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By Norman Miller
Norman Miller reviews brews, offers food pairings and writes about breweries. Norman is a reporter and beer columnist for the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email ...
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The Beer Nut
Norman Miller reviews brews, offers food pairings and writes about breweries. Norman is a reporter and beer columnist for the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email nmiller@wickedlocal.com or call 508-626-3823. Or, follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.
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By Norman Miller
Nov. 5, 2013 12:01 a.m.



The Alchemist dropped a bombshell today when it announced that its retail shop and self-guided tours will close on Nov. 15.

What does that mean? You can’t go the cannery in Waterbury, Vt., after Nov. 15 to buy a case of its signature Heady Topper IPA or any Alchemist gear.

The brewery made the announcement on its blog today (click here to read the whole thing), but the reason for stopping was not given.

“We had hoped our location at 35 Crossroad would be capable of handling the traffic, however with growth comes growing pains. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve we have made the difficult decision to close our retail shop and self-guided tour area,” the blog posting read.

I could speculate reasons, but since I don’t know, I won’t.

However, the Alchemist stresses the amount of Heady Topper being brewed won’t be affected. The beer will now just be available at the various retail accounts that they already sell its beer at, they will now have more of it to sell.

Some people have posted angry comments, upset about the Alchemist’s decision, but there has to be a reason. They wouldn’t close it just for the sake of closing.

HEADY-TOPPER-FINAL-2I’m not mad about it, but I am a little sad. I’ve been to the cannery twice, and it always makes for a memorable trip. Here’s a little story from my first trip up a few years ago when I was researching “Beer Lover’s New England.”

I was attending the Killington Brewfest and I wanted to hit up the Warren General Store, which, at the time, was the only store that sold Lawson’s Finest Liquids.

When I picked up my beer there, the clerk said, “Hey, are you going to pick up Heady? The Alchemist is not far from here.” Not realizing I was that close, I decided to make the journey out there and picked up a bunch.

That’s when the story becomes interesting – my trip wasn’t long after Hurricane Irene, and many of the roads were still closed – many of the roads that I needed to take. Each and every road my GPS took me on was closed. I ended up on dirt roads that my GPS swore to me were fields. For three hours, I just continued driving in the general direction to my hotel on Killington. I drove across wooden bridges, up huge, muddy hills, all in my little Ford Focus.

When I arrived, I was tired, hungry and frustrated from the trip. I picked up some crappy Chinese food from a restaurant, returned to my hotel room and turned on some UFC.

I had never had Heady Topper, so I decided to pop the top off a can. After that first sip, I was hooked. It was fantastic. If you’ve had this beer, you know what I’m talking about. It made my miserable trip through the backwoods of Vermont worth it. This is an absolutely fantastic double IPA. Is it the best beer in the world? Probably not? Is it a great beer, yes it is.

I just recently made a trip up with some friends and picked up a bunch. I wrote about it, and you  can read it by clicking here, but it was another memorable day.

I’m sad that trips to the Alchemist will not be part of my future beerventures to Vermont, but I know they’ll continue to brew the fabulous beer and I know I’ll still be drinking it, even if I can’t get it at the cannery.

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