I call my little beer trips "beerventures." Recently, I took a 3-1/2-hour drive from my home in central Massachusetts to Killington, Vt., for the 15th annual Killington Brewfest.

Whenever I have a chance, I try to visit new places to find out what my area has to offer in terms of beer.


I call my little beer trips "beerventures." Recently, I took a 3-1/2-hour drive from my home in central Massachusetts to Killington, Vt., for the 15th annual Killington Brewfest.


I like to attend festivals, and Killington was a perfect home base for the rest of my beerventure. The drive was eye-opening because of the damage caused during Hurricane Irene in August. I saw houses and barns that were destroyed by the floodwaters and areas where FEMA support centers were set up. Many roads were still damaged, and one detour took me to areas my GPS only recognized as an open field.


I did get a chance to stop at a general store in the middle of nowhere. There, I discovered they sold beer from a local brewpub. I picked up a growler of The Shed's IPA, along with some ostrich and alligator jerky. A successful stop, I'd say.


The brewfest is part of the nearly month-long Killington Hay Festival, so I also enjoyed seeing the giant hay sculptures (my favorite was a giant Panda) as I got closer to my hotel, the Summit Lodge at Killington Resort.


The festival, held at the ski resort's Snowshed Lodge, is a fun festival. It featured about 25 breweries, many of them from Vermont, as well as live music and good food. Highlights included trying all of the beers from Switchback Brewing Company and the Hillshire Brewing Company, breweries that do not distribute in Massachusetts.


What I liked about this festival was that it was not filled with the typical group of beer geeks you see at many festivals. This was a crowd of people who just wanted to try some good beer and have some fun. It was a great atmosphere.


I only stayed at the festival for an hour because I had other things I needed to accomplish. Lawson's Finest Liquids is one of the smallest breweries in the country. Its beers are also some of the most sought-after. I really wanted to get my hands on a Lawson's brew.


The difficult part about getting Lawson's beers is the bottles are sold only in one store in the whole state. And they only get one style of beer a week. People know that, and they flock there each week to get whatever beer brewer Sean Lawson drops off.


I was less than an hour away from the Warren Store in Warren, Vt., the one store that carries Lawson's. I called to see if they had any left and the clerk said they did, but they were almost out. He set aside two bottles, the limit you're allowed to buy, and I headed toward the store.


Two bottles of Gonzie, a session IPA, were waiting when I arrived. Excellent beer.


While at the Warren Store, the clerk said to me, "Do you know you're only a half-hour away from the Alchemist?"


The Alchemist is one of the most well-respected brewpubs in all of New England. Unfortunately, the pub was destroyed by Hurricane Irene-related flooding.


But there's a silver lining to this story. Soon after the hurricane, The Alchemist opened up its cannery. The Alchemist cannery was built to brew and can just one beer: Heady Topper.


Since I was so close, I plugged the address of the cannery into my GPS and headed to Waterbury, Vt. I bought two four-packs of Heady Topper, a highly reviewed double India Pale Ale. The trip back was full of details, dirt roads and pot holes, but I finally got back to my hotel at Killington Resort.


Once there, I popped open a can of the Heady Topper. I was blown away. It compares to some of the best double IPAs being brewed in the world. If you're a fan of hoppy beers, do yourself a favor and drive up to Waterbury and buy a case of this stuff.


With that sip of the Heady Topper, my beerventure came to a close. I spent the night in the hotel eating Chinese food and watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts on TV. The next day, I made the long drive back home, with a bunch of beer to restock Beatrice, my beer fridge.


I can't wait until my next beerventure.


Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer in Masschusetts. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email nmiller@wickedlocal.com. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.