Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards, Richmond, MA

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While out in Western Mass with our friend Bre, we visited Furnace Brook Winery, which is located at the Hilltop Orchard in Richmond, MA. This was actually a place Bre found and wanted to go to because they make their own cider as well as wine.

You can sample any 1 wine for free, or 5 wines for $5, so we all tried some different ones.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio – A crisp, golden white wine, slightly dry.

Riesling – Mark and Megan both liked this. Fruity but not too sweet, nice flavorful balance. We both skipped the Dry Riesling for this one.

Mead – A light, sweet mead with a very strong honey flavor. Honey sourced locally from Westfield, MA.

 

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 Red Wines

Shiraz Special Reserve – Peppery with hints of berry, dry but not overly dry.

Ruby Port – Mark really liked this, very tasty. Bre and Megan both thought it was sweet. It is wine, fortified with Brandy.

 

Sparkling

Blanc de Blancs – Bre tried this, slightly fruity, easy drinking.

Muscato – Very sweet, crisp, a bubbly muscato, Bre and Megan really liked this, we bought a bottle for Mark’s sister Michelle.

 

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Ciders

Johnny Mash Dry Gold – A very dry, but refreshingly clean cider. Made simple on purpose, goes well with anything, for day drinking we were told. Did we give off that vibe?

 

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Cidre Special Reserve – Light and a little sweeter than the Dry Gold, still dry. The apples were fermented whole, with the skins on, in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French Oak barrels.

 

Johnny Mash Hard Cider – Light, slightly sweet, minor oak notes, aged in American Oak, good cider, 6%.

 

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Ice Wine

Berkshire Winter Harvest Ice Wine – Sweet, tasty, a complex cider ice wine. They grind the apples and make juice (cider) they freeze the juice, then remove the nectar and ferment that. It takes about 45 apples per bottle.

 

Hilltop Orchards is one of the largest cider mills in New England. They make cider for lots of other places. They are proud to grow, pick, grind and mash, as well as ferment all their cider onsite.

 

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There are miles of trails on the farm, and they rent snow shoes and cross country ski’s. They get a lot of traffic during the winter, people coming to use the trails and then sample some wine or cider. There was not enough snow when we were there to take advantage of that. Maybe some day… we would definitely visit again if we are in the area.

 

They also use and integrated pest management system, IPM. This means they plan when to spray based on rain, wind, etc, they use the weather to their advantage to keep the apples and grapes and fresh and clean as possible.

 

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Of course we got some Cider Donuts before we left as well.

 

Hours

9:00 – 5:00 Daily, year round

 

 

 

 

 

Northampton Brewery, Northampton, MA

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We recently visited Northampton Brewery out in Northampton, MA. We were on our way out to western Mass with our friend Bre and stopped there for beer samples and dinner. This has been on our list for a while, they have a long history and connections with some local breweries in NH.

 

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Northampton Brewery opened in 1987 and was the second brewpub to open in the region. They are currently the oldest operating brewpub in New England. A brief history: Northampton Brewery was founded by brother and sister Janet and Peter Egelston. In 1991 they opened another brewpub, Portsmouth Brewery in NH. In 1994 they opened another brewery, a small production brewery called Smuttynose Brewing Company. In 2000, Janet and Peter bought each other out of their respective businesses, which left Janet the sole owner of Nothampton Brewery, and Peter owner of Portsmouth Brewery and majority owner of Smuttynose.

 

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Similar frothy mug to Portsmouth Brewery

 

Northampton Brewery has gone through several renovations over the years, which leaves them with a pretty good sized brewpub, which includes a rooftop bar area, which we did not go to since it was December.

 

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One of the renovations added this large back room with high ceilings and exposed beams.

 

 

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They do flights of 4 beers, you can pick any 4 off the menu so we each got a flight so we could try as many beers as possible.

 

Redheaded Stepchild 5%
Pretty good for a red ale, described as ‘well balanced’, we agree.

Deckbier 4.5%
A golden ale with slightly more flavor than a typical golden ale. A light bodied beer with a light citrus flavor.

 

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Greyhound IPA
Smells like grapefruit. Light in body for an ipa, super cloudy with a very strong grapefruit flavor. Bre liked this and isn’t usually a fan of ipa’s.

ESB 5.7%
Better than a standard ESB, not quite as bitter, balanced and drinkable.

 

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Blue Boots IPA 6%
Slightly hazy, smells citrusy and piney but tastes more piney. Decent ipa.

Hoover’s Porter
Megan smelled vanilla, Mark smelled coffee and chocolate. A good porter, smooth, well balanced, a hint of coffee and vanilla, not bitter at all. We were pleasantly surprised by this porter.

 

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Milk and Cookies 5.6%
A dark beer, medium to heavy body. A touch of chocolate with some roastyness, with a cookie sweetness to the finish. Bitter start, smooth sweet finish. Not quite as good as we were hoping for from the name, but pretty good.

Old Brown Dog 5.2%
A smooth brown all, creamy, with a touch of sweetness on the finish, not very malty at all.

Mark asked about Old Brown Dog, since that is one of Smuttynose year round beers. When the businesses separated they both had rights to the Old Brown Dog recipe. We think this tasted a little different than Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, but not quite sure.

 

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Northampton American Pale Ale 5.7%
Pretty good, nice and hoppy for a pale ale.

 

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Bre enjoying her samples

 

Food

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

 

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Green Mountain Burger

 

All the food was very good and so was the service.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the beers as well. They do make some of the less interesting, ‘typical brewpub’ beer styles, like a Golden Ale, ESB, Porter, but they put their own unique twist to their recipes, which makes the beers more interesting and enjoyable.

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They makes all their own beer in the brewery. The also can and bottle all their own beer in house as well. We bought cans and bottles to go, which is nice to have offerings other than growlers.

 

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Mark, Bre and Megan

 

Hours

Monday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 1:00 am
Sunday: 12:00 – 1:00 am

As always, check their website or Facebook for updated hours and offerings.

Barreled Souls, Saco, ME

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We visited Barreled Souls in the late summer. They are located in Saco, ME and as the name suggests, they make all barrel fermented beer.

 

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The entrance is around back, in the basement level. It was a little dark in there, nice atmosphere, but due to this, not all of our pictures came out that great. The have an outdoor area where you can sit in the nice weather.

 

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Of course they have lots of cool furniture made from old barrels.

 

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Our tasting:
Tequila Barrel Aged Space Gose
– 5.6%
A slight tartness up front, then tequila flavor takes over. It is light in body and tastes like a tequila beer, we liked it!

 

MEmosa – 5.8%
Flavorful for what is described as a ‘light, clean blonde ale’. A little citrus up front with a hoppy finish. Light, refreshing and bubbly.

 

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Quaker State with Chocolate and Orange – 6.8%
Aged in Woodford Reserve Barrels, you get some chocolate flavors, a little citrus, then the bourbon flavor takes over. An interesting combo, and well done, definitely a heavy barrel aged beer, but tasty.

 

Mocha Grande – 7.5%
Megan says ‘It’s coffee’. It tastes more like coffee than beer, certainly does not taste like 7.5%. Megan liked it better than Mark. It is a ‘brown ale with french roast coffee and a nutty, malty finish’.

 

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Munro – 9.7%
Labeled as a ‘strong scotch ale’. Very tasty, they described it best, ‘rich malt flavors, reminiscent of dark caramel, fig jam, and a light smoke’. Yup, rich, dark tasty with a hint of fruit.

 

Big Boy – 11.9%
This is a ‘barleywine with toffee malt flavors’. Mark is not a big fan of barley wines, so it was just ok, not our style but figured we would give it a shot.

 

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They also had a home brew competition running while we were there, you could taste and vote on the best home brew. We did not end up trying these, but that is cool that they do that for those who are local.

It seems like they have a rotating tap list, so there is always something new and different on. We liked most of the beers and can certainly see ourselves going back another time.

 

Hours

Wednesday and Thursday: 4:00 – 10:00
Friday: 4:00 – 12:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 12:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 8:00

Wicked Wine Fest & Craft Beer Fest!

Want a super fun afternoon or evening in Boston this coming October?
Go to one of our favorite events, run by the Boston Event Guide!

On the weekend of October 15th and 16th, the Boston Event Guide is hosting their Wicked Wine Fest and the Craft Beer Fest.

We have had the pleasure of joining the past few years, and love the venue! Have you been to the Cyclorama center before? It is a circle, and the beer/wine tables are set up along the wall of the venue, so it is an easy walk around to try all of your tastings!

Take a look at our 2015 visit!

Intrigued? Use code BREWWINEFUN to get your tickets for just $29!

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Wicked Wine Fest tickets!

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Craft Beer Fest tickets!

Want to try your hand at free? Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway, sponsored by the Boston Event Guide and BrewWineFun!

 

 

Lord Hobo Brewing Company, Woburn, MA

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We stopped by Lord Hobo Brewing Company for a quick visit in Woburn, Mass. They are not quite a year old and have already made a name for themselves. We think the names of their beers help them stand out, as well as the fact that they started canning right away.

 

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They are located in an interesting, re-habbed building. It may have been a tile store or showroom before. They have a very large tasting room, see picture below. It looks like they have plenty of room out back for expanding their brewing capacity down the road.

 

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They seem to be focused on making IPA’s, since they had 3 beers and all 3 were IPA’s, with a fourth IPA that had just kicked. Only 3 beers on tap, but all are available for growler fills, as well as in cans, which we like to see.

 

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They also have a temporary permit to pour pints. They will pour pints on Friday and Saturday nights, through the summer it sounds like. They just lowered their prices for their beer to go, which is good to hear as well.

 

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Megan is not a big fan of IPA’s, so Mark just got a sample size
of each of the 3 beers they had available.

Hobo Life – Dry Hopped Citra Session IPA 4.5%
A session ipa, light in flavor overall, with the main hop flavor being piney with a light bitter finish. This was Mark’s favorite beer, bought a 6 pack. Citra, Horizon and Chinook hops were used.

 

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Steal This Can – IPA 6.5%
Kind of light in body for a 6.5% IPA. Pretty good IPA up front, but has a heavy, bitter finish to it. Zeus, Warrior, Centennial and Chinook hops used.

 

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Boomsauce – Double IPA 7.8%
Seems a little less bitter overall, maybe the malts and higher abv balance out the bitterness a little bit. Still very ‘drinkable’ at 7.8%, good, semi fruity ipa taste upfront, finishes with the same bitterness as the rest.

 

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All 3 beers have a somewhat similar taste, like different variations of the same beer. With only making IPA’s, we would expect a little more variation from them. They do have a decent New England style flavor to them but all finish with a lingering bitterness, not Mark’s favorite. If you like IPA’s though, you should definitely check them out.

Want to visit? Check out their facebook page for hours 🙂

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Canterbury Aleworks, Canterbury, NH

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Canterbury Aleworks is located at Hidden Wonders Farm, an operating farm in Canterbury, NH. You have to drive down a long, windy dirt driveway to get there, passing by several small ponds. The brewery has been open since 2012.

 

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Pond near the small parking lot.

 

“Canterbury Aleworks is a one barrel, water powered and wood fired showcase nano-brewery handcrafting Worldly Beer with Local Flare. A little out of the way, a lot out of the ordinary!”

 

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Try to ignore the reflection of Megan, and see the water wheel that helps power the brewery!

 

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And a composting toilet!

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With a comical sink.

 

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1oz samples are “On the House”, a single 4oz taster is $2 each, and four or more tasters are $1.50 each. We tried all 9 that were available.

 

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The Hops Bollocks – British IPA 6.1%
Decent hop flavor, not a super strong hop taste, some bitterness, finishes with a more malt taste.

 

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Canterbury Ale – APA 5.5%
Interesting flavor, some hops with a touch of bitterness. More of a flowery hop flavor with a hint of sweet maltiness.

 

Be Hoppy! – American IPA 6.5%
Mark likes this, pretty good hop flavor, smooth and light in body, a touch malty without much bitterness. Said to have “floral-citrus notes from the cascade hops” which Mark agrees with.

 

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Bright Idea – German Helles-style Ale 5.4%
Light lager type beer. Not a whole lot of flavor, described that way in the write up at the brewery, just not our style, looking for a little something more.

 

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Smoke House Porter – Smoked Robust Porter 5.5%
Megan said “Oh yes, this is more like it”. A good balance of flavors, medium to heavy body with a rich coffee flavor. Subtle notes of chocolate with a strong smokey taste for a finish. Good beer, they acquired the smoked malts from their neighbor at Fox County Smoke House.

 

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Brit Wit – British Wheat Beer – 5.1%
A pretty tasty brew. A different mix of flavors, a flavorful ‘wheat beer’, unfiltered and dry. Has bergamant in it from English Tea which adds a little extra flavor to it.

 

Snappy Wit – Belgian Style Witbier 5.1%
Juicy, traditional style witbier, good and flavorful, hints of orange and coriander, we liked this beer as well.

 

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Granite Ledge Stout – Espresso Oatmeal Stout 5.5%
Smells of coffee, medium to heavy body, strong espresso flavor, but you can taste the oatmeal, too. Flavorful, but the coffee flavor is a little bit of a bitter coffee taste.

 

Black and Wit – Black Belgian Style Witbier 6.2%
A black, opaque beer. Starts lighter in body than you would think by the color, finishes with the Snappy Wit flavor, orange and coriander, and a little bit of bitterness from the ‘black’. A very interesting and pretty tasty brew.

 

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As well as water power, and the composting toilet, they have other plans to be self sustaining. “We are planting our 3/4 acre hops yard here at Hidden Wonders Farm this spring! We hope to be using 100% of our own hops by the fall of 2016.”

 

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Comfy chairs in the tasting room. This is a cool little place, nice atmosphere and the beers were tasty, better than we were expecting. If they had bottles or cans we would have bought some, but they just sell growlers of beer to go.

 

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Mark at the bar.

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They have a Polaroid camera that you can take pictures with and ‘post to their wall’.

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Hours
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00

 

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Trillium Brewing Company, Canton (and Boston), MA

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We recently visited Trillium Brewing Company, the Canton, MA location. This was our 125th visit! We went with Mark’s brother Jason and his wife Maureen, Mark’s sister Michelle, and Megan’s sister Jess. We went on a Saturday afternoon with fairly high expectations, we have heard a lot about Trillium but have never tried any of their beers, until now.

 

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Trillium Brewing Company has been open since March of 2013, run by husband and wife owners JC and Esther Tetreault. They have built quite a following from their small scale operation in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston. In December 2015 they opened their secondary brewing location in Canton, MA with a tasting room and a much larger brewing capacity, a theoretical brewing capacity of 35,000 barrels annually. They still operate both locations. We had heard a lot about their beer, but waited until they opened their new Canton facility to visit them. They do not serve samples in the Fort Point location.

 

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Mosaic Fort Point Pale Ale – 6.6%
Smells very fragrant, tropical and fruity hops. Pours cloudy and unfiltered. Has a fruity hop taste to it, not super juicy, but pretty tasty. Fruity and tropical hops with a bitter finish.

 

Summer Street American IPA – 7.2%
Not nearly as fruity smelling or tasting as the Pale Ale. Smooth, not that hoppy or bitter, nothing really stands out with this beer, fairly standard IPA. Maureen thought it was pretty good and she doesn’t like most IPA’s.

 

Sleeper Street American IPA – 7.2%
This IPA was a little fruitier, with a hint of grapefruit. A little bit juicy, not too hoppy or bitter, but a little more interesting flavor, Mark thought. Jason liked the Summer Street better.

 

Pot and Kettle Oatmeal Porter – 7.5%
Not as heavy as we expected, but we liked it. Medium body, smooth, Jason tasted chocolate, Mark got a roasty chocolate flavor. Mark, Megan, and Jason all enjoyed this.

 

 

 

The tasting experience here was not as good as we had hoped. It is an improvement since they do not do tastings in their Fort Point location, but there was only 1 bartender serving most of the time, so it took a while for us to get served. They serve 2 oz complimentary samples.

 

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The most disappointing thing was they only had 4 beers to sample. Mark went with specific beers he wanted to try, but could not sample them. Since they do have such a good reputation, we bought beers that we could not sample there to bring home and try. Other people visiting, or people unfamiliar with Trillium’s reputation may not buy a $10 bottle of beer that they can not sample.

 

Double Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale – 6.6%

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They sell their beer in 750mL (25.4 oz) bottle. This was one of the ‘tastings’ we did at home. This is a super cloudy beer with a huge hop nose. It is a pretty tasty beer, mostly citrusy hops, a little bit of a piney taste mixed in there, Mark liked it a lot. The only minor critique is it is all hop flavor up front with not a whole lot of flavor on the finish, but Mark did like it and will buy it again. This was the stand out of the ‘at home tastings’.

 

One of the benefits of the new facility is that there is an area for filling growlers and buying bottles that is separate from the tasting room. This separates the crowds and makes it easier if you want to just stop in and pick up some beer.

 

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Bottles behind the counter, and brewing tanks behind them.

Hours
Canton Location

Monday – Wednesday: 4:00 – 7:30
Thursday and Friday: 12:00 – 7:30
Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00