Nashoba Valley Winery, Distillery and Brewery, Bolton, MA

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store front

Nashoba Valley Winery

 Nashoba Valley Winery, located in Bolton, MA sits on 52 acres of land where they have been making wine for 33 years. They have a large estate that has lots of room to walk around, have a picnic, they do functions and weddings as well. Over 50% of the fruit they use in their wines is grown in Massachusetts, a lot of the grapes and apples are grown on their own farm. The farm itself was gorgeous. IMG_1713   IMG_1691   IMG_1714    IMG_1717   IMG_1718   IMG_1719 

Unfortunately, the customer service was not that great. The person serving us was new, but she did not tell us one fact or comment on any of the wines or beers. As soon as we found out that she was brand new, we understood a bit, but we noticed the person ‘training’ her was not offering up any facts or interesting tidbits either. This was disappointing because the reason we visit places is to hear their story. When we were discussing it when we left, we decided that the best way to sum it up was that it had a very ‘corporate’ feel to it. Most of the info we are providing to you is from their website or from things we read at the store. The only information we have on the wine, spirits and beer is from our actual tasting of it, or what we read from the sheets provided.

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what was on tap for the brewery

 

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semi sweet and dessert list

You pay $6 for 5 tastings. The payment station and the tasting station are separate. You  pay in the middle of the store, then go over to the tasting bar, and wait for someone to come over and serve you. You do get a free wine glass with a tasting. They also have spirits to taste, as well as beer. You can use your 5 tasting on a mix of wine, spirits, or beer. A few of the stronger spirits are an additional fee. You are given 5 tickets and they take one each time you have a sample.IMG_1700

We each paid for a wine tasting and tried different wines, then paid for a tasting to split to try their beer.

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Wines

Chardonnay

Complex flavor, not too dry, pretty good.

 

Estate Vignoles

Off dry, good flavor, notes of citrus, pineapple, melon, and honey.

 

Cherry

Described as having ‘infused cherry aromas’, which was true. Strong cherry flavor, sweet.

 

Cyser

Very full honey flavor. Light apple notes with pear and pineapple.

 

Nashoba Mead

Too much clover. Has clover, flowers, fruit notes and honey.

 

Cranberry Apple

Good, sweet upfront with nice tartness at the end.

 

Riesling

Off dry, crisp, not what Megan was expecting. She likes sweeter Riesling’s.

Raspberry

Smells very sweet, tastes sweet too, flavorful.

 

Vidal Dessert Wine

Nice and sweet. Ice wine, not made with their own grapes, they are from northern New Hampshire. We asked several questions about how they made this wine in Bolton, Massachusetts, and it took many questions from us for them to admit the grapes are frozen on the vine in NH and shipped down and processed at their facility.

 

Oak Aged Apple Brandy

Decent tasting brandy, not too harsh.

 

Top selling wine by ranking:

Cranberry Apple, Strawberry Rhubarb, SS Blueberry, Dry Pear, Renaissance, Riesling, Maidens Blush

 

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Nashoba Valley Brewery?

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the tap

The first fact they list about the brewery on their website is that they go through more brewers than gallons of beer. Also, on the website the brewery is listed as Bolton Valley Beer Works but at the tasting bar it is listed as Nashoba Valley Brewery. They sell some beer in bottles and six packs, and also fill growlers.

 

New English Cider

Made from their orchard varieties. Dry and crisp, very light in color.

 

Perry

Megan thought it tasted like sparkling water with pear, lemon, and mint. Made with 100% Bartlett pears. Off dry and carbonated. Mark didn’t like it as much.

 

Chai Tea Brown Ale

Not what Megan was expecting, thought it would be more like a heavy stout/porter. Has notes of ginger, pumpkin, mint, cardamom with black tea finish. Mark liked it, decent flavor with spices.

 

Summah Ale

Pretty good summer, golden beer. Made with locally grown barley, wheat, and cascade hops.

 

Nashoba Expresso Stout – Mali Reserve

This was Megan’s favorite beer. Strong expresso flavor. Made with roasted barley, malt, expresso with a faint chocolate taste.

 

We decided to buy 2 single bottles of beer to try later…

 

Wattaquadoc Wheat

Bavarian Style Wheat Beer – This might have been one of our favorite beers. Light, refreshing summer style beer. A hint of coriander with a touch of sour.

 

Special Reserve

Interesting flavor, hard to place. Dark and heavy up front, a little sweet or almost fruity on the back end. Mark like it, Megan not as much.

 

 Views from around the store… IMG_1695 

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fun wine stand

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wine

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wine stand

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spirits wall

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want to take some home?

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…beer on the wall…

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growlers to go!

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Want to visit?
Sunday – Thursday – 10am – 4:30pm Friday & Saturday -10am – 5:30pm Guided Tours of the winery: Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am and then approximately
every hour.

 

 

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J’s Restaurant

J’s Restaurant is located on the property as well. They recommend you make reservations. They are a farm to table restaurant. It was a little expensive for our taste.

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store and tasting room to the right

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The Tap Brewing Company, Haverhill MA

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 IMG_1650 We recently went to the Tap Brewing Company in Haverhill, Massachusetts. They have been open since 2003 focusing on high quality food every visit. They want everyone to leave happy.

It is located in an older building which they work with instead of against. They embrace the old painted walls and the painted tin ceiling. We could tell that they do take pride in this. On their website they give a brief history.

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dining room mural

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part of a mural in the bar area

Our location at 100 Washington St has played a major role in the history of Haverhill. Built in 1882 to house the L.H. Hamel Leather Company, it later became J.M. Hickeys, a local bar for the workers of the surrounding shoe mills.  There our main dining room and bar area feature the original exposed brick and dark wood bar for a cozy, yet industrial feel.

IMG_1661They have a fair amount of seating – two bar areas, the main bar and the playpen. The playpen is an area with pool tables and arcade games.

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sign at the base of the stairwell

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part of the playpen bar area was nice too- but too dark for pictures)

They have a dining room as well as outside seating, out front on the city sidewalk and out back on a deck.

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dining room

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barrels on the dining room level

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fermentation tanks in the basement- across from the bathrooms for you to view on your way

They have a 10 barrel brew house, which is multi level.

 

We arrived around 1:30 on a Friday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised by how many other people were there as well. All beer consumed at the Tap Brewing Company is made by them, you won’t find a Bud or a Miller, or any other craft beer, but you should find something you will like. If you don’t know what to order, talk to the bartender, they know THEIR beer. This is definitely a plus to them selling only their beer, they get to know it.

 

We ordered 2 samplers, $8 each, not bad! That way we got to try every beer.

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our tasting

Year Round Beers

Commuter Ale

German Blonde Ale – 4.7% – 23 IBU

Really light beer flavor, light spice on the tongue.

 

Whittier White

Spiced Belgian Wit – 4.6% – 30 IBU

Smelled like a Blue Moon, which makes sense. Good flavor, orange peel, coriander and ajwain. Mark thought it was lighter than other spiced beglians.

 

Home Run

American Pale Ale – 5.6% – 30 IBU

Made with 3 hops, Glacier, Athanum, Cascade. Megan did not like the smell or the taste, but she usually does not like APA’s. This was more what Mark would consider ‘light craft beer’ that most people would like. It has some flavor and hops to it, but not too over powering or too heavy.

 

Leather Lips

IPA – 5% – 50 IBU

Dry hopped, fairly light in color. Definetely has that classic IPA flavor, but it has a little something extra, maybe because it is dry hopped with whole leaf centennial hops. Fairly light in color.

 

Sassy Rabbit

Rye Ale – 5.6% – 41 or 4 IBU

Mark is always surprised how smooth rye ales are. Had an earthy, nutmeg finish.

 

Seasonal Beers

Wheatless

Dampf beer – 5.1% – 21 IBU

All of the flavors and aromas of a Hefeweizen without the wheat malt. Mark thought it had the Hefeweizen smell, but not the taste.

 

Intergalactic Acid

Berliner Weiss – 3% – 4 IBU

German style with a light tartness.

More sour than we expected.

 

Ignoble

IPL (India Pale Lager) – 7.1% – 67 IBU

Hoppy punch of IPA with the smoothness of a lager. Megan did not like it. Mark enjoyed it, was super hoppy, and not really easy drinking like a lager, but good, especially if you are looking for a hoppy beer.

 

Field Guide

Farmhouse Ale – 6.7% – 30 IBU

Traditional farmhouse style, bright and spicy, one of our top choices, bought a bottle before we left.

 

On Cask

Intergalactic Acid On Peaches

Had a similar smell to the uncasked Acid. The peaches cut the tartness and added a good flavor. One of our other top choices.

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Mark enjoying the sampler

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Megan enjoying the sampler

 

Food

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Bacon Cheese Fries

Big plate, good amount of cheese and bacon.

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Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

Mark really liked this. Lot’s of bleu cheese and the mix of hot sauce was good.

 

Overall, we felt like we got a lot for what we paid. Prices were good and serving sizes were good. This is another place that we would go to more often if it was a little closer to us.

 

 

HOURS

Tuesday-Saturday: 11:30am-10pm

Sunday: 11:30am-9pm

The bar is open until local last call each night. We are closed on Mondays

 

 

Idle Hands Craft Ales, Everett, Massachusetts

After our visit to Night Shift Brewing, we went to Idle Hands Craft Ales, also located in Everett, Massachusetts. The breweries used to be located next door to each other, at the location Idle Hands is currently in.

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When we arrived, we saw many of the same faces we had seen at Night Shift- everyone was out to try some good beer!
IMG_1419Idle Hands Craft Ales is the Boston area’s first Nanobrewery- meaning they produce a very limited amount of beer. When they began in 2011, they were brewing only 1 1/2 barrels at a time. They now have a 5 barrel system, Due to Idle Hands being a nanobrewery, they are a little but more difficult to find than other breweries’ beers- but they have a great list (organized by town) of where you can find the beers in the greater Boston area.
Idle Hands was founded by Christopher Tkach, a New Hampshire native who started homebrewing at age 21. He has been making beers for 15+ years. Christopher has a solid team with him, including his wife, two brewers and a tasting room manager.
Idle Hands is a Belgian inspired brewery. Belgian ale was originally crafted by Monks in the Middle Ages. It is still a popular style, both in Belgium and the US. Idle Hands also creates hybrids, like a Belgian stout. They have also crafted German style beers, like a Pale Weizenboch, coming in the fall. They do a lot of seasonals and like to experiment and make one offs as well.
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Idle Hands:
  • Blanche de Grace: 5.4%
    A Belgian Wit.
    Spices of coriander and citrus
    light, creamy summer beer
  • Triplication- Abbey Style Tripel: 9%
    doesn’t drink like a 9% beer, easier to drink than expected
    good, subtle flavor
    notes of clove, peach, pear and a hint of banana
  • Pandora- Belgian Pale Ale: 6%
    everyone around us was raving about this beer- long before we tried it!
    this beer was more straight forward in style
    notes of citrus fruit, pepper and allspice
  • Patriach- table style beer: 5.8% (but varies)
    crisp and light
    notes of white grapes, apple
    Belgian Single/Patersbier
    Megan really liked this one
  • 23*26′- Hoppy Tripel: 8.2%
    hybrid, Belgians don’t use hops traditionally
    citrusy, grassy Belgian
    Mark really liked this one
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Enlightenment Ales merged with Idle Hands in December 2013. Two breweries under one roof is easier to manage. Their beers tend to be more hoppy than Idle Hands.

  • Illumination- Farmhouse IPA: 6.8%
    earthy taste, as expected from a Farmhouse ale
    similar at times to a Saison, but hopped.
    Mark liked this one
  • Enlightenment- Garrison- Hoppy American Table Beer: 2.8%
    Spanish recipe
    sweet green pepper flavor
    Megan appreciated
Want to visit?
Hours of Operation:
Thursdays 3 – 7 pm
Fridays 5 – 8pm
Saturdays 12 – 5 pm
Check their facebook for special events and holiday hours
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look for this sign if you go- can be a little hard to find!