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.