Vermont’s Award-Winning Heady Topper Beer Causes Local Raucous
A popular Vermont beer is in such high demand that its makers are shuttering their retail operation to head off the trouble brewing with its neighbors.
Customers lined up at The Alchemist brewery earlier this week to buy cases of Heady Topper, the double IPA that Beer Advocate magazine recently ranked No. 1 out of the top 250 beers in the world.
The hoppy concoction is so popular - sales have grown from 30 barrels a week to 180 a week in the two years since the brewery opened on the outskirts of Waterbury - that owners Jen and John Kimmich plan to close their retail operation on November 15 to appease nearby residents.
"We’ve had complaints from neighbors," Jen Kimmich said. "We would have had to fight to keep on going. ... We decided to close down before it turns into a large legal battle."
The couple plan to reopen the retail outlet as soon as possible and is looking for other locations in Waterbury, Kimmich said. While the retail end is closing for now, the brewery will continue operating and keep its staff of 25, she said.
Heady Topper’s reputation exceeds its production levels. The brewery sells 180 barrels a week compared with the 30 it sold about two years ago - but either way, it’s a drop in the bucket compared with the 200 million barrels of beer produced in the U.S. each year.
While grieving customers crashed the Heady Topper website Tuesday afternoon, it drew a big sigh of relief from Amy Kinsell, who owns the house next door to the brewery.