Far From the Tree Cider, Salem, MA

We visited Far From the Tree Cider in Salem, MA with a group of friends. Far From the Tree is owned by a couple with a background and interest in wine making. It dawned on them that in New England making cider makes a lot more sense if you want to grow your own ingredients. Apples grow great in New England, grapes not as much.

 

They released their first cider in 2014, and opened the tasting room in 2015. They started with a limited variety of ciders released in bottles, but now have a wide variety of styles and seasonal releases in bottles and cans.

 

We had wanted to visit here for a while after searching and finding a special release of theirs, Lei, a pineapple jalapeno cider that was fantastic.

 

Bre, Sammie and Megan

 

Deryl, Mark and Dustin

 

 

They had flights or full pours available, we started with flights and a few of us got full pours after.

 

Megan drinking

 

Roots – 6.9%
Original barrel aged cider. This was a very dry cider, light, not sweet at all.

 

 

Granny MacCort’s Blend – 7.5%
Still a dry cider but slightly sweeter than Roots. Made with Granny Smith, Cortland, and Mcintosh apples.

 

 

Nova
A dry hopped cider. You can smell the dry hopping, more pine on the nose but tropical flavors dominate on the pallet. A good cider, everyone liked it, Mark like the additional flavors from the dry hopping but Megan liked it as well, as the hops were not too much for her.

 

 

Gallagher’s Hammer – 7.3%
Smells and tastes like melon, more like melon than watermelon, but still pretty tasty.

 

 

Apple of My Chai – 7.5%
Smells strongly of chai, tastes like Chai with a hint of cinnamon though Mark. Bre and Megan really liked this cider, Bre went specifically looking for this one. They both bought cans to go of this.

 

 

 

Mark and Megan with cider to go

 

 

They have a pretty large patio outside with picnic tables, chairs and umbrellas. It more than doubles the space they have inside, which is great for the nice weather.

 

 

There was no door to the patio, you have to go through the building. We had a little trouble finding the door, it was hidden in a mural.

 

 

They had a food truck, The Porch, there that day so Mark and Bre got some food, mac and cheese and pulled pork sandwhichs.

 

There is not very ample  parking there, they have just a few spots and there is limited street parking. We parked down the street.

 

 

Cool murals inside.

 

 

Bre and Deryl

 

Mark and Megan

 

Sorry, no cute pic of Dustin and Sammie, just Sammie and her cider

 

 

 

 

Hours

Monday – Thursday: 4:00 – 10:00
Friday and Saturday: 12:00 -11:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 10:00

 

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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.

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 🙂

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

Hopsters, Newton, MA

 

 

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Mark’s sister Michelle got us all a brew session at Hopsters in Newton, MA for Christmas. We tried some of the beers they brew themselves while we were brewing and waiting.

 

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Their Beer

 

Newtonian – 7.4%
Medium body IPA with a piney hop flavor. Not that hoppy or that bitter, a little bit lacking it seemed.

 

Newton Corner Porter – 7%
Megan said it was delicious. Robust, not that chocolately, with some subtle dark fruit notes. Mark likes this as well, robust, light in body with a smooth, clean finish.

 

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First round of beers. Newtonian, ABC and Porter

 

Comet Citra – 5.5%
Not that hoppy for a citra IPA. They describe it as having ‘subtle tropical notes and grapefruit’, but these tropical fruit notes were very, very subtle. This was kind of lacking overall flavor, low hop flavor, not very bitter, very subtle fruit notes. This was significantly lower in alcohol than the other ipa’s.

 

Sour Vacation – 3.5%
A tart beer with a lemon flavor. Mark liked it, Megan thought it was just ok, maybe it was the lemon flavor, she wonders if it would have been better served with a lime.

 

Leaf Blower – 5%
Maureen ordered this, said ‘yup, it’s a beer’. It was described as a ‘clean, crisp, light american ale’, Mark’s agree’s.

 

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Ship of Fools – 6.3%
More hoppy, more flavor, more bitterness than the other 2 IPA’s. A little bit of a juicy hop flavor, not that much, but more. Jason and Mark agreed it was the best of the IPA’s, Jason said more identifiable hop flavors.

They have a few guest taps as well:

ABC Ginger Libation – 8.7%
Everyone liked this, Maureen and Michelle got glasses of it so we all tried it. It was fairly sweet with a good ginger flavor, light in body. Does not taste like it is 8.7%. Maureen thought it was delicious.

Citizen Cider – Dirty Mayor – 6.9%
Pretty good ginger cider, not as sweet as the ABC Ginger Libation.

 

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 They offer all sorts of food, too. We got a Buffalo Chicken Dip while
we were waiting for the mash to boil.

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The Brewing

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We decided to brew the German Hefeweizen beer. We figured that is a style of beer all 5 of us would like. We ordered our first round of beers, and shortly after that met up with our brewing guide.

 

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We started out in the ingredients room where he gave us an overview of what we would be doing, and to gather the ingredients we needed.

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Maureen helping to measure out the Red Wheat.

 

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Jason measuring out the Cara-pils Dextrine wheat.

 

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This is the Liquid Malt Extract. It is basically the wort, pre-made. If we were to make the beer from the beginning, called all grain brewing, that would take all day. That is the way Hopsters makes the beers they serve, and the way most breweries make their beer. In order to make it more time efficient, they have the extract for us to use. We are basically just skipping the first time consuming step.

 

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Michelle is cracking the grains to help release the flavors.

 

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We learned a little bit about hops, got to smell them, and pick out which ones we wanted to use, on the recommendation of our brewer. We only used an ounce of hops for bittering near the beginning and an ounce of hops near the end of the boil for aromatics. There is not very much hops in a german hefeweizen.

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We went with one traditional choice of the Saaz hops for bittering. We decided to go with Cascade hops for the late addition aromatic hop, on the recommendation of Mark. Mark wanted to mix up the recipe, just a little. The brewer recommended that we use the Cascade as the aromatic hop, so that’s what we did.

 

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Jason inspecting the beer.

 

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Jason removing the grains we steeped for 15 minutes. We put them in bags so they are easy to remove.

 

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Megan added the Liquid Malt Extract while Michelle slowly stirred it in.

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Everyone making sure Michelle was stirring it right.

 

After the Liquid Malt Extract and Saaz hops were added it had to boil for 1 hour. We grabbed a few seats near the bar and got some more beers, and Buffalo Chicken Dip.

 

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Hop pellets.

 

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The final stir after we added the Cascade hop pellets.

 

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Sanitizing the bag with Iodine so we could transfer our beer into the plastic keg.

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Michelle had to sanitize her hands, too, before poking the bag funnel into the keg.

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Our beer passed through a small cooling system as it was being transferred into the keg.

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There is our beer!

Bottling Session

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Jason starting out the bottling session.

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Bottles sanitized and drying.

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Push the middle lever down, it puts the sealer top down over the bottle.

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Michelle holding the lever on the right down for 2 seconds, it fills the bottle with CO2.

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Michelle filling the bottle up, hold the lever on the left down until the bottle
is filled almost to the top, leave about and inch of space.

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Mark helping Michelle figure out where the beer level is, sometimes
its hard to see, the beer foams up as it starts to fill.

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Our beer! You can upload a jpg file to the website and they print out labels for you. Make sure you send it at least a week before you are going in to bottle. Mark made this custom label for us in Photoshop.

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The beer turned out pretty good and the process was fun. However, we have 2 major complaints. There is not enough room, anywhere in this place. There was no room at the bar or tables while we were brewing, the brewing area was pretty cramped, and so was the bottling area, there was no room at all. We would have loved it if they had put aside seats for those brewing. We would have ordered more, and wouldn’t have had a few seats stolen when we got up to perform a step.

The other issue was they sell just about all their beers for $8 each. That’s too much for every beer to be that price, maybe 1 or 2, but not all of them. We only had 1 beer each when we went back for our bottling session, then went somewhere else to drink.

 

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Hours

Tuesday – Friday: 4:00 pm -12:00 am
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am

You can schedule your brewing and bottling sessions online at their website, or
check them out on Facebook for the most up to date info.

Wine Expo this weekend- are you going?!

We can’t wait to go to the Boston Wine Expo this weekend. We hope our winners enjoy themselves as well 🙂

Want to know more? Click here for our past experiences:

Press release from the Boston Wine Expo:

“The Boston Wine Expo’s “Grand Tasting”
Select wines and exhibitors join the
25th annual celebration of wine, food and culture

BOSTON, MA – Presented by Boston Guild of Oenophilists, the 25th annual Boston Wine Expo at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, hosted over President’s Day weekend (February 13 and 14), is announcing a sneak peek at some of the most popular wineries and restaurants which will be featured at this year’s Grand Tasting event.

The silver anniversary Grand Tasting gives guests a global adventure in a glass. Whether your palate prefers a full-bodied Pinot Noir, buttery Chardonnay, an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon or a dry Pinot Grigio, the 2016 Boston Wine Expo will bring the biggest, boldest and best flavors from the vine to the Seaport District. Oenophiles will travel through the expansive space – sans passport – swirling and sipping their way to “connoisseur” status while sampling bites from some of the city’s most popular restaurants.

There are hundreds of exhibitors and international producers who will be pouring over 2,000 wines throughout the weekend including: 90 + Cellars; Alexander Valley Vineyards; Banfi Vintners; Beaujolais Villages; Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards; Hope Family Wines; Humboldt Imports; Jackson Family Wines; Languedoc Wines; Rutherford Wine Co.; Ste. Michelle Wine Estates; Vinho Verde; and, Wines from Rioja.

Sip something you like? Attendees can make purchases and have them delivered to their doorstep via Drync, the mobile app that allows you to create your own virtual wine cellar on your Smartphone.

In addition to these renowned labels and exhibitors, local restaurants showcasing their delicious bites throughout the weekend include: 7ate9 Bakery; Athan’s European Bakery; Bertucci’s; Cask ‘n Flagon; Catering by North East of the Border; Compliments Food Co.; Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery; KINGS Bowl America; Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery; Montilio’s Baking Company; Noodle Lab Boston Pennypacker’s Food Truck; Smackadoodles; The Chubby Chickpea; and, The Living Room.

Also along the way there will be dueling Celebrity Chef Stages that will showcase the talents of New England’s most renowned chefs including: Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger; Blue Dragon); Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park; Sportello; Menton); Chris Coombs (Deuxave; dbar); Daniel Bruce (Meritage Restaurant at the Boston Harbor Hotel); Louis DiBicarri (Tavern Road); Dave Becker (Sweet Basil & Juniper); Mitchell Brumels & Nicholas Foley (Ocean Prime); Annie Copps (Itellibelly.com); Nick Deutmeyer (Post 390); Rachel Klein (RFK Kitchen); Michael Lombardi & Kevin O’Donnell (SRV); Karen Mitchell (The Palm Boston); Brendan Pelley (Pelekasis); and, Michael Scelfo (Aldon & Harlow).

There are educational seminars with nearly 40 topics ranging from food and wine pairings, “The One Hour Wine Expert,” and vertical tasting flights of the world’s most sought-after grapes. For those who love to shop, there will be scores of vendor booths with wine accessories, gourmet foods and even jewelry.

Tickets to the Boston Wine Expo’s “Grand Tasting” are available by visiting: http://www.bostonwineexpo.eventbrite.com.

General Admission ticket prices are as follows: Saturday: $99 per person and Sunday: $89 per person. General admission tickets include entry, a Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 200 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

VIP Experience ticket prices are as follows: Saturday: $149 per person and Sunday: $139 per person. VIP Experience tickets include easy entry through the VIP entrance, a welcome sparkling wine toast, complimentary private coat check, access to the VIP lounge, an upgraded Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 200 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

Group tickets are also available, as well as dedicated trade industry hours. Seminars are priced per-class and can be purchased online.

The Boston Wine Expo will take place at The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center on February 13 and 14, 2016, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. This event is reserved for ages 21+. The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center is located at 200 Seaport Boulevard in Boston, MA. For directions and more information, please visit: http://www.seaportboston.com.

ABOUT THE BOSTON WINE EXPO:
Founded in 1991 by the Boston Guild of Oenophilists, the Boston Wine Expo has grown into one of the most well-known and respected wine events in the country. Over $1,400,000 has been donated to local charities by the Guild including Tufts Medical Center’s Summer Camp Program for Children with Disabilities – the major beneficiary. Over 27 local charities have benefited from the Expo over the event’s history. Other organizations that have received considerable funding include the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Pan Mass Challenge and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. For more information, please visit: http://www.wine-expos.com.

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