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Magic Hat Opens Full Tasting Room With Food, and a Party

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It's been 23 years since Magic Hat Brewing sold its first beers to the public. While the brewery's Artifactory has hosted hundreds of events since then, on Monday, Magic Hat celebrated a new milestone when it sold its first "everyday pints" during regular service.

That's right: You can now get full pints of beer — along with cheese boards, panini and salads — every day at South Burlington's eldest brewery.

Working with longtime artist-collaborator Russ Bennett, whose installations have enlivened Phish and Bonnaroo festivals, the brewery has converted its retail shop and sampling bar into a full-service tasting room.

The renovated space features brushed-steel high-top tables and a 15-draft bar and full kitchen. Many of the drafts are Vermont-only brews from Magic Hat's five-barrel pilot system, which are distributed to a couple dozen Vermont accounts. "This is the only reliable place to find these beers," said brand manager Harry Kahn, chatting with Seven Days in the tasting room last Friday.

As for food, the menu — designed by Magic Hat brewer and cellarman Wilson Ballantyne, who is a New England Culinary Institute grad — features Vermont cheeses and breads from Klinger's Bread, Misty Knoll Farms chicken and in-season veggies from nearby farms. Find Caesar and burrata Caprese salads, and panini layered with everything from barbecued chicken to corned beef and kraut.

Kahn said he hopes the updated space will "show off all the great changes happening at Magic Hat," while "fulfilling our vision of what a brewery should be." The company was purchased by North American Breweries in 2010 and sold again in 2012 to Cerveceria Costa Rica/Florida Ice & Farm Co. But it has maintained a strong community orientation in Chittenden County, where it's a high-profile presence at annual events including the Magic Hat Mardi Gras parade and South End Art Hop.

Magic Hat's tasting room is now open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The brewery will host a grand reopening party showcasing its new digs, pours and snacks — with tunes from Josh Panda — this Thursday, May 4.


The original print version of this article was headlined "Pints and Panini"

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