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.
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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):
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A while ago, I got pinged on Tumblr here from Treehousebrew. I started following them and instantly fell in love with everything they had going on with their online presence, from their logos, web design, and especially their beertography. I was totally geeked out about it. I followed along for a while and finally reached out to them to let them know I was a huge fan, which got an immediate response from the guy behind their pictures and their beer, Nathan Lanier. It was then that I realized they are actually pretty close (compared to some of the day trips Elise and I have done, at least) and was only a couple of hours away in Brimfield, MA, right in between Springfield and Worcester.
Given its proximity to Worcester, I gave Alec from Armsby Abbey a shout on FB to dig up a little info. A couple of other locals piped in, including Paul from River Valley Market and Jeff from Stone, about just how great Tree House was and also a few pointers about making a trip there. My decision was made for me. After a little back and forth with Nate on Twitter, I planned our visit.
Tree House is about two hours away from the Capital District, and growler fills are available on Saturdays. It may not be the easiest drive for everyone, but I assure you, the trip is worth it.
The brewery and retail shop is in a residential area and while I’ve used this phrase before, it’s literally in someone’s backyard. I mean, you pull into the driveway, the (gorgeous) house is on the right, and the brewhouse is on the left. There’s a koi pond with a couple of seats around it, a small gazebo with a fire pit and a few more chairs, a picnic table or two towards the end of the driveway, with a couch and a couple of chairs around a fireplace inside the retail shop. It’s the epitome of “cozy”.
You don’t get the feeling of being rushed like you do at some of the breweries with growler fills. You’re more than welcome to sit around in any of these spots with a few tasters while you wait for your growlers to be filled. It truly feels like you’re visiting someone’s home, not visiting a brewery, and the crew at Tree House is just as welcoming.
The growlers are slow-filled (as they should be) and they have an adjustment on their taps to switch from filling tasters to filling growlers. That kind of attention to detail can be seen in just about everything Tree House does. We sipped on a few beers while we waited for our growlers to be filled:
- Julius, their American IPA at 6.8%. I was a huge fan of this. Very similar to a single version of the most popular Vermont DIPAs. I’m very much looking forward to this weekend’s Imperial version: King Julius.
- Old Man is their ESB which really isn’t my fave style, but this was drinkable nevertheless. Just didn’t excite me the way the other two beers did.
- That’s What She Said, their Milk Stout, hits you in the face with coffee and cocoa powder. Elise liked this one so much we had to get two growlers.
Any of you folks in the Northeast that are within a day trip’s time of Tree House should definitely give it a shot. It’s worth the trip, the beers are great and it’s just nice place to hang out and sip on some brew. Not to mention there’s a couple of great places like BT’s Smokehouse and Cedar Street Grille (which is the only other place to get Tree House) to eat nearby. Before we made our way to our next stop, we couldn’t leave without getting a few things, either. I know you guys have seen me rocking the shirt in Jay’s Supplication video and the glass in a few of my other posts. The Tree House swaaaag: