New England is replete with brewing states, many of them boasting some of the most sought after brews in the country. Since the rise in popularity of the craft brew, beer artisans have aimed to gain notoriety through their concoctions. Massachusetts has made its mark as a state that can consistently deliver a high-quality beverage.
Detailing each of these breweries one at a time would be to handicap our readers from finding the breweries they want to add to their tour list now. Multi-part state tour posts will give a birds-eye view of a brewing state. For a closer look at a specific brewery, dive into its brewery spotlight.
In the second installment of the Massachusetts tour, we will take a look at what is on tap outside of the city of Boston. Too often, the state gets narrowed down to what happens inside of its capital city, but there is a lot worth visiting away from Boston, especially when it comes to the world of craft brewing. Moving into central Massachusetts and up towards the Franklin County, there are palette-pleasing breweries to visit with both large and smaller-scale production.
Getting Out of Boston
From the humble start of being stashed in an ice cream parlor, Wormtown has grown to become a staple of the Massachusetts brewing community. Started in 2010, two friends with synchronous ideas and assets came together to create something that has become a cornerstone of the Massachusetts craft brewing world.
Across the state, Wormtown is recognized as a symbol of pride for its success. Their iconic IPA ‘Be Hoppy’ is ordered religiously by bar-goers from Boston out to the reaches of Western Massachusetts and outside the state as well. A bar that does not stock some Wormtown is running the risk of having some upset patrons.
Wormtown’s offerings are ale heavy with their year-round brews, including two Indian Pale Ales, ‘Don’t Worry’ and ‘Be Hoppy.’ Their ‘Rocket’ American Pale Ale and ‘Mass Whole’ Lager make up the core of what the brewery delivers. Their seasonal beers continue the ale trend but mix up the styles with an Irish-style Red Ale, an American Wheat Ale, a Pumpkin Ale, and an English Style Brown Ale. The Wormtown Underground and Specialty series mix in the wider variety of beverages, including Double and Triple IPAs, Imperial Stouts, and Porters.
Wormtown has dedicated themselves to creating their brews with local ingredients, feeding into their tagline, “a piece of Mass in every glass.” Their motivation is to avoid beers from becoming a commoditized product. The Wormtown brewery feels this happens when the connection is lost with how each beer is made. Their devotion to the farmers and local economies of Massachusetts has made Wormtown a part of the Massachusetts DNA. In return, the agriculture of the state has put its fingerprints on every glass poured.
If you have heard anything about craft brewing in the state of Massachusetts, there is a strong chance you know about TreeHouse Brewing Company. Started in the virtually unknown town of Monson in Western Massachusetts, TreeHouse has grown to be a revered name in craft brew circles.
The attention and growth that TreeHouse has garnered since its formation in 2011 have made it the pipedream that young breweries aspire to. Considered by many to be one of the best breweries in the country, TreeHouse has garnered massive respect from publications such as Untappd, Beer Advocate, The Boston Globe, and Thrillist, to name a few. Consistently having multiple brews in any informed top-10 ranking has ensured that TreeHouse is a brewery that needs to be at the top of the list for any beer aficionado. Some of their most renowned have been of the Double IPA or American IPA variety, including their ‘Julius,’ ‘King Julius,’ ‘Very Green,’ ‘Haze,’ and ‘JJJulius'(not a typo).
Beer enthusiasts looking to check the TreeHouse experience off of their list will need to make the trip out to Charlton, Massachusetts. Part of the lore of this breweries product has been in its scarcity. Even with its massive popularity and hype, TreeHouse still sells all of its beer on-site in Charlton. Because of this, customers can usually expect to wait well over 90-minutes in line for their beer. This hasn’t stopped the breweries fans as people continue to come back for more and leave with rave reviews.
Flying Dreams Brewing Company
This brewery may not have the same kind of widespread recognition as the former breweries, but it still carries its share of local respect. On top of that, it comes overflowing with energy and passion for the craft of brewing. Founder, Dave Richardson, has been sharpening his brewing saw since well before the opening of Flying Dreams Brewing in 2015. Testing his hand and developing his skills and the well-known Gardner Ale House, he has taken what he learned and applied it to become an innovative and successful brewmaster.
Flying Dreams steeps itself in Massachusetts brewing culture. Even their brewhouse is that same one that Wormtown Brewery (see above) once used when they were first starting. This location does welcome guests but is essentially standing-room-only based on the space. Despite an arguable downgrade in comfort from your typical brewery visit, this would be a valuable stop for the individual that cherishes brewing history. For the beer tourist looking for a more traditional bar experience, Flying Dreams Brew Co. also has a location in Marlborough with a full bar and plenty of seating.
In the search to find a brewery that puts great care into their craftsmanship, you could not be better served than with elsewhere. The attention to detail and passion that Dave and his crew put into their beers and brewery are second to none even when looking at other breweries that have grown much larger in size. With the time, effort, and resources applied, this is a brewery that could follow in the very same footsteps as those that have grown to be much bigger establishments.
Berkshire Brewing Company
Berkshire Brewing Company is the veteran of brewing for Western Massachusetts. While there are breweries in the capital that have more history, Berkshire’s start in 1994 has it hanging on the coattails of the biggest and oldest operations in the state.
Now, with over 25 years of history in its pocket, Berkshire Brewing Company is staying true to its unadulterated style. The breweries South Deerfield location puts it out of reach of many of the average travelers, but their beers can be found stocked in stores and bars across the state. BBC has grown significantly from its humble beginning where it brewed only seven barrels at a time to now where it has become one of the most respected names in the state, in New England, and beyond.
Their Taproom is open year-round, Thursday through Friday, and offers views of their production areas. BBC also has a seasonal beer garden that provides an expanded selection when temperatures are permitting. The Taproom is kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and bring-your-own-food-friendly while offering simple snacks such as popcorn and pretzels. It also has a specialty craft beer nuts available that were roasted with its signature ‘Steel Rail’ Extra Pale Ale by a local company, Squirrel Stash Nuts.
Element Brewing Company
Element Brewery is a small operation with a big obsession around the art and science that goes into creating a great beverage. A perfect example of their scientific experiments includes some of their limited available brews such as ‘Absolute Zero’ and ‘Acidium.’ Element takes pride in bringing something unique to the table. It is also part distillery, allowing Element to bring their blend of art and science into the realm of hard beverages.
Located in Millers Falls, Massachusetts of Franklin county, Element is not your standard tourist destination. Depending on where you are coming from, it may not be an ideal trip only to visit this unique brewery/distillery. But, with appropriate planning, you can make this stop within the quaint town of Millers Falls a highlight of a larger trip. There are plenty of options depending on the season. Near the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, you’ll never be too far from skiing in the winter and great hiking in warmer months.
Exploration for All Tastes
With a state that can be crossed in a matter of hours, there is a tremendous amount to discover within the brewing world alone. From the outer most tip of Provincetown in Cape Cod to the western border of New York, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what the Minuteman State offers brew lovers. Traveling across the state provides a unique chance to appreciate the eclectic tastes available from the more extensive brewing operations to the smaller enthusiast microbrewers.
Always be sure to drink responsibly. With a journey that involves a variety of tastings, it is often best to operate with a designated driver prepared. The majority of breweries offer canned and bottled options to take home for those who have been reserved as the sober mind of responsibility.