Massachusetts Beercation Suggestions
Massachusetts is booming with craft breweries throughout the state and the list keeps growing and growing. Some of the top sought after beers in the country are coming from Tree House Brewing Co. and Trillium Brewing Co. who reside in the New England state. Each time we travel to Massachusetts to visit my mother, we get to explore these beautiful beer destinations. As a visitor, it’s quite hard – nearly impossible – to hit everything all in one trip. After all, it’s a beercation which is meant to be a relaxed and enjoyable vacation focusing on exploring new beers or savoring classic favorites. We’ve put together this list of things to do during your beercation that we think you’ll love. But do make it your own and configure it any way you like. There’s a link at the bottom to more breweries that might interest you. Cheers!
MASSACHUSETTS GROWLER FILL LAWS
Before we dig in, I think it’s important to note that if you plan to get growlers filled at any brewery in Massachusetts, it’s been a law for quite some time that breweries are ONLY allowed to fill growlers from their brewery. So if you go to Tree House Brewing Co., you have to bring or buy Tree House branded growlers to be filled. The glassware purchase does add up quickly for out-of-towners who have never gone through this process before. Seems like a silly law to us. So wasteful since you can’t bring growlers that you already have at home (with another brewery’s logo on it) to be filled.
With that said, things *might* be changing slightly to that growler fill law in the near future. Legislation has been presented that will allow breweries to fill growlers devoid of any type of branding/labels/logos. We’ll keep tracking this development and update you if this becomes law.GROWLER LAW INFO
144 Main St, Worcester, MA 01608
This should be one of your top Must Visit places in Massachusetts for the serious beer drinkers. Folks rave about their food. Then rave about their beer list even more. 3-4 dedicated taps for Hill Farmstead along with selections from surrounding states, local breweries (ie. Trillium) and beyond. Crazy good offerings of Belgian and Farmhouse Ales.BEER LIST
We love that the owners and chefs are dedicated to sourcing their ingredients locally and changing up their menu frequently to incorporate seasonal harvests. I could definitely see someone starting here for lunch, exploring beers throughout the afternoon and then staying to enjoy dinner. Or do it our style and just graze all day with small plates and cheeses.LUNCH MENU DINNER MENU
The Dive Bar
34 Green St, Worcester, MA 01604
Same owners as Armsby Abbey. It’s an ultra laid back environment – a hangout type of place. But don’t expect dive bar beers. Nope. It’s a small but well curated list of some of the best craft breweries. Sweet! Large outdoor patio and live music are a plus as well.
PRO-TIP: Dive Bar accepts CASH ONLY. There is an ATM inside if you’re short on bills in your wallet.
72 Shrewsbury St #4, Worcester, MA 01604
While you’re in Worcester, swing by Wormstown Brewery. You can expect a wide range of classic styles that are very approachable and a few hoppier options as well. Definitely try Be Hoppy IPA if you’re a Hop Head. Nice outdoor space for warmer weather months. Grab a pint or explore a flight and relax in their casual, comfy taproom.
Trillium Brewing Co. (Canton)
110 Shawmut Rd, Canton, MA 02021
Trillium’s Canton location is brand spanking new and is so industrial chic. What’s more, the Canton taproom DOES offer brews to be enjoyed during your visit unlike Fort Point which is takeout only. Crazy good beer list, too, which includes not only juicy IPAs but also complex wild ales and stouts. The Permutation Series is magnificent. Just down right ridiculous good. Plan to spend a good amount of time here tasting and tasting and tasting on your Massachusetts beercation.BEER LIST
There are two places to order from: The Taproom Bar (front area) and the To Go Counter (back area) which are at opposite ends of the taproom. At both, you can see into the brewery. Oh, those beautiful, stainless steel fermentation tanks and wooden barrels.
PRO-TIP: We highly advise visiting Trillium Canton during the week days. Saturday is usually packed depending on what is being released.FULL BREWERY REVIEW
Jack’s Abbey Brewing
100 Clinton St, Framingham, MA 01702
Lager perfection! Seriously. It’ll make you think again about dissin’ the lager beer style. 24 brews on tap. TWENTY. FOUR.BEER LIST
And, their taproom experience is spot on. Really well done. It’s huge. Plenty of seating in the casual but classy tasting room/dining space. Tons of options in the gift shop – apparel, glassware, bottles of beer, etc.. The food is fantastic – wood fired pizza, braised pork shank, mac ‘n’ cheese, meatballs – hungry now, aren’t you? The wild mushroom pizza was the best we ever had. Full of garlic goodness. Quite tasty.FOOD MENU FULL BREWERY REVIEW
The Springdale Barrel Room by Jack’s Abbey
102 Clinton St, Framingham, MA 01702
Attached to Jack’s Abbey but accessible from a separate entrance, Springdale is the flip side to lagers. It’s all about the ales. They have thousands of oak barrels filled with beer to be blended. Think wild ales, sour ales, india pale ales, golden ales, stouts and more. “We are spending our waking moments playing with new yeast cultures, filling new barrels and testing out new blends.”BEER LIST
Exhibit A Brewing Co.
81 Morton St, Framingham, MA 01702
One of the new kids on the block, Exhibit A, is bringing their A-game with NE-style IPAs but they also have solid porters and stouts. Cans available to go. Make sure you try Cat’s Meow if it’s on tap. Juicy! And, if you’re more into West Coast style, then Hair Raiser IPA is for you.
PRO-TIP: Exhibit A has a tiny taproom and no kitchen, for now. You should eat at Jack’s Abbey first then head here. But don’t let it’s tiny space deter you. This is a ‘must stop’ if you love IPAs.
BOSTON (FORT POINT AREA)
Trillium Brewing Co. (Fort Point)
369 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Trillium is crafting some lovely NE-style 2.0 Juice Bombs. Their’s are among our most favorite citrusy, low bitterness IPAs, DIPAs and Pale Ales. Their saisons and stouts are top notch, too. You really can’t go wrong with anything on their tap list.BEERS AVAILABLE
There is often limited quantities to go around and sometimes they run out. Be sure to stay in the know.REAL-TIME AVAILABILITY UPDATES
Note that this location ONLY has growler fills, souvenirs and to go beers (bottles/cans depending on availability). They will fill their branded growlers and NOT growlers from any other brewery. NO samples or pours available for purchase – this is not a taproom to hang out in.
You’ll want to get here early, buy/fill your growlers and/or buy your to-go stuff, and then take back to your car/coolers so you don’t have to carry them all over Boston.
PRO-TIP: If you’re driving into Boston and starting at Trillium, do “all day” parking for $25 at 321 Congress St. You can easily make a day of exploring this area of town. Plus, you’ll want to have coolers of ice in your vehicle to keep your unfiltered purchases at Trillium nice and cold.
Row 34 Restaurant
383 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Right next door to Trillium is Row 34 Seafood & raw bar. Lots to choose from: fresh caught seafood, small plates, burgers, sandwiches, light fare, ceviche, etc. The service is great here and super quick. Prices are reasonable. And, they also have a brilliantly crafted beer menu. Some friends of ours just recently visited and also raved about the seafood and ceviche – so much so they went there for both lunch and dinner!
Fort Point Market (Bottleshop)
Atlantic Ave & High St, Boston, MA 02110
More than just a fresh produce and organic food market, this place is also quite the beer store. Expect rare find beers and those sought after whales along with the easily accessible brands/varieties.
PRO TIP: Search the bottom shelves and hang out near the front door for fresh beer drops in limited quantities. The fresh beer disappears quickly.
Craft Beer Cellar (Fort Point)
34 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02210
Always a well curated line up of craft beer. What’s nice is they post on their website the new beers that came in and what’s currently best sellers.BEER ANNOUNCEMENTS
PRO TIP: Although it’s just a quick walk from Trillium, be sure to bring something to carry all those beers you will inevitably buy. We suggest luggage with wheels then preemptively fill with lots of bubble wrap to protect your liquid investment. (wink)
Trillium Beer Garden (Rose Kennedy Greenway Park)
Corner of Atlantic Avenue & High St, Boston, MA 02210
A short 10 minute walk from Trillium’s Fort Point location, the beer garden in the Wharf District Park (aka The Greenway) is open all summer long. Expect Trillium drafts only and a few select wines for on-site consumption only. No growler or crowler fills.HOURS & TAPLIST
PRO-TIPS: If you’re hitting up the beer garden for happy hour on a Wednesday through Friday, we recommend arriving around 3:30pm before it opens at 4pm as a line could form to get in. Word is spreading that this is a hot spot for good beer, so it gets quite busy. Note that you can bring your own food. Oh! And it’s dog friendly.MORE INFO
James Hook & Co. Seafood
15 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210
Fresh caught/live Maine lobsters, New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, and more for enjoying lunch in their restaurant or for takeout. You should totally get some grub to-go and bring along to the Trillium beer garden to enjoy while you sip those crazy good beers during the summer months.MENU & HOURS
Cambridge Brewing Co.
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
Need a break from those hoppy IPAs that seem to be everywhere during your Massachusetts beercation? Crave something a little more classic? Definitely give Cambridge Brewing Co. a visit. Stouts, amber ales and pale ales abound in this brewpub.TAPLIST
We tend to like the brews coming out of their bottling project. These tend to take classic styles and infuse them with a twist in ingredients.BOTTLE LIST
Cambridge Brewing Co. is in a beautifully restored old mill. Lots of exposed, vintage brick. And, there’s an outdoor beer garden space to enjoy your beers on (weather-permitting). This will be a good place to also get a bite to eat. They have lunch, brunch and dinner menus with items made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.FOOD MENU
Aeronaut Brewing Co.
14 Tyler St, Somerville, MA 02143
Funky, artsy and just plain fun brewery. Some really great hoppy pale ales, IPAs and DIPAs coming from these beer scientists. We were hooked with the piney, resinous Year with Dr. Nandu IPA and have sought their beers ever since. Hop, Hop and Away is a must drink! Completely crushable, low bitterness and juicy india session ale.TAPLIST
Would recommend visiting an evening during your beercation as they often have musicians and various events scheduled.EVENT CALENDAR
Lots to explore here including the Hub connected to the taproom. It’s a space with a farmers market feel where food and non-alcoholic beverages can be purchased from partner vendors.FULL BREWERY REVIEW
Mystic Brewing Co.
174 Williams St, Chelsea, MA 02150
Lovely, funky, creative saisons are what we dig about Mystic. Yes, they have other styles for you to enjoy but please, pretty please check out their saison game. It’s top notch.BEER LIST
Night Shift Brewing Co.
87 Santilli Hwy, Everett, MA 02149
Whirlpool and Morph are two of our go-tos when it comes to Night Shift beer. What’s neat about Morph is that it’s slightly different every time you taste it. In the taproom, each numbered batch uses a unique combination of hops – hops experimentation at its finest! While batch #47 uses Columbus, Citra and Topaz, batch #48 includes Columbus, El Dorado, Rakau and Wakatu, for instance.
We love that flights, small pours (aka tasters) and full pours are all a thing here at Night Shift. When hopping from brewery to brewery during your beercation, you want to pace yourself! They do have cans and bottles to go which is nice as well.TAPLIST
While food trucks are scheduled for almost every day of the week and other small snacks are available for purchase at the bar, you can also bring your own food in to enjoy.FOOD TRUCK CALENDAR
PRO-TIP: Parking is limited. Definitely heed these instructions… “Please park either in our private lot to the left of our building, or along the street (except on street-cleaning days – heed the signs!). Please DO NOT park in the large, dirt lot to the right of our building – this is a privately owned lot (not ours) and you WILL get towed if you’re there long enough. Thanks, Night Shift Brewing Co.!”
Lord Hobo Brewing Co.
5 Draper St, Woburn, MA 01801
Another brewery in Massachusetts making great hoppy beers that you’ll want to make a quick stop at. Don’t expect bells and whistles with the brewery experience. It’s small and is takeout only (growler fills and cans). But they do offer samples so you know what you’d like to take home with you from your beercation. I love their beer names: Boom Sauce, Consolation Prize, Hobo Life, Glorious and Steal This Can. Humorous and sassy!
Red Stone Liquors (Stoneham)
115 Main St, Stoneham, MA 02180
A nice little bottle shop for craft beer lovers. They get some interesting stuff from Massachusetts breweries and other harder to find selections throughout the country. We picked up several bottles from the Almanac Farm to Barrel series which aren’t available in our area of Pennsylvania. There’s also a Red Stone Liquors in Andover, MA, if you find yourself in that location throughout your beercation. Checkout Red Stone Liquor’s website for what’s available or on their individual location Facebook pages. They often announce “this just in” arrivals.BEER SELECTION
Tree House Brewing Co. – NEW LOCATION
129 Sturbridge Rd., Charlton, MA
Some of the best NE-style IPAs and DIPAs are coming from Tree House. Some are more dank like traditional 1.0 NE-style. While others are more 2.0 NE-style beautiful juice bombs. Julius, Alter Ego, Haze and Green are all magnificent and in high demand. They are very hard to get since availability is extremely limited even though they just opened up this huge new facility in Charlton, MA on July 15, 2017.
The new Tree House digs has the capacity to crank out 240 barrels of beer a day! Let’s hope it cuts down the 3-4 hour wait for beer and ends the less than ideal small quantity allotted per person. I’m sure since it’s new and folks want to check it out, it will be quite busy on a daily basis.
There are no guarantees that you will get the brew you made the trek for. According to their website, “ONCE OUR RETAIL HOURS BEGIN WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT THESE BEERS WILL BE AVAILABLE WHEN YOU ARRIVE! LIMITS MAY BE ADJUSTED AT ANY TIME and GROWLER FILLS MAY NEED TO BE CUT TO EXPEDITE THE PACE OF THE LINE.”
NO GROWLER FILLS FOR NOW:
“While we transition to the new brewery, growler fills are temporary on hold. Fear not – they will be back. They are a huge part of what makes us Tree House. Thank you for your continued support and patience.” – Tree House Brewing Co.
Until more is updated on their website, here are a few tips we’ve heard through trusted sources:
- huge pavilion outside with plenty of space to enjoy your beer purchases. picnic tables and standing room
- large parking lot
- no growler fills yet
- while full pours for purchase were available on opening day, it appears it’s can sales only moving forward – for now. That will change.
- goal is to have 10-12 beers on draft at a time
- you can buy cans and bottles (enjoy there or take home)
- merch for sale
- food trucks on ocassion
Stay in the Know:BEER AVAILABILITY & RETAIL HOURS REAL-TIME UPDATES ON TWITTER
Tree House Brewing Co. – UPDATE: This location is temporarily closed.
160 E Hill Rd, Monson, MA 01057 – visit new location at 129 Sturbridge Rd., Charlton, MA
We are told this location will re-open for can releases. Stay tuned for more details.TAPLIST & CAN RELEASES
West View Farms
111 E Hill Rd, Monson, MA 01057
There isn’t much around Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson. It’s a very rural location. But if you’re hungry, there is food just minutes from the brewery at West View Farms. Great little place for sandwiches, ice cream and milkshakes. You can eat inside or outside on the many picnic tables. Such a pretty setting, too.
376 Main St, Sturbridge, MA 01566
This place boasts 2,600 beers in their bottleshop inventory. Nice selection. And, not too far from Tree House Brewing Co. Just 20-30 minutes east of Monson – depending on traffic.INSIDE LOOK & BRAND LIST
MASSACHUSETTS BREWERY MAP
With 120+ breweries in the state and more in planning, it’s hard to keep up with all of them. There is always something new to explore and experience during your beercation.DIGITAL BREWERY MAP (Includes MA Brewers Association Members Only) 2016 BREWERY MAP (PDF)
Beercations aren’t just about brewery visits. Take advantage of special beer-centric events that happen during the time of year you schedule your Massachusetts beercation. Here are just a few ideas you might want to check out:
- Western Massachusetts Beer Week: June
- Massachusetts Beer Week: May
- WE’RE FUNK’D – A Weekend Celebration of Sour & Wild Beer: July 8-9, 2018
- More Beer Fests: Throughout the year
- Beer Dinners, Tastings & More: Throughout the year