Everything about Burlington Beer’s new South End bar and restaurant is great. The massive and historic 14,000 square foot space has thick brick walls, high ceilings, and huge windows. It seats around 235 people and has a spacious main dining area anchored by a 46 foot bar with a row of 48 faucets. Through an opening in the wall behind the bar, patrons can glimpse large wooden barrels containing the brewery’s new range of sour beers which will launch in 2022.
In early October, Burlington Beer shut down the original tap room at its Williston brewery, but it will continue to brew there. The new bar and restaurant at 180 Flynn Avenue opened for lunch, dinner and, of course, beer daily on October 12.
“I love watching everyone’s jaw drop when they walk in,” said bar manager Lisa Ritter.
Burlington Beer owner Joe Lemnah, 39, said his goal had always been to locate his brewery in his namesake metropolis; he just couldn’t afford the rent when he was just starting out. Seven years later, with a large portfolio of beers distributed throughout the Northeast and along the Atlantic coast – and 2021 revenues projected to be $ 7 million – Burlington Beer was ready to hit the big city.
But, admitted Lemnah, he hadn’t planned to go quite so fat.
Beyond the main dining room and bar, the side rooms include a retail store stocked with wares and beer and what he called a “canopy” with eight other taps on the north end of the building. building. There, at high tables waiting to be seated, guests can sip the brewery’s pale ale Elaborate Metaphor New England or the unexpected Mocaccino that looks like a pale ale but tastes like a stout. (“It’s supposed to be some kind of hogwash,” Lemnah explained with a chuckle.)
Walk-ins may be lucky enough to snag seats at the chef’s counter bordering the shiny 1,100-square-foot kitchen at the back of the building. These seats offer a view of the 26-foot-long hood vent under which cooks sizzle hamburger patties, grill beer-brined wings, and hand-cut crispy fries.
A large kitchen space allows for a dedicated space where a pair of pastry chefs prepare premium plate desserts, such as pumpkin cheesecake with pepita-oat streusel, caramel stout and vanilla crème fraîche. . Another duo makes hamburger buns, hoagie buns and sour sourdough buns daily.
The 15-member culinary team is led by Executive Chef John Roettinger and Sous Chef Avery Buck. The two met while working at Hen of the Wood in Burlington. Roettinger was most recently chef at Mule Bar in Winooski, and Buck sous chef at Doc Ponds in Stowe.
The new restaurant is a huge improvement over the original Burlington Beer Industrial Park faucet room, which was carved into a corner of the brewery. There the kitchen was transformed into a cramped old office nicknamed “the cupboard” and furnished with three panini presses, a small oven and a single induction burner. The baker worked in a converted conference room.
Burlington Beer Townhouse is an imposing edifice, which recently housed Vermont Hardware. It had been renovated by its owners, Dominique and Trey Pecor, with new HVAC and electrical systems, energy efficient windows, updated lighting and recast concrete floors.
When Lemnah first came to look at space, “I walked in and I was like, Fucking shit“He recalls.” This place was so perfect and so fair, I just had to put on my 200 seat restaurant pants and go with it. ”
Construction took several months longer than expected and cost $ 1.2 million, Lemnah said. Its aim was to retain some of the building’s raw charm and honor its history. It was built in 1902 as an American production site for Auguste and Louis Lumière, French brothers and film pioneers who also invented a first color photography process. According to the Vermont Historical Society, it is the only Lumiere production building in the world.
Those familiar with the Williston space of Burlington Beer will recognize some artistic touches from local artist Sunniva Dutcher and the brand’s New York-based creative director Tim Fealey. But the visual impact of their work is minimal in Burlington. “We will continue to add our vibe,” said Lemnah, “but I kind of wanted to celebrate the natural beauty of the building.”
Open for about a month, the restaurant was still building its vibe on my last two visits, but it showed great promise. Service was friendly but slow at the start of both meals. I wanted a QR code ordering option, which is available on the tops of the main dining room and in some of the satellite rooms.
On our first visit on a busy Thursday night, my husband and I ordered bar food almost exclusively to accompany our beers: Time of the Chimpanzee, a juicy New Zealand IPA, and Creatures of Magic, an New Zealand IPA. England. (Beers range from $ 4 to $ 11.)
The fries ($ 7) were superlative: thin and crisp with a rosemary and pepper aioli. “We’re going for McDonald’s fry,” Roettinger later told me. “We want to do the best execution of everything we do.”
A fish sandwich ($ 17) featured Starbird Fish cod, caught in Alaska by a Vermonter. The thick, chewy fillet was wrapped in a crispy batter and pampered in a freshly baked potato bun with house pickled onions, coleslaw sautéed with honey and tartar sauce. The two-jointed grilled wings ($ 14) were plump and massive – as if trying to match the scale of the dining room.
We also ordered the Beet Salad ($ 12), a seasonal offering that rotates among the salad trio. It was excellent, with a creamy blue cheese dressing and lots of crunchy crushed pepitas.
When we visited a friend just before closing Sunday night at 7 p.m., the dining room was quieter. My husband and I sampled some never-before-seen beers: Uncanny Valley, a New England fruit IPA, and Petal Prophecy, a honey IPA. Our friend, who is not a beer drinker, ordered a local cider after lingering over the intriguing cocktail list.
I have a rule against rearranging an item when eating out for work, but I couldn’t resist the siren call of these fries. We also indulged in a piece of the excellent house sourdough with black crust ($ 5), accompanied by a generous swirl of maple beer butter sprinkled with crunchy sea salt.
After the carb load up, we continued with the smash burger made with local beef and house beer pickles ($ 15); the fried chicken sandwich ($ 15), drizzled with hop infused honey; and the bánh mì mushroom ($ 14).
The vegetarian choice was love at first sight of the meal. Locally grown, crispy grilled oyster mushrooms with a woody flavor and just the right touch of Chinese five-spice powder were nestled with Pitchfork Pickle kimchi and spicy mayonnaise in a crisp, hoagie baguette bread.
We sampled two salads: a creamy Napa cabbage with pickled carrots and radishes, topped with toasted breadcrumbs and minced, dried egg yolk ($ 14); and the seasonal house salad ($ 12) of baby kale with the fun addition of diced pickled apples, plus squash, sunflower seeds and a tangy-sweet dressing. Each offered a balanced flavor and texture and was ample enough to share.
As the dining room emptied, we concluded our feast with two desserts: Pumpkin Cheesecake ($ 10) and Chocolate Layer Cake ($ 11). Both were beautifully presented, as you would expect from pastry chef Sam LaCroix, who worked at the Hen of the Wood in Burlington and the Inn at Shelburne Farms.
The desserts were also quite shareable, especially the intense cake, which was dipped in dark chocolate with a piece of solid chocolate on top that appeared to be sprinkled with almonds. I later learned that the restaurant is 100 percent nut free and that roasted apricot kernels play a role in several dishes. The cheesecake was our favorite for its rich creaminess and crunchy streusel, the sweetness balanced by the crème fraîche and the slightly bitter caramel infused with beer.
I had been torn between the mushroom sandwich and one of the large platters on the menu – homemade clams and chorizo ($ 21) with kale and Elaborate Metaphor broth – but the dish was sold out tonight- the. The clam delivery hadn’t arrived yet when, in an interview, I sampled two other large plates: the bowl of birria ($ 19) of rich braised beef deeply flavored with grilled peppers and hot spices and Topped with beer-marinated red onion and Oaxacan cheese; and a bowl of cereal ($ 18) with whole bunches of fried oyster mushrooms, Pitchfork Pickle kimchi and a hard-boiled egg.
Roettinger and Buck said their goal is to create a menu that’s relaxed, accessible and inspired by local and seasonal ingredients. “What I love about Vermont,” Roettinger said, “is being able to change the food with the seasons.” As the restaurant took hold, the team also noticed that, rather than the beer driving experience, “people actually come here for dinner,” Buck said. “It’s less of a taproom vibe,” Roettinger added.
As winter descends, the menu will include more complex and filling dishes. Roettinger said a recent special was well received: Korean barbecue lamb chops ($ 13) first candied in duck fat, then deep-fried and paired with squash mash and “krautchi” by Pitchfork Farm.
In January, Burlington Beer will launch monthly fixed price beer and food pairing dinners. Lemnah said the Williston team also plans to start brewing styles of beer they don’t typically make, like amber beers and pilsners, just for the Burlington restaurant.
“We want to be everything for everyone,” Lemnah said. A big goal if ever there was one.