BERKSHIRE FARM & TABLE BEER AND CIDER MAKERS TRAIL
A. Carr’s Ciderhouse, Hadley, MA
|After a few stops tasting cheese and charcuterie throughout the region, visitors will be quite thirsty. The newest Berkshire Farm & Table Taste Trail featuring Beer & Cider Makers offers the perfect remedy. Our beautiful landscape is dotted with apple orchards and hops farms serving as the backdrop for artisan cider makers and craft brewers, inspired by the abundant supply of natural, delicious ingredients.The Berkshire region is home to several award-winning regional brewers and cider makers who have earned national recognition throughout the years. For beer and hard cider fans, there are a growing number of points on the Taste Trail to explore – tour the breweries and cideries, meet the makers, taste the goods and buy some to take home. Each maker offers a selection of craft styles and many feature tasting rooms with set times for visiting.Be sure to bring along a designated driver so you can enjoy the full range of samples and get to your next stop safely. Business hours are limited at some small makers, so call ahead before visiting. Map Illustration by John S. Dykes, courtesy of Berkshire Magazine.|
address: 295 River Drive, Hadley MA 01035
contact: Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum
About: Carr’s Ciderhouse is a small, family-run operation that produces hand-made, barrel-aged, small-batch hard cider. The company began their orchard in North Hadley in 2000 with rare hard cider American and European apple trees planted in 2007 and 2012, finally yielding now. Their shallow sandy-loam soil, with quartzite and feldspar bedrock allows them to produce the intense-flavored apples that make their cider taste so special. Carr’s grows the cultivars Golden Russet, Gold Rush, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black and Dabinett in their own orchard, and also supplement with apples from local growers. They make quite a few varieties of hard ciders, depending on what kind of apples they are able to source and how they decide to blend the finished fermentations. The cider-making process is very long, with each batch receiving as much care and detail as possible. They press their apples on a refurbished century-old Mount Gilead cider press when the weather starts turning cold and let the juice freeze naturally until fermentation.
Carr’s handcrafted, small batch hard ciders are available at Domaney’s in Great Barrington, Nejaime’s in Stockbridge and Lenox, and at Wild Oats Market in Williamstown. They sell at the Lenox Farmers Market on Fridays and at the Great Barrington Market on Saturdays in season, offering free samples of their products.
Cider: Carr’s offers a variety of ciders including Cidre Doux, Barrel-aged Dry, Apple Pommeau, Seasonal Fruit-infused Cider and Farmhouse Dry Cider.
Visit: Carr’s Ciderhouse is not open for tours or visitors at this time but they are planning to open a tasting room in future.
B. Berkshire Brewing Company, South Deerfield, MA
p: 413.665.6600 | 877.222.7468 (877-BBC-PINT)
address: 12 Railroad Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373
contact: Gary Bogoff
About: Berkshire Brewing Company (BBC) was founded in 1994 by Christopher T. Lalli and Gary A. Bogoff, a pair of home brewers with a vision of being western Massachusetts’ local brewery. BBC is committed to producing clean, fresh, well-balanced ales and lagers in small batches. All of their beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and contain no chemical additives or preservatives. In 2008, BBC graduated from micro-brewery status and became a regional brewery, producing more than 15,000 barrels (465,000 gallons!) They self-distribute their ales and lagers throughout MA, CT and RI and have distributors who bring BBC to all corners of VT and NH. It has been many years now since BBC began its journey, and the business is bigger and better than ever.
Beer: As craft brewers, BBC produces nine styles of beer year round and seven seasonal products, as well as occasional special, limited-release brews. Steel Rail, Berkshire Traditional Pale Ale, Drayman’s Porter, Lost Sailor India Pale Ale, Coffeehouse Porter, Imperial Stout, River Ale, Gold Spike and Oktoberfest Lager are just a few of the beers they craft regularly.
Visit: Visitors are welcome to stop by on Saturday at 1 pm for a brewery tour.
Hours of business: Monday – Friday from 8 am – 5 pm | Brewery tours every Saturday at 1 pm
C. Headwater Cider, Hawley, MA
About: Headwater Cider Company makes cider in the New England style – a delicious, crisp, dry cider with just a hint of orchard sweetness. One of the few cider makers in Massachusetts that grows and presses their own apples, Headwater does not add other flavors to their cider. Their New England-style hard cider is produced with just three ingredients: apples, sugar and yeast. The apples are pressed, fermented and bottled in their cider mill at the heart of their orchard in Hawley, MA. Hawley is one of the last “dry towns” in the Commonwealth and therefore Headwater Cider is available wholesale through Berkshire Brewing Company, and at locations listed on their website.
Cider: The current offering, New England Dry (from the 2011 harvest,) is made with Macintosh, Cortland and Empire apples. It is fermented to 8 percent alcohol and bottled in 750 ml bottles. In 2013, Headwater will be releasing Ashton Blend. This cider showcases the high tannin apples Ashton Bitter and Ellis Bitter, and the bountiful Honeycrisp. It is fermented to 8 percent alcohol and bottled in 750 ml bottles.
Visit: Headwater’s cider-making facility is located on an orchard. There are no specific hours of operation. For information on a possible visit, please call in advance.
D. Northshire Brewery Inc., Bennington, VT
About: Northshire Brewery is a craft brewery in Vermont specializing in classically styled hand-made session beer. Located in a light yellow garage, the brewery usually has three different brews on tap, which are available for purchase in kegs, growlers or 22-ounce bottles. Northshire brews are also available at local restaurants and beverage centers in Bennington and will be available for purchase in the Berkshire region soon.
Beer: Northshire Brewery crafts several beers including Battenkill Ale, Equinox Pilsner, Northshire Chocolate Stout, Northshire Hefeweizen and their newest Sicilian Pale Ale.
Visit: The brewery offers tours and tastings on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm and by appointment. Best to call first to confirm.
E. Beer Diviner, Stephentown, NY
address: 15950 NY Route 22, Stephentown, NY 12168 (taproom); 241 Bly Hollow Road, Cherry Plain, NY 12040 (brewery)
contact: Jonathan Post
About: Back in 2002, founder Dr. Jonathan Post was invited to brew beer by the elders of the Dagara village of Dano in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Dano means “Good Beer” in Dagara. While sharing his first batch with the elders, he was asked to build a small brewery. On a second trip, the shamans divined that Jonathan was to do beer divination. He asked what beer divination was. “We don’t know,” they said, “there has never been a beer diviner in Dagaraland. In fact there has never been a man who made beer.” Thus began Jonathan’s quest. His experiences in Africa and in Cherry Plain, NY, have taught him that beer and community are identical. Beer divination is part of the ancient, sacred technology of beer making, connecting individuals to community. Today, the Beer Diviner brews small, controlled two-barrel batches using a Psycho Brew Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS.) The result is smooth, delicious pale, red, brown, stout and medieval gruit ale. Each bottle is filled by hand and conditioned at optimum temperatures. The Beer Diviner/Bly Hollow Brewery was the first licensed New York State Farm Brewery. They use a minimum of 20 percent New York-grown barley, hops and other ingredients, most often close to 100 percent. The Taproom & Market in Stephentown, selling local meats, cheeses, maple syrup and pickles, is open Thursdays and Fridays 1 – 8 pm, with additional hours and days added for ski, soccer and football seasons which can be experienced in their Taproom on a big-screen 55-inch TV. New York-crafted wines, distilled spirits and meads are also available in their store.
Beer: The Beer Diviner offers eight styles changing every week including Original Pale Ale, Got Your Back, Ancestral Red Ale, Ancient Gruit Ale and Very! Brown Ale. Got Your Back Coffee Oatmeal Stout won the 2013 Bronze medal for Best Beer in the Hudson Valley, at TAP NY, the biggest craft brew festival in the state.
Visit: Visitors are welcome in the taproom or at the brewery during the week. There are no official tours or beer-making classes at this time, but for a fee, one or two people can spend the day at the brewery learning the process from start to finish. Call for more information. Hours of Business: Taproom: Friday through Sunday 1 – 8 pm.
F. Wandering Star, Pittsfield, MA
About: Wandering Star is a 15-barrel microbrewery in Pittsfield, MA, the largest city in the beautiful Berkshires. The brewery is the joint effort of three transplanted brewers and craft beer enthusiasts who met in New York City’s thriving craft beer scene a few years back. After a long and bumpy path, they finally became a fully licensed and operational commercial craft brewery in 2011. This team is running the county’s only draft-only production brewery distributing kegs both locally and in New York City. In 2011, their first year of operation, Food & Wine magazine named their Mild at Heart beer one of the “Top five beers of 2011.” Since then, the same beer has been included in Salon.com’s “100 Beers to Try Before You Die.” Wandering Star’s Horatio and Catnip single-malt beers were chosen as Top Ten Highlights of New York Craft Beer Week in 2013. Their brews are regularly on tap at every one of Time Out New York’s Ten Best Beer Bars – proving that world-class beer can be made right here in the Berkshires. Wandering Star draft beer is distributed across the region’s better beer bars and restaurants, from the Prarie Whale and Gypsy Joynt in Great Barrington, to Thistle and Mirth and J Allen’s in Pittsfield, plus the Gala Steakhouse in Williamstown. A complete list of locations where their beer is sold can be found on their website (listed above.)
Beer: Wandering Star crafts a number of beers including Thunderbolt, an American IPA, Zingari Belgium witbier, Mild at Heart, an English dark mild ale, Catnip, a white IPA and up to three other seasonal or limited-release beers including Catcher in the Rye, a summer rye ale, and Red Oktober.
Visit: Visitors are welcome on Saturdays from 12 – 3 pm when the brewery is open for free sample tastings, informal tours and growler fills. Please contact Wandering Star to make an appointment outside of those hours.
G. Hilltop Orchards & Furnace Brook Winery, Richmond, MA
p: 413.698.3301 or toll free 800.833.6274
address: 508 Canaan Road, Richmond, MA 01254
contact: John Vittori
About: Hilltop Orchards is the first and largest farm winery established in the Berkshires. The 200-acre orchard in Richmond has been owned and operated by John Vittori since 1987. Johnny Mash, a nationally recognized hard apple cider containing 6 percent alcohol uses 100-percent fresh cider made only from New England apples with no additives or preservatives. Johnny Mash was rated number one US Hard Cider by Yankee Magazine’s Brew Review. Hilltop sells everything they make at the orchard and winery wholesale, retail and by the glass. They also sell to local restaurants and package stores in the region.
Cider: Hilltop crafts Johnny Mash Hard Cider and Cidre Special Reserve. Hilltop also produces Berkshire Winter Harvest Ice Wine, Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Dry Riesling and Sparkling Muscato.
Visit: The orchard is open seven days a week, year round from 9 am to 5 pm. They regularly offer special events which are posted on their website.
H. Glass Bottom Brewery, Lee, MA
p: 413.243.6170e: email@example.com
address: 480 Pleasant Street, Lee, MA 01238
contact: Evan Williams
About: Glass Bottom Brewery (GBB) is a farm-brewery that cultivates hops in Great Barrington and brews beer in Lee, MA. All about transparency, GBB strives to be a local brewery with local ethos as well as ethics. They are farming hops on Route 41 in Great Barrington with plans to grow grains in the same area, and offer beers inspired by their surroundings. GBB welcomes all visitors and are working on a securing a pouring license with the town of Lee to open a retail business.
Beer: The brewery makes all types of beer. TSB, a Glass Bottom Brewery signature house beer, is an extra special English bitter brewed with Earl Grey tea and lemon zest. This beer boasts a complex flavor profile with bready, spicy and citrus elements coming from the mix of traditional English brewing ingredients and Earl Grey tea. FFB, Forest Farmer’s Brown Ale, a springtime seasonal beer is inspired by the trees of New England. This beer is brewed with maple syrup, spruce needles and oak chips. Other brews include Trail Magic, Dark Sails Stout, Bell and Anchor Cask Ale and Banana Cream Stout. GBB plans to offer their brews in bars and restaurants in addition to growler fills at their taproom.
Visit: No current hours are available. All visitors to the brewery operations are treated with tours of the equipment, discussions of the process and recipes and samples. GBB will be welcoming visitors at their hop farm in Great Barrington, planned for 2014. Please call to make an appointment and get directions if you are interested in visiting.
I. Chatham Brewing Co., Chatham, NY
address: 59 Main Street, Chatham NY 12037
contact: Tom Crowell
About: Chatham Brewing is the brainchild of two beer lovers who were tired of the generic taste of mass-marketed beers. Their beers are all natural, without additives or fillers; just hops, barley, malt, yeast and Chatham water. Chatham Brewing was named the winner of the Matthew Vassar Brewer’s Cup for Best Craft Brewery in the Hudson Valley by TapNY. Their beers are available throughout the Hudson Valley on draft at many fine restaurants as well as in bottles at farmers markets.
Beer: Chatham Brewing makes a variety of ales in ten or so styles with seasonal varieties throughout the year. They include New Belgian Tripel, New Bourbon Barrel-aged Brown Ale, New Bourbon Barrel-aged 8 Barrel Ale, New Pale Ale, New Dry Irish Stout, New IPA, Maple Amber, Amber Ale, Golden, Scotch and Porter.
Visit: Tours and tastings are available. Chatham Brewing can accommodate special requests. Please call for an appointment outside of regular hours. Hours of Business: Fridays from 4 – 7 pm, Saturdays 11 am – 5 pm | Expanded hours planned for 2014.
J. Barrington Brewery, Great Barrington, MA
address: 420 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230
contact: Gary Happ
About: Since 1995, the Barrington Brewery has been serving their barn-brewed beer and food made from scratch. In the fall of 2007, they became the first brewery on the east coast to install a solar panel system that supplies solar-heated hot water for brewing and restaurant use. Their 30-panel solar system produces 1,000 gallons of hot water daily for use in their brewery and restaurant.
Visitors can purchase beer at the brewpub in kegs, 64-ounce growlers or 22-ounce bottles. Their products are also available in area restaurants and package stores under the Berkshire Mountain Brewers label. Barrington Brewery uses their beer in many of the restaurant’s recipes, including their famous Chocolate Stout Cake.
Beer: Barrington Brewery makes 25 different beers over the course of a year and always has nine beers on tap including Berkshire Blonde, Hopland Pale Ale, Barrington Brown, Black Bear Stout, India Pale Ale and Raspberry Ale. Oktoberfest is their big seasonal brew in fall and is very popular as well as Vienna and “R” Hop Ale.
Visit: The brewing operation is in plain sight of the tavern so visitors can witness the beer-making process. The brewery does not offer tours, but staff members are available to answer questions every day. Hours of Business: Open daily for lunch and dinner at 11:30 am.
K. Big Elm Brewing, Sheffield, MA
address: 65 Silver Street, Sheffield MA 01257
contact: Bill & Christine Heaton
About: Big Elm Brewing’s name comes from Sheffield history. The oldest community in the Berkshires, tiny Sheffield has deep agricultural roots and its symbol is the Big Elm. This elm grew for over 400 years at the corner of Route 7 and Silver Street – just yards from the brewery. It had to be cut down in 1926, but lives on in the town seal and Big Elm Brewing’s logo. Big Elm Brewing, which opened in October of 2012 on the corner of Route 7 and Silver Street, aims to bring beer enthusiasts together. Each Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., owners Christine and Bill Heaton (former owners of Pittsfield Brew Works in Pittsfield, MA) open the airy warehouse to the public, offering free tastings and tours. Big Elm sells their beer at the brewery and throughout Berkshire County at many retail stores, supermarkets and restaurants.
Beer: Big Elm Brewing has three main styles of beer that they brew year round with several seasonal offerings. Their three year-round styles are 413 Farmhouse Ale, a golden ale brewed with chamomile flowers, peppercorn, orange zest and honey; Gerry Dog Stout, a creamy and smooth oatmeal stout, and IPA, a generously hopped pale ale. Seasonal styles include HOP Pale Ale, Lion’s Ale and American Lager.
Visit: Visitors welcome for free tours and tastings are every Saturday from 12 – 4 pm. Special or private tours can be scheduled the rest of the week is by appointment.
J. Bear Swamp Orchard, Ashfield, MA
address: 1209 B Hawley Rd, Ashfield, MA 01330
contact: Jennifer Williams & Steve Gougeon
About: As with their general growing practices, Bear Swamp Orchard makes hard cider with a nod back to simpler, more traditional methods. They embrace seasonal and regional differences — by using their own organically grown apples and wild yeasts, they craft a cider that can only be created onsite. The folks at Bear Swamp forego some modern approaches by keeping their equipment and procedures as simple and low impact as possible. They allow fermentation to take place without sulfites, commercial filtering techniques or commercial yeast strains in order to experience a cider similar to what might have been enjoyed by people centuries ago. In season, they also offer pick-your-own, ready-pick apples, jams and jellies, and baked goods at the farm.
Cider: Bear Swamp Orchard offers a variety of hard ciders including Organic Farmhouse Hard Cider, Organic Sparkling Hard Cider, Organic Hopped Hard Cider, Organic Cyser and Organic Ice Cider.
Visit: Bear Swamp Orchard organic hard cider is available at their farm with tastings available on weekends in the fall season. Check their website for tastings details and retailer availability.
Whetstone Station, Brattleboro, VT
address: 36 Bridge Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301
contact: David Hiler
About: Whetstone Station is a nano-brewery located on the Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. With beautiful indoor and outdoor year-round seating and dining, Whetstone Station pours just a few of their own housemade beers at a time, complemented by a selection of other great local and regional craft beers, including some hard-to-find Vermont favorites. An “inspired pub fare” menu, with emphasis on local providers and comfort foods, is served every day for lunch and dinner. In the warmer months, the Bier Garten at Whetstone Station offers rooftop, outdoor, firelit dining overlooking the beautiful river valley.
Cider: Whetstone Station produces small 3.5BBL batches of handcrafted beers at a time, in an ever-changing variety of experimental and traditional styles.
Visit: Whetstone Station is open every day for lunch, dinner and drinks, from 11:30 am until late. Brewery open house and tours are available on the first Sunday of each month at noon, or by prior arrangement.