Mountains on their northbound through-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

The entrance to McGrath's Irish Pub at the Inn at Long Trail - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • The entrance to McGrath's Irish Pub at the Inn at Long Trail

They were overnighting in Killington at the Inn at Long Trail, a popular stop for hikers looking to rest and refuel. Less than a mile from the Route 4 trailhead, the inn draws a steady stream of trail folk with its coin-op laundry, discounts for hike-in lodging and resupply-package holding.

Logistics aside, I was intrigued by a tip from my brother-in-law, who recently finished hiking the Long Trail: He raved about the inn's attached watering hole, McGrath's Irish Pub. "They really know how to pour a Guinness," he said, "with the shamrock and everything."

We found Snow and Snake Farm in the pub, beers in hand. Naïvely thinking ahead to dinner, I asked what they were most excited to eat off-trail. They immediately answered in unison, lifting their glasses: "Beer!"

To make the most of their time in Vermont, they'd opted for local craft beers. But a note on the pub's printed menu caught my eye: "First in Vermont to serve Guinness on draft."

A Vermont half at McGrath's Irish Pub - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • A Vermont half at McGrath's Irish Pub

I ordered it and discovered that the bartender's two-part draft pour would hold up anywhere, even at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin itself. After the first pour, as the three-quarter-full pint settled, I read the rest of the inn's history on the back of the menu, signed by owners Murray and Patty McGrath.

The spot has drawn hikers since 1923, when the inn's predecessor across the street, a seasonal lodge, was built for the Green Mountain Club. When that building burned down in 1968, the news made the front page of the New York Times "as the loss of a significant part of Vermont's history," the menu notes.

Kyran and Rosemary McGrath purchased the current building, originally a ski lodge, in 1977. They added the pub — and the Guinness.

The Guinness Academy, run by the Dublin storehouse, teaches a full six-step ritual for pouring, which should take 119.5 seconds from grabbing a branded glass to presenting a full pint. I didn't check my watch, but when I looked up again, my full pint was in front of me. Its creamy head snuck just above the brim, with the head of a shamrock traced on top.

We drank our perfect pints and several others, trying out variations such as the Vermont Half (splitting Guinness with Long Trail Ale) while we listened to our adventurous relatives' tales from the trail. The last 500 miles, from Vermont to Maine, was the part they were looking forward to the most.

McGrath's Irish Pub's "Paddy" Melt - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • McGrath's Irish Pub's "Paddy" Melt

The pub's dinner menu was a serious upgrade from the packets of tuna and basic sandwiches they'd been eating, though they did pick up two types of cheddar immediately after crossing into Vermont.

I opted for the "Paddy" Melt ($14), topped with Guinness-braised onions and Guinness-and-mushroom ketchup, to maximize my consumption of the stout. I had hiked only from the parking lot into the pub, but the grilled burger's melty cheese felt like something I'd crave after a few days in the woods.

Pints empty, we took a family photo under a poster with the Barry crest — a small part of the Irish décor adorning the pub's walls — and said our goodbyes.

"Most fun stop on the whole trail," Snow said.

McGrath's Irish Pub, the Inn at Long Trail, 709 Route 4, Killington, 775-7181, innatlongtrail.com

The original print version of this article was headlined "Trail Magic"