- Beer by the waterfront at the Vermont Brewers Festival
Since it opened at 112 Lake Street in Burlington in 2016, Foam Brewers has been the Vermont Brewers Festival's unofficial pregame and after-party spot. It's a no-brainer: The Vermont Brewers Association's annual tasting extravaganza at Waterfront Park is basically on Foam's front lawn.
But this year's festival — running Thursday, July 21, through Saturday, July 23, after a two-year hiatus — will be only the second in which the brewery has officially participated.
"The first couple years, we didn't have enough beer," Foam cofounder and head brewer Bob Grim said. The brewery participated in 2018 but skipped 2019 to focus on other projects, including the construction of its restaurant, Deep City. Foam could easily do its own thing again this year, but it has committed to all three days of the festival.
"We're back because we want to show support for the association and for the other brewers that are pouring here," Grim said. "And we don't want to be jerks."
- Vermont Brewers Festival in 2019
The Vermont Brewers Festival started in 1991. There are a few changes this year: badges instead of drink tickets, multiple options for pour sizes and a new Thursday session featuring local ingredients.
The lineup will also vary each day: With pandemic staffing challenges in mind, the festival no longer requires that the 37 participating breweries attend the whole weekend.
Grim, who recently joined the Vermont Brewers Association's board of directors, is ready for the throngs of Vermont beer lovers who will flock to the park with tasting glasses in hand, eager to sip the state's finest suds. He sat down with Seven Days for a pint and a quick chat about Foam's return to the festival.
SEVEN DAYS: What are your predictions for this year's Vermont Brewers Festival?
BOB GRIM: The way people consume and buy beer has changed so much over the past couple years. People don't really wait in huge lines anymore for can releases, and preferences have changed. The highest-ABV beer on the menu used to be the one that everyone would go for, crushing through double and triple IPAs just to get fucked up. Now they're more conscious of what they're drinking, which is a good thing.
I think All Night Long [a 3.2-percent lager] is going to do pretty well. It's a light option. I love drinking lagers and pilsners at the end of the day — they're a great treat. It's cool to see that people are going back to that and appreciating it.
SD: A new Thursday night session features breweries pouring beer brewed with local ingredients. What is Foam bringing?
- Bob Grim
BG: We do a ton of local ingredient sourcing, but we've been awkward with our communication about it. It can feel like a marketing gimmick. Not telling the stories of the farmers and producers we're working with is a bummer, though, so we're trying to step it up.
The Thursday session is going to be a really cool, intimate time to taste and talk about the plethora of things people are growing — and how cool it is that we get to support local agriculture and add them to beer.
We're bringing For You, our 100 percent local pale ale, and Another Chorus, a blended mixed-culture beer brewed with Vermont Malthouse pilsner malt and wheat from NEK Grains [from Gingue Family Farm] that we conditioned with 300 pounds of delicious, ripe strawberries from Last Resort Farm. We hand-puréed them with an immersion blender. It smelled great, and it's going to be amazing, but I'm not sure I'd do that with an immersion blender again.
SD: Post-festival, you're back at Foam. What are you eating and drinking?
BG: I'm definitely drinking a pilsner. And the poutine at Deep City is a pretty perfect thing to eat after drinking some beers.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity and length.