Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beer in the County #WMaBW

Brew Practitioners
With this being Western Mass Beer Week I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about the breweries that I have visited recently in the Valley. Not too long ago I took a tour of the breweries in Easthampton and Florence, Mass. I don't know if you know this but there 6 breweries located in about a 15-minute drive of each other. Each brewery puts a different spin on their beer and how their breweries are run.

The first brewery I visited was the one that was the furthest away, Brew Practitioners. The brewery is located in Florence, Mass, just outside of Northampton. It's located in an old mill building (I think) and they offer a variety of different beers. One of the interesting differences is in how they name their beers. Each is named based on the color of the beer. Red, Yellow, Orange, White, Brown, Black, Smoke, Copper, Ebony. Based on their names we are able to figure out what each one is. Since I am not a dark beer drinker I stayed away from Ebony, Smoke, and Black. When I was there they did not have Copper, it was coming soon so I stuck with White, Yellow, Orange and Red. To drink beer here you have to buy each one on its own or buy a flight. Which is not a bad place to be stuck. Each beer was true to style and color and quite easy to drink. Out of Brew Practitioners, they also run a beer tour where they will drive you around to the many breweries that are nearby.

The next stop on my trip was Building 8, also in Florence and it's about 1 mile away from Brew Practitioners. They make one beer, can it and sell it, which is an IPA. Their IPA is excellent, one of the best beers in the valley, proof of which is they are constantly selling out by most weekends. Housed in an old mill building called Building 8. Guess where they got their name. When I was there I asked one of brewers if they planned on developing any other beers. Which he said they were but first they have to keep up with the demand for IPA. Which I would equate their IPA to a baby Heady Topper, one of my favorite beers. (I from Vermont, so what would you expect)
Next stop was one of the longer drives on the trip, which consisted of about 5 miles was to New City. Their flagship is a ginger beer which was tasty and light. They just opened in Mill 180 in Easthampton not too long ago. Let me tell you, this place was packed I had to go up to the bar and order my sampler and then hold it. They have definitely created quite a following since opening. Fenway Froth was my favorite. A decent pale ale, with a strong malt backbone.

After New City, I strolled through the parking lot to Abandoned Building Brewery. They are located in the next Mill over and were the first brewery in Easthampton a couple of years back. They make many excellent beers including two different Saisons, Lola and Blue Barn, Dirty Girl IPA, a Tripel and a Quad, Pennhurst Pale Ale. Each beer is excellent, Both Saison's stand out and could easily be some of the best beers to drink on a hot day. My last trip there I tried Hydra Pale Ale and I instantly fell for a Pale. The hop presence was excellent, well balanced and just bitter enough. It is currently in a growler in my fridge, just waiting to be shared.
The final stop on my trip was about a mile down the road to Fort Hill. I thought New City was crowded, it was not even close to the amount of people inside the beautifully built Fort Hill Brewery. They specialize in German-style beers and it shows. Having many awards to even prove it. I have been a fan since they opened. (Plus, when I go and get the farm share if I am allowed I tend to make a stop at the brewery since it is less than a quarter mile away) They were packed to the gills, so I only got a couple of samples and then filled my growler with Farmers Fresh, a pale ale, their first which was a nice, easy drinking beer. 

You might say, wait a minute you said 6 breweries and you would be correct, I did. The thing is I have been to Northampton's mainstay Northampton Brewery that I didn't make it part of this trip. The brewpub is awesome and they make excellent hop forward beers. I recently grabbed a couple of different 4-packs, both of which were awesome.

There you have it, the hyper-local beer scene that is 15 minutes from my house. Are you thirsty yet, because I didn't even mention the awesome beer bars. For a more in-depth review of the beers check back in over the course of the next couple of months.

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