THE GAMES WE PLAY - Finding fun and camaraderie in Vermont’s tasting roomsOct 11, 2023 09:57PM ● By BENJAMIN STANGE
In Vermont, the best tasting rooms in the state are dedicated to providing fun games to entertain their patrons and encourage them to socialize with each other. Whether gaming with your drinking buddy, or drinking with your gaming buddy, these tasting rooms have what it takes to play the games we love.
In addition to being solar-powered since 2017, they offer eight delicious beers on tap and a tasting room designed to entertain the whole family that's open seven days per week. They cover all the popular tasting room games, such as cornhole, ladder ball, and trivia, and they also offer an array of board games to play, even providing a good selection of board games just for the kids.
In northeastern Vermont, head over to Kingdom Brewing in Newport Town. “When you visit Kingdom Brewing, music isn’t the only thing being played,” said Eric Plaskonos. “With a wide assortment of games like cards, cribbage, Trivial Pursuit, cornhole, Jenga, and Mongo Jenga, there’s fun to be had for kids of all ages at The Brew Cabin.”
There's more than just great beer at Kingdom Brewing. You'll find family-friendly entertainment, music, and plenty of games to play.
“We LOVE our games at the brewery!” said Walt Bansley, owner of Snow Republic Brewing Company in their West Dover tasting room.
With a ton of table games like UNO, cards, and Connect 4 (they also offer giant versions, if size matters), their tasting room is often filled with people playing games. With a pool table, darts, and a vintage 1950s shuffle-board table, they have the traditional pub games covered. But the games are not what truly set them apart, according to Bansley.
“I believe that we are truly unique, because of our vibe. I am originally from San Diego, and I kick a laid back, SoCal vibe. Cali Reggae music is always playing on the stereo amidst many real palm trees. We are kid-friendly, dog-friendly and just create a really cool environment to have a great beer and food.”
If you relish some fierce competition, with a more cerebral approach to your fun, you’re probably a trivia fan. “We do a trivia night here, which has been popular,” said Jesse Croni, owner and brewer at Lucy and Howe, “Our quiz- master Libby cooks up new questions tackling topics ranging from the arts to Marvel movies to the year 1986 to famous dynamic duos. Grab a beer, a charcuterie board, or some pretzel sticks with house-made beer cheese, and see how you stack up against the other teams. Games start at 6pm.”
Trivia nights happen on Thursdays. Upcoming dates are Nov. 9 and 30, and Dec. 14.
Their competitive trivia night is fun and with a fun twist. Every Monday at 6:30pm, teams gather to compete for the coveted trivia mug. In order to win it, you must win trivia five times in a row. Your team’s reward is the mug, but also the epic bragging rights that go along with it. Weekly first and last place teams also get something special, according to event coordinator Blake Spencer.
“Winners get a prize; last place gets to pick the next week’s first round topic,” he said.
If trivia’s not your thing, there’s still plenty to do for fun around the tasting room, including free shuffle-board and pool.
“We have a large selection of games to choose from to keep folks occupied while enjoying a pint. We have some games from local makers like Gravitas as well as some old favorites like Connect 4, Guess Who, and Sorry,” said Amy Lieblein, marketing and events coordinator at Switchback.
Along with the smaller games, they also offer a larger Connect 4 on the patio, which is a big hit in warmer weather, and cornhole. “We also host Game On VT’s cornhole league every Wednesday. Teams play three to four matches a night, and all abilities are welcome. This is a social/recreational program,” said Lieblein.
Bringing the games we play into the digital age is Whirligig, featuring free arcade machines as well as the more old-school cornhole. The free arcade games are a lot of fun, of course, but the real social feature of the tasting room is its board games.
According to Geoffrey Sawake, CEO of Whirligig Brewing, one of the most fun nights of the month is their “epic meetup of board gamers on the first Thursday of every month.” So, if you’re interested in playing some games with new friends, it sounds like that is a safe shot to take.
They host some serious cribbage tournaments. Each tournament is a major event at the brewery and runs for six weeks. Teams meet Mondays at 6pm. This league of extraordinary cribbage players is pretty exclusive, as each tournament is limited to 12 teams. The current tournament wraps up on Oct. 23, and the next begins in January.
Can’t commit to six weeks of weekly cribbage? Well, that’s OK, too. They hold one-day single-elimination cribbage tournaments periodically, as well, the next set to take place on Nov. 18 and 19. So, stop in and try your hand at some cribbage, make some new friends, and try the Showtime IPA while you’re there.
You can play a myriad of board games in their tasting room. Their chess board is, in particular, a unique feature. It’s a beautiful set, and is rarely unused on the weekends.
“We’ve had chess here since we opened, plus plenty of other games like cribbage, Jenga, Uno, Battleship, Connect 4, etc. We are also hoping to have a chess tournament in November,” said Brian Eckert, owner of Four Quarters Brewing.
Our only distillery on the list is also the only venue that offers foosball in their tasting room. You can play foosball or shuffleboard while sipping on their spirits. They try to focus on sourcing local ingredients whenever possible. They use local honey or maple syrup in their sapling line, and use both local and exotic herbs in their Snowdrop gin. They have a comfortable tasting room, delicious spirits, and fun games to go with them.
In a carriage barn in Bristol, you can visit Jamie and Sam Sawyer of Hogback Mountain Brewing. They love when patrons play games at their tasting room. They have cornhole and giant Jenga in the beer garden, and a multitude of tabletop games inside, but they are most excited about resuming their trivia nights, where patrons can earn both street cred and tasting room credits in the form of Hogback Coins.
“Starting in October we are bringing back Thursday Trivia, which has become a favorite of locals all trying to win the coveted Hogback Coins,” said Sam Sawyer.
At Foley Brother Brewing, they make beer the hard way, and as the saying goes, “work hard, play hard.” According to Bob Foley, there’s always something to do while you’re sipping their hard-crafted beers.
“Each table at Quechee has a ring toss set, and both sites have corn-hole, and there’s always a set of Trivial Pursuit cards hanging around,” Foley said.
Overlooking the river in Brattleboro is a fixture in craft beer with an incredible tasting room. They feature delicious beer, an amazing view, and Bingo.
That’s right. Whetstone has Bingo every Wednesday at 7pm that supports local charities. Prizes include gift cards from local businesses and all proceeds go to a different charity each week.
If Bingo isn’t your speed, they offer Trivia and many board games to play with your friends while you enjoy the view and a few of their beers.
GET OUT THERE AND PLAY,
So, the next time you’re considering what to do on any given night, consider meeting up with some friends (or even some strangers) at one of the many tasting rooms in Vermont. Meet some people, have a drink, and get out there and play.
FOUR QUARTERS BREWING
70 Main St.
FOLEY BROTHERS BREWING
79 Stone Mill Dam Rd.
HOGBACK MOUNTAIN BREWING
372 Rockydale Rd.
353 Coburn Hill Rd.
LUCY AND HOWE BREWING CO.
51 VT Route 15,
ROCK ART BREWERY
632 LaPorte Rd.
SAXTON’S RIVER DISTILLERY
155 Chickering Dr. Brattleboro, VT
SNOW REPUBLIC BREWING CO.
33 Route 100
West Dover, VT
SWITCHBACK BREWING CO.
160 Flynn Ave.
VERMONT BEER MAKERS
100 River St.
WHETSTONE BEER CO.
36 Bridge St.
397 Railroad Street, Unit #2
St Johnsbury, VT