Downeast Cider House

This past fall, we took a trek into Boston with Mark’s sister Michelle, Megan’s sisters Heather, Jessica and Samantha, Samantha’s boyfriend Dustin, and friends Bre and Lizzie. We took a walk from the nearest train station to Downeast Cider House. On a warm day, this walk would be nothing. On a windy day (like the one we had), the walk was a little harsh. In good weather, walk. In cold weather, take a cab or drive.

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When they say they are located down under the Tobin Bridge, they are serious. Right under the bridge.

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A little farther in…

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Around the corner…

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And you are there!

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They give you these sampling glasses at the start of the tour. They come around and give you samples of what they have on tap during the tour. We all liked this, you get to drink while on the tour.

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We have had Downeast Cider plenty of times before, and we have had a lot of people try it as well, including everyone who came with us on this visit. They press from fresh apples year round, and it tastes like it.

Original Blend – 5.1%
It tastes like a regular jug of cider you would get from the produce department. It is a blend of freshly pressed blend of Red Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland and Gala apples.

Cranberry Blend – 5%
Good blend of cranberry flavor and cider, not too tart but just enough cranberry flavor. Several of us actually got growlers of this.

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Kegs, growlers, and cans, lots of cans.

Hard Honey – 5.1%
This was a spring release this year. A sweeter, definitely honey flavored cider. Good but sweet. When we had tried this, they had said it was the lemonade at first… So, many of us weren’t fans. After finding out that it was the Hard Honey, we wished for another taste.

Lemonade – 5.1%
This was a summer release, light and easy drinking.

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They have a Winter Blend out now that we did not get to try. It is 6.5% and aged on oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg, sounds like a good winter cider. Next fall they may be making a pumpkin cider, and possibly a hard iced tea for the spring, though that is just a rumor.

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Back row: Lizzie, Dustin, Mark Middle row: Michelle, Megan, Heather, Jessica, Samantha Front: Bre

We had quite a group of people visiting with us.

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It was a little hard to hear on the tour, it is an operating brewery, so equipment and coolers were running. We were on the largest tour of the day on a Sunday afternoon, too, so we couldn’t get too close to the tour guide. The tasting during the tour is a good touch. We recommend Downeast to everyone we think might like it. That includes you!

Want to visit?

Tastings, Tours & Growler

SATURDAYS 12-8pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 7pm
SUNDAYS 1-6pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 5pm

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Schilling Beer Company, Littleton, NH

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While visiting our friends Jamie and Andrew, we took the drive to Schilling Beer Company. Andrew recommended we go here. He said they have really good pizza and some quality beers. We have to agree. They are located in Littleton, NH which is about 20 miles north of the Lincoln/Woodstock/Loon Mountain area.

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From their website: “Schilling Beer Co. is a family-owned artisan microbrewery centered on the values of family, community and excellence. These values are reflected in the three united grain heads that comprise our logo.

Schilling is the embodiment of a dream for four brothers and Dad, who left professions and moved across continents to link up in the North Country to brew together. The name “Schilling” honors our grandfather, Dr. Richard J. Schilling (his picture hangs near the bar), and also reflects the continental European influences on the brewing.

We brew Schilling beers on a custom 5-barrel wirelessly controlled brewhouse here, in the oldest commercial building north of Concord, NH – a renovated gristmill dating to 1797.”

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outside seating- a bit too cold now! Love that they have it- maybe next time!

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let’s head on in!

It’s hard to describe these beers without using the term ‘Belgian style’ or ‘ Belgian taste’ in the description. Most of the beers have that as a taste with some extra flavoring or style in it. This is in part due to their European influences and experiences.

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 Our Tasting:

Erastus – Abbey-style Tripel – 8%
A heavy ‘blue moon’ flavor, a little earthy, Belgian flowers.

Foy – Belgian-style IPA – 5.9%
Andrew said it had the hoppy taste of an IPA, but not overpowering. We agree, almost like a toned down IPA with some Belgian flavors, you get both. Jamie got a little citrus fruit taste.

Trapu – Belgian-style Dark Ale – 6%
Smooth. Chocolate and light coffee notes, on the verge of a ‘cask strength’ flavor.

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Blonde Grisette – Belgian-style Saison – 5.5%
A tiny bit fruity and a little earthy, light beer. Andrew agree’s.

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Jamie enjoying her beers

Pater – Abbey-style Single – 4.8%
Spiced rather than hopped. Light, Belgian session beer, not super flavorful.

Grotius – Abbey-style Dubbel – 6.3%
Belgian style with a darker, malty taste with a little bit of ‘dark fruit aroma’s’, their term but we agree.

Resistance – Belgian-style Saison – 6.3%
An earthy saison.

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Dr. Oovert – Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale – 9.1%
Strong flavor, good taste. The description said ‘dark fruit and caramel’, we agree, fruity but a heavy taste. Andrew agree’s there were a ‘multitude of dark fruit flavors’, got stronger and more flavorful as you drank. Megan did not like this beer.

Le Nain – Biere blanche – 6%
50% wheat, cloudy, flavorful, a medium silky mouth feeling. German and American hops.

Schilling ‘Sticke’ Collaboration with White Birch – Wheat Ale – 5.5%
Fruity notes, smooth wheat ale. Megan said it was what she expected from White Birch.

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downstairs, bar area great atmosphere
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seating area at the top of the – love the look!

 Time to eat!

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Maple Bacon Pizza- AMAZING!

Yes, maple syrup, bacon, chicken and apples. Sweet and savory. This was a special, and it was everyone’s favorite. A slightly odd combination that really works.

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Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Good amount of spice, really good pizza

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Loaded Pizza

This pizza was good, but overshadowed by the other 2 because they were so good. Plenty of sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers.

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Megan being …… an owl?

Jeff Cozzens, CEO, runs the place with his brothers. Very approachable, and was seen interacting with all customers, not just us. He was a great guy, and spoke with us and others about the beers, and how they came to be.

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Meg, Mark, Andrew & Jamie

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Want to visit?

Watch City Brewing Company, Waltham, MA

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Sign on the backside of the building

We went to Watch City Brewing Company with Mark’s sister- Michelle, brother- Jason, and Jason’s fiancée- Maureen. We went for an early lunch, complete with a beer sampling!

 

From their website:

“WATCH CITY features four “Flagship” beers and four specialty/seasonal products including a cask-conditioned ale. Head Brewer Aaron Mateychuk expertly “crafts” his recipes in the brewhouse that is visible from Moody Street. Brewer Aaron Mateychuk while very proud of the consistent quality of WCBC’s five mainstays (of which the Hops Explosion won a 3rd place finish at the GNEIBF in 1999 and a 1st place in 2001) he is especially proud of the range and quality of the seasonals and specialties he produces.”

                We have to agree. Mark and I thought there were enough ‘normal’ type of beers most people would like, but they also have some very interesting, specialty type beers that we will remember.

The restaurant had a good style and vibe. The bar was a huge, horseshoe shape right in the middle of the restaurant. There is plenty of bar seats and standing room, and a good amount of tables for sit down meals.IMG_0857

The brewery creates special beers, that pop up throughout the year. This includes the “Chocolate Thunder Porter,” made in the fall with local chocolate; World Champs Wheat; Busta’Nut Brown Ale and Skye High Scotch Ale.

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the brewhouse

 

We ordered a sampler of a few of their beers- and picked the most different ones.IMG_0851

Flame Thrower – 4.1% – 12 IBU

Hot Habanero infused Kolsch

Quite a kick! Smooth at the beginning, but then burned deep in the back of your throat.

 

Holy Mole Wit – 7.2% – 30 IBU

Chocolate Habanero Belgian Wit

Nice, good flavor. Spicy and smooth. Obviously not as spicy as Flame Thrower.

 

Kingpin Imperial Stout – 8.4% – 72 IBU

Notes of molasses, licorice, raisins and chocolate.

Very Smooth. Mark thought it was good, fairly normal stout. Megan thought it was strong and heavy.

 

Moody Street Stout – 6% – 54 IBU

Toffee, coffee, chocolate textures.

Sweeter than a typical, or dry, stout.

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  Our Food:

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Breakfast Burger

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Special: Deep fried burger

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Pimosa (Pineapple juice, orange juice and Champagne) Burger

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Buffalo Chicken Wrap

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Chicken burger, with bacon and cheddar

 

Beers On Tap Now:

Carnaval Imperial Wit

Kingpin Imperial Stout

Rescue One Kölsch

4.8% – 23 IBU

Shillelagh Irish Red Nitro Ale

4.8% – 18 IBU

Moody Street Stout

Titan Ale

6.1% – 42 IBU

Hops Explosion IPA

6.4% – 72 IBU

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Contract Brewing

“Contract brewing is for many hopeful brewers who simply do not have the capital to establish their own  fully functioning brewery and other brewers who have established themselves  in the market for years, but have may have capacity issues. Well, whether it is a single batch, special brew or way of life, Watch City Brewing Company has time on its side.”

We thought this was pretty interesting, so included it as well.

 

Brew School

Watch City also offers a “Brew School.” This is a once a month session, which includes a detailed discussion with the brewers and a buffet.

 

 UPDATE: Watch City Has Permanently closed! Too bad, it was a good place

 

Want to visit? Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday 11:30am–12:30am Saturday and Sunday 10:30am–11:30pm

KITCHEN HOURS

Monday 11:30am–10:00pm  Tuesday 11:30am–10:00pm  Wednesday 11:30am–10:00pm  Thursday 11:30am–10:30pm Friday 11:30am–11:00pm Saturday 10:30am–11:00pm Sunday – 10:30am–10:00 pm

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view from the street

 

Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne VT

IMG_0745While visiting John & Lindsay, we went to Shelburne Vineyard, located in Shelburne, Vermont. The vineyard has 4 different sites where they grow grapes. 57% of the grapes they use grown by them; that will go up because they have acres of vines that are too young to be used right now. Shelburne Vineyard started with 3 acres of grapes planted in 1998 as a retirement hobby. In 1999, 3 more acres were planted, and in 2000, a partnership was founded. In 2001, the first vintage was released. In 2008, their tasting room opened, and is ready for you to visit today!     IMG_0746

IMG_0737Our tasting:

2012 Louise Swenson
Sweet but dry, “drier than most reds”

2012 Cayuga White
Blend of Cayuga, Riesling and chardonnay. Definitely drier than most Cayuga that we have tried. 30 Different local restaurants have this as their table wine. 15 of those restaurants have it on tap!

2012 Lakeview White
This is their top selling wine. Lindsay thought it was easily drinkable due to sweetness, it is almost like a juice. An off dry Cayuga with chardonnay and Riesling.

 

They have 2 Rieslings, a Vermont (comes out in April) and a New York (their current offering)

2012 Riesling Honey and melon flavors. It was sweeter than Mark expected it to be.

2012 Cabernet Franc This was bottled in December. Dry medium body aged in oak. It had a fruity, cherry and blackberry, and a peppery bold taste. This was our favorite of the 2 reds.

2012 Marquette This is the leading red grape grown in Vermont. It was aged 8 months in an oak barrel, then 1 year in the bottle. Seemed a little drier than the first red.

Dessert Styles

Artesano is a new meadery in Coulchester, which opened in January of 2014. Since they are fairly new, they are utilizing the ability to offer their meads at the Shelburne Vineyard.

Artesano’s Sparkling Cranberry Mead John liked the cranberry flavor. Mark thought it was different but good.

Artesano’s Traditional Cyder 80% Applewine, 20% Mead. Drier than expected. Ha the bright acidity of apples.

2012 Vidal Blanc Late Harvest semi-sweet dessert wine. Balanced, fresh ripe stone fruits, pears and honeysuckle. Both Mark and Megan thought it was very good.

2012 Rhapsody Ice Wine Harvested in December/January in the early morning. Much sweeter than Vidal Blanc. We enjoyed.

Eden Ice Ciders Heirloom blend of eleven different varieties of apples, without spices added. Very good, sweet

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 The store/tasting roomIMG_0738 IMG_0744 IMG_0740 IMG_0739

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shelburne 4Want to visit? They are open 7 days a week, year round. 11-6 May-October, 11-5 October-April
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Free tours offered daily at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Mayflower Brewing, Plymouth MA

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Mark, myself and a few friends went to Mayflower Brewing Company, located in Plymouth Ma, as part of my birthday celebration. My sister Samantha joined us- it was her 1st brewery (she had joined us a few weeks before for a trip to Cape Cod Winery). Mark’s brother Jason and sister Michelle joined us (they had both been with us when we visited Blue Hills Brewery, and Michelle when we had visited Flag Hill Winery and Distillery). Our friends Andrea (went to Cape Cod Winery with us), Bre (went to Gilmanton Winery with us) and Katrina joined us as well. After we visited Mayflower Brewing Company, we went to Plymouth winery! See that post soon!

Mayflower is located in an industry park area of Plymouth, off of exit 7 near Colony Place.

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When we entered, we were welcomed and quickly started our tasting. The glasses were larger than dixie glasses, and we were given decent sized pours for each beer.

100_0570100_0579 Mayflower Brewing had us try 7 beers. We were lucky enough to be able to try both the Summer seasonal as well as the Fall seasonal.

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Our tasting:

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Summer Rye Beer: A Belgian style rye. Good flavor, but wouldn’t be my first choice for a summer beer. Michelle shrugged, that it was ok. Katrina doesn’t care for Belgians in the least (so I enjoyed most of her pour). Mark liked it, stated that it is defiantly a summer beer, but doesn’t have a fruity taste as many summer beers do.

Golden Ale: A crisp and dry ale with a malt flavor. I did not enjoy the Golden Ale. Sam enjoyed it more than the Summer Rye Beer, but stated that it needed more of a flavor. Andrea agreed with Sam, that it was better than the previous one. Michelle said it “tastes like beer.”

Pale Ale: British in style has more bitters in it. I actually liked it, which surprised me (I usually don’t enjoy Pale Ales). When I mentioned this to the woman pouring our beer, she mentioned that their Pale Ale is British in style, and has more bitters in it than an American Pale Ale.

Mayflower IPA: surprisingly good. Mayflower uses four varieties of American hops to create a balanced flavor. Both Michelle and I are not typically IPA lovers, but we could say that we enjoyed Mayflower’s IPA. Sam enjoyed drinking it, but did not like the after taste, she wanted a piece of gum after.

Autumn wheat: A dark wheat beer. Michelle, Sam and I thought it was really good. Katrina loved it, as she tends to love fall seasonal. Jason: thumbs up

Mayflower Porter: Mayflower uses five varieties of malted barley to make this delicious porter. Not heavy tasting. Sam stated that “it look(ed) like soda” when it was first poured.  Good porter.

We also tried the Single Hop Ale as well as the Mild. Both were part of the “Cooper Series.” I really enjoyed the Mild, it was delicious, but definitely a beer I could only do a pint or two of.

Katrina stated that she has enjoyed Mayflower beers before, but finds it is only good when it is super fresh (not in a bottle, or an old keg/tap line).

Jason didn’t have one he didn’t like.

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100_0574Family Picture #2: Mark, Jason & Michelle

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Take 2

Our tour:

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At the beginning of the tour, we were instructed to keep our shoes on and not to touch anything. And to keep our shoes on. Apparently people feel the need to walk around without their shoes on in a factory?

The brewery smelled like a farm, as someone pointed out. The scent was due to the grain that is being used by the brewery.

The brewery was started in 2008, when there was no other brewery on the South Shore. The location of Plymouth was easy for two reasons:

1. soft water of Plymouth makes an easy starting point to make beer

2. the owner is a 10th generation descendant of the cooper on the Mayflower (John Alden).

A cooper? What’s that? John Alden was responsible for the many barrels of beer that were on board the Mayflower. According to the tour, those on board the Mayflower had thought about landing in Provincetown, but did not because there wasn’t a running water source for them to make beer (which they needed to survive).

The tour went over the brewing process, image (13)and the tour guide compared the beer making process to something most are familiar with: making tomato sauce. We found out that all of their bees, with the exception of the Summer Rye are filtered (Summer Rye still is, but not to the same effect). We had the opportunity to see their Mill Room, where they keep the grist.100_0586

Mayflower Brewery tries to be as green as possible, and they send the spent grain to local prisons for farm land. Mayflower does not use chemicals to help close and seal their bottles.

Bottling Assembly:100_0587  
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100_0591   100_0589 100_0590Michelle commented at the end of the tour that it was good and the tour guide was personable.

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We had to end our tour with a couple of group photos:

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Back row: Mark, Sam, Andrea, Jason

Front row: Michelle, Katrina, Me, Bre

image (6) image (10)For our last picture, she told us to JUMP!

Thank you very much to Bre, who stole my camera (and then proceeded to take photos with her phone when it died)!

What else did we do for my birthday celebration? Soon to come, Plymouth Winery!

Cape Cod Winery, East Falmouth MA

imageOn a rainy camping morning, my sister Sam mentioned that she wanted to do something, and then had the grand idea to go to either a winery or a brewery. Sam had recently turned 21, and had never been to a winery or a brewery. This  Since it was a Sunday, breweries in the area were closed, so we decided to go to the Cape Cod Winery. This was also the first visit to a winery for two others who went with us, my sisters Heather and Jessica. Andrea, a literally life-long friend (met when we were 3 years) had been to one winery previously.

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Andrea, Jessica, Heather, Samantha, Mark and I pulled up to Cape Cod Winery and could see all of the beautiful grape vines growing. The signage on the property directed you inside for a wine tasting.image (4)
When we walked inside, I was somewhat surprised at the size of tasting room. Although I have been to smaller tasting rooms, like that of Gilmanton Winery, I expected something more like Flag Hill’s tasting room due to the location. Cape Cod is a vacation land, and when it rains everyone looks for something to do. The winery was very busy, due to it sprinkling out, and we weren’t the only ones with the great idea of going to the winery. I was just a little surprised about the size of the tasting room.

image (13)The tasting was $5 per person and included a full sized wine glass.

We tried six wines:image (5)
Pinot Grigio: smooth, notes of apricot, hazelnut and pear. The grape skins are left on for this wine (like a red) for 24 hours to create a richer, fuller flavor and a golden color. Jessica thought it was good for a white wine. Andrea, Mark and  I would drink it, but it wasn’t amazing. Heather didn’t enjoy it, and Sam’s face spoke what words could not.
Nobska White: a blend of Seyval and Vidal grapes. Some tropical fruit highlights, but no where near the tropical fruit flavors you might get from a Cayuga. Andrea, Heather and I enjoyed this one more. Mark and Jess also enjoyed, with Mark commenting that it had notes of tart apples. Sam still didn’t enjoy this wine.
Nobska Cranberry Blush: Seyval white wine with a splash of cranberry. This wine sits for six months with whole fermented cranberries. Prior to trying this wine, I had assumed this would be a favorite- cranberry wines from southeastern Mass & the Cape are usually quite good. Jess, usually a cranberry fan, did not enjoy this one. It was too light in cranberry flavor. I thought it was the best I had tried at the time (and then the 2nd favorite of mine there). Mark, Heather, Sam and Andrea agreed.
Merlot/Cabernet Franc: 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. Aged in oak barrels. Jessica really enjoyed this one (red wines are her favorite, especially merlot). Sam, Andrea and Heather tried it and then passed their pour on to Mark. Mark and I thought it wasn’t bad, but too dry for our tastes.
Nobska Red: was not available for tastings, as it was waiting to be bottled.
Regatta: sweet, with a slight (very slight) strawberry flavor. At this point, we were rushed to our next taste and I wasn’t really able to find out other’s opinions. Would have loved to learn more about this one, especially since it was not listed in their wine list pamphlet. I think it was a dessert wine??
Nobska Blue: mezzo dolce wine, a blend of blueberries and grapes. This was Heather’s favorite (mine as well, I went home with a bottle). Heather mentioned that it would be great with real blueberries as garnishment. If you are someone who likes their blueberry wine chilled, you could also freeze blueberries and use them as ice cubes! image (8)

image (6)Also available for tasting were two jellies. It was good, but seemed like a typical jelly

The Cape Cod Winery grows the majority of the grapes they use on their property- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Seyval, and Vidal Blanc. These are grapes most commonly found in southern France and northern Italy. Cape Cod Winery chooses to grow organically.

image (12)Pros:

organic

Local

Have a tasting notes/order sheet you can pick up

Offer $1 off a bottle for purchasing a tasting/glass

Offer other discounts (3-5 bottles, $3 off; 6-11 bottles, $8 off total; 12 bottles, $20 off)

Cons:

not a good winery to go to with people who are new to wine or wineries- not a good first impression of the way things work

not enough room to have a tasting unless you are the only people there (and this one I tried to hard to go with because I work in the industry!)

Not enough people working to learn about the wines (although he did a great job with making sure everyone was trying, we just didn’t learn anything)

Wine was expensive to purchase ($14-$17 per bottle)

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Want to go?

Summer Wine Tasting Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, June 26th through Labor Day 11-4 pm.

Fall Wine Tasting Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 11-4, through Christmas.

 
This winery was one that I am glad I went to so I can now cross it off my list, but not one that I would want to go to again.
My thing is that if you don’t like wine (or beer), it’s that you haven’t found one that you like yet and you should continue trying different ones. Hopefully, those that also went with me and didn’t find anything worth bringing home (I was the only one to buy a bottle) will try another winery with me again soon… Or maybe it will be a brewery next time 🙂

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Sam Adams

Please forgive me, as the first few entries on this won’t be as detailed about the specific beers and wine as they will later. I am currently recalling the ones we have been to in the past.

The tour tickets

For my birthday a few years ago, a few friends and I went into Boston to go to Sam Adams.

How it works at Sam Adams

  • The tour & tasting are “free,” but you are asked to make a donation, which they in turn send to a charity. Win-WIn!
  • You walk through their brewery, stopping in different areas to hear about how the beer is made,  how Sam Adams was started and how they choose their hops, barley, etc. During this, you have an opportunity to try the hops.
  • One the tour is (almost) over, you enter the tasting room. It is set up like a bar. You find yourself a table, they pass out tasting glasses. They start with Boston Lager, and explain how to tell if you have a good glass while out (that the bars lines are clean, etc). They then continue to pass around pitchers of the beers they currently have on tap for everyone to try.
  • Before the end of your tasting, you typically try a “tester” beer, which they are looking to find out what we, the consumer, thinks before they brew big batches of it.

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Recommendation if you go: take the trolley from the brewery to Doyle’s Cafe. Nice, quick trolley ride there. If you get a beer while there, you get to keep the Sam Adam’s glass! 
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Tour and Gift Shop Hours

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  • Monday – Thursday: 10:00am – 3:00pmLast tour starts at 3pm.
  • Fridays: 10:00am – 5:30pmLast tour starts at 5:30pm (gift shop and tour center closes at 6:30)
  • Saturdays: 10:00am – 3:00pmLast tour starts at 3pm (gift shop & tour center close at 4:00)