Beer festival frolics approach with GBBF, but a couple of weeks ago I visited my first US beer festival— the Vermont Brewers Festival, which was held within the well funky city limits of Burlington (Zero Gravity Tap and Vermont Pub & Brewery produce stunning beers). Even better it was out in the open, on a green space next to Lake Champlain — I shall never forget my elation sitting on a wall overlooking the lake, gazing out across to the mountains of New York state as the evening light crumbled, a glass of Rock Art’s majestic Vermonster to hand, a 10% leviathan of barley wine richness leavened by an extravaganza of dry hopping. As many beerios know, you get smaller samplers at US fests — 3oz in this occasion. Ok there’s a better chance of trying more beers, but when I found something that made me want to enter a monastery and illuminate books that future generations would drool over, such was its sublimity (step forward Your Mother and take a bow you gorgeous creature), then I would have liked more, but as the evening progressed the queues for each brewery station got longer and longer. I tried pretty much everything I wanted, apart from Dieu Du Ciel’s Isseki Nicho, which was termed as an Imperial Dark Saison, and was not disappointed. What struck me was the amount of youngish folk, both male and female, strolling about, supping their Wolavers Oatmeal Stout or getting all righteous about Ray McNeill’s Dark Angel Imperial Stout (McNeill is a legend according to several beer folk in that part of the world and his bar is an austere but welcoming place where great beers can be sampled). Some good food (Mr & Mrs Jerky were very popular apparently, though my inner small boy couldn’t help smirking at the name) and a mellow vibe and I got a pretty damn good introduction to US beer festivals, which won’t be my last — I’m currently thinking about this one.