Beer Banter

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Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue

Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue
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Harpoon, you outdid yourselves this past weekend!

I'm talking about the Harpoon Brewery's Championships of New England Barbecue! Located in Windsor, Vermont, it's nestled in the Green Mountains and surrounded by what makes Vermont so welcoming and beautiful. We made sure to skip breakfast that morning and packed sunscreen to battle the July heat before heading on the two hour drive to the Brewery. Needless to say, I was starving when we finally arrived and ready to eat!

Waiting in line for entry I noticed this was a VERY kid and dog friendly event. Lots of strollers and puppies everywhere. I personally love when a brewery can make an event family friendly. There's something welcoming about it. Fifteen bucks to get in and we made our way over to the beer tent immediately.

The choices ranged from UFO selections, Stout, IPA, and more inside the brewery. A great lineup if you ask me! Grabbing a UFO Big Squeeze was the way for me to go. A lower ABV & tart crispness was my way to battle the heat of the July day and the fact that I was about to eat my weight in BBQ, I wanted something a little lighter on the palate.

I would say there was easily 30+ vendors from all over the eastern side of the U.S. BBQ joints from Maine to the Carolinas were easy to find and a wide range of BBQ styles to match. Within the BBQ tents you could get your hands on anything from award winning ribs, pulled pork, baked beans of all styles, and beautifully smoke rimmed brisket. Flavors ranged from basic homestyle BBQ to wild creations with uncharacteristic components. Some stand outs for me were the "Peach & Bacon Baked Beans" from Long Island & the "Piglet Pile" (pulled pork piled on french fries with red cabbage pineapple slaw) from a Vermont BBQ'r.

Some must try's were "Fried Koolade" & "Maple Soft Serve Ice Cream." I wanted to package a bucket of the ice cream to take home. It was made with local cream and maple syrup. The owner of the Ice Cream Shoppe even admitted to being good for "3-4 servings a week himself" of the locally flavored ice cream.

The drive was relaxing and the weather was perfect. The beer was delicious and the BBQ plentiful. I would say it was a perfect weekend get away. So, I know will be back next year, but I learned a few things that maybe could help you guys out if you decide to join me:

•Bring cash - All food & beer tickets are cash only.
•All items from food vendors are between $3-$10 with lots of sampling sizes in between.
•Feel free to make it a family event.
•Be hungry!!! I wanted to keep sampling more vendors, but didn't have the room. Make sure to bring your appetite!
•If you are looking for the biggest, baddest BBQ'rs at the event go on Sunday instead. We noticed that the competitors who had previous wins seemed to not have a ton of product for sampling on Saturday. Sunday is when they hold the competition, so they wait to cook more until Sunday.

Harpoon also has a few tips to add to the list:
http://www.harpoonbrewery.com/blog/385673/10-tips-for-surviving-harpoon-bbq-fest

Hopefully I'll see you at next year's Championships of New England Barbecue!

Melissa Hildreth
Melissa Hildreth

Melissa Hildreth is a German fräulein and loves her beer and bratwurst. Melissa is an advocate for following your passions in life, no matter how ridiculous. She will dance the night away if the moment is right. Some have said she has an unhealthy relationship with chicken wings, but is there even really such a thing?! She also happens to be a Certified Cicerone/Mother of Dragons in case anyone’s asking.

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