The Northeast is known as one of the meccas– a must-visit region for any avid beer fan. From Burlington, Vermont to Portland, Maine, you will run into people coming from all around the world to try the delicious juice bombs for which New England is famous. Included in this pilgrimage is Western Mass, home to the infamous Tree House and many other dank breweries.
A brewery that needs no introduction is the world famous Tree House. TH has a sprawling beer campus in Charlton, MA, and every time we visit it seems like they are working on building out a new section of the brewery. Their “claim to fame” is being one of the first to do New England style IPAs A.K.A “juice bombs” A.K.A hazy IPAs. They were one of the first to serve this type of beer at a time in history when serving unfiltered beers was blasphemy. Now, it seems every brewery has one on their draft list. With their juicy IPAs tasting more like juice than beer, and their stouts tasting more like a milkshake than a stout, you will think you have died and woke up in beer heaven.
Tree House has come a long way from their humble Monson, MA farm operations, where you were lucky to leave with 4 beers after waiting an hour. If you are taking a weekend trip, be prepared to wait an hour or two for a beer. However, the later you go in the day the shorter the line there will be. If you are able to go on a weeknight you can usually walk in and get a beer almost immediately. They usually limit their beers to two per person, but with some of their stouts clocking in at over 10% alc/vol, this is more than enough.
Tree House is BYOF, and some of the best BBQ in the nation is located just 10 minutes away at B.T.’s Smokehouse (Which is BYOB). So, if you have hit your pour limit you can make your way over there.
For beers, you really cannot go wrong. Tree House has a rotating draft list that usually features a few of their staples like Julius, Haze, and Green. However, they also offer special features which are only ever available on the premises, such as Julius with Mango or Double Shot Oreo.
A pro-tip is that you can split your drink tickets into multiple beers– so if you want to try Green and Julius you can get half pours of both (Note: you cannot do this for specialty beers).
Located a few minutes from both Northhampton and downtown Easthampton, Fort Hill is a good way to either start or end your day. Offering great beer with a killer vibe, Fort Hill has it all. Located in an extra-large wooden barn with multiple bars and live music on the weekends, you can spend an entire afternoon here.
Known for their traditional German-style beers, you can get flights of these crisp, well done classics. We are in New England though, so you know Fort Hill is bringing the heat when it comes to the IPA selection. Fresh Pick is one of their classics, which is a juicy and refreshing beer. But if you are really trying to get after it, you can opt for the Jigsaw Jazz, a double IPA boasting a 9.3% alc/vol.
Another thing we greatly respect about Fort Hill is that fact that they match specific beers with the proper glassware.
We aren’t saying that Rustic is the next Tree House, but… Rustic just might be the next Tree House. This up-and-coming brewery is crafting small batches in the basement of an old factory. As you take the steps down to the basement of what looks like an abandoned factory, you will start to feel more and more like you are in a low-budget horror movie.
With beer only available Saturdays (Make sure to pre-order) and draft pours once a month (If that…), Rustic keeps their goods exclusive. Their IPAs are pure juicy, their stouts are thick-bodied and full of robust flavor, and their sours hit the fine crossroads of sweet and sour.