If you followed me on social media last week you know it was pretty epic week of beer and food. Let’s break it down real quick:
Team Upstate NY already had a tasting planned for this weekend so it only made sense for us to get some preliminary packing out of the way while we continue to collect the last few of our bottles and swag. No traveling necessary for team members this time around unlike the bang in Buffalo for Round 2 and Team New England for Round 3.
Had a nice little drive out to Mass this weekend to check out how some of my favorite breweries and butcher are doing. A way too short visit to Tree House’s new location in Monson, followed by my first stop at Trillium, picking up some growlers and the last of the Barrel Society bottles at Night Shift then rounding out the trip with SausageFest at The Meat Market, all before getting home in time for AJ’s 30th birthday. Let’s dive into the pics shall we?
It’s incredible to see just how far Tree House has come in the past year. It feels like just yesterday I was asking the only person I knew in MA at the time, Alec of Armsby Abbey, what Tree House’s story was (thanks to Jeff for reminding me of this).
Thankfully Paul and Jeff (neither of whom I knew at the time but thanks to Tree House I now consider good friends) pushed me over the edge and I made my first visit to what has now become one of my favorite breweries. Fast forward to today and Tree House has gained national recognition in the beer community, their beer is traded all over the world, and here they are being featured in a world class beer dinner at one of the top bars in the country, Armsby Abbey.
I know more than a handful of you beer geeks around here have made a visit to Tree House on my recommendation. Well, if you love the Tree House crew and what they do as much as I do, there’s a meeting being held in Brimfield at 7:30PM and they could really use your support. Check out some more details and a little commentary here, and get your ass to the Brimfield Town Hall tonight!
There’s a couple of MA lunch stops I wanted to share with you this week before I go there again with new updates. The first one comes from a recently expanded B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, MA, right around the corner from Cedar Street Grille and a short jaunt from Tree House Brewing Co. It’s a place I’ve recommended to several of you in the past looking for something to add to your Tree House beer travels and while Cedar Street usually has Tree House on tap, at B.T.’s you can actually bring your own Tree House growler in with you and drink it while you feast on some seriously top notch BBQ.
Wait, wasn’t I just saying that I’m out of space in the beer cellar? Not sure how this happened. I blame Elise.
We haven’t been out to Night Shift in a while, and it’s been even longer since I’ve been to Tree House. Since we had some bottles graciously waiting for us at Night Shift that Elise couldn’t wait to get her hands on, and after seeing Heather Vandenengel’s article on DigBoston (with a shout out to yours truly in there) I wanted to make a stop and finally check out Tree House’s new brew house, so we skipped out of work early yesterday and hit the pavement to head to Mass. Continue reading
Went over to Tree House with Nate first thing in the AM to grab their new Double IPA, King Julius, and fill up on everything else that had naturally. Couldn’t help but get a flight while I waited, either. They didn’t have much King Julius (I could be wrong but I believe they said they only had enough for 40 growler fills?) so I knew I had to get there first thing and grab my two growler allotment before they ran out. So how is it?
Delicious as hell. Nate (from Tree House) was making some comments this morning about the lack of lacing of his beer going from keg to growler to glass, well this one has no problem with that. It does have a pretty intense mouthfeel for a DIPA. It’s chewy like an oatmeal stout and kinda sticks to your teeth (I do not mean this in a bad way). If I had to compare it to Heady Topper (I know some brewers get offended about comparing two beers, but I really intend this as a compliment) I’d say it’s overall pretty similar, but a tad sweeter and lacking the grapefruit notes. Otherwise very comparable and extremely drinkable. Drinkable as in I just finished the first growler by myself. Whoops. I really wish that I could hold on to my second growler until Thursday when I have Heady in hand to do a side by side but let’s face it that growler will be dry long before then.
I’m a huge fan of this beer and while I’m being a terrible BeerAdvocate by drinking the first growler to my face, I’m going to do the right thing with the second one and share it. (Now I just have to decide with whom.) Anyways, cheers to another great beer Tree House!
On a side note, what do you guys think of the backboard in the first shot? Still gotta tweak the light in the basement Chez Fuj Tasting Room to get it just right, but it’s a little better than having just random ass shit in the background of all my pictures, I think. It’s also LIGHT YEARS better than having having a plain ol’ light box, that’s for sure. Elise made it today while I was running around chasing beer all day. Thanks babe!
Lunch at Cedar Street Grille
— We made a quick stop at Cedar Street Grille after getting our growlers filled at Tree House Brewing Co. It was a toss up between here and BT’s Smokehouse but Cedar Street is the only other place to get Tree House, and Elise really wasn’t interested in BBQ that day so it was a no brainer.
Pretty much anytime I see “short rib” on a menu you can pretty much guarantee that’s what I’m going to get. Elise’s weakness is definitely crab cakes. So, with menu items like Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Sliders we definitely had some winners here. The BBQ Pork Shoulder Egg Rolls looked too good to pass up, as well.
As I said, Cedar Street is (at the time of this writing) the only draft account of Tree House’s. Lucky for me, the beer on tap that day was different than the ones they had on at the brewery, so I was unexpectedly able to try a fourth beer from them that day.
Snowtober is their robust porter. The name is a throwback to last year’s October snowstorm that left part of the crew stranded at Tree House on the day they first brewed this beer. It hits you with a ton of roasted malts, with a bit of the usual suspects like chocolate and coffee. Great creamy mouthful and is easy as hell to drink.
The food was top notch. The meat was tender as hell in the grilled cheese, literally melt in your mouth. One of my favorite reasons to go with slow cooked short ribs whenever I see them on a menu. It paired nicely with the cheddar cheese and the perfectly toasted bread to add a nice little crunch to the whole dish. The egg rolls were great, but I’m not a huge fan of Caroline Red sauce. Not Cedar Street’s fault, just a personal preference.
Cedar Street Grille was a really pleasant surprise. We didn’t know much about it going into it but the food was great and I was really happy to get my hands on some more Tree House while I was there, too. Anyone making the day trip to Tree House like I suggested in my post should definitely consider making Cedar Street a stop, too.
Random Ass Beer Tasting with Merc and Jon
— You guys didn’t actually think that Merc and I sat down and only had two beers when we did the Pliny vs Pliny tasting did you?? C’mon, we’re talking about me and Merc here. Fifty percent of all of the times we drink until I end up calling in the next day.
It wasn’t our best tasting, and there were definitely a few duds but that doesn’t mean you guys shouldn’t check em out. Luckily I cracked open all of the Tree House growlers I picked up from that weekend’s visit to offset some of the bombs we opened. Here was the line up for the night:
- Batch #69 Double Cream Ale by Cigar City Brewing – another dud from Cigar City, kinda disappointing considering that both Cucumber Saison and 110K+OT were not my cup of either and it’s one of my favorite breweries
- Black Phoenix by Bootlegger’s Brewery
- Horseneck Golden IPA by Just Beer
- Julius by Tree House Brewing Company
- Miller High Life by Miller Brewing Company – this was when I was still going for my All-American badge. Don’t judge me.
- Old Man by Tree House Brewing Company
- Sea Bass by Cigar City Brewing - sludgy, and kinda gross. This one did not cellar well AT ALL.
- Talon Extra Select Double IPA by Mendocino Brewing Company – the week of their release. Like most Mendocino beers, completely forgettable
- That’s What She Said by Tree House Brewing Company
- Zes Zes Zes by Three Floyds Brewing – Merc really hyped this one up but honestly it didn’t knock my socks off. The artwork on the label is fucking killer, though.
Annnnnd surprisingly the not worst beer of the night (Sea Bass took that crown for me):