The Alchemist opened as a Brew Pub in Waterbury, VT in Nov 2003. Started by husband and wife, John and Jenn Kimmich, the Alchemist was a hot spot in Waterbury known for both great food and great beer. With the creation of Heady Topper, John changed craft brewing in Vermont forever. People were driving long distances to get it and quantities were limited. Initially the only place to get it was the pub.
As the founding president of the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, I was actively working and mountain biking on Perry Hill in Waterbury, VT. These trails are located on state land and are some of the best in New England. Our club managed the trails and were working with the state for permission on permanent legal status (which we did obtain after 7 years). The Alchemist opened right around the time we were focused on these trails. Being a neighborhood brew pub, we spent plenty of time after rides there.
In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene hit Vermont flooding a large part of Waterbury. The water rose above the bar at the Alchemist. Overnight Jenn and John were out of the restaurant business. Luckily, their cannery was under construction up the road and opened within days. Heady Topper was building a cult like status and people were literally following the delivery truck to get it. There was an app that followed the route and you would often times see the same people lined up at several stops.
The owner of Stowe Beverage tells a story about opening his store at 10 am on a Friday in June of 2015. His delivery of Heady Topper scheduled for 11 am had a line outside that already reached around the block. When his 80 cases of Heady were delivered, he only allowed one 4 pack per customer. He sold out in 1 ½ hours, as fast as he could exchange cash. Some folks were seen going out to their car and putting on hats or somehow changing their appearance to come back for more.
The new Alchemist Brewery opened in Stowe on the 4th of July weekend in 2016. The cannery still operates and that’ where they continue to make Heady Topper, which along with Focal Banger and several other great beers from the Alchemist are still very sought after.
The Kimmich’ continue to run the operation and have recently turned their attention to socially responsible activities. The staff is really well taken care of and jobs at the brewery are coveted. They are great neighbors and are single handedly impacting the local economy. And for that, we owe them our thanks and continued support. Plus the beers great! This is a must stop on tour!