Traveling the state’s craft brewers trail
Many have taste for Franklin Co. spots
Brewer Dan Bisson leads a crowd of over 30 people through the Berkshire Brewing Company's Saturday afternoon tour.
Stacey Barnes stamps patron David Linnehan's brewery passport at Lefty's Brewing Co. in Greenfield on Saturday.
Patrons enjoy free samples in "The Dick Schatz Tap Room" at the Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield during the free 1 p.m. Saturday tour.
A stamped brewery passport sits on the counter at Lefty's Brewing Company in Greenfield on Saturday.
Patrons enjoy free samples in "The Dick Schatz Tap Room" at the Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield on Saturday during the weekly free tours starting at 1 p.m.
Daniel Kramer pours samplers of Element Brewing Company's Malt Vinegar for patrons on Saturday. Kramer stamped over a dozen passports over the weekend.
The state of Massachusetts has teamed up with the state’s breweries to send citizens a message about drinking beer.
That message? Drink local.
The Massachusetts Craft Brewers Trail highlights 47 breweries in the commonwealth. They’re split into five regions and western Massachusetts leads the pack with 13 featured breweries, four of them in Franklin County. The program is a partnership of the state Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild. The trail’s map points out the breweries that use ingredients grown in Massachusetts, and all four Franklin County breweries are on that list.
The program, which started early this month and also includes a contest using a passport, is catching on.
“I’ve had a lot of people stop by to get their passports stamped,” said Daniel Kramer, co-owner of Element Brewing Co. in Millers Falls Saturday. “A lot of customers have picked them up here, but this is the first day I’ve had people come by who already had passports.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Sarah Schoonover of Connecticut. “Vermont has a brewery passport, too. We did that one, and it was a lot of fun.”
She stopped by Element Saturday with boyfriend Greg Betz, a home-brewer who picked Kramer’s brain for some pointers.
“We just started the passport today,” he said. “We already went to Lefty’s, and we’re going to head to the People’s Pint for dinner after this.”
At Lefty’s Brewing Co. in Greenfield, tour guide Stacey Barnes said the brewery maps have been popular and she had to re-stock the bar-top supply several times during Saturday’s weekly tour and tasting.
“I think it will really take off when it warms up, and people start thinking about summer day-trips,” she said.
David Toplon of Granby stopped at Lefty’s with Mark Linnehan and his son David, who lives in South Hadley, to cap off their tour of all four Franklin County brewers.
“We’re doing the passport in phases, and this is phase one,” said Toplon. “Lefty’s Imperial Porter is my favorite so far.”
Before heading to the Greenfield brewery, the three toured Berkshire Brewing Co. in South Deerfield. The largest of the county’s breweries, BBC offered the most extensive tour and tasting, and plays host to several dozen visitors at its weekly tour.
Visitors start in the Dick Schatz tap room, named for a friend of the company, who left BBS his extensive collection of beer memorabilia when he died in 2006. Under the neon glow of Schatz’s beer signs, visitors can sample 12 BBC beers on tap.
Some of those, like the Mud Season Lager and Dale’s Session IPA, were brewed in small test batches, and can’t be found anywhere else. If you want to try them, though, you’ll have to show up for the Saturday tour by 1 p.m. If you’re late, you’ll find yourself locked out.
The large-scale brewery produces about 20,000 barrels of beer each year, said brewer Daniel Bisson. That’s 620,000 gallons, or 3.6 million 22-ounce “bomber” bottles. Because of the brewery’s size, they can’t sell beer directly to the public like the county’s three smaller breweries can, but they have plenty of merchandise for sale at the brewery.
While the People’s Pint doesn’t offer a standing tour of their small brewery, they do have one thing the others brewers don’t — a full dinner and lunch menu in a downtown Greenfield pub that’s open daily. You can also bring home a bottle of beer from the brew-pub, be it a 22-ounce or a half-gallon “growler.”
In addition to its own beer and sodas, the Pint also features local wines, meads and hard ciders.
Tours of the People’s Pint’s Greenfield brewery are available only by appointment.
While the Pint uses local ingredients in its food, it also uses local ingredients in its beer. Different brews feature hops from Four Star Farm in Northfield, and barley from Valley Malt in Hadley, and local cider and honey is used in their “Slippery Slope” winter seasonal brew.
While brewery tours and free beer samples are enough of a reason to visit the area’s breweries, the passport program offers some extra incentives, too.
Those who visit each of those breweries in one of the regions will be rewarded with a free “drink local” T-shirt. Stop by all 47 breweries and you’ll be rewarded with a commemorative beer glass, as well as bragging rights.
To get your copy of the Craft Brewers Trail brochure and map, visit goo.gl/LkujOM, or stop by one of the breweries on the list.
You can reach David Rainville at: email@example.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279