Building 8 has fairly limited hours and now after visiting I understand why. In fact, I do not recommend you make a stop by the brewery unless you cannot find fresh cans near where you are staying. They had three beers you could taste, one of the three being poured from a can. All three hoppy beers were low on hop aroma and more in the style of hop bitterness aiming for a crisp dry finish.
The session IPA was crisp with low bitterness and mild hop character. The beer was easy drinking enough but I would’ve preferred a little more hop aroma. The IPA was classic and balanced for a beer focus on bitterness over aroma. It was similarly easy drinking and delicious. The double IPA was poured from low fill cans, so it was a bit oxidized. Still, the beer had a nice balance to it and the bitterness was not overpowering such that I was still able to go back to my session IPA and tasted fully after some sips of the double.
Whether or not you enjoy the beers from building 8 will depend on whether you enjoy this classic style. With so many good options showcasing hop aromas, I don’t typically seek these out although they were quite well done and I especially could see myself drinking a bit of the session. You can find Building 8 cans all around the surrounding areas and if you can find them fresh you can get the same experience buying cans to drink at home.
Brick and feather
brick and feather only had four beers on tap when I stopped by but they were all well-made and indicated to me that the brewery is on the right track. They have a good-sized tasting room though not a lot of seating. Unlike most breweries, the largest poor you can get is 10 ounces even from some of the lighter beers. Their pricing favors growler fills.
I started with the biere de garde. It was mildly fruity with a lightly tart clean finish and notes reminiscent of a Belgian pale. I had a pint of the beer the night before and while I was expecting it to have a bit more malt character, it was nicely done. The pale ale was bursting with bright citrus and pineapple with a soft body, low bitterness, and mild hop acidity on the finish. I brought a growler of this beer back and enjoyed a few pints later the same day.
The Porter was nicely balanced with notes of birch toffee, molasses, and had a lightly bitter finish. The double IPA was an explosion of tropical fruit with a viscous mouth feel and some sweetness that could have been from the addition of lupulin powder. While I referred the flavor of the pale ale, the double IPA was still better than most in the surrounding area with the exception of treehouse. Brick and Feather is a great little brewery worth stopping by if you are up in the area. You can find their beers on tap around the area if you can’t make it to the brewery itself due to their limited hours. Though they also release the occasional small batch cans that you can only find at the brewery.
Tree House has been a beacon for hype in the beer world for many years. In July of 2017 they officially opened the Charlton MA facility to the public, expanding the offerings of beer available for on site consumption, and greatly increasing amounts of beer available in cans. I visited the previous location in Monson just about a month before the new facility opened and am including a brief description of that visit to contrast with the experience I had recently in Charlton.
In the old facility, they would only occasionally pour draft beer after they sold out of cans. On the Saturday I drove out there I spent 45 minutes in line after driving an hour and a half from Boston to walk away with 8 cans and that was only because my husband was with me (limit 4 cans per person). In the new facility, on an extra busy Tuesday I waited in line for an hour and a half to walk away with 2 bottles and 64 cans and was able to hang out after to have a few pints. Typical Tuesday lines are much shorter according to the people in front of me in line. And if you know the right people you can get some real time updates on the lines. But since word got out that they were releasing a rare imperial stout, the line remained steady until we left the brewery around 6:30PM.
With the move to the new facility, Tree House has massively expanded production so locals who want to drink nothing but Tree House can easily do so with a monthly visit to pick up cans. The expanded production has also allowed them to bring back other styles of beer and make more stouts, porters, and even an ESB and a pilsner. IPA fans can now fairly regularly show up on a Tuesday or Saturday and find hazy favorites on draft that can be enjoyed in their massive outdoor seating. On the sunny Spring day I was there, I could see many people enjoying their beers in the open air in the relaxing chairs spread throughout the facility. They limit each person to 32 ounces for on site consumption to keep it more of a tasting room experience.
Purchasing cans is one of the most efficiently run system I’ve experienced. People fill out a slip of paper with the beers they want to buy. You hand the paper to the employee at the front who quickly rings up your cans while someone else brings the cans out to you. People buying beers by the case can leave even faster because they have cases stacked up in boxes ready to pass to customers. If you buy more than 2 cases, be prepared to have a friend help you carry them or ask for a dolly. I had to stop twice on the way to the car with 2 cases in hand. They are working on making this even more efficient so that I hope my next visit will be even faster. If you plan to fly home with the beer, I suggest bringing some hard plastic six-pack or four-pack holders so they don’t move around in your luggage.
The serenity of the Charlton location is only going to get better. They recently announced the outdoor space will be expanded further and soon they will open miles of hiking trails in the surrounding space. They also just added a pizza oven that should be used for great things. Despite spending an hour and a half in line before I ultimately got my beers, the hour or so I spent sitting in their outdoor space sipping Julius and SSSap were revitalizing. This was my first experience of either beer and they lived up to the hype.
To get an idea of the progression of the new facility, they opened Charlton in July of 2017 and by September 2017 you could regularly pick up 20 cans per person in a single visit. By January 2018 they had multiple beers available with a limit of a single case. By March 2018 you could show up and buy a case of each of 3 beers. During my visit in May of 2018 I had four IPAs to choose from with a limit of a case. Of the beers I have had since I came back from my trip I am quite satisfied by the quality of the beer and they still rank up there with some of the best hazy IPAs I have experienced around the country. They are one of the few that consistently produces delicious balanced hazy IPAs at around 7% alcohol while not overwhelming the palate. The fresh batch of Green I brought back was especially delightful and had a more pillowy mouth feel than most at that alcohol percentage.
I visited Cambridge brewing on a previous trip where I tried their hoppy offerings and found them to be solidly old school, (read not particularly interesting). This time I stuck to some other styles but only tried a couple because they don’t serve tasters. The Grisette was pretty average for the style, with notes of biscuit malts and mild fruit.
I also tried the Hendrix, a gin-barrel-aged sour with cucumber. It was an interesting beer and nicely balanced but I didn’t particularly care to drink a full pour of it. Rather than gin I tasted more tequila with some mild oak notes. Word online is that some of their limited-release sours are fantastic but once again I can’t verify that. Based on their offerings on tap, I would suggest a visit to Trillium for sours over Cambridge Brewing.
Lamplighter is about half-mile walk from Cambridge Brewing. They thankfully offered tasters because I only liked two of the four beers I tried. Sadly the taster flights are set and you can’t build your own. I opted for the hoppy flight.
The Watchman, hoppy wheat, was creamy and soft with minimal bitterness and notes of citrus and guava. I could see myself ordering a pint of this one for sure. The Chief Hopper had strong esters on the back and a strong bitter finish. I didn’t care for this one at all. The Lion Eyes Hoppy Brett IPA had a ton of floral hops and brett on the nose with a strong herbal hop character and strong bitter finish. Once again I was reminded I don’t like beers bittered with Azaca hops.
The Double IPA was soft with notes of mango, tropical fruit, and honeydew melon with minimal bitterness. I quite enjoyed this one even if it was a bit sweet. The porter was solidly average with notes of dark fruit and roast with a medium body and dry finish.
Both Lamplighter and Cambridge brewing make solid beer though I would recommend Lamplighter simply because you can order a flight to find out what you enjoy and order that. Lamplighter also had a few beers that were available to-go in cans but that you couldn’t taste. I didn’t try any of those.
Trillium is located a 30 minute drive or an hour by public transit in the area of Canton south of Boston. They also have a shop downtown Boston where you can pick up cans to go but can’t taste anything. They also have a seasonal beer-garden in downtown Boston where you can order some of their beers in an outdoor setting though they have a more limited tap list than the brewery and everything is served as one size of pour in plastic cups. I’m glad I made the trip to the brewery this time because I got to try a larger number of their beers and determine my favorite to decide which cans to buy. The tap room gets quite crowded and thus quite loud from the noise of people and the music.
I started with the Summer Street and Congress Street hazy IPAs. All the various Street beers are brewed similar but with different hop profiles. Summer Street was tasty with strong tropical fruit character including pineapple, medium hop acidity, and a sticky bitter finish The Congress Street was more mellow with less harsh acidity, a bit softer, sporting notes of papaya and mango with some pine bitterness. The Motueka Free Rise, hoppy saison, was earthy and not very hoppy with a dry finish. It was a pretty average saison and not up to the level of Tired Hands. Melchior Street was my favorite of the streets I tried. It had a fantastic mix of pineapple and pine with mild bitterness and acidity. It was the most balanced of the bunch.
Secret Stairs is their 8% alchol stout. It was smoky and roasty with notes of burnt caramel and a medium bitter finish. The Night and Day imperial stout with coffee was quite impressive with notes of mild smoke and caramel that blend nicely with strong acidic coffee. I got little noticeable hint of alcohol in the taste. Mettle is the one beer from the bunch I had before. The double IPA had tons of fruit and citrus notes from the hops with a mild acidic finish. It was soft and delicious. I compared this side by side with Uppercase, which was also quite soft with lots of tropical fruit and citrus with a mild acidic finish. Both double IPAs were quite impressive.
The Raspberry Soak was a pretty basic fruity light alcohol sour with lots of lactic acid and mild raspberry flavor but little complexity. It is pretty standard for the fruited berliner weisse that most breweries serve these days, tart but boring. The Permutation 11, barrel aged sour with peaches, was a delightful mix of soft body, sweet peaches, and mild pepper notes. It was a nice middle ground between the highly acidic style that is quite common and the pure fruit juice style I’ve had from others. I probably would have bought some bottles if they were available for a reasonable price.
Though the price of each 5oz pour was high, ranging from $4-5, it is worth going down at least once so that you can try all the beers they have available. Plus they have air conditioning and keep the area at least cooler than outside. Once you discover your favorites, you can easily pick up cans from the shop in Downtown Boston.
Melchior Street Hazy IPA
Uppercase Hazy Double IPA
Pemutation 11 Peach Sour