River Brew Review: Long Trail Ale Pollenator

I am not sure how loudly I want to make this statement because I know how temperamental Ol’ Mother Nature can be in New England, but “it looks like spring has finally arrived”. I awoke this morning to crisp spring temperatures and a brilliant blue New Hampshire sky. After squaring away a few morning activities, I decided it would be a great day to head out on a little scouting excursion to see what was happening in the streams and ponds of Horse Hill Nature Preserve.

My companion on this hike was my two-year old daughter in her blue plastic pirate boots. No body of water was safe with her around, and any activity that might have occurred was quickly stifled by a well-thrown pebble or stick. But despite not seeing any activity in the water, it was a great first tramp of the spring season.

Upon arriving back at the house, we decided to have lunch out on the back deck and try to restore our depleted Vitamin-D levels. While my daughter enjoyed yogurt and chicken nuggets, I sat back and popped open a bottle of Long Trail’s Pollenator (I guess that is how they spell it in Vermont) Spring Brew. I mean come on, what better beer to have after a hike than a Long Trail Ale.

The namesake for this ale is the Long Trail in Vermont,

Vermont’s “footpath in the wilderness”
The oldest long distance hiking trail in America

Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border as it crosses Vermont’s highest peaks. It was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, which coincides with it for one hundred miles in the southern third of the state.

With its 273-mile footpath, 175 miles of side trails, and nearly 70 primitive shelters, the Long Trail offers endless hiking opportunities for the day hiker, weekend overnighter, and extended backpacker

-from the Green Mountain Club

The legend says, that an unnamed hiker decided to brew beer while he hiked the Long Trail. At the terminus, he and his other wary hiking companions felt that the beer was so good, that he should start his own brewery with the recipe. That trail brewed beer was the inspiration for the original Long Trail Ale. Now I don’t know how much truth there is to that legend (I would imagine that it is pretty difficult to brew beer while hiking 273 miles over the New England Appalachians), but it is pretty cool none the less.

I have always enjoyed Long Trail Brews, and I generally associate them with burgers and fries at the Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT after a day of skiing at Killington. However, after a recent trip to the grocery store, and a strategically placed sale sign, I decided to pick up a twelve-pack and experience a Long Trail Ale that is not normally available during my winter visits to the brewery.

The Pollenator is a light to medium, clear amber ale that is quite refreshing. It has a smooth, crisp beginning with a light carbonation. The effervescence provides a hoppy, aromatic finish generally associated with Vermont beers. The after taste is slightly bitter, but not at all unpleasant.

I do have to admit that I was not immediately taken by this beer; I am not usually impressed with light hoppy beers because I always feel like I am drinking potpourri. But, the Pollenator quickly grew on me, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a flavorful spring beer.

Brewery Info:

The Brewery first opened in 1989 in the basement of the Bridgewater Woolen Mills. The founder of the brewery, Andy Pherson is now the company’s president and head brewmaster. In 1995, the company relocated to its current location overlooking the Ottaquechee River in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont.



Light to medium amber color, almost honey like in appearance. Rich creamy head that dissipated very slowly, leaving considerable lacing on the upper portion of the glass.


Hoppy, aromatic bouquet, not unpleasing to the nose

Taste/Mouth feel:

Crisp and refreshing, with a slight carbonation that awakens the taste buds to the flavorful, hoppy finish.


Despite my general feeling about hoppy Vermont Ales, I have enjoyed the Long Trail Pollenator. It is a great beer for enjoying on the back deck after a hike, bike ride or early season fishing trip. If you enjoy New England Ales or IPA’s, I would definitely recommend the Pollenator this spring.

Beer Stats:

Style: Pale Ale

Color: Vibrant Gold

Original Gravity: Not Specified

ABV: 4.6%

Bitterness Units: 23

Availability: February – April

Optimal Serving Temperature-45-50 degrees Fahrenheit

Brewery Location: Bridgewater Corners, VT


3 out of Six Pack

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