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

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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.

North Country Hard Cider, Rollinsford, NH

 

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We recently visited North Country Hard Cider with Mark’s sister Michelle. They have only been open for a few months, but we have seen them popping up in some bars in the area.

 

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They are locally owned and operate out of the Salmon Falls Mills in Rollinsford, NH. If you are visiting, drive to the back of the building. That’s where you will find their entrance 🙂
They make all natural hard cider with apples they get from local orchards that they know and trust. Most of their cider’s are around 5% ABV. We learned that is about as much as you can get with just fresh apples. Some other places add extra sugars while brewing to up the ABV and sweeten the cider.

 

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Original Blend
Sweet, a little bit tart, really light in body but very tasty. Has a lot of bubbles. Michelle thinks it would be a good summer drink, sitting on the porch. They use a blend of 7 different apples for this.

 

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Bitter Brothers Bourbon Barrel
Aged 3 months in Jim Beam barrels. Dryer, not quite as sweet, still a little tart. You don’t get a bourbon flavor. A blend of 4 apples.

 

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Honey Badger
Made with just Honey Crisp apples. Sweet with a pucker at the end. This was Michele’s favorite.

 

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Sugar Shack
Starts with the original blend. They use Ginger, extra dark maple syrup, and black walnut. It is a more complex flavor, still sweet and tart, with lots of extra flavor. We got a small growler of this.

 

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Firestarter
Cider with habanero, cinnamon and pomegranate. Really good, very interesting flavor. It gave you a real warming in the chest. They had just run out of this on tap, but had a little bit left and let us try it. It was no wonder that they had run out of this! It was very good.

 

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View from the tasting room into the brewery. They have a handful of small tables and a bar that you can stand at.

 

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Swag

We bought a growler, and Michelle bought two. We already have Michelle’s empty growlers to be refilled- so we will be back soon!

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Want to visit?
Hours:
Thursday and Friday: 3:00 – 6:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00

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Our 100th Visit! Cambridge Brewing Company

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We planned our 100th visit for the Cambridge Brewing Company. The brew pub has been operating since 1989, and is in an old mill building, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their beers are both traditional and experimental. They were the first commercial American brewery to produce a Belgian beer. Their food menu is just as diverse, offering food that shows what New England is about.

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Mark and Megan

We went on March 7th, the 2 year anniversary of our first post on this blog. We let our friends and family know we were going, and almost all whom had been on a visit with us before was able to go! 17 people came to celebrate with us (19 in all), so we have a lot of pictures.

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Sam enjoying her beer

 

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Andrea enjoying her ….. water.

 

 

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Heather …. just being weird.

 

 

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Dustin chugging his beer.

 

 

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Mark and Marilynn

 

 

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We ordered nachos for an appetizer. When the rest of the table saw them they put in another order or 2. Since there were so many of us they had pitchers of water on the table for us.

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Very cheesey nachos, with Sam making an angry face. But look in the background, as well as pitchers they sell a beer tube? tower? We didn’t get one, but we did see them.

 

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Pete noticed the camera.

 

Beers:

Regatta Golden
Al ordered this beer, the first beer on the list under year round beers. It’s the lightest beer they make, similar to what Al drinks regularly. He liked it, as well as Sam and Andrea, simple and light. Not enough flavor for Megan and Mark.

 

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Al sharing the Regatta Golden.

 

 

Tall Tale Pale Ale
Marilynn ordered, she did not like it, not what she was expecting. Dustin liked it, Mark thought it was a fairly hoppy, somewhat typical Pale Ale.

 

Morning Dew Saison
It has a bit of a funky smell to it, thankfully doesn’t taste like that. Marilynn and Heather liked it, refreshing. Andrea thought it was ok. Megan and Mark liked it, light body, fruity-ish flavor, probably the elderflowers.

 

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The parents: Al, Sheila, Jim, and Marilynn

 

Machinery of Night
Whiskey scent and flavor, followed by a sour aftertaste. There was a sweetness to it, probably from the barrel aging, and a tart finish. Light in body, especially for a barrel aged beer. Everyone liked this beer, wouldn’t drink a lot of it, but it is good for a pint.

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Big Man IPA
Hoppy IPA, a mild wintery spice taste, aggressively dry hopped, adds that extra flavor. Mark and Jason thought it was pretty good, hoppy IPA with a little extra flavor.

 

Charles River Porter
Robust, roasty, coffee flavor, good overall balance and taste. Most people liked this beer as well.

 

Sgt. Peppers
Amber color, spicy, peppery taste. Good, interesting flavor, after a whole pint it did get quite spicy. Mark liked it and bought a bottle.

 

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Look at that pour!

 

Kafka’s Hat Simcoe
Strong smell, piney, earthy style IPA. Chris, Jason and Mark all thought it was decent. Not Mark’s favorite style IPA, but it was pretty good.

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Smile from Chris.

 

 

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Moving down the table, Andrea, Bre, Deryl, Michelle, and Kevin. Big, cool mural in the background.

 

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Other side of the table, Sheila, Jim, Jason, Melitta, and Katrina.

 

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Mark chatting with Jim.

 

Food:

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Burger and fries

Mark got the burger and fries, good burger really good fries. A lot of people got the burger and liked it. Dustin got bacon on his and thought there could have been a little more.

 

 

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Steak, twice baked potato, and onion rings

Megan and Andrea both got the steak and liked it.

 

 

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Burger with salad

Heather got the BBQ burger with a salad. Burger and roll were good, could have used a little more BBQ sauce. Salad dressing was light and refreshing.

 

 

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Braised Chicken pizza

Katrina and Kevin got the Braised chicken pizza that had feta, potatoes, spinach and sundried tomatoes. An odd mix, but it was good.

 

 

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Panini and fries

 

Melitta got the Beet Salad and enjoyed it. Chris had the Duck, it was tasty.

 

 

 

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Dessert

 

 

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The whole table, all 19 of us, plus a random waiter.

 

 

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Want to Visit?

 

 Monday  11:30am- 11:00pm
 Tuesday – Thursday  11:30am – 12:00am
 Friday  11:30am- 1:00am
 Saturday  11:00am-1:00am
 Sunday  11:00am- 11:00pm

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