This is Part Five of an ongoing series chronicling the Grand Beercation of July 2011. To start at Part One, click here.
A fantastically divey taproom.
3 Needs is only about a block away from the madness of Church St in Burlington, but you’d walk right past it and never know what you missed. The Lady Friend and I wandered around the tourist maelstrom for a bit after acquiring some official VT ice’d creams before heading towards the last stop on our passport mission. Saw a few mildly interesting oddities on the way including a Golden Retriever puppy shaved in an unusual manner, complete with tufted lion tail:
I think you’ve got a bit of an identity crisis going on, Burlington. Artsy-fartsy or Ferraris… pick one.
Lady Friend asked me what “those red things” were. Those are brake calipers, dear. BIG ONES.
Anyway, we tracked down 3 Needs and headed in. They’ve got a weird airlock double-door thing going on which makes it awkward to casually stroll in while wielding photo gear, but I eventually made it. It was 7pm on a Saturday, and dead. Three others, a couple and one other solo gent, were in watching a soccer game, and not saying much.
I’m assuming it gets busier later on in the night. The reviews on Yelp say this is a “love it or hate it” kind of place, and describe the normal crowd as “Phishy.” Perhaps it’s better that we were there while it was quiet.
The bartender was very friendly, and told me they brew in the basement, and I’m kicking myself for not taking a peek at their setup. He chatted a bit about the various laws, saying they can brew and serve on the premises, but can’t sell growlers or kegs, and have to use a local liquor store for sales. The decor of the place is very 18-35 year old male demographic, with a pool table, punk rock stickers, liberated street signs and license plates, and a plethora of Family Guy and Simpsons cutouts.
It was definitely a dive, but with that “neighborhood-bar-where-the-locals-go” sort of vibe. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was sitting in somebody’s “saved” seat. While we were there, a few others wandered in, and casually strolled behind the bar to get their personal pool cues before settling down for a couple games. My thoughts might change if I saw the usual crowd, but I loved it. Good, solid place to sit down, shut up, and have a good beer.
I started with the Citra IPA, which was bad move, since I was still in the throes of palate fatigue. If only B&J had vanilla! Lady Friend went with the Helles Boch, in a surprising move. I had suggested the pils or the Belgian wit, but she was wheat-ed out and wanted some flavor. Nice. The IPA was fantastic… hoppy bitter bite, but with enough smoothness to balance it out. The best beer I had on the whole trip. Lady enjoyed her boch… medium dark and malty sweet. I nursed the rest of my pint, since my taste buds had been hop-burned away, but she was feeling adventurous and got a (free!) flight of the four house beers. I’m not sure if that is standard, or if it was just quiet that evening, but free beer always tastes better. The Belgian wit, Helles boch and Paul’s pils were all pretty standard and drinkable, but the IPA was by far the star of the show. Excellent.
We stayed for about 45 minutes before venturing out for further adventure. After consulting with the bartender, who suggested VT Pub & Brewery (went there), then American Flatbread (there too), he mentioned the Farm House with its outdoor beer garden, right up the street. Done and done. Onto the next one, Part 6, the Farmhouse Beer Garden.
Passport stamp acquired for a grand total of 4! (5 if I had paid attention to Zero Gravity. Bah!) However, four stamps gets us an official “Drink Vermont Beer” bottle opener magnet! Vermahnt… do watcha wahnt.