Dear New England,
America has been enjoying a peak of a craft beer revolution, and we here in the northeast have been a major catalyst in this uprising. Vermont gets a lot of credit, and rightfully so. Vermont averages 10.8 breweries per capita, the highest ratio in all 50 states (courtesy of The Brewers Association.) Not too far behind is Massachusetts. While we only average 2.2 breweries per capita, logging in at 110 registered craft breweries, we offer some of the most highly sought after beers.
One of those places is settled right along the Western/Eastern Massachusetts line. Tree House Brewing Co., which was originally housed in Brimfield, has recently opened their brand new facility in Charlton along Route 20. Tree House has been an operating brewery since 2012, and have accurately chronicled their own rise to fame in the blog on their page (Tree House Blog.)
These guys are a BIG deal. I won’t even begin to touch the craft beer trading underworld and their high demand. What I can tell you is, they deserve every bit of recognition that they get. If you are ever planning on heading over to visit their newly crowned facility, there are plenty of Facebook groups, as well as Tree House’s own on-tap Facebook (a page updated by staff, well, mainly Mr. Omobono) and Twitter.
The new place is HUGE. And absolutely stunning. There was so much buzz and interest in the year or so leading up to the big unveiling, and rightfully so. The other half and I waited a bit to visit. If you know Tree House, you know about the lines. Probably one of the leading reasons why they wanted (and needed) to update their digs (in close tie with the high demand for their delicious suds) is how little space they had in their second home, Monson.
A quick backstory: a group of friends love beer, and wanted to put out some delicious brewskis for the world to enjoy. They were operating out of a small residence in Brimfield. Rumor has it that the amount of attention they were getting soon got them chased out and over the line into Monson. Not too long after opening one small barn-like abode, they had again grown too big for their britches and crossed the street into an even larger building. And yet, it still didn’t hold.
People drive from all over the US to taste their amazing magic water.
Tree House has quite the cult following, with plenty of Facebook fan pages. This post is a bit different then what most of my posts will be, because Tree House holds a special place in my beer lovers heart. I’ve been enjoying craft beer for 10 years now. I’ve visited over 200 breweries, and my love for the hobby of traveling and finding new places is only fueled by the craft beer community. Tree House is smack dab in the center of that. You could say that the people I’ve met through the craft beer community and in my adventures are the driving force behind why I created this blog (and many thanks to my other half, Chris, and my good friend, Bryan, who gave me a big push to do it!)
Tree House focuses mainly on IPA’s/Pale Ales. IPA’s have been, and are the big hit in America. Whether you start with the New England-style IPA, which has recently become an accepted category of it’s own, or West Coast-style IPA’s, you are surrounded by hops. And Tree House delivers. Their flagship ale, Julius (which is rightly served in an orange can…get it?) is an American IPA coming in at a solid 6.8% and 72 IBU’s (something we shall discuss soon!) As someone who doesn’t generally enjoy IPA’s, there is something about Julius that is just so…satisfying. You’ll often hear the term “juicy” when referring to good, ripe IPA’s, and that’s exactly what Julius is.
Other options include, but are not limited to, Green (falls at 7.5% and 90 IBU’s,) Haze (8.2% and 90 IBU’s,) Sap (7.3% at 80 IBU’s,) Bright (which often has different hop variants, but comes in around 7.8% and 75 IBU’s,) and Eureka (also coming in with different variants, but comes in around 4% with differing IBU’s.) These all have what we’ve dubbed “proper cans,” meaning Tree House moved away from labels on generic silver cans to having their own, official can.
The day that we decided to go, they had already sold out of take-away cans (the main reason I decided it was a good time to go, I didn’t want to just wait in line then leave!) I had to have fresh Julius on tap for my first visit to their new home, but I also opted to try Curiosity Thirty Nine. The first Curiosity beer was released in March of 2013, and brewed with the following adage (from their blog): “It’s questioning the status quo. It’s born from the childlike desire to discover new and interesting things that stoke the creative spirit.” Four and a half years and thirty nine beers down, they keep creating some tasty mashups of hops and malts.
Fun Fact: Bright was originally a Curiosity release, and to my knowledge, the only Curiosity beer to become a regular rotation.
It’s very hard to capture the real feel of the new location. It’s a place I see my friends and myself visiting often, to bring some food with us, grab a fresh pint, and enjoy our surroundings. You’ll see Tree House pop up in future posts, including my Central Massachusetts/Route 20 feature I will be doing as a day adventure. Trust me, I’ll be making more than enough trips back to this beer lovers’ oasis.
Keep in mind, this place IS kid and dog friendly. There are often food trucks on the premises, but you can also bring your own food (BT’s on Route 20 is a popular option.) There are benches located under the masterfully crafted open barn, as well as open grass areas and stone benches to sit on. Be warned, this is not a place you can just “drop in” on. A visit to Tree House will take careful planning. As the seasons change and the weather gets cooler, I suppose the lines will dwindle a bit (give or take a huge release) so visiting might be a bit easier.
But why miss all of the wonderful things that the area has to offer?
Whether before or after your visit to Tree House, there are plenty of other delicious stops to make within a few minutes drive. And, if you time it just right, you could even visit the world famous Brimfield Flea Market, which is only a few minutes drive west down Route 20. There are a plethora or small, local stores and restaurants to explore, as well as a few other breweries to check out.
Tree House Brew Co. 129 Sturbridge Road, Charlton, MA
Let me not get ahead of myself! I can’t spoil all of the fun, just yet!
Worth noting, we were able to snag this limited run print of the painting behind their new tap line, done by Roc Goudreau (website here) who also gets credit for creating the Tree House logo. There are only 1,000 prints, all signed, numbered, and come with a Certificate of Authenticity. They had gone on sale online a day or so before we visited, but I had opted not to purchase one. Then, we saw the tent. The small tent off to the side, selling prints. Where, after we made our purchase, we were told only the first 100 were available at the brewery!
Thanks for sticking with me this entire time. The whole blogging thing is entirely new to me, and to be honest, a bit frightening. I’m both excited and nervous to share my adventures with the world, and you, my readers. I have created a Facebook page, Dear New England, to keep up with posts, interact with my readers/fans, and get some new ideas for upcoming adventures!
Until next time, fellow adventurers.