Fiddlehead Brewing Company

Second Fiddle Double IPA

Just outside of crazy, busy, beer-packed Burlington, VT, is a quaint little town called Shelburne. Shelburne was perhaps, at one time, most famous for being home to a little business known as The Vermont Teddy Bear Company, but these days the town is, like everything else in Vermont, synonymous with craft beer, by way of Fiddlehead Brewing Company.

Once upon a time, in quiet, sleepy, upstate Vermont, long before the days of hundreds of people waiting outside a single store at ungodly hours of the morning just to buy a four-pack of some highly coveted IPA, back when the words "craft beer" meant practically nothing to most of the people who heard them, a man named Matt Cohen worked as head brewer at a little joint called Magic Hat. For more than a decade, Matt worked tirelessly, bringing about many of the brews that made Magic Hat famous, both as the largest craft brewery in Vermont, and to some, the largest and best known craft brewery across the nation. Then, one tragic day in 2010, Magic Hat sold out was acquired by a larger corporation, and Matt, ever so gracefully, stepped down from his post and went on to open his own craft brewery, Fiddlehead.

I love the label!

Now, if you're not from Vermont, or don't live anywhere near it, you may have never heard of Fiddlehead Brewing. And that's understandable. Fiddlehead's flagship IPA is "draft only" and found only in restaurants and bars in the towns surrounding Shelburne. Occasionally the brewery does can releases of some of their other brews, but the cans are only available from the brewery's tasting room. You can visit the tasting room, do a free tasting of the 3 rotating beers they have on tap there, and even take home a growler, but basically, if you want some Fiddlehead, you gotta go to Vermont. Thankfully, it's like real super easy to spend your day in Vermont running around to different breweries, so your trip to the Green Mountain State will be well spent.

I had a the pleasure of visiting Fiddlehead's tasting room while on a whirlwind Vermont beer buying adventure in December. For starters, let me just say, the fact that the tasting is free is awesome. Most of the other breweries in the area charge for their tastings. Granted, the servings at the other breweries are definitely larger, and typically include 4 or more beers (Fiddlehead only has 3 draft lines), but it was a welcomed change at the end of a hectic, boozey day. It also makes the taster more inclined to purchase a growler to take home, an added bonus for the owners, I'm sure.

On tap that day was their flagship Fiddlehead IPA, Amarilo Faber, and Second Fiddle. All 3 were delicious. The Fiddlehead IPA was fresh, clean, and very well balanced. Matt Cohen has been making his flagship beer for the past 5 years, and he's definitely perfected the recipe! The Amarilo Faber was light and citrusy, and full of floral hop aromas. This one was my personal favorite, perhaps because it wasn't as bitter as the other beers I had tasted that day (Vermont is full of hoppy IPAs). The Second Fiddle Double IPA was exactly what they said it would be, big and juicy! I knew Brandon would like it, so I took home a growlette for him as an early Christmas present.

Fruity aromas of white cherries and unripe raspberries hit the nose first, followed closely by robust notes of flowers and exotic citrus fruits. After a few moments, more defined notes of grapefruit come forward, complimented by limestone hints and Sancerre-like minerality.

On the palate, sweet and bitter sensations vacillate in harmony with flavors of oranges, white pepper, toasted nuts, and lots more grapefruit. Second Fiddle is full bodied, juicy, and compelling, right up until the finish, where it gracefully ends, dry and hoppy. It's a kicker at 8.2% abv, but the full flavors and lively acidity keep it fresh and attractive the whole way through.

I was right. Brandon loved it!