For the better part of my ski season, trips to Vermont were off limits. A combination of travel restrictions and the fear of being forced to go unpaid at my job kept us relatively close to home. However, with rollout of the vaccine and travel from state to state being lifted for those who have it, I was finally able to make my way back to the Green Mountain State. Stoked to be back at my home base, my ski season ended in epic fashion with visits to Okemo and Mount Snow along along with après-ski at two of my favorite Vermont bars, Tom's Loft Tavern and the Dover Bar and Grill.
Waiting for WIFI Kept Us in Suspense
If, in fact, my day at Mount Snow turns out to be my last of the ski season, I'll take it. It couldn't have been better. Honestly, I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to ski that day. I was up at my condo, a vacation rental in West Dover, for the weekend to essentially "wait" for the WIFI to get hooked up. Wait we did. I was joined by my good buddy and professional après-skier, Will. He actually doesn't ski but just comes on the trips for the après component. It didn't take much arm twisting to convince him to join me and drink craft beers all day as we waited out the 8-5 time window that our WIFI service gave us as an ETA.
Gotta love it, between 8 and 5...way to narrow it down.
75 degrees and sunny, no one wants to be stuck inside waiting for WIFI all day. Fortunately for us, my prospects of skiing greatly improved when my guy showed up in the early afternoon. Excited by his early appearance, the Green State Lagers in my fridge began to disappear at a much quicker rate. My man worked with the quickness and within no time, we were on our way to the mountain.
Spring Ski Party (Pandemic Style) at Mt. Snow
Pulling into the Carinthia parking lot, the scene there was popping off. Booting up on my tailgate, there was music blaring off in the distance and a dude in the parking lot banging on his bongos. No, that's not code for something. The guy legitimately set up by his car and was playing actual bongos. Can't say that I've seen that one before but it was a nice touch.
Due to my late start, I quickly making my way to the base. There was no lift line. Thank God, I was on my way up in no time. Will, on the other hand, being the après aficionado he is, was instantly enjoying beers on the sun soaked Carinthia patio. You really have to love skiing when it's like this. Beers on the patio, shirtless dudes in jorts, girls in sun dresses and bikinis, it's so much fun. Spring skiing truly brings the beach vibes to the ski slopes. There is nothing better.
I skied right to the closing bell and then made my way to the lodge to grab a beer and join Will and some other newfound friends on the patio. To my surprise, the doors were already locked. Turns out 4 really means 4 when it comes to closing during a pandemic.
Down but not out, we decided to head over to The Dover Bar and Grill (aka DBaGs) which was only minutes away. Ditching my ski boots for flip flops, I took one last look at the bongo guy laying down the beat. He had acquired a bit of a crowd including some girl in a sun dress dancing around in her ski boots. Heading out for the season with this vision in mind, I couldn't help but smile.
Après-Ski at the Dover Bar and Grill (AKA DBaGs)
The Dover Bar and Grill has really come a long way since being named the number 1 dive bar in Vermont by Thrillist a few years back. Halley O'Brien, my co-host on the Beyond the Après podcast has such fond memories of the place from back when she got her start in the industry as the snow reporter at Mount Snow. Me? Well, I'm always good for a Gansett or four there whenever I'm in town.
DBaGs is a dive bar through and through. That's what I love about it. A long-time staple in the community the new-ish owners, Jason and Melanie Hathaway are sticking with tradition yet elevating it at the same time. The look is the same and let's hope that never changes. I might cry that day that I walk in and don't see the name tags of past Mount Snow employees as wall décor. Despite this unchanging look, where they are really taking it to another level is on their menu. There, they are upping their food game while bringing in some really solid craft beers all while maintaining the reasonable prices they are known for. Not to mention that on a nice sunny day like this one, the backyard is the place to be.
DBaGs Backyard is its Own Universe
Enclosed by a fence made of skis, with picnic tables throughout and a dedicated fire pit area, DBaGs Backyard is a pretty sweet setup. It's kind of like walking through the wardrobe and into Narnia. You don't know what to expect beyond the back door of the bar but once you're there, you don't want to leave. It's just a super fun atmosphere that makes you feel at home. After a few, the old ski stories starting flowing like the taps and there is nothing but laughter and smiles all around.
At some point, you can almost guarantee that one thing will lead to another and the hatchets are sure to start flying. Not at each other, of course, but at the target that they now have set up in the woods behind the gathering area. Beers, stories and axes have a way of making the hours will pass like minutes. Next thing you know you'll look at your watch and Inevitably, see that it's time for dinner.
Dover Bar and Grill is Elevating Their Food Game
Since the Hathaway's took over, they are offering more food these days at the Dover Bar and Grill. And, it's quite good. With a menu highlighted by Smash Burgers, wings, tots and more, it's all about simplicity. Sometimes that's what is best. Remember, DBaGs is a dive bar. It's not a Michelin Star restaurant. Keeping it simple while putting out consistently good comfort food at a reasonable price is the way to go. If you are looking for steak this isn't the place. Going big at DBaGs means ordering one of their specials of the day. Something like the "Big Mac", a smash burger topped with mac and cheese, will certainly make all your food coma dreams come true.
They are really doing a good job at the Dover Bar and Grill. For Will and I, we dove into the garlic, parmesan wings. Crispy on the outside, perfectly done on the inside with just enough rub and sauce, they were a taste explosion. I've been back since and indulged in Smash Burger as well as the Salt and Vinegar wings. Those were damn good too.
There is a reason Dover Bar and Grill was voted the number 1 dive bar in Vermont. There is also a reason, I love going there. DBaGs continues to improve and keep it real at the same time. I'm a sucker for simple. Simple is good and when it is is elevated to new heights without forgetting its roots, I'm all in.
If you haven't read the first post in this two part series, I encourage you to check out. Epic Ending to Ski Season Leads to Après-Ski at Two Legendary Bars (Part 1). You can find out why Tom's Loft Tavern is one of my all-time favorites. You can also guarantee that you don't miss anymore post on our Après Ski Blog if you Sign up today.