Toasting new shipping laws - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Toasting new shipping laws

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The Vermont Brewer's Festival is in full swing at the Burlington waterfront.

In the near future, out-of-staters may not need to make the trip to Vermont to find the state's best brews.

A morning start and threat of rain didn't stop thousands of beer enthusiasts from sampling the best suds Vermont and New England have to offer.

"It's one of the best things Burlington has to offer down on the waterfront," said festival attendee Vince Hayes.

"I'm not a big beer drinker, I like Bud-Light, but he's teaching me about hops and whatever," said Dianaa Reynolds.

"I try and hit a lot of the out-of-state breweries. I'm very familiar with the local breweries," said Eric Reichenbach. He made a last minute trip all from California's Napa Valley to sample Vermont's beer.

A friend turned him on to Heady Topper years ago.

"And of course you can't get it outside Vermont so you got to come to Vermont to get it," Reichenbach said.

Earlier this year, Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill allowing producers to ship beer within and outside of Vermont. The measure took effect earlier this month, though no brewery is taking advantage yet.

"We've won awards for the best beers in the world. It's a bright jobs opportunity for Vermont, and I want to help to continue to grow it," Shumlin said.

Even with all the beer on tap at the festival, the line for Lawson's Finest Liquids extended more than 100 yards throughout the day. Owner Sean Lawson says they can barely meet demand in a few counties, but could start shipping across the country next year.

Single bottles of the beer can sell for more than $50 on the black market.

"If people are going to pay that much money for one bottle of beer, we would really like to use it as a vehicle to raise money for a non-profit," Lawson said.

"If I can get Heady (Topper) shipped out to California, I'm 120% behind it," Reichenbach said.

If and when that happens, word of Vermont's award-winning brews will only spread faster.

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