- File: Matthew Thorsen
- William McNeil and Eric Warnstedt
The Vermont beer trail will gain an important new stop when the Alchemist Brewery makes its upcoming move to Stowe. But that brewery and tasting room won't be the only new kid on the beer block. This coming summer, Eric Warnstedt and William McNeil of Hen of the Wood plan to open a still-unnamed beer bar at 294 Mountain Road, most recently home to Vermont Ale House.
Warnstedt warns potential guests not to expect a third Hen of the Wood. "It's just a beer bar," he says. The building will retain its three levels but otherwise be restored to suit the owners' original lounge design by Doug Walker, the man behind the reconstruction of Waterworks Food + Drink. Custom-made high-tops and a few booths will fill out the "vibey lounge," Warnstedt says.
The chef, who is a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Northeast again this year, says he's spent a great deal of time in the Stowe community. "I am still concerned about not stepping on anyone's toes," he adds, and cites businesses such as Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge and the Bench as already doing an excellent job of serving beer in Stowe. "But I believe a rising tide lifts all ships," Warnstedt says. "We want to be unique and not impede on those restaurants."
The team will serve its favorite beers from near and far, along with bar snacks familiar to Hen of the Wood regulars, such as oysters, cheese and charcuterie. The compact kitchen will also turn out small plates, such as braised LaPlatte River Angus Farm short ribs served in steamed buns. "It will still be filling and still be different," Warnstedt says. For those with a sweet tooth, pastry chef Andrew LeStourgeon's ice creams will be transformed into milk shakes in a newly purchased machine.
Some diners will burn off those calories by biking. The Stowe Recreation Path runs nearby, and Warnstedt plans to court the cycling crowd with an area for bike tune-ups out front.