Although acclaimed for its maple syrup and world-class ski resorts, Vermont lays claim to another distinction: craft beer utopia. Home to nationally recognized brands such as Long Trail and Magic Hat, this idyllic little state has the most breweries per capita. It boasts almost thirty unique and innovative breweries open for tastings and tours.

Vermont craft breweries don’t just make beer; they make award winning beer. Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend recently cemented Vermont’s status as a malty force to be reckoned with. It was named 2013 Best Brewery in the World by Ratebeer, the world’s leading beer rating and review website. That bears repeating: best brewery in the world.

Small breweries in Vermont experienced a growth explosion in the eighties and nineties. Initially, microbrew was the word du jour. Many Vermont breweries have outgrown the microbrew status based on annual production as defined by the Brewer’s Association. However, the spirit of the microbrew remains intact.

The hallmarks of craft brewing are quality ingredients and innovation. Local ingredients add interest and depth to traditional recipes. Maple, honey, blackberries, and pumpkin are found in some of Vermont’s best beers. Most Vermont breweries also buy hops, wheat, oats, and barley from local farms. Good craft brewers understand and appreciate local resources.

This is also evident in their environmental practices. Many Vermont breweries focus on sustainability; spent grain and hops left over from the brewing process are fed to local cattle, and steam from the brewing process is captured and recycled into thermal energy for the next brewing cycle.

This is what makes the Green Mountain State a required destination for aficionados and casual home-brewers alike: beer isn’t manufactured in Vermont. It’s thoughtfully crafted and truly inspired.