Sunday, October 25, 2015

Central Mass Brew Tour, Part 1 (Tree House, Bentley, KBC, Rapscallion)

The Central Mass Brew Tour, Part I was inspired by an article in the Boston Globe Magazine: 10 great craft breweries to try in Central Mass. - The Commonwealth’s midsection is becoming a hot spot for beer businesses.

I started riding at 10am, two hours before Rapscallion's tap room opens, so I had my choice of parking.

I brought an empty backpack, that was filled with 14 pounds of beer by the end of my tour.
Next time I visit Rapscallion, I'll bring my disc golf bag (see target behind me and tee below).

Foliage was past peak, but still colorful.

A short trail past Big Alum Pond.

Long Pond and bridge on Champeaux Rd (below).

This network of grass lanes between 7th St and E Hill Rd are a real mystery. There are official street signs and Google Maps shows a road, but there is a fence blocking the entrance from 7th St. Google Earth shows a house south of the road that could only be accessed by these grass lanes. OSM Cycle shows the road with the name Shaw Rd, which matches the street sign below.

The Brownell Burial Yard can only be reached by the mysterious grassy lanes.

Some of the "grassy lanes" were a little more challenging.

Wheeler Pond

Southern New England Railway by Wheeler Pond started out very promising, but quickly degraded into an unrideable petroleum pipeline (below) forcing me to detour to US 20.

Google Maps shows this as a road between Dearth Hill Rd and Dean Pond Rd in Brimfield State Forest, but that's a bit optimistic. They were holding the BSTRA--whatever that is (aha! found it)--on these trails the same day I was there (below).

A woman with top end gear was taking a photo of this tree near Tree House Brewing, so I snapped a shot with my iPhone and asked for directions to the brewery.

Tree House Brewery makes 6 of the top 12 beers in Massachusetts, and the place was packed, with long lines for tastes and growler fills. There was no wait for cans, so I bought 3 pints of Julius and 3 pints of Eureka. 

You can picnic and play cornhole at Tree House, but you can't drink the beer you just bought on the premises.

I wiped out descending this rocky trail. I rolled to break my fall, then worried about "bottle shock" for the beers in my backpack.

The Grand Trunk Trail from River Rd to the dam at Westville Lake was beautiful.

The dam at Westville Lake.

The Big Bunny Market is a family owned and operated enterprise in Southbridge, MA.

Mike Lynch (Bentley Owner/Brewer) served me 8 samples for $6 which included a logo sampling glass for me to take home.

I left with a 32 oz growler of East to West DIPA in my backpack. 

While searching for the tap room, I entered the Dark Horse Tavern and found Elvis Dyer (Owner/Roaster of Sturbridge Coffee Roasters) preparing a batch of Mexican Organic Dark Roast. He told me that KBC Brewery used his Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in their Cafe Munich American Stout. So I had to visit his shop across the street and buy the Mexican, Yirgacheffe, and the Sumatra Mandheling Organic (below).

I first heard of Dippin Donuts the day before because they were fined $47,000 for breaking child labor laws and stealing tips. Looks like they also stole Dunkin Donuts logo.

This sign confused me, because I was looking for the KBC Brewery and Beer Garden. I guess KBC stands for Kretschmann Brewing Company, so KBC Brewery is sort of like saying an ATM Machine.

Behind their Biergarten is a nice little bike trail--really little, about 100-feet long.

After I sampled a flite of Blitz, Cafe Munich, Hefeweizen, and Lake Lager, my backpack got 2 pounds heavier thanks to a little growler of Hefeweizen.

The mad scientist in his lab.

I met some local folks doing a tasting at Bentley that made fun of Webster when they learned my next stop was at KBC. I don't know why; Webster seemed like another nice Central Mass town.

The sun was setting behind this bull as I rode along T Hall Rd in Charltown.

Snake Hill Rd in Charlton was a nice little downhill serpentine.

More offroad between Hill Rd and Beaudry Rd in Sturbridge.

My traffic-avoidance shortcut through Technology Park didn't work out as expected. I was trapped in this forest until I found a break in the fence and could fight through prickers to get back on Podunk Pike.

Full dark arrived while I picked my way through Wells State Park, 5 miles from the finish.

I was so happy to be out of the woods and in a warm tap room that I ordered a Harvard Lager (based on a recipe from 1898) without asking for a taste first. I think the college should sue to protect the shield.

After a flite of IPAs and a Porter, my estimation of Rapscallion was restored. I added two 32-oz cans (Rye IPA and Black IPA) to my haul. The Yard Hop is interesting because it is brewed exclusively with hops grown in neighbors' yards, but was ultimately disappointing, highlighting why Galaxy and Mosaic hops are in short supply.

Next week CMBT, Part 2

The route is 68 miles with 4 breweries on tap. We will ride the East Coast Greenway for the first 25 miles and the last 6 miles with no overlanding planned. We start in Worcester and ride through Berlin, Hudson, Framingham, Ashland, Westborough, Milbury, and back to Framingham.
  • Wormtown - opens at 12, tour at 12:30
  • Medusa - opens at 12, BYOF
  • Jack’s Abby - opens at 11:30, pizza, pork shank, mussels, etc
  • 3Cross - opens at 5, BYOF (Price Chopper across the street)

Worcester's Wormtown Brewery takes top honor in the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship
The Wormtown Brewery beat out powerhouses of the brewing world such as Samuel Adams, Stone Brewing, Yuengling and Saranac Brewing to take home the title of Grand National Champion in the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship. “We try our best to make the best beers we can and to get that recognition on the national level is icing on the cake," said Wormtown Brewery Master Brewer Ben Roesch. "The brewing team all really works hard and to have us all be recognized like this is something great to cherish.” Complete Story

3Cross looking to make mark in craft beer brewing
Entering the brewery, would-be imbibers are greeted by a long concrete-topped bar with bicycle gears set into the molding. Performing a 360-degree turn, guests will immediately notice a slew of bike hooks and Howland behind the bar with his cycling cap on.
Aside from brewing beer, one of Howland’s other passions is cycling, and while he moved on from working in the bicycle industry prior to founding 3Cross, his passion for the sport is carried on in his craft.
The Mosaic Pale is one of Howland’s single-hop series, a beer hopped exclusively using Mosaic hops. The Mosaic Hop is a unique hop only recently created by Hop Breeding Company, an organization that has roots stretching back over a century in creating uniquely-American hops, and Howland uses it to achieve a terrific variety of flavors, claiming that “this beer changes with every sip” as flavors of passion fruit, guava, lime, pine and even bubblegum percolate on every drinker's tongue. Complete story

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Thank you for coming to see us at KBC on your brew tour! From the photos it looked like a beautiful ride with lots of fall color, and you got some tasty souvenirs as well. I have to applaud you for that ride, especially since you added a decent amount of weight with every beer you collected in your pack!

It was nice meeting you, and I look forward to reading Brew Tour #2 next. :-)

-Lisa Kretchman