Three Penny Taproom
The finer things in life, for everyone.
When we first opened our doors in Montpelier on May 1, 2009 we were one of, if not the very first craft beer bars in Vermont. Our initial vision was simply to be a niche bar offering the best beers from the best breweries from around the country and world, with an emphasis on the myriad of traditional styles not often easily findable throughout Vermont or the US, as well as on bringing attention to some of the incredibly forward-thinking and innovative brewing techniques and “new” styles being developed by what at the time was the just beginning to explode market of craft beer.
And explode sure seems like the right word to use, both for the American craft beer scene as well as the tastes and interests of beer drinkers here in Vermont and New England. When we first began, Lawson’s Finest was an obscure oddity brewing batches on a nano system which could be bought in bottles only at the Warren General Store or Farmer’s Markets; Hill Farmstead was 2(?) months away from even existing. 20(?) years before we opened our doors Greg Noonan, founder of Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington, had been a key figure in the first wave of the American craft beer revolution and had helped establish VT as part of the forefront of what was then a fledgling but exciting turn away from the hegemony of beer in the US in the aftermath of prohibition.
Finding delicious, VT-made “microbrews” (which was the popular term in early days, lol) such as Long Trail, Otter Creek and Magic Hat at nearly any and every bar in the state was easy enough. Our vision in 2009 was slightly different though. And we got some flack for that, initially; “Why don’t you have more VT beers on?” was a common conversation in the Taproom back then. Our answer was always pretty simple: you could find those beers at nearly every place in VT. What we were most interested in was expanding from there. We took pride — and found great success — in offering a wider array of styles, in the glassware the brewer’s (and tradition) specifically deemed best, served by a staff well-versed in styles and nuance as defining characteristics of what we were offering. Much to our surprise, the little niche beer experience we intended to provide turned out to be far more popular and interesting to our community and visitors than we had imagined.
In the summer of 2012 we seized yet another opportunity and expanded into an adjacent storefront, opening a full-service restaurant to compliment our draft list, which by that time had been collecting awards, accolades and recognition among the increasingly huge world of craft beer throughout New England and the Eastern seaboard, and beyond. And, if we’re being honest here (why wouldn’t we be?) expanding our beer-bar into a full service restaurant was not necessarily a blindingly brilliant business move. A bar with one or two people on staff with the rent and utilities of a tiny space and practically no start-up debt is one thing; anyone in the service & hospitality industry will be able to tell you that once you double your rent and utilities and add the debt of building a full commercial kitchen, along with the staffing and margins of full-service foodservice into your operations you are, more often than not, shooting yourself in the foot. At least from a certain way of looking at it.
Which gives us a good opportunity to talk about what we are about, and what we strive for. Because we are people who are about WAY more than just good beer. In fact, it’s our larger values that lead us to be people who appreciate good beer. Intention, thoughtfulness, and craftsmanship are words that come to mind first and foremost when we have to speak about our values and what drives us. The world can be a complicated and oftentimes brutal place, in our personal experiences, and rather than cynicism and apathy, we choose — and hope to be a part of supporting our community in finding — hope, strength, and empowerment.
Since our inception we’ve sought to lead by example within our community. Whether by regularly holding fundraisers for groups and organizations (both local and national) who are on the frontlines of the tireless work to improve the world we live in, or striving to offer the best wages and benefits we viably can, to focusing on a work environment that always hopes to be a place where our staff can find the dignity, respect, and empowerment that is seldom a priority in working life, all the while sourcing as much of our food menu from local and sustainable sources as possible, we love and appreciate great beer because we love and appreciate any and every glimmer and effort we see that falls under the umbrella of striving to make the world a better place.
Dining out, being in your “third place” (neither home nor work) should be a total experience and we are well aware of that aspect. Which is why it coincides with our ethos to offer the best we possibly can; the best beer through meticulously clean lines and glassware, the best local meats and produce we can find prepared by skilled and passionate professionals, the best service that we can possibly provide with humans that not only take care of each other, but also take care of the community around them.
In large part our name was derived from from Bertolt Brecht’s “Three Penny Opera”, and it is also from our synopsis of that groundbreaking work we came to our guiding motto: “The finer things in life, for everyone”.
Today we operate one of Central Vermont’s busiest and most popular full-service restaurants, serving creative and frankly delicious adaptations of classic pup fare, along with incredible cocktails and, as always, one of the most well-regarded and award-winning draft lists in the Northeast.
Cheers to you,
From all of us at the Three Penny Taproom