Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Western Massachusetts is a great location.  Although it is fairly rural and bucolic, it is a short trip to the various beer meccas of New England, such as Vermont, Boston, and Portland, ME.  Western Mass is anchored by Springfield, although the epicenter of the craft beer world is 20 miles up the Connecticut River in Northampton, MA.  A college city full of liberals and open minded New Englanders means that craft beer flows freely.  There are a number of great brewpubs in the area as well as several production breweries and an excellent craft beer scene. The top notch distribution that MA gets means that you will be able to fill your cellar with craft beer from around the country and the world in the region's high quality "package stores."

Berkshire Brewing Company:  Berkshire's growlers and 22oz bombers are ubiquitous in Western Mass Liquor stores, and for good reason, they are affordable, local, and fresh.  Most of the beers are laid back, classic styles often leaning on English beer for inspiration.  Tours are available at 1pm Saturdays at the Brewery.  12 Railroad St., S. Deerfield, MA 01373

Paper City: Located in a fairly rough, industrial area on the CT river, their beers are nothing to stop the presses, but certainly nothing to scoff at either.  Available locally and throughout MA/CT/VT. 108 Cabot St., Holyoke, MA 01040

High & Mighty: Contract brewed at Paper City by the Shelton Brothers who are responsible for importing delicious Belgian brews like Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen into the USA, they specialize in session beers.  Beer of the Gods is their "Extra Pale Ale" and my favorite is Pas de Dieux.

The People's Pint & Opa Opa Steakhouse: both of these are technically brewpubs, but also distribute throughout the state.  Available in Growlers and 22oz bombers, neither of these are particularly groundbreaking.

Element Brewing: A relatively small brewery, with only a few offerings.  Growlers and 750ML bottles are available at the brewery Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Also there distribution at quality MA liquor stores.  Dark Element is my favorite that I have tried, but the bottles are all rather expensive.  30 Bridge St., Miller's Falls, Massachusetts, 01349     

Lefty's BrewingAnother small brewery, fairly similar to Element although not quite as expensive!  No longer located in Bernardston, but is a nano-brewery with some solid offerings.  Grab some at Russell's if you are in the area.  301 Wells St., Greenfield, MA 01301

Tree House Brewing Company:  While some may consider this to be Central MA, these guys are in Brimfield and its an easy drive from Springfield.  Totally worth it I might add.  They are located in a residential neighborhood near the flea market site, and have limited hours currently.  Their hoppy beers are mindblowing, and everything is pure quality, some are even calling them Hill Farmstead South. 63 St. Clair Rd. Brimfield, MA

Amherst Brewing Company: ABC recently vacated a prime location in Amherst center for a larger space closer to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  This large space means even more great beers on tap.  This is my favorite brewpub in the region; great standard beers, good seasonals and one offs, complemented by well-chosen guest taps.  Food is pretty tasty too! 10 University Drive, Amherst, MA 01002

Northampton Brewery:  Smuttynose Brewing Co of Portsmouth, NH has a partial interest in this brewpub, and I consider it a little brother to the much revered Portsmouth Brewery.  Although the food and beer are better than average, ABC usually gets my money!  Definitely worth a stop if you are in NoHo.  11 Brewster Ct., Northampton, MA 01060

Barrington Brewery & Restaurant:  Located out in the Berkshires, I have not actually had a chance to visit yet, but I have heard good things.  It's a little off the beaten path, but if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and drop me a line with a review! 420 Stockbridge Rd., Great Barrington, MA 01230

High Horse Brewery:  This is run by the guy who brews Blatant beers, a contract brew out of Westport (same as Pretty Things.)  Food and beer here at High Horse in Amherst Center are excellent.  This is a cozy place, located in the old Amherst Brewing Co.  A little expensive/pretentious but not in a bad way.   24 North Pleasant St. Amherst, MA

Moe's Tavern:  Located close to the New York border on Rt. 90 (Mass Pike) this place is regarded as one of the best craft beer bars in the country.  Pretty impressive for such a remote location.  Always new and interesting things on tap and outside food is welcome! 10 Railroad St., Lee, MA 01238

The Moan and Dove: Located in sleepy South Amherst, near Hampshire College, the Moan's cozy atmosphere and bring your own food policy complements the insane beer selection and chill vibe.  The crowd is fairly diverse from hippy professor to young professional.  Tons of bottles and a great tap list are displayed on a chalkboard with prices and sizes of pours, all style-appropriate glassware.  460 West St., Amherst, MA 01002

The Dirty Truth:  Located in downtown Northampton, originally by the same owner as the Moan and Dove, the Truth is definitely the bigger and louder brother.  Larger beer selection, although the average beer is not quite as good.  Food is served as well. 29 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060

The Sierra Grille: Also located in Northampton, this place is an upscale restaurant with a bar area and a great selection of beer on tap.  41 Strong Ave, Northampton, MA 01060

McLaddens: There are actually 2 McLaddens , one in Hampden and one in Northampton.  Both of them have great tap selections (105 tap lines, 5 nitro) and many bottles to choose from. 546 Main St Hampden, MA & 27 Pleasant St. Northampton

Smith's Billiards:  The only place worth mentioning in Springfield.  Smith's is located above a great BBQ place and has plenty of pool tables and a solid tap selection.  Definitely check it out if you happen to be staying in the capital of the 413. 207 Worthington St., Springfield, MA 01103

Table & Vine: Big Y grocery stores operates this beer, wine and liquor warehouse located on Rt. 5 near 91/90.  Very accessible and you are sure to find what you are looking for.  Prices are fair, and staff is helpful if you get the right person.  1119 Riverdale St., West Springfield, MA 01089

Russell's: Located in Amherst Center, this is an old-school type place.  The building is quite small, and beers are located on shelves behind counters.  You tell and employee what you want and he grabs it out of the back for you.  Not as much as Table & Vine, but all New England breweries are well represented and its worth the experience. 18 Main St., Amherst, MA 01002 

Whole Foods:  The only Whole Foods west of Worcester happens to have a beer and wine license.  Their selection is better than the two other Whole Foods in MA for beer.  Things are not picked over by beer geeks as much either, so its a great place to grab a sleeper release.  Their refrigerated section is well-stocked and fairly priced with local and other selected brews. Conveniently located on Rt. 9, between Amherst and Northampton.  327 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035

The Beer Shop:  This shop not far from the X in Springfield carries a large number of bottles.  Very friendly staff and a great Facebook page are how to keep up with whats going on here.   My two favorite things about this shop are that they have a beer can vending machine and you can mix and match every single bottle in the store! 33 Harkness Ave, East Longmeadow 

Pat's Holyoke:  Not the best selection as many of the larger stores, but good local selection and fair price.  Convenient for me, so I shop there often if I don't feel like making a longer trip.  7 Cabot St. Holyoke, MA

Provisions:  Located in Northampton center, this a very convenient bottle shop, right near plentiful parking.  They have a great beer selection, both chilled and on the shelf, not a ton of special or limited releases, but they will definitely have a diverse selection, especially of MA beers.  Meat, Cheeses, other local products and tons of wine round out the selection.  30 Crafts Ave. Northampton, MA

Western Massachusetts is a great place to visit and explore, both for beer, history, education, and nature.  Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions or are in the area:

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