The cozy pub is a welcome addition to downtown Fair Haven
By Brooke Geery
FAIR HAVEN—Rachel and Jon Meigs are finally getting started on their next act, with a new brew pub at 71 Main St. in Fair Haven. The couple, who previously worked at Rutland Regional Medical Center — Rachel in ultrasound and Jon in MRI — have spent the past five years rehabbing the space in the historic Calvi Building, while also raising a daughter in nearby Castleton. They officially opened up Scotch Hill Brewing Co. in August 2021.
The process has not been without its share of challenges, such as burst pipes and, of course, a global pandemic, but setting foot inside the Scottish-style space where locals happily gather after work, it’s impossible to see any of that.
The name is a nod to the location of town’s first slate quarry — started in 1845 — which quickly put Fair Haven on the map and attracted immigrants who worked together to create a town full of impressive stone structures that still wow visitors today.
The entrance to the new pub is tucked into one of the town’s unique corners, across from the expansive town green and kitty corner from the Citgo station, where Maple Street and Main Street meet. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking but worth the effort to find. Decorative string lights and an open flag welcome visitors to the space, which is divided into a pub for dining and drinking up front, and the brewing stills in plain view in the back.
Jon does the brewing, a hobby he picked up while working in the hospital, and the taps rotate based on the season, or his mood.
“There’s really no true influence other than different styles I’ve experienced over the years,” Jon told the Burlington Free Press.
Inside, tin tiles line the ceiling, and a large dark wood bar, which once resided in the Poultney train station, dominates the front of the house. Seating options include bar stools as well as several long and tall pub-style tables, a cute round table in one front window, and a comfy couch and chairs in the other. On the way to the restrooms, a chalkboard is decorated with colorful drawings, many of them by 5-year-old Hannah Meigs, and also a very telling quote from one happy customer — “Came all the way from Montana for this pumpkin ale and damn, it hits!”
Of the six beers on tap during my visit, I sampled the Black Betty Stout (named for local silent film star Betty Benson) and the Spitting Lyon Scotch Ale, which was exuberantly recommended on Yelp. The reviews were not lying, and the Scotch Ale was definitely the highlight, with its high ABV and smooth, fruity finish. Also on tap are an IPA, a Kolsch, a Pale Ale and the soon-to-be-a-memory Mashing Pumpkin Ale. Pints are $6-$6.50 each, with most falling into the lower price range.
In addition to beer, the pub offers a list of wines, and small plates. The menu is ever-changing, but generally includes a finger food item, a soup or chili, an entree, sandwich or wrap, and a dessert. I tried the blue corn chips and homemade queso ($4). The fresh and crispy chips were the perfect way to moderate the beer, which admittedly went down way too easily. I studied the menu as I downed my second pint and finally decided I’d rather try the bean and cheese enchiladas with warm corn and avocado salad, when the bartender stopped by to ask if we were all set. It was a Thursday, so Scotch Hill closed at 8 p.m., which it turns out comes up quickly when you’re having a good time. Luckily, they were kind enough to wrap up an order to go, and I managed to make it home while the red-sauce-drenched tortillas were still warm and soft. The pub fare held up well for the journey, although it would have tasted better alongside a third beer! On another day, you might find warm pretzels, garlic knots, or a drunken shepherd’s pie, with the aforementioned Scotch Ale stewed right in.
The beer is truly the star, though, and the local vibes of Scotch Hill Pub are definitely worth the stop, whether you’re a local or headed through on your way to or from the mountain this season. The pub is currently open from 4-8 p.m. Thursday; 4-9 p.m. Friday; 12-9 p.m. Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 802- 278-8078, or visit facebook.com/scotchhillbrewing or instagram.com/scotchillbrewingco.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Scotch Hill opened in August 2020, not August 2021.