Widowmaker Brewing, Braintree, MA

Widowmaker Brewing is a fairly new brewery in Braintree, MA. They opened in September of 2017. We visited with Megan’s sister Sam and her fiancee Dustin, and our friends Nick and Sara, their first official Brew Wine Fun visit, wow!
Widowmaker Brewing is a 7 barrel brewhouse. They have a lot of room and we saw a lot of fermenters. They also have a huge tasting room, especially for a new brewery.

Big pictures so you can see the big tasting room

They serve half pours (6.5 oz), full pours (13 oz) and also serve flights of four 4 oz tasters. We all got flights so we could try as many beers as possible.

Bar area with designated ordering area

Donut Shop – coffee stout     6.5%
This beer is dominated by a bitter coffee flavor, Mark and Sam expected a sweeter or more chocolatey beer with name like donut shop, but if you ignore the name it is a pretty decent coffee stout.
Pure Hoppy – american ipa: citra     7.2%
Hazy, pretty juicy citra hop flavor, this was good, exactly what Mark was hoping for.
Greenbush – pale ale 6.8%
Not quite as good as Mark was hoping for, it is 80% Mosaic hops, lacking a little, maybe the ‘dry finish’, or just not as good as the Pure Hoppy: Citra in Mark’s opinion.
Nick didn’t like WMB Octoberfest that much, though it did grow on him as he drank it, Sam and Dustin did like it.
com-Rad – russian imperial stout     10.1%
We liked this beer, it is based on the Donut Shop stout recipe. It is slightly sweeter, definitely more chocolatey, with a strong coffee flavor.
Sarah Porter – classic porter     4.5%
Decent porter, bitter with mild caramel malt flavor.
Gowanus Canal Screw Job – american ipa     7.1%
Not very hazy, decently hoppy with a medium body or mouthfeel, minor tropical notes and a bit piney or ‘resiney’.
Old Oaken Farmhouse – saison     8.1%
Funky smell, which is a good sign. Strong peppery saison flavor up front with a nice mild finish. It’s hoppy which balances the saison flavor nicely. Described as a hybrid saison pale ale, and it tasted like it.
50-Year Storm – american dipa     7.8%
Hazy, really opaque. Good beer, has a super light malt bill with an oated body, hoppy and tasty with no hop bitterness.
Free snacks! Goldfish and Cheez-its with little trays to bring them back to your table.
They have Crowlers to go, and it says on their website they will have a limited runs of bomber bottles, but we don’t think that has started yet.

Swag area.

 Overall this was a good visit. They had beers that everyone liked, they have a nice, big space they can grow into. It should be interesting to watch what happens here.
 Current Hours
Thursday: 3:00 – 7:00
Friday: 3:00 – 10:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 10:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 6:00
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Untold Brewing, Scituate, MA

Untold Brewing is a new brewery in Scituate, MA, they just opened in 2017. We visited here with Megan’s sister Sam and her boyfriend Dustin.

 

Their tasting room is pretty unique, it is a renovated schoolhouse that was built in 1862. They built a large metal building behind the schoolhouse that houses the brewery. The entrance is between the 2 buildings on the side of the building.

 

Old schoolhouse tasting area

 

They hired Rustic Marlin to build them tables for the schoolhouse seating area, so it looks old and fits in with the building. It was too crowded to get a good picture of the tables (without people being weirded out).

 

 

They are pretty large for a new brewery, they definitely have some money behind them. This is a pretty good sized brewing system to open with.

 

They serve 5 oz and 10 oz pours, or a flight of four 5 oz pours for $11.

 

 

Rebecca – brown ale     5.6%
This was pretty dark in color for a brown ale, coffee and a dark malty, toffee flavor. A little interesting and slightly different for a brown ale.

 

Pale 143 – pale ale     5.6%
Crystal clear, but still a tasty pale, ha. Hoppy with citrus and mango flavors, Mark liked this beer.

 

 

East By Northwest – ipa     6.8%
Fairly clear in appearance. Pine hops flavors dominate this beer, with some bitterness. Mark liked it more as he drank the sample. Mark liked the Pale better with citrus and mango flavors, East By Northwest was good but the strong pine flavors are not Mark’s favorite.

 

Time Shall Unfold – ipa     6.2%
This ipa is dominated by citrus hop flavors, but comes with a bit more bitterness. Pale was still Mark’s favorite overall.

 

 

Mr. Scratch – oatmeal stout      6.9%
Pretty good, chocolatey and smooth, no dark bitterness to it which was nice. Mark, Sam and Dustin all liked this, Megan liked the Rebecca Brown Ale better, which surprised her.

 

Melon Patch – ipa     6.2%
Sam and Dustin got this in their flight, hazy in appearance, hoppy and melony smooth.

 

 

Harvest Ale – amber ale     5.1%
Dustin said the harvest ale was just ok.

 

 

 

 

They give snacks out for free! They also have
beer  to go in growlers and crowlers, and have started
to do limited runs of 16 oz cans..

Mark liked the beers, lot’s of ipa’s, we’ll probably
stop in again when we are in the area.

Plenty of swag

 

Hours

Thursday – 3:00 – 8:00
Friday and Saturday – 12:00 – 10:00
Sunday – 12:00 – 7:00

Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Sheffield, MA

 

Berkshire Mountain Distillers was established in 2007. They create award winning spirits in small batches in Sheffield, MA. This is a fairly new facility for them, and quite large. We weren’t familiar with them, but stopped on our way to Big Elm Brewing, also in Sheffield, MA.

 

 

They have a decent sized tasting room. The shop area and bar are in one big room right when you walk in. They have tables inside if you want to sit down, and also have tables outside for nicer weather visits.

 

They do tours but we chose to not partake

 

The bar was really crowded when we got there. There was a group on a bus and there were people waiting to go on the tour. By the time we were done sampling the bar had emptied out.

 

 

We did not take as extensive notes as we usually do while tasting because the bar was crowded and we were trying to sample.

 

Whiskeys
They make a Gold Medal winning Bourbon Whiskey and well as a New England Corn Whiskey.

 

 

What was a little more unique was their line of cask aged whiskeys. They use barrels that had beer in them and put the already oak aged whiskey in the casks. They use barrels from breweries around the country, Sam Adams Utopias barrels, barrels from Ommegang, Hale’s Ales, Two Roads, Troegs and more.

Megan enjoyed trying the different cask aged whiskey. They started the same, but the way the flavor changed was so unique with each different barrel.

 

 

 

Gin
They have their regular line of Greylock Gin that was good.

But again, their more interesting and unique batches  we liked a lot. They basically have a rotating line of Ethereal Gin, made with different botanicals for each batch and season. Some of the botanicals they grow on their site. We tried a few of these and they were really good, the extra ingredients made these interesting and complex. They also had a Sam Adams Utopias cask gin.

 

 

 

 

They also have another smaller bar where they make mixed drinks to sell. We both got whiskey sours and took them outside. It was pretty nice out when we were there in late October.

 

They had corn hole set up outside, and a few tables with umbrellas.

 

 

They have some small gardens outside where they grow some
of the botanicals that they use in their spirits and gin.

 

 

Hours

Check Facebook or their website for updated hours, it looks
like their hours change seasonally.

Big Elm Brewing, Sheffield, MA

We visited Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield, MA, while we were on vacation out in the Berkshires. They have been brewing beer as Big Elm Brewing since 2012. The owners are a husband wife team who have plenty of experience brewing. They actually owned and operated a brewpub in the area, but left the business of running a restaurant to focus on just brewing.
They have a small bar, but a pretty big tasting room, basically 2 adjoining rooms.
Cool lamps above the bar that they made from malt bags.
They sell flights as well as 8 oz pours and 16 oz pours. We
got 2 flights of 4 so we could try most of the beers.
American Lager      5%
Clean, crisp and on point for the style, but a little too boring for us.
Luna      6%
Pretty good for a blonde, apricot notes maybe, it had a little something extra that was nice.
413 Farmhouse Ale      6%
Had a slightly fruity/funky aroma. Megan liked this beer, easy drinking with a pleasant farmhouse funk to it.
Lion’s Ale      5.3%
Darker in color, we were not sure quite what it was, the style was not written on board, it was not hoppy. Megan was not really a fan. We found out from their website it was an amber ale.
Zorro – Golden Sour      6%
Not very sour. Had a golden-mildly tart flavor upfront with a dry finish, but not in a salty gose way.
Thunderlips – New England Pale Ale     6%
Fruity hoppy smell, but that does not come through on the flavor. Kind of bland flavor in the middle with a hoppy bitterness at the end.
Big Elm IPA      7%
Mark- super different hops. Spicy and clove. Unusual flavors for an ipa. Megan said it was creamy, which was different for an IPA
Gerry Dog Stout      6.5%
This was the best beer we thought. Mildly chocolate flavor, really smooth, no bitterness.
 We peeked out back, they have pretty decent sized tanks. They also do all their own canning. They sell their beer to go in cans, on a limited rotation it seems, and also do growler fills.
 Hours
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

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

 

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.