chocolate pairing at the VT Brewers Festival

What better way to spend a heatwave than sipping a cold craft brew beside a beautiful body of water overlooking a breathtaking mountain range? We headed up north to the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington to take part in the Vermont Brewers Festival, bringing together 50+ of the best Vermont and Northeastern breweries for two days of sampling and events.

The Lake Champlain waterfront in Burlington, the site for the Vermont Brewers Festival

Friday was stunning with clouds echoing the shape of the Adirondack mountain range rimming the far side of the lake.

Tents lining the waterfront housed brewers sampling out their wares, many using local hops and fruit, and some exploring a trend of spontaneous fermentations using yeasts that naturally occur in the area where the beers are brewed. Our friend and cheesemonger maestro, Joe Green, had a series of Vermont cheese and beer pairings scheduled, including one with our Brattleboro brewer pals Hermit Thrush Brewery.

Dar Tavernier-Singer at a beer and chocolate pairing at the Vermont Brewers Festival

We had the honor of doing chocolate pairings with one of our favorite brewers, Dieu du Ciel! of Montréal. Jean-François’ beers have a wide range of creative flavor profiles, and he masterfully incorporates different techniques depending on the brewing method and ingredients he works with, with a collaborative approach.

Setting up samples for Tavernier chocolate and beer pairing at the Vermont Brewers Festival

High humidity and temperatures soaring into the 90ºF’s are not the most ideal conditions to serve chocolate (um, understatement), but the team of amazing festival volunteers who helped us swiftly plate chocolates and got them out to the 60 participants in each session made it look smooth and easy. Hot damn.

Setting up samples for Tavernier chocolate and beer pairing at the Vermont Brewers Festival
an enthusiastic crowd for the chocolate pairing and craft beer tasting!

We had the best crowds! Enthusiasm was running high as we tasted our way through three pairings. It was so much fun hanging with these folks!

Dar & John of Tavernier Chocolates & Jean-Francois of Dieu du Ciel at the Vermont Brewers Festival

Jean-François, head brewer and founder of Dieu du Ciel!, talks about his process and approach to brewing. We guided participants through the tasting, describing each of our recipes and their flavor notes and how each pairing of beer and chocolate complimented the other, drawing out and enhancing certain aromas, flavors and ingredients.

Jean Francois of Dieu du Ciel!, and Dar & John of Tavernier Chocolates at the Vermont Brewers Fest

And they were SO.GOOD. There was a lot of great feedback and questions from participants, and we had so much fun working with Jean-François, the festival team and all of the people who came to the tasting, making it a stellar afternoon and evening!

Of course, we set aside a slice of time to do some sensory explorations ourselves, sampling the incredible array of brews represented at the festival. Wheels are turning and we are already planning possible pairings for next year!

Sunset at the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington

John Singer holding two glasses of beer at sunset at the VT Brewers Festival

We live in a beautiful place, and are so lucky to have had the chance to bask in the gorgeousness of the northern part of our state. Come visit us down south on the banks of the Connecticut River with the Green Mountains all around, which isn’t too shabby either, and explore more Vermont beers! Our little state has an incredible concentration of top-notch craft brewers, cheese and specialty food makers, making it a paradise for foodies.

Be sure to check out Dieu du Ciel!, and to visit their bustling brasserie and outdoor patio in the Mile End next time you’re in Montréal!

Dieu De Ciel beer bottle

Here are the tasting notes from the pairing, so you can explore them at home:

Tasting Notes for the 2019 Brewers Festival

Check out more beer, wine and cheese pairing and serving suggestions for our bars and charcuterie here!